Saturday, 28 January 2017


Well, we've reached the end of the month and the entry I've been working on still isn't ready. Once more, I'm going to dip into my reserves and post something I wrote that was intended for something else. This was submitted to someone who was doing a retrospective on Day of the Doctor. It's purely an opinion piece - so it doesn't really suit any of the categories that I've established in this blog. 

Which means it's time to create a new category: the UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION essay. This category makes its first appearance, here. If the readers enjoy it - I might write other entries of this nature from time-to-time. 


As unfortunate as it was that Christopher Eccleston chose not to be in Day of the Doctor, Steven Moffat found a most ingenious way of overcoming the obstacle. He created a secret incarnation that the Doctor never speaks of. That he almost seems to hide from even himself (which explains why this particular face never seems to appear in the "past incarnation flashback" sequences that we've been seeing in the New Series). This special version of the Doctor even refuses to be called by the name he has carried throughout his other lives. He is, however, given the title of the War Doctor (or Doctor of War). Which, as you can see, still has the word Doctor in it. So, in many ways, he is still very much the Doctor - but he is an incarnation the Time Lord wants to bury away.
This invention Moff came up with to work around the problem of Eccleston's unavailability certainly adds a new dimension to the Doctor's past. But does it actually do anything for the story he was trying to tell in the 50th anniversary celebration? Or is this more like the imprisonment in freak time eddies that the First and Fourth Doctors suffered during past anniversary specials? Just a necessary plot contrivance to compensate for a behind-the-scenes complication?

I say the War Doctor was absolutely necessary to the telling of this tale. That, in fact, the story would not have worked half as well if Doctor Nine had starred in the anniversary special instead of him. And I have three principal reasons to support my ridiculous theory:

1: It Suits the Character
The Doctor is, ultimately, a man of peace. He chooses only to resort to violence in extreme circumstances. We really only see him using brute force if it's in self-defense or the need to protect others from a harm he cannot defeat through non-violent means. These "extreme circumstances" are always short-lived. The Doctor will do something aggressive very quickly. He'll plant the Dominators' seeding device aboard their ship to blow them up. Or send Solomon's ship into space with a beacon for the Earth missiles to home in on. Such actions take mere moments. Then he's back to being the Doctor. We see only brief flashes of his more ruthless side. It's never something that endures for long.
The Doctor participating in the Time Wars is a feat that is beyond him. He is simply not capable of unleashing his bloodthirsty side for such a protracted period of time without completely losing himself in the process. This is especially true of his Eighth Incarnation. While we witnessed very little onscreen evidence of his behavior, we can see that his value for life is  higher than it is in a lot of other incarnations. The best proof of this is seen as the Master is getting sucked into the Eye of Harmony. Regardless of the personal risk involved, this Doctor extends his hand to save his arch enemy from his horrid fate. Other incarnations might have been more prone to pronounce something to the nature of: "Your just desserts" and let him perish.
The Doctor's behavior in Night of the Doctor makes perfect sense - particularly for his extra-compassionate Eighth Incarnation. Knowing it's not in him to fight in an ongoing war, he chooses to stay at its fringes and deal where he can with the fall-out. But when he must, at last, give in to the persuasion of the Sisterhood on Karn - he knows he cannot do it as himself. He must make special compensations that will, somehow, allow him to commit the atrocities that lay ahead for him.
The creation of the War Doctor very much supports how human psychology works (which, it seems, is not that different from Time Lord psychology). The War Doctor is a great example of compartmentalization. The idea of how we sometimes almost "become someone else" for a brief time to do things we wouldn't normally do.  The War Doctor is an extension of that idea. A special incarnation that allows the Doctor to be someone he isn't for as long as he needs to be. It's even fitting that he almost seems to forget about this incarnation once he regenerates. Oftentimes, when people compartmentalize, the memory of what they did as this "other person" becomes blurry. It's almost like regenerating into the War Doctor is a sort of dissociative schizophrenia that enables him to keep being the man of peace in his other incarnations.
To have Doctor Nine be the one who used the Moment would've made things too complicated for the, overall, character of the Doctor. It's much more in keeping with the Doctor's personality to have created a separate incarnation to commit his darkest deeds and then turn into a new man when it was time to stop being a warrior and go back to being a traveler. From a character standpoint, this just seems to work better.

2: It Works For An Anniversary Special
A good anniversary special - whether it be Doctor Who or some other show - should shake up the format of the series. A Major Change of some sort needs to happen. In the Tenth Anniversary, the Doctor is liberated from his exile on Earth. In the Twentieth, he accidentally becomes Lord President of the Time Lords and restores his status as a "man on the run from Gallifrey". In the Fiftieth, he ends up saving his homeworld from destruction.

Moff restoring Gallifrey definitely suits the storyline for Day of the Doctor. But this is the 50th anniversary: an event this gigantic needs to pack a bigger punch. To suddenly claim there's a whole part of continuity that we didn't know about is just the sort of thing the Special needed to really deliver that impact. An incarnation that has been kept secret shook canon to its very foundations. This is the sort of thing you write into an episode that is paying tribute to a show that has survived for an entire half-century.

The numbering of the Doctor's lives has been altered and we now have to look at the whole of the show in a very different way. You can only rock the boat like this on just such an occasion. Moff took advantage of the fact and made the 50th anniversary all-the-more memorable for it.

3. Just Plain Pedantic

In the story Rose, the Doctor stops in front of a mirror for a moment and seems to be noticing his new face for the first time. Which insinuates that the Ninth Doctor has just sprung into existence.
Had it been the Ninth Doctor who had done all the fighting in the Time Wars, getting this moment to work would've been difficult. The Time Wars seemed to have lasted several years. Did Doctor Nine never look at himself in a mirror during all that time? It seems pretty unlikely. With the inclusion of the War Doctor, we can now assume that Rose takes place only moments after he departed from the Under-Gallery in Day of the Doctor. The Ninth Doctor switched the desktop theme setting of the console room (perhaps the effect of a memory he didn't totally lose when returning to his proper timestream? He saw the Tenth Doctor's console room and altered his own console room accordingly), changed his outfit a bit and then went off to deal with the Nestene Consciousness that he noticed had just warp-shunted onto 21st Century Earth. This works better than living for quite some time and never bothering to look at yourself.  Although, in Doctor Who, this isn't entirely unheard of. We did see someone wear an eye patch for years and never bother to look under it!

Again, it is still sad that Chris Eccleston chose not to be in Day of the Doctor. It would have been great for him to reprise the character. But it is difficult to see how well his inclusion in the Special would've worked. I really do feel that the War Doctor serves the story better. So, even if Eccleston had chosen to come back, it would've probably still been better to have the War Doctor dealing with the Time War - not him. The Ninth Doctor would have fit in best by just running around with Ten and Eleven and dealing with Zygons. Which, ultimately, may have made the story too cluttered. 
It is great that the need to compensate for a casting problem gave us something better. The War Doctor, in so many ways, just makes more sense. And now we have a whole new period in the show's past for us to speculate about, too. What was the Doctor like in that particular incarnation? Did he become so dark it would even make the Valeyard blush?! Already, we see spin-off fiction coming out that is exploring this era more deeply. May this new secret aspect of the Doctor's life continue to intrigue us throughout the years...

Well, there you are: the very first UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION essay. Did you enjoy it? Feel free to give me some feedback - negative or positive. I do find there are too many blogs out there already that are merely opinion pieces so I never want to go here too often (particularly since my BOOK OF LISTS essays are also, largely, opinion-based). But if you do like hearing me bark at the moon like this - I may re-visit this category now and again. 

Of course, if you check the date that this entry is being posted, you'll know that something very sad just recently happened to our War Doctor. This is my own little way of paying tribute. 

Friday, 20 January 2017


And so, the journey continues as we count down to my all-time fave incarnation of the Doctor....


As we move through this next group, you're probably going to find that my motivation for placing these three Doctors where I have is very silly. These are really good incarnations. But, unfortunately, their reigns ended too quickly. There just wasn't enough time to enjoy them so it's hard to really develop too strong of a fondness for them. So, while they don't belong at the very bottom like our first set of Doctors did, I also can't place them much higher on the list than where they are. For the plain and simple reason that they just weren't around long enough to get to know and truly love them.

Like I said, it's a pretty silly reason. But it's mine!


An absolutely brilliant piece of casting. You needed someone with the sort of gravitas that John Hurt possesses to pull off a character like this. There were a lot of layers to the War Doctor that had to come out in a very short period of time. And Hurt did not miss a beat. He recognizes the complexity of the character - a man so tired of the war that he has to wipe out all the combatants - and executes it all with just the right level of subtlety. The War Doctor seems to always be going through several emotions at once. We see each of those multi-faceted feelings expressed clearly and effectively in Hurt's mannerisms and speech. He really is marvelous in the role.

The surprise that gets sprung on us with the introduction of a "secret" incarnation is, of course, part of the appeal of this version of the Doctor. It was the perfect thing to do during an anniversary celebration and it's great that it came about just because Moff's original plans to use Eccleston fell through. I actually think Day of the Doctor wouldn't have worked as well if the original casting choice had happened. The whole mythos of the Time Wars is more appealing with the War Doctor at the center of it.

Sadly, of course, it would be near-impossible to give the War Doctor more stories. We see him near the end of the Time Wars where things have reverted to full-on frontal assault. I would imagine that earlier battles that are more timey-whimey are just too difficult to visualize. Unless we had an actual film budget to work with. But a series of films displaying the Time Wars would probably never happen. Movies need mass-market appeal and the Time Wars are just a bit too fannish to draw in huge audiences.

So we have to be happy with just that one little story and a few cameos to satisfy our curiosity about what the Doctor was like during the darkest period of his life. A pity, really. Cause he seemed really awesome and I would love to see more...


Look at that! He's the same number of incarnation as he is his ranking!

Christopher Eccleston is so good as the Doctor that he almost breaks free of the Blink and You'll Miss It (Or A Weeping Angel Might Get You) category. It helps that he did get a whole season and not just one story, of course. But it has just as much to do with strength of his performance and the quality of the stories. To this day, Series One is one of the best seasons New Who has experienced. That brief amount of time we got with Doctor Nine does shine with the most intense of brightness. But, in the end, it really was just one season. If he had gone for a second series, he really would be way higher on this list (you will note that another Doctor that only had two seasons achieved exactly this!).

One of the strongest points to the Ninth Doctor is the growth he goes through. From the deepest pits of survivor guilt to the conscious choice of being a "coward, every time", we love the journey we go on with Doctor Nine (he will, eventually, get featured in my Progressive Doctors Series). Again, this journey works so well because of the strong writing and Eccleston's incredible acting. I'd even go so far to say that there was no better way to re-introduce the series.

Some very brave choices get made in the crafting of Doctor Nine that deserve some applause. On the one hand, the production team took a huge risk by letting Eccleston use his Northern accent and dressing him in a very regular outfit. Generations of Classic Who fans who were accustomed to received pronunciation and Edwardian garb could've been massively turned off. At the same time, they also remembered that William Hartnell (and other "arrogant" Doctors) is lurking about somewhere in the Doctor's soul and remembered to make him tetchy, sometimes. The potential fans that weren't familiar with his past needed a highly accessible Doctor. Having Nine be cranky to people or even downright rude to Rose could've driven them off, too. But the chances that were taken were so carefully engineered that both types of audience were properly satisfied. And the New Series is off to the most beautiful of starts because of it.

It's just a pity Eccleston didn't stay longer. He might be in my Top Five if he had.


Another incarnation that matches his ranking! How wild is this?!

By my own twisted internal logic, Ninth should be beating Eighth in this contest. After all, Nine got a whole season. Surely I should've gotten way more attached to him than I did his predecessor?Particularly since Eight, for many years, didn't even quite get a full story (and still, in many ways, hasn't).

But there is something to McGann's performance that just gets me to love him that bit more. He attacks the role with a sort of wild exuberance that makes it nearly impossible to not to instantly fall in love with him. Between that and his handsome looks - can anyone blame Grace for snogging him so quickly?!

McGann was up against so much pressure, too. His was the first attempt to resurrect a show that had lain dormant for half-a-dozen years or so. So much of our hope was riding on him. And yet, he completely rises to the occasion and delivers a great new version of the Doctor. Yes, Eccleston was under similar pressures. But we had been disappointed once, already. This could just be another false start for the show and we were prepared for that. In my opinion, McGann was under much heavier scrutiny. But he more-than-delivered a quality performance - regardless of the stress he was under to satisfy fans who had been starved of the show for so long.

I love all the hints of past incarnations that he puts into his portrayal. He seems to be totally channeling Troughton when he harasses Gace in the parking lot. And he actually really seems like Old Sixie when Grace won't let him into her home. In many ways, he plays his Doctor very similarly to Peter Davison: very sensitive, gentle and fallible. But even with all those nods to the past - he is also, very much, his own man in the role. There are also lots of new qualities put on display, here. Many of which would influence how New Series Doctors would play the role. The fact that he could pull off all this in less than 90 minutes makes him a total hero.

When he reprises the character many years later in Night of the Doctor, we must marvel even more at McGann's skills. All those traits we see in the 96 Telemovie are brought back but with a slightly more mellow edge to them to show that his Doctor has aged (shorter hair and cooler costume, too!). And it's all accomplished in less than 8 minutes of screen time.

Yes, there were problems with the actual plot of his one and only "true" story, but the backdoor pilot also showed a lot of promise. Doctor Who could have worked in the 90s as a British/American hybrid if we had all been just a bit more patient with it. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. But I still think we could easily bring back McGann and give him a few seasons while we also enjoy our current Doctor. I know none of the Head Writers that produce the show think this - but even Paul said he would come back and do it. So let's see about two seasons of Doctor Eight before the Time Wars start and then another season where they have begun but he refuses to participate in them.

The man totally deserves a three-season run. At least.

Okay, that's another three incarnations covered. We're up to a total of seven, now. As we hit the mid-rangers, we're going to slow things down a bit and only do two at a time. It will give me an opportunity to say more about them and also keep that reality-show-style suspense going for a little bit longer as you wait to see who makes it to the top...

Missed the Bottom Four? Here's the link:

I also mentionned some "Progresssive Doctors" series - what's that all about?! Here are the first two installments (I swear, someday, I'll get around to Part Two of the First Doctor!). ors-2-first-doctor-part.html

Friday, 13 January 2017


Beginning the New Year with something light: another exciting episode of Quick Fixes. There are continuity problems that have occurred in the show that can be explained away in a matter of paragraphs rather than needing a full post all on their own. Quick Fixes is meant to address two or three of these issues in one post. 


I got to thinking about this again because Nardole has been re-introduced into the series during the last Christmas Special. It was nice that we were given a somewhat decent explanation on how he got his body back. Unfortunately, it reminded me of how we never got that with the return of Strax a few Christmas Specials previously. It was most bizarre that a specific mini-sode was even shot that was meant to explain it.  But all we really got was Lady Vashtra waking Strax up from where he'd been laying dead at Demon's Run.

What?!  Strax didn't really die? He'd just been napping?!

My guess is that Jenny and Vashtra had gotten a bit attached to Strax during the brief time that they knew him. Perhaps Vashtra even knew a bit about Sontarans and saw hope in the way Strax was trying to be as much of a healer as a warrior. We do see in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship that homo repitilia were capable of intergalactic travel so it's possible they got to know some of the alien races out there. So Vashtra may have decided that this particular thread of Sontaran philosophy needed to keep going on in some way.

The key, here, is that Strax hails from a clone species. So it wouldn't be too hard at all to take some sort of genetic sample from the corpse and use the advanced technology on Demon's Run to create a new version of him. Perhaps some modifications were introduced to make him even more docile than the original. But those variations only worked so well and Strax 2.0 is a bit of a bumbler. Which would account for how we do seem to be seeing a more comical interpretation of the role now that he's part of the Paternoster Gang.

My guess is that even Strax hasn't been given a full explanation of how he's still alive. But he doesn't really question it much, either (that may have actually been part of his genetic re-programming). He's just happy to be Vashtra's butler. He still has war-like tendencies but they're not strong enough to cause any real friction. Particularly now that he's discovered Glasgow....


During Classic Series Days, it was a popular fan-theory that Time Lords could recognize each other telepathically. So if one of them regenerated, the other would still know who they are. We first saw it happen in The War Games when the War Chief notices the Doctor at a briefing and, immediately, recognizes him. The two had not seen each other since Gallifrey and the Doctor had regenerated after he left his homeworld. But the War Chief still knows who he is. There is a bit of hasty dialogue written to address the fact that the War Lord recognizes him even though his appearance has changed but it doesn't really explain much of anything.

So Fandom comes up with this ideas that, since Time Lords are mildly telepathic, they detect each other on a mental level just as much as they do on a visual. This way, they will always know each other from incarnation to incarnation. We see hints of this concept being re-enforced in stories like Brain of Morbius where the Doctor does claim that he sensed the mind of the evil Time Lord ever-so-briefly in Solon's lab. The Invisible Enemy also speaks of a special neural link that the Doctor has with the Time Lords. Unfortunately, it also claims that the link has been shut down so this may not be the part of his brain that is specifically employed in this telepathic recognition process. But it still helps a bit to support this concept. Something goes on between Time Lords that enables them to share certain thoughts with each other. Logopolis is another story that hints at this as the Master finds the Doctor on Earth before he even gets there because: "He's a Time Lord. In many ways, we share the same mind." (or words to that effect). The New Series starts to really confirm this theory in stories like Dalek where the Doctor claims he would know if there were still Time Lords alive. He would sense it in his head.

At last, the notion is explicitly stated at the beginning of Sound of Drums when the Doctor explains to Martha and Jack how the whole process works. We even learn that the Master has been using a special satellite signal to jam the Doctor's ability to detect him. As a fan, I was just a bit excited to finally hear this explanation given. Once more, the New Series confirms a silly fan theory that was established in the Classic Series but never fully proven. Just like the way they solidify the concept of Gallifreyan Mean Time in The End of Time.

Everything now seems great. Fan theory has been explicitly stated. But there is still one big problem: there have been moments in the show where the process doesn't seem to be working.

The biggest one is in the much-maligned Twin Dilemma. For several long minutes after they first meet, neither the Doctor nor Azmael seem to know who the other is. The Doctor explains it away with: "Forgive me, my friend. I've regenerated twice since our last meeting. This is one of those succinct moments that, very much, negates the whole idea of telepathic recognition between Time Lords.

But it's not the only one. If we apply this on a broader level, we begin to see another problem. All those clever disguises that Time Lords like the Master and the Rani love to use - shouldn't they fail miserably? Sure, they look like someone else, but shouldn't their brain pattern or whatever it is that the Time Lords sense about each other give them away? Kalid and Sir Gilles Estram should have never had a chance at fooling the Doctor. And our Time Lord hero should have known immediately that it was the Rani standing outside the bath house in Mark of the Rani - not some old crone. Why doesn't the telepathic recognition work in these cases?

Again, we can go to Brain of Morbius to help explain some of this. The Doctor does claim that Morbius is shielding his mind to avoid detection but that the barrier slipped for just a moment and he sensed him. I would suggest that this is something Time Lords can do. It might even take a bit of training and discipline - but they can put up telepathic blocks of some sort. Even in Invasion of Time, Borusa talks of being "transparent as glass" as the Doctor reveals to him his true intents in the Presidential Office.  But the Cardinal still manages to block out the Vardans well enough once he's out of the lead room. The Vardans never learn of the Doctor's treachery against them by reading Borusa's mind. So it's a trick the Time Lords can learn fairly quickly if they set their minds to it.

So when the Master and the Rani are lurking about in one of their clever disguises (or, in the case of Time and the Rani, downright bizarre disguises) they are also shielding themselves' mentally. This way, the Doctor can sit across the table from the Portreeve or stare intently at a scare crow and not realize that it's his arch rival.

But what of that moment in Twin Dilemma? Were the Doctor and Azmael both shielding their minds from each other even though they had no reason to be?

In this case, I'd chalk it up to a side-effect from regeneration. If it's a difficult one (and the one in Twin Dilemma definitely seemed to have a lot of complications), then certain telepathic capacities might shut down or malfunction for a bit. Including the ability to recognize each other from one incarnation to the next. This problem works both ways, too. Because of the Doctor's difficult regeneration, Azmael couldn't sense who the Doctor was. Nor could the Doctor pick up on Azmael. Of course, during that moment, the Doctor was also having memory problems. His old teacher hadn't even actually regenerated since the last time he'd seen him, but he still didn't recognize him right away. It was only after a few minutes that Azmeal's face finally floated upon his memories.

Rough regenerations temporarily shutting down the telepathic recognition ability might also help to explain why the Doctor doesn't immediately realize it's the Master who's come to pick him up at Grace's place during The 96 Telemovie. Although, it's also likely that the Master is trying to mentally shield himself from the Doctor at the same time.

We shouldn't quite abandon this topic, yet, though. There is still one more idea to be explored regarding this whole Time Lord recognition process.

There is a lot of evidence in the New Series that seems to support the idea that even if Time Lords don't see each other they can sense each other. I briefly touched upon a scene in Dalek where the Doctor mentions this. We see something like this happening between the Doctor and the Master in End of Time, too (although, they seem to insinuate that they're also smelling each other - but I'm gonna say it's more a metaphorical thing. Mainly because Time Lords being able to smell each other from great distances is just silly!). Aside from that bit in Brain of Morbius, we don't seem to see much evidence of this sort of thing in the Classic Series. Or, at least, it's never mentioned that the Doctor is sensing other Time Lords around him even though he's not visually perceiving them.

The Morbius incident can easily be explained away by the fact that his brain was in an extremely altered state so it might make him more easily detectable. Otherwise, the Classic Series seems to always suggest that telepathic communion between Time Lords only seems to happen when they are actually standing in front of each other. If this being able to sense each other without seeing each other ability had existed in the Classic Series, then stories like Colony In Space would have played out quite differently. Neither the Doctor nor the Master seem to know that the other is on Uxarieus until they actually run into each other. Since neither knew the other would be there, neither of them would be attempting to shield themselves' telepathically. So shouldn't they have gotten some sort of "ping" off of each other long before they actually meet up? There are several other stories that work this way. The Doctor and Jo surprising the Master in Atlantis during the later episodes of The Time Monster shouldn't have happened, either. The Master should have known the Doctor was there the moment he landed.  So how have the Time Lords become more sensitive to each other in the New Series?

I'm inclined to believe that the Time Lords put themselves' through a few genetic modifications as they began the Time Wars. I discussed one of them, already, in my Weird Regenerations essay ( I suggest that they also turned up their telepathic skills a bit, too. This would give them several advantages. If nothing else, they would always have a good idea of the strength of their forces since they would be able to telepathically sense their fellow soldiers around them. But, in general, such sensitivities would give them all sorts of extra advantages in battle. So the Doctor underwent these modifications, too, as he elected to finally fight in the Time Wars. Which explains this special ability that never seems to have existed in the Classic Series. Naturally enough, during those years when he believes Gallifrey to have been properly destroyed - this ability becomes a curse. He always knows that he's truly alone because he cannot sense any other Time Lords out there...

There you go, a few more Quick Fixes for you. Hope you like my warped little theories...

Want some other Quick Fixes? Here they are: 

Part 1:

Part 2: