Sunday, November 3, 2013

Legacy Character Study: The 8th Doctor

And so, the show would be brought back again.

Not the first time, not the last.
Character Conception 
Ah, the TV movie that was made alongside Fox. Many ideas were tossed around, including a reboot where the Doctor and the Master were brothers who were both searching time and space for their long-lost dad (I wish I were kidding). They ended up continuing the classic series, keeping all the old continuity.

Doctor, Master, Gallifrey....

They also ended up regenerating the Doctor, with Sylvester McCoy even reprising his role for the regeneration. The choice for the role, obviously, was... Tim Curry.

Yes, you read that right. Tim Curry was vastly interested in playing a heroic role for a change. Allegedly, before filming began, Curry asked Paul McGann for advice on how to play the role. Schedule conflicts led to Curry dropping out and McGann filling the role. No offense to Tim Curry, but I can't see him in the role of the Doctor. Now the Master on the other hand....

Secret Origin 
The 7th Doctor was taking the ashes of the Master back to Gallifrey after his execution by the Daleks. Don't ask as to why the Master was executed, or why the Daleks are working with the Time Lords. After a timey-wimey kerfuffle, the Doctor was shot in an alleyway. At the San Francisco hospital, exploratory heart surgery accidentally killed him, and the anesthetics delayed his regeneration until he had been sent to the morgue.

Standard Time Lord fare for this regeneration, along with the ability to survive after pulling a heart probe straight out of his chest, though that may have partially been due to the healing properties of the regeneration.

Chang Lee
Chang Lee was a troubled San Franciscan youth. A gang member, he was present when the 7th Doctor was shot by a rival gang and rode him him to a hospital. Chang would later become the Master's assistant in his latest scheme. He would ultimately change sides after realizing that the Master was, in fact, evil.

Dr. Grace Holloway
Grace was the cardiologist who operated on the Doctor, trying to figure out why his heart was so erratic. After getting the probe lost in his two hearts, the Doctor had a seizure and died. After regenerating, the Doctor met up with Grace again, recruiting her to foil the Master's latest scheme. She was smart, feisty, and all those other words I use to describe female companions.

Notable Enemy 
The Master
The Master, after having taken over the body of a human, took a companion of his own and attempted to gain dominion over time by opening the TARDIS' link to the Eye of Harmony, which he must do with the half-human (we'll get to that) Doctor's eyes.

Notable Traits 
The 7th Doctor was a manipulator. A chessmaster. Over time, he lost touch with the "little people." He even began to use his companions as little more than pawns. When he regenerated into 8, he became, if you'll pardon the unintentional controversy, the most human. He was warm, kind, and even quite naive. His mind was a bit scattered, but the familiar traits were all there. Combined with the old traits was a newfound sense of wonder. This Doctor marveled at the universe, at how well his shoes fit, and at humanity, naturally. His defining moment would have to be where he gave a police officer a jelly baby, then stole his gun and threatened to shoot himself to commandeer the officer's motorcycle. Instead of risking others, he was risking himself. He also had a tendency to give people cryptic hints about their future, in order to help them realize their destinies. He had a tendency to pickpocket things that he required, as well.

The biggest controversy (beside 8 kissing Grace Holloway) with the character was the revelation that the Doctor was half-human (on his mother's side). This would later be quietly ignored by the rest by the series and outright retconned by the Expanded Universe to be the result of a half-broken Chameleon Arch, a device that can rewrite DNA.

Notable Character History 
The Master, for unexplained crimes, was executed by the Daleks on the planet Skaro. His last request was to have his ashes transported back to Gallifrey by the Doctor. On the trip back, the incorporeal Master redirected the TARDIS to Earth, where he escaped as protoplasm.

The Doctor wound up getting shot by gang members and taken to a hospital, where he died thanks to exploratory surgery getting lost in his binary vascular system. He regenerated with amnesia, and regained his memory, realizing that the Master (who had stolen a new body) was planning to open up the Eye of Harmony and use its immense power to do all sorts of evil things. The Master was defeated, as per usual, and the Doctor resumed his adventures through time and space.

This is where it gets a bit tricky. The 8th Doctor "officially" has only one story: Doctor Who: the TV Movie. However, in the Big Finish audio dramas and other Expanded Universe works, 8 has the most adventures, going through several companions and a few character arcs. Towards the end of these stories, 8 was getting a bit grittier and less innocent. With the events that were to come, this was a mixed blessing.

Alternate Versions 
There was one alternate where the 7th Doctor regenerated after being shot by Nazis, but we're not focusing on the Expanded Doctor here. Having said that, go check out the 8th Doctor audio dramas, because... My God. The 8th Doctor is widely regarded as one of the best iterations of the character, and the audio dramas give him a chance to strut his stuff.

But alas, the TV movie didn't catch on well enough for a series. However, the positive reaction to it eventually led to the 2005 revival (even if the joint venture with Fox led to some legal issues), which is going strong to this very day. When we return, we'll be looking at that.

Humans love you too, Doctor.


  1. Replies
    1. Give us 8th Doctor prequels, Moffatt!

    2. You know, I think I may have written that before I saw. "Night of the Doctor." Not sure.

  2. Good to see that my meme is floating around the web!

    1. Certainly one of the better 8th Doctor quotes. I can't thank you enough for making that.