Thursday, July 03, 2008

Premature Regeneration

(pictured: Who MD and Mad Woman - like it or not one or both of them is worm food)

SPOILERS - Do not read this if you did not watch last week's exciting episode of Who MD, starring Dr Donald Who as Himself and Catherine Tate as Mad Woman.

Premature regeneration - no, it's not some kind of humiliating complaint that you have to go and see a sex professional for, it's what happens when ratings-hungry TV execs decide to kill off the latest incarnation of everyone's favourite Time Lord.

While I agree that every incarnation of the Doctor has his time to go, I think that the Doctor (or the BBC at least) is using up his lives too fast. In 2005 we were treated to Christopher Eccleston's Doctor - created of about equal parts stoicism and buffoonery, with perhaps a dash of carmudgeonliness - and following his demise next year we got David Tennant with his silly quiff, weasel face and trainers. But despite my early reservations that Tennant was totally wrong for the role the man has grown on me, and now I find it hard to imagine anybody else playing the Doctor. Tennant's Doctor so balances the qualities that we expect from Planet Britain's top time-travelling physician. He fluctuates between a sort of wounded loneliness and a near-psychotic joye de vivre. So much so that you occasionally wonder if the Doctor is having fun, or just trying really hard to have fun to cope with the utter horror he seems to live with on a daily basis (planet blew up, keeps getting people killed, main squeeze trapped in alternative dimension etc). The moments that work best with Tennant's Doctor are the ones where you see the cracks appearing - when he is forced to confront the human cost of his temporal galavanting, like Peter Davison's Doctor did when he realised that he had inadvertently allowed the death of one of his companions.

In the old days, incarnations of the Doctor lasted for years. Or did it just seem that way? Tom Baker did the job for seven years continuously. But most of the rest only lasted about three years. Either way, I don't think it's time to wax Tennant just yet - he has proven a very popular Doctor. It's possible that a poorly thought out regeneration could shaft the shows popularity (Step forth from the shadows, Colin Baker!) and in any case such a formidable Doctor as Tennant's shouldn't out like a wuss having been zapped by a puny Dalek's death ray. In addition to that, he needs the opportunity for one last quip before he dies: "It's too late, I'm regenerating!" doesn't really cut it.

Doctor Who is essentially a tramp - he never changes his clothes, he hasn't got a job and he lives in a phone box. To top that off he seems to be a pervert as well - flying round the galaxy abducting any fine young fillies he desires (and for some reason gurning Catherine Tate). To play the Doctor well you need to have a somewhat whimsical aspect to you, and I think Tennant has that down to a tee. All the others who have been mentioned in connection with the role of the Eleventh Doctor - Robert Carlyle, John Hannah and James Nesbitt (Begbie, Rebus and Parlabane) - I can't really see any of them doing it properly, apart from maybe Nesbitt. But who knows? I've been wrong in the past. Gah, it's getting late and I have to go to work tomorrow. I am a businessman you see. I have no time to finish this meditation. Just rest assured I will be watching on Saturday with bated breath (or possibly on iplayer later on with bated breath) to see what they come up with. I will have my fingers crossed for a not-dead Tennant.