the Eighth Doctor name-checking his Big Finish companions has sparked a
debate about what is canon and what is not. Ultimately, there are no
rules and it’s down to personal taste. Well, that’s my opinion, anyway!
have a friend who rates Time Crash as canon but not Dimensions in Time –
simply on the basis that he doesn’t much rate the latter. And that’s
fine. If a fan doesn’t want to consider the Big Finish stories as canon,
they can simply assume that McGann’s Doctor coincidentally met people
called Charlie, C’rizz etc. Although that does rely on fans agreeing
that the mini episodes themselves are canon, themselves!
what the heck. It’s all brilliant! Even the Doctor’s less memorable
outings are better than every other TV show, audio play or webisode put
together and multiplied by twelve!
For those of us who wondered for years — YEARS,
mind — if the Time War had CAUSED the Eighth Doctor to regenerate or
had just taken up so much of the Ninth Doctor’s attention that he really
just had not had the opportunity to check himself out in the mirror,
here at last, in THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR we have our answer:
None of the above.
a seven minute minisode of sexy NEW WHO that must have proven itself
just too kinky and esoteric — too dark, dirty and distressing, perhaps?
— for CHILDREN IN NEED. Wham, Bam, thank you, Karn.
In 1996, as
an expat in Los Angeles, I had watched DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE alone in my
living room while every other American was tuning in to the season
finale of ROSEANNE… and quickly and deliberately forgotten about it.
Had the story begun with the swashbuckling introduction of Paul McGann
delivered to viewers last week… had he rattled off names of long lost
companions in the manner Eccleston and Tennant teased us with details of
the Time War, you can’t help but wonder if we’d have been so impressed
and intrigued that we’d have insisted — nay, demanded — to be treated
to three healthy seasons of the Eighth Doctor back in the days of dotcom
explosions, implosions and aol dialup.
But how would FOX have
known there was such an appetite for New Adventures of the Eighth
Doctor? Without Facebook, Twitter and the iPlayer to measure interest,
perhaps McGann’s fate would have been quickly sealed nevertheless… At
least now, Russell T Davies’ queerest folk quote — “Paul McGann
Doesn’t Count” — has been contradicted by the most courageous Doctor of
all… the one who may not have been part of the Time War, but was
always a part of DOCTOR WHO, the one who made the decision to save the
day… because even in 1996, we did need a Doctor after all.
Review by Tommy Donbavand
Four minutes may be long enough for the
majestically returned Eighth Doctor to become bored in The Night of the
Doctor (please, won’t somebody bring him some knitting!) – but six and a
half minutes of McGann magnificence is nowhere near enough to satisfy
either yours truly nor, I suspect, many a fellow fan.
The Night of
the Doctor was just, well… right. The script, the costume, the
battered TARDIS, Cass’s reaction to the revelation that her potential
saviour is a Time Lord, the Sisterhood of Karn, the regeneration
options, the ‘hurt’ pun, the youthful reflection and – most importantly –
the version of the Eighth Doctor we’ve come to know and love through
several seasons of utterly brilliant Big Finish releases. This was
Doctor Who at its finest, and it has left us with an appetite for more.
course, we’re now left with more questions than answers – but that’s
exactly how it should be. Questions like how has the Eighth Doctor
remained neutral in the Last Great Time War? What have his fellow
Gallifreyans done to deserve the damnation of the universe at large?
And, the biggest question of all… can we have more please, Mr Moffat?
awkward and exhilarating about unexpectedly bumping into an old friend
who you haven’t seen for years. There’s that odd mix of emotions –
surprise tempered with curiosity. Have they aged well? What are they
wearing now? What will they say? How have I changed since we last met?
how it felt when I saw The Night of the Doctor. Had it really been
seventeen years? The Eighth Doctor hardly looked older! It was a joy to
see this old friend again. But, having re-watched it many times now, I’m
left with a tinge of sadness and remorse for the
could-have-been-Doctor. There are seasons of potential television
adventures drifting away from us forever – missing episodes without a
hope of ever being discovered in some dusty foreign cupboard.
So while I
rejoice at the return of Eight I feel like I’m waving goodbye to the
best Doctor we never really had.
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
I help organise a London based social group for
gay Doctor Who fans called The Sisterhood of Karn. (We’re a fairly
normal bunch. Honestly – we don’t “dress up as nuns”, as one recent
first-timer had clearly been led to believe.) So suddenly seeing the
cabalistic coven back in the Doctor’s life added yet another layer to
the Smorgasbord of joy that this minisode offered up over its scant
seven minutes. (And their surprise return hasn’t done any harm to our
membership numbers either – suddenly everyone’s googling the
But the triumphant return of our beloved namesakes
was really just the icing on the unexpectedly early anniversary cake. I
was one of the lucky ones – someone who managed to see Night of the
Doctor without being spoiled. Actually, I’d just woken up when it went
live. (Yes, I know…) I was vaguely aware that we were due for some sort
of bonus scene, but was expecting the usual comedy minute. When the
camera cut to the Eighth Doctor I genuinely had to check if I was
actually awake, or still slumbering in the sweet embrace of the
Dreamlord. And then the sight of the words “Paul McGann” tumbling
through the time vortex induced immediate alertness with the sudden
shock of an adrenaline shot delivered direct to the probic vent.
moments like this that make me rejoice in my fandom. What a warm and
fuzzy and wonderful treat. And what a startling surprise! Hooray for it
being kept (mostly) secret. (Like many, I’d heard rumours of McGann’s
return, but had dismissed them as utter rot months ago. Along with
whispers that The Web of Fear had been found – such nonsense! Ha!) And
finally having the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration scene… That actually
alters the metaphysical landscape of my brain! But now that he’s changed
into John Hurt we’re going to need an awful lot of Tipex to update
those teetering towers of reference books…
I don’t know where
they’re going with the whole “War Doctor” thing. And I love not knowing. Night of the Doctor adds great chunks to the mythos whilst
simultaneously weaving more magical mystery and intrigue. I’m more
excited than ever about The Day of the Doctor now – this tasty entrée
has me salivating for the main dish like an Androgum between courses at
But before the big day, I’ve got an awful lot of new
Sisters to welcome to the coven, and these (fabulous) habits aren’t
going to sew themselves. Sacred flame, sacred fire…
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
in a single movie appearance that left fans crying out for another
glimpse of the man in the role. A glimpse that after so long they
thought they’d never get.
a seven minute scene McGann returned shocking the world and taking it
by storm. After such a long wait it would have been so easy for the
moment to have been a let down, but it was anything but. Seeing his
Doctor in action once again was a pure joy, nothing short of
spectacular, and impossible not to drink up every moment of his screen
episode itself is the perfect glance into the life of a Doctor who has
been woefully short on screen time. Thrust quickly into the often talked
about but rarely seen Time War, the viewers run the gamut of emotion,
from his attempted rescue of a person in need to his eventual acceptance
of what must come next, and the regeneration so many had been crying
out to see. Each beat perfectly played out by McGann.
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
whilst also sad to know that we probably won’t see much of him again.
It seems a shame to exile him to a prequel although. my oh my, does it
handle it with style and panache. It’s massive shock – one after another:
the Eight Doctor is back. Boom! He crash lands on Karn and the
Sisterhood of Karn are on hand too. Boom! And, finally, we get to see
that regeneration! Boom!
regenerating into John Hurt and not Christopher Eccleston. It’s like the
problem hasn’t been solved but moved along. Although let’s wait and see
what happens in the 50th!
McGann name checks his Big Finish audio companions before he
regenerates. “Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin and Molly.” This simultaneously legitimises and pays homage to McGann’s brilliant audio adventures.
like everyone else, I have spent most of the last six months wondering
who the John Hurt Doctor would turn out to be. Would he be the Doctor
before he was the Doctor, pre-fleeing Gallifrey, would he be the
brutal Time War Ender, or would he be somethng else, a Valeyard-esque
dark side to the Doctor’s persona.
Night of the Doctor clears up this issue thats had us all theorising
and wondering. It also managed to do something that in modern
television terms is almost impossible, it came as a massive surprise. Paul
McGann, returned to our screens in the role that by his own
admission, to him existed far more in the audio dramas of Big Finish,
where he got to really get to grips with the character and develop
his Eighth Doctor.
shows that with the Time War, everything is turned on its head. Our
hero bundles in to save the day, but the day isn’t to be saved. Time
Lords striking as much fear into people as the Daleks do. The Doctor,
a man of peace, is left facing the fact that the only way peace can
be achieved now, is by taking arms and joining the war to finish it.
we finally get to see the Eighth Doctor regenerate, we get to re-visit Karn, and see the sisterhood,
and we get some blinding writing from Moffat, and a full on
performance from McGann. This minisode ticks all the boxes, right
down to a young Hurt going to war at the close. Its a massive nod to
the history of the show in its 50th year, and an important prelude to the Day Of The Doctor signifying
whats coming in the future.
Only it’s clear he’s been travelling in a very different universe to the one we last saw him in. Where Time Lords are now feared as much Daleks, and the sight of TARDIS causes would-be companion Cass, facing certain death, to choose…certain death. Post-crash, The Doctor finds himself at the tender mercies of Ohila, Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn, with the same choice. He chooses life, but at huge personal cost.
It’s a small story, hinting at a vast backdrop. Given a four minute warning, the Doctor characteristically lists the activities with which he could fill the time. Surprising then, he uses very little time and thought for such a massive change of heart(s).
It’s lovely to have the Doctor’s Big Finish adventures endorsed, as the Doctor salutes companions we’ve only ever heard but not seen. And at last we get to see his regeneration, though clearly a particularly agonising process, divesting himself of his Doctorishness.
Clare Higgins (Ohila) conveys a thrilling sense of urgency during The Doctor’s last minutes. Her splendid efforts are slightly undermined though, by the “haunting” incidental music, which leached some of the pace from this desperate situation. Also, the concept of a miscellany of “character trait” elixirs of life put me in mind of an array of Sodastream flavours.
But step forward once more for one final Doctorial flourish, Paul McGann. Better late than never!
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
On 14/11/13 Paul McGann was back as the Eighth Doctor; and it was worth waiting for! The Night of the Doctor was tightly written with Moffat excelling at what he’s best at, quick dialogue and even quicker characterization.
Beginning as seemingly normal Doctor Who adventure, with The Doctor arriving on a plummeting ship to save the brave pilot Cass from certain death, the next seven minutes would prove anything but.
When The Doctor told Cass: “It’s bigger on the inside,” it was shocking to see this normal enticement cause terror as Cass realised exactly who The Doctor was. We see how destructive The Time War had truly become when Cass claims The Time Lords are no better than the Daleks. Cass showed such character; I was actually saddened when she died, when she and The Doctor crashed on Karn. Here he met The Sisterhood of Karn who knew the fate of the universe relied on The Doctor; by temporarily giving him life and a chance to regenerate. It could have so easily seemed like a ‘hand wave’ but it didn’t. Moffat used old school logic to his advantage.
It was at this point where McGann give his best performance, with Eight realising that this world no longer had a place for him. This was the end of his story, and it was a gallant goodbye, giving fans something they had wanted for years. In saying farewell to his companions Eight ensured Big Finish became cannon. And as the longest serving Doctor, seeing it through the wilderness years, I was pleased to see Paul McGann get the recognition he so rightly deserved.
We were given a brief bittersweet glimpse of the Doctor he always was…a good man.
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
Thanks again to all my wonderful contributors and special guests who gave up their time to feel the love for Paul McGann and share their brilliant thoughts – very much appreciated by old Blogtor. And I hope everyone reading this got a kick out of it. I have nothing to add to these lovely reviews except to further the adoration for Paul in this remarkable performance from him. An absolute star and a such a good Doctor Who.