Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doctor Who Is NEW: "Night of the Doctor"





Hello! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You! Yes, it IS a blog but it's one of the nice ones!

I'm Dave-El and it's time for my weekly feature, Doctor Who Saturday. Back when I first started working this blog, the last 8 episodes of Series 7 began airing so I would post a weekly review called Doctor Who Is NEW! Since then I've been filling this space with...other stuff and figured I wouldn't use the Doctor Who Is NEW title until November 23rd when the 50th anniversary special aired.

But I decided to dust off that little moniker in celebration of the most unexpected new Doctor Who we Whovians were treated to this week.

"Night of the Doctor" featuring...

Hang on a bit? You have NOT seen this yet? Well, click HERE NOW (seriously, NOW!) and watch this thing.

I'll wait.

(hums to self)

OK, you're back! I trust you were suitably "wowed". (If not, well that's OK. We all have our own opinions and we should respect them, even when they are wrong.)

And if you have NOT seen this but have decided to come this far anyway, one last warning:

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SPOILERS, SWEETIE!
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"Night of the Doctor" featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor!



Let me correct that: STARRING Paul McGann as the Doctor! That's right, McGann's Doctor is in the spotlight. Not a flashback sequence or a cameo but a full on adventure with Paul McGann's name in the credits and in action as The Doctor

Last week, when I mentioned that this week I intended to focus a bit on the 8th Doctor, I had NO idea this was coming.

A NEW 8th Doctor adventure!

At 6+ minutes, there's not a lot of time but a lot of ground to cover as the episode provides the Night that leads into next week's Day.

Also last week, I posited the theory that the John Hurt Doctor may not in fact be from twixt the 8th and 9th Doctors BUT an alternative timeline Doctor from the very beginning of the 1st Doctor.
 
Analysis: Theory debunked.
 
The mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor” put the kibosh on that theory and draws a big bold underline under “He’s a heretofore unknown secret Doctor between the 8th and the 9th.”  
 
Well, so much for me going out on a speculative limb, eh?
 
It does appear, however, that my earlier contention that the John Hurt Doctor was not going to affect the numbering of the Doctors still holds up as the Hurt is now being described as “The War Doctor”. (And when you see how this comes about, you can see how this does AND does not count.)
 
But back to the star of the show!
 
“Night of the Doctor” gives us something that Doctor Who fans have been clamoring for since the series re-launched in 2005: one more chance to SEE Paul McGann in action on screen as the Doctor.
 
As I discussed before, Paul McGann has the distinction of being the 2nd longest serving Doctor while conversely have the shortest amount of time on screen, the duration of the 1996 Doctor Who movie. And what we saw in that movie was maddening to say the least.
 
On one hand, there was cool stuff like:

A fully realized TARDIS console room
 

Nifty special effects

The 7th Doctor (looking good, Mr. McCoy!)


A spooky regeneration scene

A new Doctor with a renewed sense of energy and vitality with the hair and the height to match.

 
 
On the other hand, the movie sucked.
 
 
The 7th Doctor gets shot by a street gang in an alleyway. Really? Old fans are pissed!
Too long to get to the 8th Doctor. New viewers are confused!
Eric Roberts as The Master. The urge to rip one's eyes from their sockets must be resisted!
The Doctor is half-human? Frustrated Whovians chew on back issues of Doctor Who Magazine like a hungry dog on a bone!
The plot is a muddle. Doc Brown and his chalk board from Back to the Future II can't make sense of this!
The Doctor and erstwhile companion Grace kiss? Whovians chewing on DWM back issues begin to choke!

OK, it's interesting that back in 1996 that the idea of the Doctor as a dashing romantic might really get kissy face with a companion (actual or prospective) was totally off the charts while David Tennant and Matt Smith have made the concept of a young Doctor with an obvious romantic appeal more acceptable. (Which is going to be weird when Peter Capaldi begins inhabiting the Doctor's skin in 2014.)  But back in 1996, after waiting 7 long years since the last episode of Doctor Who and suffering through the abysmal train wreck that was 1993's Dimensions in Time, Whovians had their hopes up. No, Whovians had their hopes tethered to a satellite spinning into space! I guess the Doctor Who movie was going to have a lot of unhealthily high expectations to work against, even it had been great or even merely OK.
 
I remember watching this with my wife who, in 1996, was not yet the major Who-zombie is she is today. (And I mean "Who-zombie" in a NICE way.) She agreed to watch this with me because she wanted to share in this event for which I was so enthusiastic. When it was over, she didn't quite see what the fuss was about this "Doctor Who".
 
Again, this is a person who has become any even bigger Doctor Who fan than me! But it certainly wasn't that movie that brought her into the fold. 
 
As I said earlier, the experience was maddening. For all the problems with this production, there was clearly something magical at the core of it all. But nobody seemed to have the right incantation to bring that magic forth. Perhaps if a series had developed from this movie, everyone involved would've settled down and found their way. By way of comparison, Star Trek: The Next Generation is fondly remembered by Trekkers but let's admit it: "Encounter At Farpoint" is NOT a good story. Sadly, Doctor Who never got that chance, at least not back in 1996.
  
But what little we did see, Paul McGann had the makings for a great Doctor. At least there were novels, comics and audio plays that would develop the 8th Doctor but it looked like we would never get that chance to see his Doctor on screen.
 
Until now.  
 
Like the movie, the "Night of the Doctor" mini-sode is too short a time in the company of Paul's Doctor. But like the movie, we see the spark of magic Paul McGann would've brought to the screen as the 8th Doctor. 

Unlike the movie, we've got something good going on here!


When the Doctor first appears with the instantly classic "I'm a doctor but probably not the one you were expecting", McGann gives a strong sense of the Doctor's smooth confidence.

Oh, I loved this bit!

Cass: "Where are we going?"
The Doctor: "The back of the ship."
Cass: "Why?"
The Doctor: "Because the front crashes first. Think it through."

But things go terribly wrong when Cass realizes who the Doctor is and her fear and hatred of Time Lords is so intense, she would rather die first than let the Doctor save her.

The Doctor: "At least I'm not a Dalek."
Cass: "Who can tell the difference anymore?"

So the ship crashes with the Doctor on board. Despite the fact he just met her and Cass hated him, the Doctor did not abandon her. But it has cost him his life and regeneration cannot save him. But he's given a four minute reprieve ("Four minutes? That's ages! What if I get bored?") to make a fateful decision. Those who gave him this reprieve* can induce a regeneration with a choice of who or what he wants to become.

*For more on the Sisterhood, go see "The Brain of Morbius", an incredibly spooky but wonderfully entertaining bit of business featuring the 4th Doctor which establishes their knowledge of Time Lord science.


The Doctor looks at the body of Cass, a woman who he failed to save because of her hatred, a hatred stemming from a war he has refused to fight in, and decides.

He will be a warrior.

At 6 minutes and change, yes, too short a time but, in the end, it was an awesome coda to the saga of Paul McGann and his time with Doctor Who. My wife, who was not impressed by that movie in 1996, exclaimed, "I want to see more Paul McGann as the Doctor."

I second that sentiment.



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 NEXT week on Doctor Who Saturday....

The day is coming!
The day will be upon us!
Save the day!
The Day of the Doctor!

My review next week an ALL NEW installment of Doctor Who Is New!

And for the future:
  • Who Stuff I'm Thankful For
  • Doctor Who: The Group Experience
  • Behind the Scenes of the Nemesis Who Stole Time (yes, it's coming!)

And...

  • The End of an Era!

Until then, be good to one another!

 
 
 
 
 

 

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