10th Apr2010

Hey Star Trek! itchoo NEW WHO!?

by jerad.formby

It’s time to negotiate that expanded cable package with your favorite provider and get ahold of BBC America. Doctor Who is coming back with a whole new look, new actors, and that new show runner we’re all so excited about.

We’ve seen the first episode in question and we’re here to tell you that it’s the perfect place to take the show and we’ll be sharing impressions with you later in this very issue.
Don’t worry about spoilers. We’ve run that portion through a perception filter.

The last time we wrote about Doctor Who we were waiting for the “specials” that the BBC was whipping up and waiting to see what would happen when the main actor finished up his contract.

That was a year ago and now we’re on the other side of the specials, brothers and sisters.

Doctor Who is the story of a Time Lord who can travel through time and space. The main character is called the Doctor the part has been played by many different actors.

When an actor leaves the role, the character “regenerates” into another actor and the show resumes its course anew. We always thought this was because an actor might be tired of the part, sick of being pigeonholed, or maybe even bored. Each regeneration crowns the actor with a number. The Doctor featured in the specials was the 10th Doctor.

Now we know that regeneration is a very necessary component to the universe of Doctor Who, because the people who benefit most from regeneration isn’t the actor who retires the role.

It’s we the audience.

When we first watched, we liked Chrisopher Eccleston as the Doctor. His fantastic and gruff version of the character was our first exposure. The concept of him leaving the show seemed strange, but we remained open to David Tennant taking it over.

David Tennant was brilliant in the role. They say that he always loved Doctor Who and couldn’t wait until the day he could play it. His love for the part showed through.

He could go from silly to heart-attack serious on a dime and this performance caused us to wonder more about the character. There were times when we cheered his solutions and there were times he was scarier than whatever monster he faced.

Tennant played the role for three seasons and then it was announced that he would retire the role. Russell T. Davies, the show’s head writer and main producer had decided to leave as well. This meant that their final episodes together were going to be a “celebration.”

They must have thought they were writing a valentine for the fans.

The celebration came in the form of Five specials and, with the exception of the last two entries, there were months between each offering. The titles were The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars, The End of Time Part 1, and the End of Time Part 2.


We have a friend who once explained with loads of cheer that the last not-season of Doctor Who (the year of specials) felt much more like a victory lap than a series of stories. With the same cheer and a glass of the same beer, we are forced to agree.

Each story featured the tenth doctor making relationships with new people each time and every time he refused to let people get close –gods forbid he take one of those new faces with him. The doctor had decided he was better off alone and insisted he wanted to stay that way.

This simply smacked of “David Tennant is Leaving” and suggested that the show needed to be about his final adventures.

We followed him to the other side of the universe. We followed him to Mars. We watched with baited breath as he battled one of our favorite villains and smiled as the wrap up involved a glimpse into his own alien culture.

The show and its lead played as if they were privy to every Internet rumor and all of the news that would impact the show once the year 2009 came to a close. The final episode for David Tennant had everyone anticipating his death and wondering just what would do him in.

The final result was poetic and unforseen. We would call the death spectacular.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the next actor. After a series of bloated stories that never felt as great as what happened before, Russell T. Davies had to remind us all just how much we loved David Tennant.

See, when Christopher Eccleston died and became Tannant… the death was a shock. It came upon the poor actor with very little preparation. He burst into the next actor and the momentum of that fantastic episode carried into the final seconds.

That’s not what happened with Tennant.

The 10th Doctor, from the sheer force of being David Tennant got to his feet and began the heroic task of “collecting his reward.” That was the phrase he muttered to the character who watched him take the radiation –ahem after walking back to the time machine and returning the old man to his house!

With the pure David Tennantness fading, the 10th Doctor knew that there was only so much precious time before he became another actor. He had a lot to do before that could happen.

Russell T. Davies and David Tennant had finally accomplished their sentimental journey. With the regeneration finally about to happen, Tennant spoke his last words to himself. Those words were the last Davies wrote and would write for Doctor Who.

Tennant’s regeneration was intense. The energy burst out of him and it proceeded to destroy everything around him. We watched everything we knew about the Doctor burn as the actor changed to Matt Smith (the eleventh doctor).

With explosions all around him, Matt Smith spoke his first lines of dialog. The new head writer wrote those first words.

The show was regenerated.

Now it’s been months since it’s happened and with unbridled enthusiasm, we encourage all of you to give the new Who a chance. With much applause, we celebrate the new actor and the new direction for the show.

Here’s the new episode run through Hey Star Trek!’s own spoiler perception filter:

We’ve written about the new show runner before, so we won’t re-explain him here.

Steven Moffet has joked that every thing he’s done as a professional has been to manipulate himself into becoming Doctor Who’s biggest decision maker. He chose the new actor. He signed off on the look of the new Tardis.

He’s re-introduced us to our favorite Time Lord and he’s created a unique companion to be our surrogate for a whole new set of adventures. The show doesn’t feel bloated at all.

It’s as new as Matt Smith’s face.

And it’s almost as young as he is.


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  • free_sutekh

    It is unfortunate that the man who threw himself into the role like no other since Tom Baker had to literally throw himself out of it too. You know something’s amiss when the best thing Tennant’s Doctor did in his last year was his appearance on the Sarah Jane Adventures. I agree that the show started getting better the second Matt Smith’s face appeared on the screen. I find it hard to disagree with almost everything you’ve said here, except that you need to stop harassing my sexy Scottish wife. Seriously, dude. We’ll get a restraining order.

  • Methos

    I think that Chris Eccelston’s abrupt departure as the 9th Doctor left us with such a greater sense of longing and appreciation for the brevity of his performance.

    In contrast, David Tennant’s orchestrated departure seemed a bit overcooked. It was nice to see him “rounded up” with all of the “usual RTD suspects” and the farewell was more sweet than bitter.

    I personally enjoyed the non-Tennant aspects of his finale such as Timothy Dalton’s portrayal of…

    SPOILER
    SPOILER
    WARNING
    SPOILER…

    Rassilon and the resurgence of the Time Lords from the Time Lock – and how these supposedly enlightened galactic beings threatened the very fabric of time and space; dimensions that they are supposed to govern and protect. I thought that this piece of storytelling was quite enjoyable – and Dalton’s performance was masterful.

    I am really looking forward to Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor and everyone please…please stop calling MY WIFE – “your wife”!!!

    She really is quite gorgeous isn’t she. Now if we can have both her and Sally Sparrow in one episode…

  • http://apizzagirl.blogspot.com PizzaGirl

    Is there being a new doctor a good time to start watching the series? I’ve been avoiding Doctor Who simply because there were all these wrap up episodes and I felt like jumping into the series at the end would make me miss something. (I did however see The Waters of Mars and was sufficiently freaked out by the possessed people.)

  • http://trekcast.com jerad.formby

    @apizzagirl Yes! Yes! Yes! The new Doctor is the perfect time to start watching the series. We showed the new ep to a friend who has avoided the show. It’s just possible that we got the 11th Doctor his first fan. When asked if he wanted to see any of the other stuff, he said he wanted only the new stuff… we’ll see what happens in the dry spell that inevitably happens after three months and the show goes on hiatus.

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