Doctor Who: 5 Things We Learned From “The Night Of The Doctor”

November 15, 2013

cult news, Doctor Who


Yes, kids, Paul McGann, previously seen as the Eighth Doctor in a frankly terrible TV movie, and frequently heard playing the character in a series of audio stories for Big Finish, has finally returned to the screen in this lovely little video tie-in to the 50th anniversary story. Sure, it’s a short story, and sure, it doesn’t end on the happiest note, but at least we finally got a conclusion for the 8th Doctor’s arc.

In case you haven’t seen it, here it is!

So let’s go over what we learned from this…

5. John Hurt’s “Doctor” Is The Ninth Incarnation Of The Character

John Hurt

This is, by far, the biggest bit we learned here, at least in the short term. Now Hurt’s character might call himself the War Leader or the General or something like that. Something other than “The Doctor”, but he is the 9th version of the character. This means that Eccleston’s Doctor is the 10th incarnation, Tennant’s the 11th, Smith’s is the 12th, and Capaldi’s Doctor will be the 13th, which has all sorts of interesting possibilities. You see, in theory Time Lords are able to regenerate twelve times, meaning that Capaldi’s Doctor should be the last version of the character.

Of course we all know they’ll find a way around that fairly easily, at least as long as the show remains popular. From what we saw in the 20th anniversary special, “The Five Doctors”, it’s apparently possible for the Time Lords to give someone a whole new set of lives (as they promised the Master). I suspect the 13 life limit was probably something artificial that they imposed. With them gone, no problem.

4. We Know How The Eighth Doctor Met His End

A warm, caring, kind man, ends his life alone, scared and uncertain, being dragged into a war he went out of his way to avoid. He was clearly desperate, and obviously…well, not in the best of shape physically nor mentally. I mean, just look at the man, and look at the exterior of the TARDIS. He shows up on a spacecraft, tries to save a life, and finds out that the woman he wants to save is so terrified by the ongoing Time War that she’d rather die than go off with him. Not, perhaps, the most pleasant thing.

But then we see his final moments. The would-be companion is dead, and the Doctor is about to be forced to finally get involved in the war. Near death, and only alive because of the Sisterhood (more about them later), he essentially casts-off the name of the Doctor and becomes something different. I don’t think any of us expected that was how the character would go out. I’m going to need some time, personally, to really process this, but I think it’s a good way to handle the regeneration. I would have preferred a full-on episode giving us a chance to really savor the Eighth Doctor, but this works, too.

And, hey, at least it’s better than him dying by hitting his head on the TARDIS console.

3. The Big Finish Elements Have Been Canonized!

207 Sistersoftheflame Cover Large

As a fan of the Big Finish audios, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have this wonderful moment. Every single companion he mentions, the ones he apologizes to and salutes, were creations of Big Finish, where all of them became important parts of Doctor Who history. I’m so pleased about this! We’ll never get to see Lucie Miller or Charley Pollard on the TV show, but at least they got a shout-out by the Doctor during his last moments.

I also loved the fact that this Doctor’s last thoughts were of his companions. This is very reminiscent of the Fifth Doctor’s last moments; lying in the TARDIS as the images of his friends swirled around his head, with his last word being “Adric”. It was a nice touch and a wonderful bit of continuity.

Slightly less in importance is the return of the Sisterhood of the Flame. Now they were introduced in the Fourth Doctor story “The Brain of Morbius”, but Big Finish really used the heck out of them at one point. As a result, they became a fairly big part of the 8th Doctor’s personal canon, and I’m very pleased to see them back.

2. The Time War Was Apparently Quite Epic And Terrifying


We’d had hints before, of course. There was mention of something called the Nightmare Child, and that doesn’t imply fluffy bunnies and happiness. But to actually see the toll the war was taking…I mean, we don’t get to see any battlefields, but just look at the Doctor! Here we get to see not only how frightened normal people are, but the personal toll it is taking on the Doctor.

Like I said, just look at the man. Haggard, ill-dressed, unshaven. He looks a mess. The Doctor normally never looks like that. And look at the TARIDS. We don’t get to see the interior, but the exterior has clearly seen better days. And look at how desperate he is. Yes, he’s doing what he normally does; going around saving people. But there seems to be a certain air of dread about him even from the first moment we see him. He’s clearly trying to outrun the Time War, and it’s sad, but perhaps inevitable, that he doesn’t succeed.
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  1. Musings of a Mild Mannered Man | Doctor Who – An Eighth Doctor Primer - November 16, 2013

    […] Doctor Who: 5 Things We Learned From “The Night Of The Doctor” ( […]

  2. Musings of a Mild Mannered Man | Doctor Who: 8 Ways To Get To Know The 8th Doctor - November 17, 2013

    […] Doctor Who: 5 Things We Learned From “The Night Of The Doctor” ( […]

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