Doctor Who: Eighth Doctor Summary
The Eighth Doctor was immense creative power in a limited television run.
Sure, he only had two outings on screen, but they were jam-packed with character – nearly polar opposites between the two, showcasing in a limited time just how much this Doctor experienced and how much it impacted him – and certainly piqued my interest in his further adventures.
The Eighth Doctor we saw in the television movie was fresh from regeneration and full of child-like wonder as he learned who he was. It was a follow-through from the Seventh Doctor (without the dark edges) and, for me, a welcome shift. It was a look into the Doctor’s soul, seeing the playful energy and wonder mixed with a strict determination to save the universe from evil. And that brief romantic streak? How much time to we have to discuss the Doctor and love?
Around the 50th anniversary, Craig Ferguson aired a Doctor Who episode of The Late, Late Show in which he summarized the franchise: “It’s all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” Time and time again, the Doctor has shown an emotional attachment – well beyond the analytical, well beyond the mission of simply defeating evil – to the people of Earth and the causes of justice and good. The Doctor brings light to the darkness, and I argue that love is but one of the ways that darkness is vanquished.
The Doctor is a student of human philosophy, and that philosophy throughout our history is replete with thoughts, discussions, and musings on love. The ancient Greeks, for example, identified five different types of love: Familial (storge), friendly (philia), romantic (eros), hospitality (xenia, also known as “guest love”), and divine (agape, such as devotion to a chosen deity or faith). Before the televised movie, the Doctor had exercised four of those five – the Doctor’s faith, and thus divine love, is to that of good triumphing over evil – and to understand the human condition it only made sense to understand the fifth as well.
As for arguments that we don’t need to see the Doctor in a sexual light, a commonality across philosophy is that romance can lead to sex, but does not need to pertain to sex. For the Doctor to find romantic (read: deep or passionate) love marks one step closer to understanding what the Doctor fights for.
The tragedy comes in the Eighth Doctor’s final adventure, and this is where the Eighth Doctor’s journey strikes me in parallel to that of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars films. Both the Doctor and Anakin (before he became Darth Vader) were deeply compassionate people. Both characters maintained their ideals on compassion – “Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love.” – and the fight against evil, but both also succumbed to darker aspects in search of their goals.
Anakin saved Palpatine and embraced the Dark Side in order to learn forbidden knowledge to save Padmé (and was deceived in the process), and the Doctor embraced the warrior ways to stop the destruction of the universe. I’m not saying that the Doctor is about to slay an entire room of children with a lightsaber (or sonic screwdriver), but I know that war changes people. The callouses the Doctor develops from this point forward will be visible for some time.
This is science fiction reflecting the human condition. This is science fiction at its most powerful.
Now we watch the Doctor walk back from the brink: Intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.
The First Doctor was a wise grandfather, the Second a sly jester, the Third a secret agent scientist, the Fourth an inquisitive idealist, the Fifth an honorable humanitarian, the Sixth a squandered cynic, the Seventh a curious schemer…
…and the Eighth Doctor is a classical romantic.
Eighth Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 4.50
Ranking (by score)
1- Eighth (4.50)
2 – Third (4.00)
3 – Second (3.67)
4 – Fourth (3.67)
5 – Seventh (3.54)
6 – First (3.41)
7 – Fifth (3.20)
8 – Sixth (2.73)
Ranking (by character)
1 – Second Doctor
2 – Eighth Doctor
3 – Third Doctor
4 – Fourth Doctor
5 – Seventh Doctor
6 – First Doctor
7 – Fifth Doctor
8 – Sixth Doctor
From here, the project will make As noted before, the project will makes three more non-canon classic-era stops – The Curse of Fatal Death, Scream of the Shalka, and the Eighth Doctor’s version of Shada – before moving into the Ninth Doctor’s tenure (and the modern era) with Rose.
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Curse of the Fatal Death
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.