Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shadows, Nothing More: Thoughts on The Eighth Doctor

The Eight Doctor:
Paul McGann (Born 1959)

With Paul McGann as The Doctor, it's impossible to give a fair analysis. He appeared as The Doctor only once on screen, and that is not available in the United States*. Instead, I will give my impressions of McGann based on my memories of the Doctor Who TV movie.

I was very excited about seeing Doctor Who again, and eagerly started to watch. As the show went on, I started losing interest. Eventually, I did the unthinkable: I switched it off. I like to think that was the beginning of my starting to grow up, leaving aside childish things. Still, it would be nice to have it available if only for completion's sake.

Now, what I do remember about McGann's Doctor is actually quite positive. He seemed more eager for adventure, and more eager to defeat his arch-nemesis The Master once and for all. He also appears frankly less angry than the Seventh Doctor, though not as jolly as the Second. He gave me the impression that he should take part in the affairs of others because it would be interesting.

What I DIDN'T like was the suggestion of romance between the Doctor and his newest Companion, Dr. Grace Holloway (although I think the reports that he kissed her passionately are exaggerated. I don't doubt he did, but I think it was out of joy of remembering who he was than out of an erotic desire).

Less disturbing than this idea of a romance between a Doctor and his Companion is him saying he's half-human. BLASPHEMY, I SAY! There was never anything to suggest he was anything other than what he was for twenty-six years: an alien being, a Time Lord from Gallifrey. Why this was done is irrelevant, the fact that it was done at all was disastrous. I prescribe it to post-regeneration trauma, not to any sense that this is the actual truth.
In fairness, I cannot give a good overview of Paul McGann in the role. He has remained active in audio stories, novels, and comics, and that is good. I hope that the new series will allow him to make a reappearance in the role of the Eight Doctor. It would be a sign of respect. Ultimately, the Eight Doctor is the one I know the least, through no fault on either side.

One last point regarding the Eight Doctor.  There are three schools when it comes to him.  The first is that he is Canon, part of the chain that stretches from William Hartnell.  The second is that he is not Canon and can be ignored.  The third is that he is the last of Canon, with everyone following him being non-Canon.

My view is this: he is Canon.  Sylvester McCoy, whom no one questions as Canon, appeared as the Doctor prior to McGann's regeneration.  Since McCoy regenerated to McGann, he is Canon.

*Update: In 2011 the Doctor Who TV Movie, also known as The Enemy Within, was released on DVD in North America. 

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