Exploring Doctor Who: Ninth Doctor

 

Before I begin this blog and talk about my impressions of the Ninth Doctor, let me take a moment to do a bit of promotional stuff: On November 23, the Land of Nerds will be hosting a Trivia Challenge as part of Time Travel Appreciation Weekend. Our challenge will take place between 3-6 PM.
This event will be located at Squash Blossom at 705 N. 1st Street in Phoenix, AZ 85004.

Along with a screening of Doctor Who, there will be a Cosplay contest. The Event is free, but please, Donate to the United Food Bank.

A Recap on Exploring Dr. Who: A few months ago, I decided to actually watch the show, to see if I could get into the program, find out what Doctors I like/hate, and record my impressions. My primary source of Dr. Who viewing is Netflix. I did this knowing that Netflix only offers a scant handful of episodes of the Classic Doctors and I am currently on a quest to find more of the Classic Doctors so I can learn more about the earlier incarnations of the Time Lord. Now, after a few months of navigating through the Classic Doctors, I find myself watching the Ninth Doctor Who, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston. (March-June 2005)

DocNine

 

My first thoughts were confusing. My only real reference to Christopher Eccleston was in his work as Claude the Invisible Man from Heroes (2006-2010). I came to this Doctor with a slightly skewed view of the Actor: I liked Claude, but he was dark, broody, and not the kind to smile and laugh. I think the darkness that Eccleston brought to Claude was also apparent in his Doctor: The Doctor is the sole survivor of a war.

While the Classic Doctors are a product of the Cold War, Doctor Who 9+ is a “War on Terror” Doctor, and it shows in the story lines. (Note: Yes, the 9/11 attacks happened in the US, and the show is produced by the BBC, HOWEVER, the British have fought in the Iraq war as well, and, in the scheme of things, the Doctor shows that something happening in a small section of the world can have great effects on the entire planet. In fact, just weeks after Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor regenerated on British Television, London became victim of its own terrorist attack.

It is entirely possible that the War on Terror influenced the writing of the Time War.

Let’s take a look at the Daleks. Daleks were the “other” side of that War. Because Netflix did not air any of the early Doctors’ run-ins with the Daleks, I really just have the Ninth Doctor’s Dalek experiences to work with. The Daleks were destroyed in the Time War (along with all of the Time Lords). When the Doctor meets up with a lone Dalek in the show, he tortures it, briefly. The Dalek proves to be a menacing enemy: it can EXTERMINATE without prejudice, can now fly up stairs (apparently a new addition to the Dalek repertoire) and lives just to destroy.
Daleks are the ultimate in xenophobic species. Either you are a Dalek or you must die. And, with the changes made to the new Daleks in the post-Time War reincarnation of the Species, they have also become extreme religious extremists.

Religious Extremists with a strong Xenophobic streak looking to destroy everything but themselves.
Terrorists.

For his part, the Ninth Doctor lives with a lot of guilt as a result of the War. He shows signs of PTSD, most evident in his run-ins with the Daleks. When he sees the new Daleks, he despairs, for his people died for “nothing.” He misses his family, friends, and colleagues from Gallifrey. He is ALONE in the Universe. He is capable of joy, of dancing, of having a good time, but he doesn’t do any of it often.

Then, there is his relationship with his Companion, Rose Tyler.

rosetyler

When we meet this Doctor, we can assume he’s (possibly) been alone for some time, though his first glance in a mirror yields an interesting shrug about his appearance (perhaps it’s the first time he’s looked at himself). He meets Rose, saves her life, and she saves his.

Doctor Nine shows Rose a level of care that I have not seen the Doctor give any of his other companions. Rose was his only friend, his companion throughout his travels in the series. He takes her off on a wild adventure, showing her first the End of the World, then taking her places like Victorian England, WWII, and her own childhood. He even takes her back to her own time on occasion and gives her a super phone that can break the Space/Time continuum so she can call her mother. (which she does not use to call her ‘boyfriend’ Mickey). When she makes a mistake that causes a time paradox, he works to find a solution that would allow her father to live, knowing it could hurt the world. (Rose’s father knew, I think, even if Rose did not, just how much the Doctor cared for her. I think it allowed him to die in peace, knowing that his girl grew up to be loved and cared for by someone as awesome as the Doctor).

In my limited Dr. Who experience, the Doctor rarely gives his companions chances to reconnect with their families. It is a real romantic gesture on the Doctor’s part, and also a risky one (as all true Romantic gestures are). At any time on their various visits back to Rose’s London, she could have stayed home, jumped ship, and left him, but she didn’t.

The two may have been in love: He displays small bits of jealousy over her few boyfriends and male interests, she is unhappy when he shows Lynda affection on Satellite Five/the Game Show Network. When questioned, she says he is “not her boyfriend” but she denies it with a tone that says she wouldn’t have been opposed to the idea.

The only instance of a physical expression of love he shows her is near the end of his life, when he kisses her, saving her life by removing the entity within her, warning her of his pending regeneration. He had no idea what he would become, but kindly warned her he would be different.

Gods, that had me almost bawling as much as watching Doctor Five regenerate. 

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