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Doctor Who: The Eighth Regeneration
“Leaps down”? Falls down, more like. No one could survive that.’
‘The Doctor could.’
‘I can’t even imagine how he hopes to beat them.’
‘That, Rachel, is your problem, not his,’ Trix tells her.
‘Nothing ever ends,’ Fitz says. ‘Especially not him.’
‘If he does, he’ll do it saving the Earth and then he’ll come back, all new and better than ever.’
‘With a bit of fashion sense this time,’ Trix suggests.
- The Gallifrey Chronicles, by Lance Parkin
Story (from the novels):
All through out the Eight Doctor’s travels, he was noticing the sudden appearance of paradoxes and traps laid out for him, in such a devious manner that it was undoubtedly from an enemy he had never before faced.
Soon the enemy is revealed as the Faction Paradox; a segment of Time Lord society who had decided on anarchy and felt the Time Lord order must be eradicated. A brutal civil war ensued, and the Doctor came face-to-face with their leader, Grandfather Paradox, who was the embodiment of a paradox (and may be an alternate version of himself). It was revealed that he had travelled back in time and murdered his grandfather, and the resulting paradox had corrupted him entirely.
It is revealed in the last novel of the Eighth Doctor series, The Gallifrey Chronicles, that during the civil war between the Time Lords and the Faction Paradox, the Doctor spearheaded the defense. In a moment of desperation, when it seemed all of creation was on the point of destruction, the Doctor destroyed the Faction entirely but at the expense of annihilating Gallifrey as well.
The Doctor, as the lone survivor, had uploaded the Matrix into his mind to save what was left of Time Lord society. However the process gave him selective amnesia, which burdened him through the rest of the novels. Another Time Lord in exile, Marnal, builds a visualiser to witness the past and future events surrounding the Doctor and Gallifrey, and decides he must kill the Doctor as punishment. While watching through the future events, he notices several time streams stemming from the Eighth Doctor, with several alternate Ninth forms.
Although the novel focuses mainly on an invasion of Earth by an insect race known as the Vore, it is finally revealed that somehow the Doctor will be able to restore Gallifrey. What is not known is the circumstances of the Doctor’s regeneration and how this could link to the TV series (see Analysis).
Story (from the comics):
The Doctor and his companion Destrii team up with MI6 and face an invasion of early 21st Century Earth by time-travelling Cybermen; who were preparing to chemically overload the emotions of humans and thus make them willingly surrender to have their emotions removed by conversion. The Doctor destroys them through use of the Time Vortex, almost surrendering to it but giving up its power to save Destrii, who was fatally wounded (see the Ninth Doctor story “The Parting of the Ways”). This was originally scripted to result in his regeneration, but due to creative differences between the script editor and Russell T Davies, this was removed.
Story (from the audio dramas):
In Lucie Miller, plagues are sweeping across the Earth. Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter left behind on Earth after (the First Doctor TV story) “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” recognizes the threat as the return of the Daleks to rule Earth. Unfortunately, the Doctor is nowhere to be found.
In the upcoming release To The Death, the Doctor, Susan, Lucie, the Meddling Monk, and several other characters make their final stand against the Dalek forces. This is to be the last audio drama, and is supposedly the link between all the audio dramas and the Time War from the relaunched series. Release date is March 31 of this year.
Story (from the series relaunch):
Sometime in the last years of the Eighth Doctor, the Last Great Time War was fought between the Time Lords and the Daleks. Undoubtedly, the normal pacifistic Doctor fought in the war because not only was he the resident Dalek expert, but the Time Lords had once recruited him to stop the Daleks before they came into being, but did not complete the mission (see Fourth Doctor story “Genesis Of The Daleks”). As such it is fair to surmise that he held some guilt in not stopping them when he had the chance.
We know that the homeworld of the Nestene was destroyed in the war (“Rose”), and that the Gelph were reduced to spirits (“The Unquiet Dead”). We hear on many occasions that the Doctor himself was the cause of the end, for both the Daleks and the Time Lords. We also learn in “The Sound Of Drums” that they had resurrected the Master to use him as the perfect warrior. Unfortunately, when he saw the Cruciform fall, he panicked and ran, fleeing to the end of time itself and rewriting his biology to become human to hide from the conflict.
Finally in “The End Of Time Part 2,” we learn that the Time Lords have resurrected Rassilon (a mythical figure from their past who died eons ago) to lead them through the war, and that he was been driven mad from the evils of the war. The Time Lords themselves vote unanimously, save for two on the High Council, to use the Master as a temporal link to pull themselves out of the war right before the Doctor ended it (using something called The Moment), and then rewrite existence so they could become non-corporeal beings. The Tenth Doctor manages to destroy the link and send them back into the war.
Between 1996 and 2005, casual Doctor Who fans mourned the loss of the show and expected nothing further from it. Meanwhile, a lot was going on. Paul McGann would continue to reprise his role as the Doctor up to that point, and then beyond. As noted in the audio dramas, he’s still got another one coming out, and may continue to do “past adventures” like the previous Doctors (adventures that took place in between previous ones). This technically could make Paul McGann the longest serving Doctor, with only one televised appearance!
The company behind these audio dramas is Big Finish, and they really took on a life of their own. They have released a couple hundred audio plays altogether, with past Doctors Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann. Unfortunately, their contract only extends to the original series, so don’t expect Eccleston, Tennant, or Smith to drop in. Tom Baker had declined for years to participate, but it had been announced that he will finally partake in a drama.
The comics were being released monthly in “Doctor Who Monthly” and continued up until 2006. As noted above, Russell T Davies (exec producer and head writer of the relaunch) authorized the depiction of the regeneration into Eccleston, but the script editor wanted to also show the Ninth Doctor travel a bit with the companion Destrii. Davies vetoed that entirely, so the scene was never shown.
The novels were written by BBC Books, and ran two parallel threads. The first was Past Doctor adventures, much like the audio dramas, and the second was the Eighth Doctor adventures, which were serial in nature. There were many released, and I’ve only read two (the first and the last – ha!).
When the series was relaunched in 2005, we were introduced to a new Doctor – Christopher Eccleston. Davies played this intelligently, and very little was said about the Doctor’s past and the Time War. Only the barest things were mentioned, but gradually built up for five years. This way, audiences were drawn in for the episodes and characters themselves, and wouldn’t be alienated by excessive backstory.
Finally, before the relaunch there was an animated adventure produced by the BBC called “Scream of the Shalka” featuring a Ninth Doctor portrayed by Richard E. Grant (who is amazing). It never went further, but provided a certainly interesting look at what Doctor Who could have become.
Can we reconcile all four Eighth Doctor threads into one? Actually…I think so. The audio dramas might just be the most direct link (but we won’t know until later this month – I think I may just provide an update to this article later). The Faction Paradox are the key. If they have masterminded paradoxes and meddled directly in the Eighth Doctor’s life, we can easily say that the original time line was the audio drama line, and that the novel line is an alternate time stream. If Marnal saw the Time Lords restored, it’s possible that the Faction Paradox were erased from existence in the future, and the original time line was restored. “Scream of the Shalka” then would be from a timeline where the Time War never happened, as the Doctor is on a (begrudging) assignment from the Time Lords.
Another interesting thing of note would be the look of the TARDIS. Why would we go from that extremely awesome steampunk set to the back-to-basics coral look? It seems like such a downgrade. Again, referring to The Gallifrey Chronicles, a cold fusion device is set to explode, and the Doctor can’t defuse it in time. Seeing no alternative, he throws it into the TARDIS, whereupon it explodes with tremendous force. Could it actually be the same console room, regrowing from the damage caused by an apocalyptic devastation?
The problem with wars that take place over time and change history is that there’s no longer one linear timeline. In fact, Lance Parkin says that he doesn’t see why the Faction Paradox war and the Time War can’t be the same thing. It is conceivable that the Faction went so far in their meddling that they inadvertently caused a timeline where the Daleks became the aggressors.
Man that’s confusing. I haven’t read all the books, listened to any of the audio dramas, or read all the comics. Maybe I should partake a little. Well, actually I did hear the audio drama of the Eighth Doctor reimagining of “Shada”, but it was set to accompanying animation. Good story though.
I’m in the camp that believes that the regeneration took place right at the end of the Time War, which was not long before the events in “Rose.” In that first episode, the Ninth Doctor catches sight of himself in the mirror, inspects his ears, and remarks on how he looks, as if catching himself for the first time. Or at least he’s still getting used to it.
Also from “Rose”, when Rose visits Clive to investigate who the Doctor is, he shows her a series of photos and pictures from history that have the Ninth Doctor, proving his involvement in the past. But if I may direct your attention to the photo of the family from Southampton, England, in 1912 that was warned from boarding the Titanic by a stranger, you’ll see the Ninth Doctor in attire not usually his. In fact, they bear a strong resemblance to the Eighth’s. And we know from future episodes that the Ninth doesn’t deviate from his attire, regardless of the time he’s in. Perhaps this occasion was just after his regeneration?
The fact is, we can not be certain when the regeneration was, or how it happened. All we have is the dialogue from numerous occasions during the new series that states the Ninth Doctor was born in war, which shaped who he was. Seems reasonable to me that he regenerated after using The Moment.
Speaking of which…for years I was hoping the Doctor would find some way to restore Gallifrey, but after hearing about what they had become in “The End Of Time,” I’m quite happy with how things tied up. Plus, I have to applaud the creativity of the writers for the “horrors of the war”: the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child (and apparently, its jaws), the Moment, and my personal favourite the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres…hold on…are we SURE this has nothing to do with the Faction Paradox??
And Another Thing…
Alternate timelines, alternate dimensions, Gallifrey destroyed by war twice, the Doctor’s companion Sam cloned, then later erased from history and replaced with a “dark” version…in a way it’s too bad the show was taken off the air – science fiction writers had a field day!
The Ninth Doctor: You think it'll last forever. People, and cars and concrete. But it won't. One day, it's all gone. Even the sky. [pause] My planet's gone. It's dead. It burned like the Earth. It's just rocks and dust. Before it's time.
Rose: What happened?
The Ninth Doctor: There was a war. And we lost.
Rose: A war with who? [silence] What about your people?
The Ninth Doctor: I'm a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords. They're all gone. I'm the only survivor. I'm left travelling on my own because there's no one else.