Timestamp #161: The Night of the Doctor

Doctor Who: The Night of the Doctor
(1 episode, 2013)

 

The last plank bridging the classic and modern televised eras of Doctor Who.

A crippled spaceship careens through space, piloted by a woman named Cass who is bantering with the onboard computer for assistance. When she asks for help, the computer offers a doctor, and one arrives… but not the one she expected. The Eighth Doctor attempts to rescue her – she stayed with the ship when everyone else teleported away in panic, and I love that her reason for staying behind was that everyone else was screaming – but she rejects his help when she figures out that he is a Time Lord. She believes that he is part of the ongoing Time War and wants no part in it.

Cass locks the Doctor in the hold with his TARDIS and the ship crashes on the nearby planet. In a coincidence, the planet is Karn, home of the Sisterhood of Karn. Unfortunately, the crash killed everyone onboard, including the Doctor. And that would be the end of things if not for the Elixir of Life.

The sisters move the Doctor to an altar and restore his life for a mere four minutes. They offer him the chance to live again, to regenerate, because the Time War threatens the whole of reality without escape. They plead with him to fulfill his mission to help the people of the universe, offering a custom regeneration to suit the task: Fat or thin, young or old, man or woman, fast or strong, wise or angry. The Doctor chooses the form of a warrior to fight the battle, asking if the process will hurt. He takes comfort in knowing that it will.

He salutes the companions that we never get to see on screen – CharleyC’rizzLucieTamsin and Molly are all Big Finish audio companions – and drinks deep from the elixir. Almost instantly, he glows with explosive regeneration energy. Moments later, he dons Cass’s bandoleer and offers her a final farewell, gazing upon his new face in a distorted reflection: “Doctor, no more.”

 

This was a beautiful farewell for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, a fantastic 50th anniversary treat, and a nice way to tie the classic and modern eras together. I remember watching this when it first came out and gasping when he appeared on the screen. His humor still shines through even in the darkness of this short story.

It’s also a fantastic but tragic reminder of what war can do to even the most peaceful of people.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Eighth Doctor Summary

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

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