Well, if you’re gonna go out, go out this way.
Even as a at-best casual fan when these episodes were new, I was aware Christopher Eccleston was leaving after the first series of episodes, and this here, his 13th, was his last one. Sure, he has somewhat recently signed on to do some Big Finish audio plays, and what few of them I have listened to were pretty cool, so that should turn out well for fans everywhere. But he came to an end on the show here for reasons that are still a bit vague as near as I can tell. I won’t get too much into them because, quite frankly, I’m not sure what they are and am too lazy right this second to look them up.
But what a way to end a series. Not the best season finale I’ve ever seen, but it did tie together all the previous episodes in one way or another. Rose looks into the Heart of the TARDIS, supercharging herself with time energy enough to defeat the entire Dalek fleet. She, it turned out, was the “Bad Wolf,” meant to scare the crap out of the Daleks.
It didn’t work, you know, until she did it.
But before that we got a Dalek Emperor, on an episode that revealed the Daleks survived the Time War by essentially crossbreading with humans, “diluting” their own DNA and making them hate themsevles.
We got the Doctor working on a weapon that could wipe out the Daleks but also everyone on Earth, only to decide he can’t do that. That comes after the Daleks essentially wipe out everyone on the space station, including Captain Jack, but he somehow gets better before he’s left behind.
And if you think I’m gonna skip Torchwood, well, let’s just say I have plans.
However, as much as it was a wee bit sad at the time to say goodbye to a character I felt like I was just starting to get to know, this first series did accomplish quite a bit. For anyone with only a passing familiarity with Doctor Who, this was a great re-introduction in that it gave out everything that a viewer really needs to know about the Doctor.
What’s his name? He’s the Doctor.
He’s a Time Lord that travels through time and space in the TARDIS with a companion of some kind, someone he acts as both guide and protector for. He can be arrogant, but he’s also compassionate. He’s not one for weapons or physical action all that often, but he can stop anyone he needs to. He shows joy when, as seen in “The Doctor Dances,” everybody lives. He has the TARDIS and a sonic screwdriver (also, psychic paper, but that was new). He can be a bit eccentric, he’s often very silly, and he should be the most frightening thing in the universe to a Dalek (or a Cyberman, but those are only hinted at here). but the most reassuring thing for his friends and allies.
Oh, and if he has to die, he’ll regenerate into a new form. That’s what happens here when this Doctor, absorbing the excess time energy from Rose with a kiss, suddenly changes into David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, who picks up the conversation right where Eccleston’s Ninth left off.
But what to make of Eccleston’s take on the Doctor? There’s not much to go on, true. Part of that was due to his own decision to leave the series. We saw he was in many ways a standard Doctor: a bit eccentric, able to do what he needs to do without really having to plan out much in advance, the smartest man in the room though he rarely seemed like it, and able to talk his way into any place he probably shouldn’t be without giving his actual name.
If anything, the new factor is Rose, as something both of a love interest for the Doctor as well as having her own supporting cast in the form of Mickey and Jackie, both of whom help her out this episode.
But in the end, well, as much as I liked Eccleston’s take on the role, it still feels like something of dry run. Heck, he didn’t even stick around for the first Christmas special.
But that’s for next time.
For now, here’s what is, as of this typing, the last to-date of that YouTube documentary series I found on the different Doctors covering Eccleston’s time.
But for now, I can move on to the Doctor who rivals Tom Baker for the most popular of the various Doctors.