Part of my early morning ritual is to hop on my computer and check a few things such as Facebook. Seeing a link to a new video from the BBC on the Doctor Who 5oth Anniversary titled The Night of the Doctor, I clicked on it not expecting much. Almost all the promotional videos had been cool, but extremely light on actual content, so what bit of importance could this little video possibly bring?
Then for the next six and a half minutes I watched in utter silence and awe as the awesomeness unrolled before me.
I knew what I had to do! I had to cover this for One Of Us! I immediately shot an e-mail off to our news editor, the mighty Chris Harrison, asking to be the person to cover this! There was just one problem,
I had to go to work.
As soon as my first break came around headed straight for my e-mail and felt my heart sink as I saw Chris contacting me back to say he had to put something up and he couldn’t wait for me.
Then I saw that he would let me do a reaction piece on The Night of the Doctor…
Chris Harrison, Coolest Person in the History of Ever!
and all was once again right with the world!
Now I’m going heavy into spoilers on this sucker, so for all two of you who haven’t seen it here is the video so we can get you up to speed:
First thing I noticed was cheap effects and the small and basic design of the sets, but as a fan of classic Doctor Who, where the effects the effects were always crap and a stiff breeze could knock over a set, the broke-ass nature of it all was actually endearing. The introduction to the Doctor was great as we hear his voice a split second before we see him. Even though I knew that voice my brain tried to pass it off as an audio fluke, but then there he was in all his greatness, the Doctor, Paul McGann. That opening line of his “I’m a Doctor, but not the one you were expecting” was pure gold as it fit into the story as well as giving a wink to the audience who were expecting Matt Smith.
It also was at McGann’s introduction where my jaw first dropped.
One thing I do find confusing is the Doctor wearing a disheveled version of his outfit from the 1996 TV movie. It is odd to see because it is widely accepted that towards the tail end of his run the Eighth Doctor adopted a different look. They do let the version we see in the short keep the shorter hair, but they opted for a beaten up version of the Wild Bill Hickok look over the leather coat. I would have preferred to see the leather coat, but as the song says “You can’t always get what you want.”
In the beginning Heading towards the end
Cass was quickly introduced and fell into a rhythm with the Doctor almost immediately, until she finds out he is a Time Lord anyways. You know in just a few brief moments that she is exactly the kind of person the Doctor would have asked to be his companion. Her refusal to be saved by him is very telling. She is unwilling to accept his aid once she sees his TARDIS and sees no difference between the Doctor and his most hated enemies, the Daleks. She chooses death rather than his help and only becomes more resolute once the Doctor claims he’s staying with her, excited at the prospect of ridding the universe of even one Time Lord. The Doctor does stay, he could easily run away, but he doesn’t. He going to stand and fight desperately to save her and prove to her as well as himself that that he isn’t the bad guy.
They crash. They die. This is how bad the Time War has become.
They crash on Karn where the Doctor is revived however briefly by the Sisterhood of Karn. We first met the Sisterhood in the Fourth Doctor classic, The Brains of Morbius and the Eighth Doctor had dealings with them in the Big Finish productions Sisters of the Flame and The Vengeance of Morbius. They are a strange and powerful sect who have had tenuous ties to the Time Lords since the very beginning of the Time Lords’ rise to power.
“But wait a minute,” I hear some of you saying, “aren’t the Big Finish stories non-canon?” More on this in a second.
The Doctor has only four minutes of life unless the Sisterhood trigger his regeneration, the Sisterhood in return only ask that he get off his butt and do something to end the war. The whole set-up felt very Babylon 5 considering what happens to John Sheridan in the middle of the series, but that’s another topic for another day. Number Eight of course rejects the idea, he’s had no part of of the war so far and sees nothing to be gained by his inclusion, so death suits him just fine. The Sisters counter with the argument of how many have died due to his inaction and that if he dies here all of time and space will eventually burn.
Looking down at the corpse of Cass the Doctor’s hearts fill with sadness. Remember folks this is a man whose saved whole planets, galaxies, and indeed often the universe itself realizing that he’s been reduced to the point where he can’t even save one person. One more beautiful soul lost to a pointless war that he by staying out of the conflict has allowed to continue.
Being the Doctor just wasn’t enough anymore.
Only by damning himself and abandoning the principles that made him the Doctor could this man end the horror around him. He picks the word “warrior” because in his mind it is the furthest thing from what he is. Although the Doctor has been in many battles, he has always rejected the notion that he was in any way a warrior, but that is the word he uses now. The Doctor is glad when he hears that the change will hurt, he feels that to become what he needs to be should be painful.
Alone now, the Doctor looks back on all the people who traveled with him in this incarnation, he toasts to “Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin and Molly”. It was at this point my jaw dropped again as Moffat & Co. had just went and made all the Big Finish Eighth Doctor companions now canon with the main series. To Cass he can only apologize, for failing to save her and the fact that he will now truly become the very thing she so hated. the Eighth Doctor drinks, triggering his regeneration, and the man that stands back up is a young version of the John Hurt Doctor proclaiming “Doctor, no more”.
I think my little monkey mind short circuited at this point.
In six or so minutes so many questions were answered, some of them stretching back all the way to when the show relaunched in 2005. The ultimate fate of the Eighth Doctor had been debated for years was now revealed. There also was much fan speculation that the The Doctor regenerated into the Eccleston version at the end of the Time War, which this short seems to also confirm.
I’d love to keep adding to this and going into greater detail, but I’ve been working on it so long that it is once again time for me to go to work.
Stupid bill paying employment.
What were your favorite parts of the short? Let us know in the comments below. Let me also throw in a plug for my own review series here on the site, Big Finishing Move, where I look at Big Finish audio dramas. I’ll have many important announcements in the next installment, some of which pertain to the Eighth Doctor!