/ / Articles

Time and A Half

Re-GEN-er-ATE! I had to. I’m sorry. 0=) So,  my first Doctor Who-themed post talked about a greater power the Time Lords were bound to. The second was my overall take on the first three seasons. I hadn’t watched the last […]
| May 18, 2011 | No comments | Series:

Re-GEN-er-ATE!

I had to. I’m sorry. 0=)

So,  my first Doctor Who-themed post talked about a greater power the Time Lords were bound to. The second was my overall take on the first three seasons. I hadn’t watched the last half of season three when I initially wrote that, so I saved four and five for this one (which was originally just for five). I think it works, though.

Okay, here’s my character sketch of the Doctor and his story arc. I cut down some of this because I feel like I’d be recovering old ground to keep it. This is just an off-the-cuff overview of the Doctor’s personal story arc. Yes, I didn’t mention River. She’s for later.

  1. In the beginning, the war-weary Doctor is   an angry, broken fellow difficult to please, but  that only adds to his elation when “Everybody lives!” In a weird way,  Rose’s house was home base for him, so losing them is like losing his second family .  Once he regenerates, the newly regenerated Doctor is an odd mix of brash and cocksure mingled in with an apparent real fear his companion won’t like his new self.
  2. I’m counting Runaway Bride in this, but after he loses a companion, from here out is a marked difference in tone.  He never fully recovers from the events of season two. Every time he starts to heal internally, something happens. Over and over and over again all the way through season four. At the beginning he’s miserably lonely, and by the end he’s just as alone as he began, with even more losses in his wake.  Worse, he’s shutting off completely, burying his heart in a kind of self-preservation mode.  I think in the end I have to agree the Doctor’s emotional instability sends some mixed messages thematically. The inner turmoil with the Doctor works for me.  I didn’t have a problem with a brash Doctor that lashes out and does crazy things when he gets emotional…and emotional happens a lot in this season. I liked the play on his “human” and “Time Lord” natures–The one thing he wants, he can never have.
  3. And after that, it feels like a Shakespearean tragedy.  It’s full of the entire emotional spectrum. One of my favorite moments is when it looks like the Doctor’s going to take revenge and kill the Master…and instead puts his arms around his enemy and forgives him.  Another highlight for me, anyway.  By the end,  the beloved Doctor has come to the end of himself (no puns, please). And he loses everything – again. He loses his third family (Donna’s). He realizes he’s become everything he despises and done things he swore he wouldn’t.  And he falls apart.  “Waters of Mars” is almost a flip  on the Pompeii episode: In the earlier episode, he won’t fight Time; in the later, he tries. And fails–resulting in even worse consequences.  But the best twist about this season was expecting the Doctor to be the redeemer and instead the Doctor is the redeemed.

So, for me it’s been one long arc from angry and beaten (Ninth) to unsettled and wild (Tenth – 1&2) to miserably lonely and angry (Tenth – 3&4)  until he finally hits the bottom and admits to having become something he despises. For a guy who actively wants hope, he’s certainly lost all sense of it by the end.

 

The TARDIS is falling!

My initial impression of the 11th Doctor was total refreshment. It was a deep breath of much needed air. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the 10th. But by the end it’s his whole being, body and soul, that needs regenerating. He can’t breathe, so the viewers can’t.  And the final minute or so of The End of Time picked up on the need, I think.  They could have ended it sooner, with a downtrodden,  hopelessly alone Doctor locking himself in the TARDIS, tossing his coat, and setting a course, facing his last few moments alone, and setting the whole thing on fire.

I’ll admit, I might have. I’m a bit ruthless that way.  But it doesn’t end on the down note. Now that everyone’s in emotional distress, the Doctor finishes his regeneration , gives himself a once-over, and, still disoriented and out of sorts, tries to straighten out a falling TARDIS.

So now we’re not  sad. We’re not sure he’ll pull out of the crash. The end.

 

Season 5

And season five kicks off exactly where four left us. The TARDIS crashes  in front of a house where a little girl named Amelia Pond lives. (I’m saving a breakdown of Amy and Rory for my next post, which covers the companions and their respective relationships to the Doctor.) And, just like his previous regeneration, it takes him awhile to get his bearings.

I really think Beast Below  is my favorite episode of season five. If you were only going to watch one episode of this season, I’d probably pick that one. (The Smilers don’t qualify as ‘monsters,’ btw. They’re…well, they’re the least scary creatures in the DW universe as far as I’m concerned.) It’s an odd moment where everything you need to know about who the Doctor is shows up in one episode.

And maybe, for him, crashing outside a little girl’s house was itself a pinprick of hope. He isn’t alone now; in fact, he winds up with more companions than he knows what to do with. If Ten was lonely, Eleven couldn’t get any privacy if he tried. He’s internalizing a lot more now, for better or worse, and he’s got friends who can see straight through his facade–which I think he secretly likes. It’s got a good mix of light and dark moments, I think, and I appreciate the subtleties of the new storylines.

He’s taken a great deal of focus off himself.   As a friend of mine put it,  the season’s story really about Amy and Rory, not the Doctor. He’s bound and determined to keep them together and get Amy down the aisle with Rory–and without compromising their relationship. Somehow.

My biggest critique, really, with season five (and, really, a little into six as well) is the number of innuendos and “moments” seemed to go up. Part of that’s par for the course given Amy’s nature, I suppose, but by the end it was a bit tiresome.  And I’m pretty sure it’s time to stop with the Rory death scenes.  And to stop making Rory think Amy’s cheating or something.

At any rate, thematically they’re still playing with the same concepts as before, just not quite as directly. Major themes still include:

  • Non-violence as a virtue
  • Human nature
  • Faith/trust/belief in something/one

All of which I suppose I’ll cover next time.

 

I  think if I had to sum up season five, I’d say it’s the restoration of hope, with this weird parallel between the newly regenerated Doctor and the six year old Amy, his need for her to trust him, and his need for newfound hope.  It’s a search, in a way, for both of them.

 

Join the conversation

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
Lostariel
Guest

Is it a coincidence that the first time I alight on this site, you talk about my favorite TV show? No, never a coincidence. 🙂
“The Beast Below” is my favorite Series 5 episode too. It really showed me how the new ADD Doctor wasn’t all whipped cream.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Welcome, Lostariel!

This is the third of Kaci‘s series about Doctor Who; her other two columns, along with several others about the programme, are all here.

Lostariel
Guest

Thanks! I clicked the tags hoping for more great stuff and definitely found it. 🙂

Ellen
Guest

Fascinating!
As a beginning Dr. Who fan making my way through seasons 1-4, I find it interesting to read another Christian’s POV on the series. I haven’t gotten to the 11th Doctor, but I am noticing as we get closer to the season 4 finale that the 10th is losing some of his characteristics that let our family fall in love with him and Definitely the growing sense of hopelessness that seems to haunt him throughout.
Do you think the 5th season’s change of spirit came from a change in the headwriter (Steven Moffatt, of Blink fame)?
Allonz-y
ellen

Galadriel
Guest

This post is all deliciousness for my inner (or is it all-the-way-through, dyed-in -the-wool) geek.
I actually started with season five, and then went back for 1-4, which definately impacted my perspective on the series. I mean, I started with this crazy adorkable man-child, who can speak of the Last Time War/ events of End of Time as “A bad day. Bad stuff happened” in Beast Below, and then when you get to Nine, it’s Survivor’s Guilt Personified and even Ten is still recovering. Eleven is definately my Doctor, and I suppose that accounts for the fact that Nine is near the bottom of my list.
What you said about Beast Below is true. I think of Eleventh Hour as the one that hooked me–from the first words (AGGH doesn’t count) of the Eleventh Doctor “Can I have an apple? All I can think about is an apple. Maybe I’m having a craving. Oh that’s new, never had cravings before”– and Beast Below was when I ‘got it.’ That speech of Amy’s shaped my perspective of the Doctor, even though it’s not as accurate for the earlier ones.
I suppose one good quote that sums up the difference between Eleven and Ten comes from a character in Blink: “I like sad. Sad is happy for deep people.”
(This is almost becoming its own post. I better stop.)

Ellen
Guest

“Sad is happy for deep people”… 😀
Its true, and I think the Tenth’s humanity is what makes me like him.
His demeanor of a man who has been through the fire and back but will continue to do what is right is just…wow.
From what I have seen of the 11th Doctor, he seems too light-hearted to connect with those of the audience that sympathised with the Tenth. I have heard that he is more alien than most of the doctors. If alien means that he’s lost that connecting point of deep pain, then that’s a writing problem.
I still am not all the way through the Tenth, and my veiwpoint will probably change, but I find his character (and I guess the 9th- I haven’t seen enough of him) to be more human and realistic than the 11th.
Just some thoughts.
Still love the article! Thanks Kaci!

Galadriel
Guest

Ellen, Ten is definately the most human of the Doctors. A human with serious issues, but still, mostly human. But he’s not really human at all, and it’s easy to forget it. Eleven has deep moments too, such as the whale in Beast Below, or his farewell to Amelia in Big Bang. Yet some of his most in-character moments are when he’s not human, like his “Everything, you’re dying,” in Flesh and Stone, or the entire episode of The Lodger

Jenni N
Guest

You are so making me want to watch every bit of it, Kaci! (since your last post I’ve only watched some out of order episodes…. which doesn’t let me follow the plotlines the way you are describing here)

That’s fascinating. Very, very fascinating. So far I like Eleven best… I definitely can see how he’s using his child-like tendencies to cover up how badly he hurts sometimes, too. It’s just a really interesting angle to take…. **rambles off into mental musing on portrayals of emotional pain**

By the way, when is your next post? I had thought this was a weekly thing… but last week there was no post. 🙁

Bethany J.
Guest

My husband, his friends, and nearly his entire family are Doctor-Who-obsessed, down to the last child. (Sunday dinner conversations all hinge on it!…good grief!) He’d sit and watch the show (Seasons 3 and 4) while I made dinner in the evenings, and I’d listen to all the screaming and grating sound effects and think, “Oooof, I really hate this show.” It was creepy and spooky in a way that brought back bad childhood memories, and hurt my ears.

Then Season Five started.

I found myself hovering near the TV.

Then sitting down next to him.

Hey, the Daleks have deeper voices now, not quite *as* grating.

Hey, this Doctor has adorable enthusiasm about everything, and wears a bow tie! Hee!

The season finale was EPIC.

Now I’m completely sucked in. 😀 I can’t WAIT until the next season is available on Netflix!!

…I think it all hinges on the Doctor himself. My mother- and sister-in-law, for instance, loved David Tennant and are kind of annoyed at Matt Smith. But I guess I just like Matt Smith, because this is the first time I’ve ever enjoyed Doctor Who.

Galadriel
Guest

I am a first-generation Whovian myself, but I am slowly introducing my younger brother to the appropriate episodes. Now, if only I had a set of the Sarah Jane Adventures. That would be such a cool way to get him hooked…

Jenni N
Guest

Somewhat randomly, when I saw my first episode (which happened to be the first episode of the new series 1), my instant assessment was that the Doctor is much like that crazy character in Manalive, and reminded me of something I couldn’t place in something (or multiple somethings – I really can’t remember) by Lewis. The idea of a character full of contradictions (crazy and yet I do believe he’s the most sane person around most of the time; safe and yet dangerous; young and yet old; gentle and yet capable of a lot of damage) really intrigues me.

Christian
Guest

Great article as always, Kaci! And a Doctor Who one. Awesome. One thing I have to disagree with you on though is that the Smilers are the least scary ‘monsters’ in the DW universe. I found them terrifying in their introductory scene (but maybe you don’t have a childhood fear of clowns?)

wpDiscuz