Saturday, February 1, 2014

Doctor Who: The War Doctor Revisited

Hello there welcome to my blog, I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

I am Dave-El and I wear a fez now. 

No, I don't.

Wish I had a fez. 

Today is Doctor Who Saturday.  And today we turn our attention for a little while to the enigmatic War Doctor as portrayed by John Hurt.  

In The Name of the Doctor when we first encounter this strange figure cloaked in shadows, speaking with the dry rasp of someone not used to speaking, all Whovians everywhere were shocked when the graphic appeared: John Hurt as The Doctor.

What the hell is Steven Moffat up to?!?!

Months of speculation ensued as Whovians tried to make sense of this. Who is this guy? Why have we never heard of him? Where does he fit in the Doctor Who mythology? Is this the dreaded Valeyard predicted back in the classic series? Why does the 11th Doctor seem to hate him so much? Are we going to need to re-number the Doctors? Is this just some kind of timey-wimey thing? Surely this isn't going to be some kind of permanent change!

By the end of The Day of the Doctor, there was no doubt that this Doctor was indeed now part of the mythology, that his role in the Doctor's history was as real as all the other Doctors. But while our collective minds were reeling from these revelations, there was something else that occurred that caught us Whovians off-guard. 

We liked the guy.

John Hurt's Doctor is an aged incarnation with a lot of sadness and bitterness. He has seen so much war, so much death and the only answer he can find to end it all is genocide and the weight of that burden is more than he can bear. 

Yet for all that, when the Doctor bemusedly wonders why a device he's examining does not have a big red button, we immediately saw that the Doctor was still in there, somewhere. 

We knew that David Tennant and Matt Smith would have some funny scenes together. The irony that they are all the same person and yet don't always get along is ripe with comedic potential.  

But John Hurt as the War Doctor? Battered, beaten, worn down by endless war? 

Turns out he could bring the funny too.


No less a testimonial to this new/old Doctor's appeal was from my daughter. She thought he was cool, reminding her of her grandfather. She was wanting to see more of this Doctor.

The crowd at Geeksboro Coffeehouse who gathered to watch The Day of the Doctor back in November seemed to respond well to him as well. And at the after-show costume contest, a guy who came dressed as the War Doctor won first prize.

I'm not sure what the long term ramifications are for this major addition to the Doctor Who story. Well, it's going to be one more weird thing that fans will have to explain about the Doctor. "OK, there have been 11, wait 12 but we don't count one of them because...well, I'm not sure how this works. So the 12th Doctor is the 13th Doctor except we still call him the 12th Doctor and...hey, where are you going?"

But after 50 years, Doctor Who can still surprise us. And John Hurt's Doctor was a very nice surprise indeed.

I can't wait to see where Doctor Who goes next.


Before we take off this week, let's take a look at the future. This past Monday saw the reveal of Peter Capaldi's new ensemble for the 12th Doctor.  

OK, I knew he wouldn't get to keep the purple Victorian (as much as I liked it) but I can get behind this. It has a sense of normalcy and eccentricity at the same time which always makes for a great Doctor outfit.  

While I can't wait to see what's going to happen next on Doctor Who but wait is what I'll have to do because we're not going to see that for another, what, 8 or 9 months? Argh!!!

Next week on Doctor Who Saturday, a new fan fiction story begins. The Doctor, aging and battered after centuries of seige and war faces an ultimate weapon that can only be defeated by an ultimate sacrifice. But an unexpected visitor may present another option or prove once and for all that the Doctor cannot escape his fate. 

All Roads Lead To Trenzalore: Part One

Next week.

Be good to one another. 

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