Friday 13 September 2013

The Time Lord's Time Sheet

It has occurred to me recently that for a lot of people in my life, I am "The guy that you ask" when it comes to Doctor Who. I'm not at all unhappy about this. It is my favourite show, and I honestly remember a time when no one I knew wanted to talk about it at all, and I was completely convinced that I was the only person I'd ever met who actually watched it. I was a small child at the time, and those years are far behind me now. With the recent increase in references to the lore and history of the show within the show, the job of offering explanation has fallen to me. Once again, not at all unhappy about it. Great show. If you don't, you should. Really.

I might have said this here before. I'm not checking. People ask me on a semi-regular basis, and seeing as they're not prepared to read through old posts, neither am I. I don't thin I did. I actually think there might have been a reason that I didn't mention this earlier, but seeing as the details have been in the news over the past coupe of months I figure that I'm not really delivering any spoilers. If you think that that might be an issue  for you, don't keep reading.

The crux of the matter is that time lords get twelve regenerations, which gives them thirteen lives. I know this isn't really a spoiler, as it comes up from time to time, but it's important for where I am going. I'm frequently surprised at how many who watch the show regularly aren't aware of this little tidbit. What this means is that there are allowed to be thirteen Doctors before they have to introduce plot elements allowing him to have more regenerations. I bring this up mostly because I can count. There were seven Doctors over the original, '63 to '89, run of the show. Then the Eighth appeared in the television movie in '86. Finally, there have been three incarnations since the shows revival in '05, with a fourth taking on the role at the end of the year. This is twelve. 7 + 1 + 4 = 12.

However, at the end of the most recent season finale, it was revealed that there was a previously undepicted incarnation of the Doctor, who would bump all following incarnations along by one. Meaning that Matt Smith is actually playing the Time Lord's twelfth incarnation, and more importantly Peter Capaldi will be playing the thirteenth.

I am fully aware that the other Doctors don't let John Hurt's incarnation use the name, but I think if time lords could just duck on down to deed poll in order to get a few extra goes at bat, the Master and the Doctor would've had a very different relationship. A couple of folks have suggested that he might be the Valeyard, who was meant to be a kind of anti-Doctor that was the purest distilled essence of The Doctor's cranky-pants side who manifested between the twelfth and last incarnations. I know that the Valeyard got a lot more face-time in the spin-off material, but in the show we never really got a completely satisfying explanation of how all of that actually came about, and whether or not it was possible between other incarnations. I'm fairly certain that John Hurt will be playing the actual Ninth Doctor, and that he was the one that took on the brunt of The Last Great Time War.

The short of all of this is that the new Doctor might actually be the last natural incarnation. What this actually means for the show, the plot, the Doctor's opinion of the Master, and whatever else you can think of is anyone's guess, but it is a good time to be a Doctor Who fan.

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