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Talkin’ Bout My (Re)Generation

Seeing as there was no new Doctor Who in North America this weekend, there will be no review of a new episode of Doctor Who. Makes sense, right? Instead, today I’m going to talk about one of the best and most enduring aspects of the show as a whole, the reason it has lasted, on and off, for 47+ years: Regeneration.

At once sad and exciting, regeneration keeps the series fresh while still continuing the exploits of a character everyone knows.  Doctor Who would probably only have lasted 3, possibly 4 seasons if not for this most ingenious of ideas which is now essential for the longevity of the show.  It’s brilliant! When an actor tires of playing the role, instead of trying to explain why there’s no more Doctor in Doctor Who or outright cancelling the show, just have the character die only to be reborn with a new face. Often, the regeneration episode not only signifies a change in lead actor but also in main production staff, giving the stories a real “This is the end” type of feel, but always there’s a new Doctor at the end to give us a hopeful look into the future.

Let’s take a look now at the Doctor’s ten regenerations and see how the concept and style has changed since 1966.


First Regeneration: The Tenth Planet (1966)
By the middle of William Hartnell’s third season, it was clear that fatigue and failing health, as well as a number of other factors, were interfering with him playing the Doctor. Hartnell would be absent from entire episodes and the Doctor was increasingly less integral to the story. There was talk during “The Celestial Toymaker,” that the eponymous villain would play a trick that caused the Doctor to change face, but ultimately that was vetoed, and a good thing too as that would have been a temporary fix. At the tail end of “The Tenth Planet,” the second story of season 4 and the first appearance of the Cybermen, the Doctor complains that his old body has worn thin, and he suddenly collapses to the floor. What follows is television history.

With just the very minimum of effects, really just a dissolve and the sound effect of the TARDIS, William Hartnell transforms into Patrick Troughton and the show would continue with a very different lead character. In the context of the story, this was referred to as “renewal,” something that would remain ambiguous for another eight years. Of the four episodes of this serial, part 4 is entirely lost, save that little clip of the regeneration itself, thankfully preserved for us to see.

Second Regeneration: The War Games(1969)
While the change of actors proved to be a boost to the series, by the end of season 6, the ratings were again falling, and Patrick Troughton and company decided it was time to move on. During the ten-part epic finale, “The War Games,” the Doctor is confronted with another member of his race, here finally named Time Lords, in the form of The War Chief. His nefarious plot, masterminded by the somehow even more evil War Lord, is to remove whole armies from various points in Earth’s history, and force them to endlessly battle each other until they can cobble together a super army. The Doctor realizes this is too big even for him to handle so he is forced to call his people for help. The Time Lords do sort it out, but because the Doctor is a fugitive, they force him to stand trial. The Time Lords wipe companions Jamie and Zoe’s memories, save their first adventure with the Doctor and then, this happens:

Third Regeneration: Planet of the Spiders(1974)
After five years as the suave action-oriented Third Doctor, coupled with the exit of Barry Letts as producer and Terrance Dicks as script editor, Jon Pertwee decided to step down. Added to this, the previous season had seen the departure of Katy Manning as companion Jo Grant and the unfortunate death of Roger Delgado (the Master) in a road accident. The UNIT years were drawing to a close, but the Doctor was to have one raucous final adventure.

“Planet of the Spiders” brought together all the tropes of the Letts/Dicks/Pertwee era, including an entire episode devoted to a car/helicopter/hovercraft chase that didn’t need to be there. Still, what stands out about this story is Jon Pertwee. He truly gives this story his all and goes out on a very tender note. Here for the first time we actually hear the term “Regeneration,” and learn that every Time Lord has the ability to do it. The entire plot revolves around an artifact that the Doctor inadvertently stole a season prior, and it’s really his own actions that bring about his downfall, a consequence of the overconfident man he’d been in this incarnation. After being exposed to high levels of radiation, the Doctor goes missing for three weeks and Sarah Jane assumes the worst:

The floating man is another Time Lord, whom we learn was the Doctor’s old mentor. The scene is acted incredibly well by Pertwee, Sladen, and Courtney (rest in peace, the lot of them), and the Doctor’s death is quite sad. Then the hope comes along and his regeneration starts, and we catch the first glimpse of Tom Baker. The actual effect of the regeneration, though, is total crap. Two great Doctors cross-faded together. Still, the rest of the scene makes up for it.

During the Doctor’s fourth incarnation, we hear about the regeneration limit which says after twelve, Time Lords cannot regenerate anymore. This was used as a story point in the serial “The Deadly Assassin” to explain why a horribly decrepit Master was trying to tamper with the Gallifrey matrix. He’d used up his lives, basically. At the time, I’m sure, no one ever thought Doctor Who would keep going as long as it did and since we’re now on the eleventh incarnation of the character, something substantial will probably have to be done to change the regeneration limit. In an episode of “The Sarah Jane Adventures” last season, the Eleventh Doctor somewhat offhandedly says that he can regenerate 507 times. Whether this is true or just a silly joke is yet to be seen, but truly, who cares? Keep going, I say.

Fourth Regeneration: Logopolis (1981)
After a whopping seven years as the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker and the show were parting ways. New producer John Nathan-Turner and the BBC agreed it was time for a new Doctor, and when Baker came in for his annual “I Want to Leave” meeting, nobody talked him out of it. Season 18 is conceptually interesting but otherwise unfulfilling. Baker more or less phones it in, which is unfortunate for such a great Doctor. His final story, “Logopolis,” featured the return of the Master (here played by Anthony Ainley), and was all about entropy, a theme for the entire season. Throughout the story, there is a mysterious white figure called The Watcher following the Doctor around, and we eventually learn that it is, in fact, his future incarnation. The spectre of the Doctor’s death is literally following him.

At the end of the final episode, the Doctor thwarts the Master’s plan, but sadly falls off of the high antennae known as the Pharos Project. After a lengthy scene where the Doctor reviews his companions and adventures, the Watcher combines with the Doctor and the Fifth Doctor is created:

Fifth Regeneration: The Caves of Androzani (1984)
After three years, Peter Davison wanted to bow out and was given arguably the best story ever made in which to leave with a bang. The penultimate story of season 21, “The Caves of Androzani,” was a story about the greed of men causing destruction. The Doctor’s entire goal in the story is to save his companion, Peri, from the sickness his own rampant curiosity caused. The Fifth Doctor gets to be heroic to the nines, and when he finally saves Peri, sacrificing himself in the process, he seems certain this time he will properly die. But he doesn’t, of course. He is haunted by visions of his past companions and his archenemy, the Master, before we see the first few seconds of the Sixth Doctor:

Davison’s performance is especially strong here, and throughout the entire story and it’s so good that one wishes he had more stories like this during his run.

Sixth Regeneration: Time and the Rani (1987)
The Sixth Doctor’s reign had been a short one, unfortunately, and after the truncated 23rd season, the decision was made that if the series was to continue, which a lot of people at the Beeb did not want, it was going to have a new lead actor. Colin Baker was unceremoniously fired and Sylvester McCoy was hired to play the Seventh Doctor. The first episode of season 24 began with a regeneration. See if you can guess what’s different about it:

Yes, that aired on television. You probably asked “What the eff?” several times during that minute-long clip and I’m not going to try to explain it because it makes no sense. But you probably also noticed the strangest part of that, which is that Colin Baker is nowhere to be found. Having been sacked, Baker declined to take part in a regeneration (rightfully so), and as such we get Sylvester McCoy in curly blonde wig.

Seventh Regeneration: The TV Movie (1996)
Doctor Who had been cancelled in 1989 after 26 years and seven lead actors, but in the 90s, there was an attempt to bring the show back with a TV movie to be used as a backdoor pilot for an American/British/Canadian version of the show. It didn’t get picked up, but it did give us the opportunity, for better or worse, to see McCoy regenerate and give a sendoff to the classic series, albeit stupidly. After getting shot by gangsters 15 seconds after landing on Earth, the Seventh Doctor is taken to the hospital where a surgeon kills him on the operating table. Thanks to the use of anesthetic, the Doctor is not able to regenerate for awhile, so he’s in the morgue when he finally does:

Universal, which co-produced the movie, owns the rights to Frankenstein. GET IT? Despite their best efforts, this ends up just being Sylvester McCoy making stupid faces and Paul McGann trying not to look too stupid while making stupid faces.

Eighth Regeneration: Doesn’t Exist
One of the brilliant things Russell T. Davies did when he brought back Doctor Who in 2005 was to start the show afresh. Eventually we’d get bogged down in history and backstory, but the audience learned it right along with the companions. In the same way the Third Doctor had been introduced, the Ninth Doctor just appears and the adventure begins. We can assume he hadn’t regenerated too long ago as he sees himself in the mirror and seems surprised. We’ll probably never know exactly what happened between the TV movie and the beginning of “Rose,” but I like to think the Eighth Doctor is the one who ended the Time War by killing all the Daleks and Time Lords and this caused him to regenerate into the battle-weary survivor who was the Ninth Doctor.

Ninth Regeneration: The Parting of the Ways (2005)
Christopher Eccleston didn’t want to stay on in the role of the Ninth Doctor after his first series. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but at the end of the day it meant that the new audience would have to deal with the concept of regeneration very early on. What makes his regeneration so great is that he remains as flippant and silly as he ever was. It’s a sad scene, surely, but he tries to make it as easy for Rose as he can, which in turn lets the audience know it’s all okay:

If the Ninth Doctor’s regeneration had been too drawn out or sappy, where he says how he doesn’t want to die and that, the audience would have a harder time accepting the new guy taking his place, which is already a touchy prospect. Applause to RTD for doing this one the way he did.

Tenth Regeneration: The End of Time (2010)
After 3+ years in the role, and garnering huge amounts of praise for playing the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant finally decided to step down. It was also the end of the Russell T. Davies era, and as such, he threw everything in the entire universe into the final two-part special, “The End of Time.” As a story, it makes no sense at all, but it does offer a lot for Tennant to do and some really great scenes between him and Bernard Cribbins. The Doctor knows he’s going to die throughout the story and once he finally reaches the point where he starts regenerating, it’s something like 20+ minutes of screen time before it actually happens, during which time the Doctor visits all of his previous companions and saves them or just does something nice for them. When he’s finally alone in the TARDIS, he tearily says that he doesn’t want to go:

The same reason I love the 9-10 regeneration is the reason I hate the 10-11 regeneration. Whereas the Ninth Doctor tells everyone it’s going to be okay, the Tenth Doctor tries to make us so sad about his leaving that we are immediately put off by the happy-go-lucky weirdness of the Eleventh Doctor. I like the Tenth Doctor a lot, but there are ways to go out gracefully and that wasn’t it. Anyway. I look forward to your letters.

So that’s all the regenerations, the proper ones anyway; I didn’t count the half one in Series 4 that gave us the Handy Doctor or the one SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS because frankly this post is too long anyway. I hope you all enjoyed this journey through the changing faces of the Doctor, and I’ll be back next week for the review of “The Almost People.”

-Kanderson also doesn’t want to go, and so isnt. But he would like it if you followed him on teh TWITTERS

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42 comments

  • You knew it was coming! No, no vitriol from me, you’re probably right from a dramatic standpoint that Tennant’s exit is too much, but it had to be done. The show really took off while Tennant was there, he was/is so beloved, and Davies was leaving the show too; most everyone watching and certainly the people making the show all wanted a good cry to deal with the transition, and they got it. It didn’t turn me off to Matt Smith- I think I would have been more annoyed by him if I hadn’t gotten to say a proper goodbye to Tennant. Smith’s goofy appearance is a good palate cleanser and re-set for the show, and Tennant’s operatic sendoff didn’t diminish that, I don’t think; it more just acknowledged the kind of romantic god-like doctor Tennant had become, and that we were going back to the basic heart and roots of the show with our new guy.

  • I absolutely agree that 10’s regeneration was not graceful; I feel like they drew out his goodbye because of Tennant, not the Doctor. I like what he did for all of his friends (even if it was extremely melodramatic), but him saying “I’m not ready to go” (or whatever he said) was not cool. I appreciate the idea of the Doctor not being ready to regenerate as a character, but it just seemed like a big “fuck you” to the new people that were coming in for the production around Matt Smith.

    I enjoy the retro!regenerations. Oddly enough, I like the first one the best. Simple and actually quite effective.

  • I like the 9th regenerating into 10 – one I’m a huge Ninth fan, and his “Rose, you were fantastic…and you know what? so was I!” line is just classic, but two, it gets a good balance – I don’t think it doesn’t take regeneration seriously (I really think Tennant was in many ways a sillier doctor than Eccelston in my book, but I know not everyone sees it that way) it does – but in a way that’s ok – it’s clearly ok for Rose (and the audience) to be uncertain and to miss Nine, but its clear enough that its not the end of the world either… (And Tennant’s line about the teeth is fabulous)

    Where as, having the doctor SO upset about regenerating (10 into 11) makes it seem more like it’s not the same person – like I can understand why the doctor gets attached to one version of himself, but to be that upset? maybe if you really think there’s a limit on regenerations or something, but… it just seems off to me – makes it seem too much like he’s becoming a completely new person…

  • I thought the 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston regeneration was the best. Like he was so ready. And he was ok with it. I agree with Rachel, it was sort of “why Tennant you are so amazing why did you go out saying I don’t want to go yet” That being said seasons 2 through 4 make up for a bad ending.

  • I remember watching the conflated madness that was End of Time and being genuinely puzzled as David Tennant’s utter cowardice come regeneration. I mean, dude. Not the first time.

    I figured RTD just couldn’t control himself and projected into the script RTD’s own personal grief for his (and Tennant’s) departure from the show, and bedamn the logic of it all.

    In hindsight, its much more fascinating. On the whole, The Doctor is a hero. He’s brave and all that. So why run? And it does provide a stark contrast to future version of Eleven, who knowingly (we assume) faced not only regeneration, but actual real death in Impossible Astronaut.

    He’s the same person, different face. And its nice to see the character growth from the broader perspective.

  • @Lee for some reason BBCA took a break for the week. But you can easily find it online to watch. It was a great episode. And the mid series finale looks fucking amazing!!

  • Agreed that Ten’s exit was totally melodramatic and ridiculous, but it absolutely fit his character. He was incredibly arrogant, over the top, and sappy. No way was he going to leave gracefully.
    Also, this was the first time the Doctor was really seemed to enjoy the piss out of himself. He bonded with tons of people and their families, he snagged the ladies on a regular basis… Considering he’s 900+ years old, and doesn’t know what he’ll look like or act like once he regenerates, I can see why he might have been sad to see that one go.
    As for the rest, Three, Five, and Nine had it the best, for sure. Though I may never forgive RTD for that cheestastic line to Rose during Parting of the Ways: “You need a…Doctor.” Barf.

  • It’s really 2 and 5’s regenerations that seem so tragic to me. Two was punished for meddling (not fair! Stupid time lords), and so were his companions, which was probably the saddest part of all. Five was SO wonderful in Caves of Androzani… and he essentially gave his life to save one person. So very much in the character of the Fifth Doctor. And the Doctor in general. Ten’s regeneration is so out of character for the Doctor as a singular being, though not for that particular incarnation. The comment about RTD/Tennant and projection seems about right…

  • Whatever happened to the regeneration chamber/room that was later turned into a regeneration cabinet? Am I remembering that right, or is that just something I made up?

  • @josh it’s been a long time since I saw that episode so if I’m wrong I apologize up front but it seemed to me that something went wrong during that regeneration that required it… maybe…

  • I tend to get a little miffed when people say that Tom Baker phoned it in for Season 18. It’s completely true, but I can’t say I blame him one bit. Nathan-Turner and that asshole Christopher Bidmead hated everything about Tom Baker’s and Douglas Adams’ time on the series and when the Turner-Bidmead reign began, they made a point of changing anything and everything that made the Fourth Doctor so lovable and popular in the first place. Even the way the Fourth Doctor died was a slap in the face to Tom Baker. I’m glad Bidmead didn’t stick around any longer…good riddance.

  • I think the 10th Doctor’s regeneration was less about Tennant/Davies and more for the fans. A way of saying “This is just as difficult for us as it is for you.” because so many became so attached to the 10th Doctor. I couldn’t really get into the new series until the 10th Doctor came around and it was like losing a close friend when his departure was announced. Maybe it seemed like a less than noble thing for the Doctor to do, but for one of the most compassionate incantations of the character…it was fitting.

  • I’ve always really liked the Keeper of Trakken/ Logopolis/Catrovalva trilogy, but the Fourth Doctor’s death falling from a tower always seemed pretty lame.

  • 10’s regeneration wasn’t a fuck you to the new people, it was a “shhh shh shhh, it’ll all be okay” to the people who’d grown attached to tenant (like me) over the past seasons, rather then just going *pzzzt* and plugging in a new doctor. I dont know if it’s simply because i’ve followed doctor who since season 2 (i couldn’t get into eccleston, i personally think he’s the worst or the modern doctors) but the fans who’d grown organically to love tenant over three years needed a melodramatic few minutes to basically cry, and then matt smith to dive in and show us that he’s still the doctor, and he’s still amazing.

    I like alot of your writing for nerdist kanderson, but often you lack a certain heart, or perspective, or something, that can really be irritating.

    (the above writing is what happens when i restrain my inner troll and try to contribute/be constructive.)

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    @Graham

    What perspective might I be lacking? I feel like I do a pretty good job presenting a balanced view of the topics at hand, but obviously my own opinion will weigh heavily on what I write, as I think most people’s would and do in this type of writing.

    It is my opinion that the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration belittles much of the heroism and selflessness he displayed during his time. During the last series and most of the specials, he had become increasingly arrogant and smug and that came to a head in “Waters of Mars” which I thought beautifully conveyed the consequences of having those attitudees remain unchecked. The Tenth Doctor is afraid of his own death, which a completely natural way to feel and one that we haven’t seen the Doctor express before.

    By time “The End of Time” comes around, we see him (in part 1) give a heartfelt explanation to Wilf of how it feels like death to regenerate and how scared he was. Fine. However, by the end of part two, when he realizes the meaning of the “knock four times” prophecy, he goes on a diatribe essentially blustering about how he has to save Wilf even though he shouldn’t have to die, etc etc. Then he does the good thing and save Wilf, sacrificing himself, and trigger the regeneration, then he gets an incredibly long time to say goodbye to everyone he met, something his earlier selves didn’t have the opportunity to do, and then, after ALL THAT, he’s still says “I don’t want to go.”

    I felt like it’s cowardly and proves that he hasn’t learned anything from the beginning of the story to the end. He treats the entire thing like he’s being forced out when in actuality it was his choice to save Wilf that lead to this moment. And, from the production side, both Davies and Tennant chose to leave, so saying “I don’t want to go,” both in story terms and production terms, smacks of ungraciousness and wimpering cowardice. For me, it would have been so much better and more Doctorly to take a deep breath in that final moment and say “It’s time to go,” or something like that, creating more of a catharsis and letting the Tenth Doctor go out on top.

    Part of the beauty of having this editorial-style outlet for my ideas is that I can express opinion about things I like. Just because I didn’t cry or give a standing ovation to Tennant at the end of “The End of Time” does not mean I lack perspective, it just means that I didn’t like the story or the way it was carried out. I enjoy engaging in a debate with people about things, in a constructive and respectful manner, and I hope I never make people think I’m downgrading their own opinions by stating my own.

    And if you disagree with my stuff strongly enough to need to restrain being a troll, please feel free not to read.

  • I liked how the Tenth Doctor explained to Wilf about regeneration being like death to him and I think it set up his last line to be more about his love of life than a “screw you” to the 11th Doctor.

    The 10th had grown more arrogrant in his stance but I think thats a natural advance of the character from losing his last companion the way he did. Knowing that he was leaving after that last season allowed the production team and Tennant to expore some angles of the Doctor’s persona that you can’t in a normal season. Which I found refreshing. It was interesting to see how mad with grief he had become.

    When Wilf is locked up in that final box and the Doctor saves him he was always going to do that, his huge speech about what good he could do was just bravado I think. He didn’t want to die and was shouting just to shout. Then he did what he always does and sacrifices his interests for others.

    I think the final shots with the 10th Doctor saving everyone else one more time was in a way to show that those characters wouldn’t be coming back again and to let the new production team have a fresh start to bring in new viewers that might not be aware of the past seasons events.

    The final line I think is just someone that doesn’t want to die, which is what his character had been saying for the past several episodes and was brillant I thought. And Tennant as well didn’t want it to be about cowardice, in “Doctor Who Confindental” it shows the behind the scenes shot of that line and it was orginally envisioned to be more full of emotion but they cut it back to be more a simple line about a person that had cheated death so many, many times before wanting to cheat it once more and continue his life.

    To me a brave face and “See you later” nod would have been more out of character with what had just been happening. I think the 10th Doctor still goes out on top for knowing that he was about to die and still facing it. Even if he did rage against it for awhile.

    As for Matt Smith and the 11th Doctor I find his portrayl of the Doctor to be amazing and I love Moffat’s writing style.

    Also, I know that the last episode has yet to air in America but I’ve seen it and utterly amazing. Do anyone know when it airs in America? Many friends I want to discuss it with but none of have seen it yet.

  • Thanks Kyle for mentioning the 10-11 regeneration and the utmost sadness that RTD threw into it. As much as people have their favorite Doctor, and as many times as his face changes, he will still be the Doctor. That is what makes the series so brilliant. I just wish RTD would have made the regeneration a little bit more considerate for Smith stepping in.

  • I’ve been watching Dr Who since the Fifth doctor, on PBS, where they showed each story together, rather than individual episodes. So I had a constant flow of story, with no seasons, so there was never as much feeling of awe when the Doctor regenerated, because the next week would just start the next Doctor.

    Watching the current shows is different, because you’re not so surprised that there’s a regeneration at the end of the third or so season of a Doctor’s time.

    The current regenerations are so bombastic, too, I wonder what would happen if a city on Gallifrey were bombed, and all the Time Lords had this crazy energy going everywhere at once as they regenerated?

  • @Josh and Chad H The room you are trying to remember was called the “Zero Room”. It was a place deep within the TARDIS that had a zero effective environment, a place that the Doctor could shield himself from external influences affecting his regeneration. In the episode “Castrovalva” the Master lays a trap that sends the TARDIS to the beginning of creation and in order to escape the Doctor is forced to jettison rooms of the TARDIS, including the “Zero Room” and his companions have to make a new one out of what was left. Turns out to be the size of a coffin.

  • Nice run down about regeneration! That’s a bold statement you made there, but not untrue. Although I loved Tennant’s performance all the way through his swan song episode, I feel like the Doctor’s pre-regeneration fit of rage (“I COULD DO SO MUCH MORE!”) and his weepy “I don’t want to go…” seemed to contradict the nature of the character. One presumes that if one could change bodies, like one changes their clothes, they wouldn’t make a big deal about it, especially after already having done it 9 times. I did appreciate the Doctor’s explanation to Bernard about what it’s like to regenerate, but nevertheless… you know what it was? All that kissing the Tenth Doctor did. He finally regenerated into a form women found sexy and he didn’t want to let go;) Anyway, I agree with you, it did give Matt Smith an uphill battle to contend with, but he handled it like a pro!

  • @BungeeBall
    Matt Smith’s next episode will air in America on June 4th. BBC (A) thought that because of the Memorial Day holiday they would not have a decent audience so they postponed it a week. I have seen the episode – nothing like BBC original airing, I say – and like Kyle’s earlier review of part one, I feel that this mid-season offering sets us up for a remarkable story arch climax. I am looking forward to it immensely.

  • I think if the 10th Doctor death just happened he wouldn’t have agonizing over it. It was all this prophecy and prediction stuff gave him too much time for it to be running around in his head that it became like an obsession. I don’t think the Doctor likes the concept of fate and he rebels against every time. He kept meet psychics that kept telling him he’s going to die, that’s a downer. I hope the eleventh meets a psychic and the first words out of his mouth should be.

    “Shut up, I mean really don’t give me any spoilers. They leave me in a bad mood, because who really wants to know when they’re going to die.”

    Every Doctor incarnation seems to be the sum of the experiences before him. Look the fifth regeneration into the sixth the fifth had just experienced some of his worst failures (example Silurians again) and that is why the sixth is a bit harsh. The ninth seems to be the result of his experience in the time war possibly as the eighth. Ten was the result of just having a good time with Rose. Ten was in a good happy place, well adjusted, a little sentimental and emotional but a good mix and he was happy with that why mess it up.

    I disagree about the End of Time not making sense but there was a lot of unnecessary in it that made it sloppy as hell.

  • I felt that Tennants’ regeneration was supposed to be sadder because the situation was sadder. Unlike other times when The Doctor regenerated when someone was there and he could go on as usual, this time when he was dying he was all alone, he had no one and nothing to go back to. I didn’t want that “everything’s going to be okay” feel as before because it kinda wasn’t. Which may be why he uttered the “I’m not ready to go” line… I don’t know where I was going with this.

  • I totally agree with your assessment of the 10th-11th regeneration. It drove me crazy that he spent 20 minutes saying goodbye to everyone — it was like the end of Return of the King with its 5 different possible ending points. At the end of 10’s run, I was getting excited to see Matt Smith, but they dragged out the goodbye for so long that by the time 10 regenerated all I could think was “FINALLY!”…and then I felt really guilty because I wasn’t glad Tennant was gone…I just didn’t like that it felt like they were trying to force me to miss him or mourn him more than I already was.

  • @Old Doctor Yes I remember that bit but it was odd as it’s the first time it’s ever mentioned in the entire series. I assumed that he needed it for his current regen since it has never been mentioned before. I may have to did up the episode and rewatch it. The whole zero room thing though I think is just a plot device for that episode and never mentioned again.

  • Also I would like to throw my support for KAnderson. I have always felt this way too about the 10-11 regeneration. I don’t mention it much because it does draw conflict from the Tennant fans. I never liked it I just wish he had just started the regen without him saying a word.

  • To keep it brief, as I appeared to have touched a nerve, (i’ll avoid commenting in the future) the perspective im referring to is you have a very clinical writing style for a very emotional show, which for a large part is fine, but the tonality and scope of view can rub me the wrong way with a few things (like the 10th regeneration, and 1-2 smaller points in previous articles that are frankly to small to remember).

    Honestly, I was suffering from a little bit of real-people-write-this-blindness that chris talks about on nerdist, i didn’t mean to offend/irritate to the extent I did.

  • Finally, someone agrees with me on the 10-11 regeneration! Then again, I’m an 18 year old surrounded by Tennant fan girls, so what do you expect?

    I loved Tennant too (not as much as Nine, but go figure), but the entire ending of The End of Time made me want to yell at the screen, “Oh get on with it!” And by the time we got to his regeneration, I nearly lost it at “I don’t wanna go”. Partially because of sadness, and partially because that felt like it was Tennant saying that, not the Doctor. And it drove me a bit mad, yes. Its a shame, Tennant deserved better parting words that didn’t take away from the Doctor’s last moments like it did.

    Nine’s parting lines were fantastic, if I may say so. Cheeky bastard ’til the end, and I loved it. Hopefully they will give Smith a better send off when the time comes.

  • Oh dear such terrible words . . . “hopefully they will give Smith a better send off when the time comes”. I for one hope Matt Smith stays and stays and stays.

  • I love the Tennant to Smith regeneration because it seems like the proper reaction to dying. Even though The Doctor has done it before each time he’s kind of a different person and that form of the doctor is dying. Most of the people who said it was too drawn out and sappy I disagree, he should feel worried about his regenerations and not treat it like that shit is a kleenex (oh well time to get another one) otherwise it would diminish the whole idea of the regenerations. Also there was a transition in production staff and I think the doctor visiting all the companions and people he had met was to say “ok guys it was fun but there’s a new doctor, new production staff, new direction and we’re not revisiting this shit anymore from the Tennant years.” And the last thing I liked about this regeneration was how serious he was because Tennant was a weird and goofy Doctor and even though there were slight glimpses of seriousness spread out through his years his regeneration was the first time he was really bothered and serious about something because he enjoyed this body and the people he had met in it. Also Matt Smith is awesome.

  • And about the episode it was clear from the beginning of the finale that he didn’t want to change yet. You can see that in the very beginning when the ood tell him you’re going to die doctor and the shit about four knocks. He takes the fight to the Master cause he thinks he’s the one meant to kill me. When the Master is all gone and taken care off you can see relief just come on his face until he hears “knock, knock, knock, knock” from Donna’s grandfather. After you see the doctor get mad at him for a second because he knows there’s no avoiding this he just accepts it. He was reluctant to change the whole time.
    If in the beginning when the ood said doctor you’re going to die and the doctor just replied “so what I’m a fucking Time Lord I just regenerate bitch” then the entire finale would’ve been for nothing. If that’s the case we don’t even need to see a regeneration just start the new season and show the new doctor. The Tennant to Smith regeneration was how it should be done.

  • Ah, bummer, I’m disappointed so many people dislike the 10-11 regeneration. I guess I’d just assumed everyone thought it was awesome, like I did. Well, to each their own.

    Also, really enjoying these articles. Looking forward to The Almost People. Keep up the good work!

  • Tennant’s regeneration was not meant to be cool. It was meant to show the bad stuff that happens to the Doctor if he consciously chooses to be selfish and not regenerate when his time has come. His “uncool” regeneration and selfish behavior was all the result of not regenerating and using the handy-hand when he was shot by the Dalek in Series 4.

    You aren’t supposed to like it. It’s a great character study, though.

  • the ninth doctor had the perfect regeneration. he had a brave face on for his closest friend and it was just perfect for any doctor. and i dont understand how this discussion so quickly turned into a doctor ten discussion. i honestly couldnt stand season three and four or the specials 10 had. the relationships with the companions were forced and they seemed to be about just showing how cool humans are. when in all honesty the companions he had picked were boring one demensional (pardon my awful spelling) characters with no sense of who they were. thats not to say those seasons disnt have good episodes. it just seemed they couldnt let go of the idea of companions.

    and out of curiosity why don’t people like nine.he was just as good as smith and tennant to me. so if someone could like enlighen me on that..

  • Nah, I loved the 10/11 regen and I really disagree with a lot of you.

    It was brilliant! 10 really didn’t want to go, but that was his luck, and now 11 and he’s just amazing. I am a big Tennant fan but I love Smithy.

  • My favorite regeneration was the third. When Jon Pertwee changed into the greatest and definitive Doctor Tom Baker. The saddest was the fourth. When Tom changed into Peter Davison’s Doctor. That was the end of the best era in Doctor Who history and it would never be the same again or as good. As good of an actor, David Tennant is…when it comes to the Doctor, no one has ever been as good as Tom Baker in the role. Most knowledgeable Who fans agree with me. I really always thought Tennant was overacting and trying to be Tom but there’s only one and he was naturally eccentric and wasn’t acting. That was him. By the way, Tom was not the first Doctor I saw either. Just after seeing them all, he is the one that best epitomized the character in every way.