Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Twelve Regenerations Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the web and social media, not a creature was stirring not even on Wikipedia. Apart from me, that is. It's Christmas Eve, which can only mean one thing - its the Doctor Who special tomorrow! As you must already be aware, this final special of the show's 50th anniversary year will see the final hour of Matt Smith, before he regenerates into Peter Capaldi. And so, in fittingly festive decoration, what follows is a look at the Doctor's previous regenerations, which coincidentally happens to be twelve. It's 'The Time of the Doctor' tomorrow but first it's time for a Christmas song...

'On the twelve days of Christmas, a Time Lord gave to me...'

                                                      '...One Wearing Thin...'

In: 'The Tenth Planet' (1966)
Cause: Old age, died in the TARDIS
Verdict: The original regeneration still holds it's own after fifty years. While its sad that the First Doctor doesn't bow out in a blaze of glory, the thrill of it being the very first shines out. See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 4

'...Two's Change of Appearance...'
In: 'The War Games' (1969)
Cause: Exiled to Earth and forced to 'change his appearance'
Verdict: While it is a game-changing moment for Doctor Who - the Doctor's own race is finally revealed and he is exiled to Earth- the regeneration itself is let down by not featuring the change into Pertwee. See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 3

'...Three's Valedictory Victory...' 
In: 'Planet of the Spiders' (1974)
Cause: Radiation poisoning on Metebelis Three
Verdict: A touching, brave swansong for the Third Doctor, and the first Doctor-Death to be thematically resonant within the story; this serial features much Buddhist symbolism, including the idea of reincarnation... 'Here we go again...' See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 4

'...Four's Final Fall...'

In: 'Logopolis' (1981)
Cause: Fall from radio telescope at the Pharos Institute
Verdict: The bombastic and eccentric Fourth Doctor gets a surprisingly low-key downbeat end although Baker's tenure is celebrated with a montage of past villains and companions. See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 3 1/2

'...Five's Significant Sacrifice...'
In: 'Caves of Androzani' (1984)
Cause: Suffered from Spectrox Toxemia on Androzani Minor
Verdict: Sacrificing himself to save his companion, the Fifth Doctor is gifted the perfect death of a Doctor. See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 5

'...Six's Silly Slip...'
In: 'Time of the Rani' (1987)
Cause: Rani's hijack of the TARDIS/Fell from exercise bike/ Colin Baker was sacked
Verdict: Sadly the definite weakest regeneration. At the start of the episode, the evil Time Lady the Rani attacks the TARDIS, entering to find an already-regenerating Doctor, laying prone next to an exercise bike. Colin Baker wasn't even brought back for the scene - incoming Doctor Sylvester McCoy had to wear a wig...
Regeneration-ometer: 1

'...Seven's Risky Resurrection...'
In: 'Doctor Who: The Movie' (1996)
Cause: Botched operation to remove bullet in San Francisco
Verdict: A solid regeneration for the Seventh Doctor that makes use of an interesting Frankenstein's Monster comparison as the Doctor is reanimated from the dead in a morgue.
Regeneration-ometer: 3

'...Eight's Grave Decision...' 
In: 'The Night of the Doctor' (2013)
Cause: Spaceship crash on Karn, guided by the Sisterhood
Verdict: A long-over due finale for the Eighth Doctor was given to us this year, forming an integral part of the ongoing story of Doctor Who in that it details the beginnings of the War Doctor. See here for (no) more.
Regeneration-ometer: 4

'...War's Reborn...'
In: 'The Day of the Doctor' (2013)
Cause: Old age, died in the TARDIS
Verdict: One of the great things about 'The Day of the Doctor' (and there were many) was that it gave us the complete set of regenerations! After realising he was still the Doctor, before he forgot the good he had done, the aging War Doctor accepted his regeneration with dignity. Here's to John Hurt's Doctor! May we see more of him in the future...
Regeneration-ometer: 4

'...Nine's Triumphant Transformation...'
In: 'The Parting of the Ways' (2005)
Cause: Consumed the power of the time vortex
Verdict: Most probably the greatest regeneration, fed by excellent writing and fine performances from Eccleston and Billie Piper as the woman he saves. The Doctor saving his friend and dying with a brave smile on his face. It's how he should always go. See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 5

'...Ten's Cheeky Cheat...'
In: 'The Stolen Earth' (2008)
Cause: Shot by a Dalek
Verdict: Played for shock value by Russell T Davies, this sneaky surprise  made us really think Ten's time was up - until he shot the regenerative energy into a handy nearby mcguffin. See here for more.
Regeneration-ometer: 4

'And the Actual End of Ten...'
In: 'The End of Time' (2010)
Cause: Slow radiation poisoning in Naismith mansion, died in the TARDIS
Verdict: An emotional farewell for one of the most beloved of the Doctor's incarnations. It is simultaneously made by its indulgence and hindered by it. I'm afraid 'I don't want to go' is still a bit too much for this fan. Here's hoping that in the Doctor's next, thirteenth (and surely final) regeneration, he holds himself with a little more decorum.
Regeneration-ometer: 4

As Christmas Eve draws to a close, it's time for Matt Smith's last bow, like all his other selves. The Eleventh Hour is over, the clock is striking Twelve's...

Have a very merry Christmas!

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