Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Fourth Doctor to Fifth Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

I’m a slight oddity amongst Doctor Who fans because, and I try not to shout this all that loudly, I don’t actually like the Fourth Doctor all that much. I mean, he did some perfectly watchable episodes, but he sort of hangs over the rest of the series in a really unhelpful way. He was so popular for so long, especially with Media Types Of A Certain Generation that he became the go-to Doctor for jokes about the show. This, combined with Adric as a companion should make me dislike Logopolis.

Except I don’t. It’s a good story: Tom Baker gives it decent portent and weariness, Anthony Ainley’s Master is a delight, and the Fate Of The Universe stakes are well played by script and cast alike. It looks a bit 80s, but it was recorded in, well, the 80s. It also has enough confidence in its audience to let the story rest on real (if fancifully misapplied) science by invoking entropy.

A fun final appearance for Baker, who gave it enough momentum that the next chap could hit the ground running with his own Doctor.

The next chap? We’ll hear more of him later.

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Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Third Doctor to Fourth Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

After The War Games, the regeneration of the Third Doctor is almost an anticlimax. Actually, this is unfair. Planet Of The Spiders is a solid well told tale which works beginning to end and uses both existing and new characters well. The Brigadier has rarely been more Brigadierish, Sarah Jane manages to be smart and plucky in the right ways, and the story’s human and nonhuman villains show intelligent self interest that helps the story twist and turn all the way to its end. It’s just…

…The First Doctor’s regeneration was a milestone, it expanded the show beyond its lead and gave hints of a weirder universe. The Second Doctor’s regeneration brought so many new elements into play and led to a regeneration of the show itself. The Third Doctor’s regeneration led to… the fourth doctor. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was a new actor in the same story rather than a new story. Planet Of The Spiders did not require the Doctor to die in the way that The War Games did.

So, a good story. Possibly even a great story. But not world changing. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Second Doctor to Third Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

The War Games has a deserved reputation as one of the most appreciated pre-colour Doctor Who stories. It manages on several occasions to execute a pull-back-and-reveal that changes the viewer’s perspective on the story, and does so largely through the skill of the actors and the tightness of the script. The revelations of the nature of the battleground, and the looming presence of the War Chief, are superb. As a piece of storytelling it is instantly compelling.

It’s also long. At 10 episodes it’s the longest Doctor Who story since The Daleks’ Master Plan, and the second longest story in the show’s history, unless we count either The Key To Time or Trial Of A Time Lord as single stories. Which is getting us into waters not easily dealt with in a 200 word article.

The War Games works as a regeneration story because there are status quo shifting consequences. The way the Doctor ends the story changes the show, not just in who stars in it. It’s possible to see The War Games as the end of more than just Troughton’s run as the Doctor. This story sets the stage for decades to come.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: First Doctor to Second Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

The Tenth Planet is an odd story, even by the odd standards of early Doctor Who. For one thing, the most important episode – the finale – is heavily incomplete. While there is footage of the regeneration itself, most of the episode has been recreated from stills and audio. This makes it quite a hard watch at times, although not an unrewarding one.

For fans of modern Doctor Who, the First Doctor is a hard character to love, although Hartnell plays him beautifully. He’s old and grumpy and strange in a way that not even Peter Capaldi approaches, and he interrupts and snipes like an actual annoyed old man rather than a TV character. Additionally the structure of the drama continually feels a bit odd. Things are overexplained and oddly paced for modern TV eyes.

However, the drama is compelling. Once you get past the didactic style, the Mondasian Cybermen are a genuine and unsettling foe, and the competing interests of humanity in trying to deal with them are well represented. However at times the Doctor feels oddly secondary. As if William Hartnell had already gone from the part in spirit and the show was waiting to regenerate.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: intro

I spend November each year doing something silly. December often feels like a climbdown from trying to write a novel in a month, so I thought I’d channel writing energy into a small weird project.

On Christmas day this year we’re going to see the first woman play the character of The Doctor in Doctor Who (the second if you count Arabella Weir in one of the Big Finish Doctor Who Unbound stories, but let’s keep within the TV continuity). I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who as long as I’ve been a fan of television. Sylvester McCoy was “my” doctor, and I was really getting into the show when it was cancelled from under me. I was one of the few who loved the TV movie (although I admit it was crap).

So I thought I’d try something in the 14 days before Christmas. I’m going to watch each regeneration, several of which I’ve never seen, and each day I’m going to write about the story leading to the regeneration. Yes, including the War Doctor. And I’ll keep it to 200 words to make it manageable.

Come with me for a couple of weeks as we travel in time…

Rejection #18: Heartstrings

Heartstrings wasn’t quite right for Mason Jar Press either, although they were nice enough to say it was a tough call.

One of the positives of sending out flash fiction submissions is that responses tend to get back pretty quickly.  And in tern it’s pretty fast to send another story out.

This makes 18 rejections for the year.  2 more to hit my self imposed target, then I may look at what my aims for 2018 should be.