January 28, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Doctor Who “Twice Upon A Time”

Two different Doctors meet, neither of them wanting to regenerate, but it's that time again.

Here it is, once again, another regeneration as one Doctor leaves and is replaced by another.

This one may be one of the better regenerations that I’ve seen, honestly.

So, here’s the deal:  the Twelfth Doctor doesn’t want to regenerate and meets the First Doctor, in the same place and in the same situation.  Splicing in bits of the original episode with new footage of David Brinkley (sort of) reprising the role as the First Doctor works, and the episode does have a lot of good humor as the First Doctor’s more…dated ideas on the place of women and just some of the stuff the Twelfth has lying around.  There’s also a World War I era British captain, and he’s not sure how he got there.  It’s the wrong year, and the South Pole.

Also, some woman made of glass is after the Captain.  Something about how they got him moments before his death, recorded his memories, and were in the act of returning him when having two incarnations of the same Time Lord having the same basic crisis in the same place at the same time diverted the Captain.  The Doctors, both, more or less decide to try to save the guy because, well, that’s who they both are.

What follows is basically a wrap-up to this Doctor, and having the First show up works since, arguably, the First Doctor is the incarnation with the most in-common with the Twelfth.  Both are essentially grumpy older men who don’t know, initially, how to relate to other people.  They do good, but don’t relate well to others.  Sure, the Twelfth has an immature streak in many ways that the First disapproves of, but that is essentially who they both are.

And yeah, there is the chance for the Twelfth to say goodbye to all of his companions…including Clara, the Doctor’s memories restored.  Sure, I don’t think for a moment that Jenna Coleman was on set with the others, but apparently, she was also playing Queen Victoria for another TV series, so her schedule was tight.  I’ve said enough about my thoughts on Clara, but she isn’t there when the Doctor gets a group hug from, well, basically facsimiles of his other companions.  For once, the threat wasn’t evil.  It was just misunderstood.  The “villains” just recorded the memories of people before they died and let the memories work through glass bodies from time to time.  The Doctor doesn’t believe they’re real, but he also may not care that much in the end.

Essentially, both Doctors realize they need to regenerate.  The First sees he has a lot of good yet to do, and the Twelfth, who could decide to just die, figures he can still keep doing good, giving a speech that could be this (or any) Doctor’s general philosophy, on how the next Doctor should never be cruel or cowardly, and to always be kind even if it isn’t always possible to be nice, ending with what could be Peter Capaldi himself speaking with “Doctor, I let you go,” about as appropriate a last line as David Tennant’s “I don’t want to go” for a final line from any actor while playing the Doctor.

And then there’s some actually impressive effects as the body shrinks and changes down to Jodie Whittaker’s first female Doctor, but her joy at being there seems short-lived as the TARDIS goes haywire and ejects her.

Alright, so, what did I think of this particular Doctor?  Quite frankly, I think he worked more often then he didn’t, and Capaldi’s stamp on the character may be one of the more compassionate Doctors considering how bad he was, at least initially, at reading other people.  That was, in a sense, how this Doctor grew.  This wasn’t either of the previous two Doctors who kept companions around to stay sane or compassionate.  This was a Doctor who kept companions around because he at first genuinely needed help.  He made commitments, but was as likely to bugger off when the mood struck while still (more or less) doing what he promised he would.  He was the best Doctor to say goodbye to River Song, and he was the one best suited to actually hug his companions at the end of the road, seeing as how it was those people who helped him learn how to actually relate to others.  Because, in many ways, as this Doctor’s time progressed, his ability to show empathy made him one of the better Doctors for it.  So, really, Capaldi’s Doctor was unique in his own way, a character who cared deeply, but wasn’t always able to show it very well.

Also, he liked to rock out.

So, anyway, that means moving on to the Thirteenth Doctor, right?  Well, not right away.  Whittaker’s first two series are the only ones I have access to on HBO Max.  Her last few specials haven’t come out yet, though one will be along in a couple weeks.  In a nutshell, I don’t want to rush through this last (to date) Doctor, particularly since I don’t know as of this typing who the next actor to play the Doctor will be.  But once I am through with Whittaker’s run, I’ll need to find something else, so I plan to do some things, Doctor-related, to delay it as much as possible.  So, for the next couple days, I’ll be taking a look back at some previous Doctors…sort of.

It’ll make sense by this time tomorrow.

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