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Doctor Who: The Ninth Regeneration
Rose: You’re not making sense.
The Ninth Doctor: I might never make sense again. I might have two heads, or no head. Imagine me with no head – and don’t say that’s an improvement. It’s a bit dodgy, this process. You never know what you’ll end up with. [The Doctor is struck with energy]
The Ninth Doctor: Stay away!
Rose: Doctor, tell me what’s going on.
The Ninth Doctor: I absorbed all the energy of the time vortex and no one’s meant to do that. Every cell in my body is dying.
Rose: Can’t you do something?
The Ninth Doctor: Yeah, I’m doing it now. Time Lords have this little trick; sort of a way of cheating death.
Story (from “Bad Wolf”, “The Parting of the Ways”, the 2005 Children In Need special, and “The Christmas Invasion”):
The Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack are kidnapped from the TARDIS and forced to play reality game shows in the far future, where the penalty for losing is death. The Doctor breaks out and discovers that the whole network of game shows are situated in a space station, and that the network controller kidnapped him in the hopes of using him to defeat her masters, who are revealed to be the Daleks.
The Doctor is astounded that the Daleks survived the Time War, and the Emperor Dalek reveals himself. His ship was the lone survivor of a cataclysmic event (The Moment, as stated in the last entry), and fell through time to the outer reaches of Earth’s solar system. Over several hundred years, the Emperor harvested humans to slowly rebuild his Dalek army, and was driven mad by his isolation, deluding himself to believe he was a god.
The Daleks now intend to invade Earth, totally complacent in its mindless entertainment, and from there build the empire up to conquer the galaxy. The Doctor realizes the only way he can stop them is to build a Delta wave emitter using the transmitter of the station, but there’s not enough time to refine it. As such, any Delta wave emitted would not just kill the Daleks, but the population of the Earth as well.
The Doctor tricks Rose into staying in the TARDIS, and he remotely sends it back to her own time, locking the controls. Rose is furious, and while back in her own time sees the words “Bad Wolf” all around her, which she had seen all through her adventures with the Doctor as if the words were following her through time. She realizes that it is a message, and breaks into the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits. The TARDIS console opens and floods her mind with the energy of the time vortex.
The Daleks confront the Doctor, and he admits that he can not bring himself to commit genocide (again). Just as the Daleks approach to exterminate him, the TARDIS arrives. Rose steps out, teeming with the energy of the time vortex, now omnipotent. She annihilates the Dalek fleet with a wave of her hand, and resurrects Captain Jack, who had been killed earlier. But the Doctor pleas with her that not only is it wrong for her to stay like this, but the energies will destroy her. She can not give up the power she now has, so the Doctor kisses her and absorbs all the energy into himself, before quickly breathing it back into the TARDIS.
After setting off into flight, Rose awakens with amnesia of the events, and the Doctor warns her of his impending regeneration due to the burn out caused by the energies. After a paranoid rambling (see above), he regenerates, and immediately notices new teeth. Inspecting himself, he notices all the changes in the regeneration and wants Rose’s opinion.
She denies that he could be the Doctor, instead suspecting a plot of some kind. He tries to convince her he’s the same man, but she’s still suspicious. He asks her if she wants to leave, and she’s undecided. The Doctor sets the TARDIS controls back to her home at Christmas time, but then succumbs to the effects of post-regeneration trauma, lapsing into a manic craze.
The TARDIS crashes onto the street and the Doctor wishes Jackie (Rose’s mom) and Mickey (Rose’s ex) Merry Christmas before collapsing into a coma. While recuperating, the Doctor becomes a target for robots dressed in Santa costumes. Meanwhile, the invading force of the Sycorax has arrived, and Rose finds she may be Earth’s only hope.
As stated in the seventh regeneration article, the viewing figures for the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie were very high in the UK. While the audio dramas and novels were in full swing, it was also apparent the audience for the program never really left. Producer Mel Young approached the then-current BBC One Controller Peter Salmon about relaunching the series, and through them a writer and Doctor Who enthusiast Russell T Davies was brought on board for contributions. However, this fell through and Davies went on to work on a little unknown series called Queer as Folk.
By 2003, Davies had attracted enough attention as a writer to be brought back to the new Doctor Who project. By this point, the new BBC One Controller Lorraine Heggessey had completely cleared up any rights issues – as remember, with the television movie, Universal, Fox, and BBC Worldwide had all been on the production. But by now, BBC television had the authority to pursue a series with no difficulty, opting to produce it with BBC Wales and the CBC.
Davies was to be not only the head writer, but the executive producer as well. Also producing were Phil Collinson and BBC Wales Head of Drama Julie Gardner. Those principal three would be the main creative driving force behind the new series. Casting calls were held for who would play the Doctor, and settled with Christopher Eccleston, a man who had never been a fan of the series in the past. In fact, Eccleston would criticize the old series for its “wobbly sets,” although admitted he found the concept of regeneration fascinating.
No one was sure if the series would even take off, so they settled on making one season before committing any further. However, when ratings pulled in 10.5 million viewers for the first episode “Rose,” a second season was commissioned, and everyone signed up.
Except Chris Eccleston. He wasn’t too keen on the atmosphere of the set, and had fears of being typecast, so he wished to go after the first season. It was originally intended to be a surprise to the audience, since they were announced for another season, but the BBC accidentally released this information early against Eccleston’s contract. Everyone was a little incensed. Nevertheless, Eccleston bore no resentment to the series, still to this day being proud of his time in the role.
Casted to replace him was 30 year-old Doctor Who fan David Tennant. Tennant had already done roles in many of the radio dramas, and was thrilled at the opportunity to play his childhood hero.
You may have noticed the citing of many episodes for the story. That’s because even though the new series format was standalone episodes, unlike the multi-episode story arcs of the past, Davies enjoys having plot points work their way through an entire season. In this case, Davies had written in references to the “Bad Wolf” in almost every episode, some of which barely noticeable. The Children In Need special listed above was a seven minute charity piece that was a short dialogue scene as the Doctor feels his new body out, before going manic.
As for the regeneration scene, a straight video morph effect with lights and energy were used. Relatively simply, but flashy enough to inspire those who had never seen a regeneration before. And by setting it up with dialogue beforehand, the hope was that audiences wouldn’t feel alienated.
First off, I love Eccleston’s portrayal of the Doctor. He’s a quirky guy, totally unlike anyone else he’s every played in the past. But he also shows a pain and a rage beneath that humour. And as much as I loved Tennant’s performance, I really do wish Eccleston would have hung around for one more season.
Nevertheless, I was still pretty psyched at seeing a new regeneration. After the effects of the last series, which were inconsistent, I was eager to see how much better this one would be. The budget was significantly better, and we as an audience were far more emotionally invested in the event.
Okay, so in regards to this “Bad Wolf” entity Rose becomes. It’s an interesting plot device, and it would have seemed like a cop-out, if not for the how we’ve been seeing its effects through almost the whole season. So I’m okay with it. One might be wondering why Rose didn’t die from absorbing it, while the Doctor was. To this I say that it makes sense that while the Doctor was imbued with its energies, he reversed any damage to Rose before putting the energy back into the heart of the TARDIS. One wonders about those continents the Daleks fried before they were stopped. Rose brought Captain Jack back, what about all those people? Who knows.
Back to the heart of the TARDIS, this was a concept that has been around a long time. The first reference goes back to the First Doctor, in a 1964 story arc that has been retroactively titled “The Edge of Destruction.” The TARDIS is being plunged back to Event One, and will be destroyed. However, the Doctor and his companions don’t realize this, so it tries to warn them. From that point on in the series, it is explicitly understood that the TARDIS has a degree of sentience.
We even saw the TARDIS use these energies to revive Grace and Chang Lee in the TV movie, based on sentimentality. And then in “Boom Town” when Blaine is trying to commandeer the TARDIS by holding Rose hostage, she is exposed to the heart which rejuvenates her until she is an egg, giving her a second chance at life. So undoubtedly when Rose and the TARDIS communicated, it gave her the power it needed to resolve the situation because of compassion for the Doctor.
For most of the Tenth Doctor’s first story “The Christmas Invasion,” the Doctor is near comatose, expressing the regeneration had gone wrong. So, no Zero Room this time? I’m actually of the opinion that it’s another example of the post-regeneration trauma manifesting itself as paranoia. I honestly enjoyed how it was the smell of herbal tea that healed his stressed synapses and allowed him to recover. I also thought the scene in which the Sycorax suddenly seem to be speaking English as soon as it’s apparent the Doctor has recuperated. From that point on, Tennant owns the episode, silencing those who doubted if he had the character to pull off the role.
No too much to say on this one, other than I really enjoyed Doctor Who coming back, and the regeneration was very well done. And with David Tennant taking over the reigns, the series would see even greater ratings and an entirely new audience.
And Another Thing…
I really wish they’d go somewhere else besides Earth. They’ve got the whole universe to explore!
The Tenth Doctor: Now then, what do I look like? No no no no no no no no no – don’t tell me. Let’s see. Two legs, two arms, two hands, slight weakness in the dorsal tend. Hair! I’m not bald! Ooooh, big hair. Sideburns, I’ve got sideburns! Or really bad skin. Little bit thinner, that’s weird, give me time and I’ll get used to it. [pause] I have got a mole. I can feel it. Between the shoulder blades is a mole. That’s all right. Love the mole. Go ahead, tell me, what do you think?
Rose: Who are you?
The Tenth Doctor: I’m the Doctor!