With a momentous regeneration just moments away BBC Iplayer is treating viewers to all the modern regeneration episodes. these include The Parting of the Ways, The End of Time, Day of the Doctor, Night of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor. Here at Blogtor Who we’re having a retrospective look at these regenerations as we review each episode.
Here, we look at 2005’s series finale, Parting of the Ways. Realising this episode aired 12 years ago is a scary prospect. At that time I’d just started a new relationship, we met on the night of The Empty Child. The rest of the series involved me introducing Doctor Who to the woman who is now my wife. It also occurred that I had little time to keep up with Doctor Who news. Even though looking back I can see that everyone knew a regeneration was coming, I was in the dark. In these times when we have special shows announcing the new Doctor and speculation for months of who it might be, this might be the last time that it was a genuine surprise regeneration for me as a viewer.
It was a weird feeling watching the episode for the first time. The previous episode, the first part of the two-part finale, was very odd. It consisted of alien versions of popular TV shows such as Big Brother, the Weakest Link and What Not To Wear. At the time I remember being quite sensitive to what did and didn’t feel like Doctor Who, and this didn’t. But yet, by the end of the episode with the Doctor delivering an impassioned plea that he is coming to save Rose. It was all redeemed. Like Capaldi, Eccleston knew how to deliver a tremendous speech.
With that, the scene was set for the first series finale of the return of Doctor Who. It had never really gone in for grandiose finales before, this was an all-new structure for the series. One that Russell T Davies embraced, and Steven Moffat after him has experimented with.
The Parting of the Ways does not disappoint, opening with the rescue of Rose, and not stopping from there. It’s an energetic, fast-paced episode which still leaves room for character moments, and cracking dialogue.
The episode is full of peripheral characters who all have a function and are well rounded, and it features a cocksure Doctor who seems in charge, but just covering up how deep in trouble he is.
By the end of the episode, the emotional stakes are raised and the Ninth Doctor reveals himself. When asked if he is coward or killer he replies “Coward. Any day.”
By the time Rose turns up as the Bad Wolf, we know there will be consequences. Who will be parted by the end of the episode? Will Rose die?
It turns out that the Parting is between Rose and the Ninth Doctor, but she survives, and it’s the Ninth that moves on. The moment that introduces the modern audience to regeneration is beautifully realised. The Doctor absorbs the TARDIS energy off Rose before it consumes her, therefore bringing on the first regeneration of the modern era.
Eccleston’s final speech summing up the episode, by being FANTASTIC.
It’s strange watching the now familiar regeneration effect, at the time it was new and surprising, as beams of fire shot out of Doctor. It’s also surprising to see the now-familiar face of David Tennant, who at the time was a new face.
Looking back it’s strange to remember how you felt at him inviting us to go to “BARCELONA?”
It’s a great way to end the first series of Doctor Who’s return, and still my favourite regeneration of new Who. That could be because of its surprising nature, or that it balanced the tone right to be dramatic but not overdone. Each regeneration since has had to get bigger than the last. this one plays it just right.
The Parting of the Ways is definitely a treat that will prepare you for this year Christmas treat. Regeneration is coming, it’s time to prepare yourself. The Parting of the Ways is a good place to start.