Saturday, September 30, 2006


Last night, 'Doctor Who' returned to the American airwaves with the second season of the RTD era (I don't know... 29th season overall?). It's the first season in which David Tennant stars as the Doctor, his Tenth incarnation.

I saw the series earlier in the summer, thanks to my friends Mark and Michael, but I don't mind watching them again (this time with commercial interruptions) as I could always use a second shot at deciphering some of the accents!

I've already posted in the past that I've decided that for the Toobworld concept, 'Doctor Who', starting with Christopher Eccleston's performance as the Ninth Doctor, should be relegated to an alternate dimension. This is because there's no getting around such contradictions to the main TV universe as the destruction of Big Ben, the death of Tony Blair, Harriet Jones as the new Prime Minister, and President Schwarzenegger. (There's a future to avoid......)

I'm hoping someday, after Russell T. Davies has let loose his control over the series, 'Doctor Who' can return to the days when there weren't such specific references to political figures and we can assume we're once again watching the Doctor that exists in the main Toobworld, Earth Prime-Time.

(I think that Doctor has gone through the same regenerations, from McGann - although never seen happening in the current version - through Eccleston and now Tennant.)

David Tennant is currently filming his second season as the Doctor, and it looks good that he'll be doing a third series as well. But after that? Who knows?

According to the show's mythology, a Time Lord can only undergo twelve regenerations, 13 bodies in all. (Is my math right on that?) So that would mean, if they stuck with that religiously, that there could only be three more actors who could play the Doctor before he'd have to suffer true Death.

But the great thing about science fiction is that with a little techno-babble, you can weasel your way out of any situation. And this would be no different.

The solution I like is not original with me. I saw it mentioned in the columns section for an article in the Coaxial section of "Ain't It Cool News" around the time of the last Eccleston episode, "Parting Of The Ways".

In this splainin, the Doctor gains more regenerations because his body absorbed the Time Vortex from Rose. And even though every cell in his body was dying because of that, it also rejuvenated him in a way so that he had even more opportunities for life ahead to keep him going on TV for many many years to come.

So as such, here are a few suggestions I had in mind for actors to play the Doctor in the future.

Michael Jayston - It would be nice if the Valeyard finally was seen coming into his own as that future regeneration. However, so many years have passed, it might be necessary to recast the role with someone who not only resembles Jayston, but is at the approximately same age as when he played the Valeyard.

Peter O'Toole - I suppose this choice should be considered only for a theatrical one-off, similar to the Peter Cushing films. O'Toole could play an older incarnation of the Doctor in a glorified cameo before being regenerated into a younger version who would carry the film. (Daniel Craig? Clive Owen? Or is that just the James Bond pissing contest?)

Should the Gallifreyan Time Lords ever be revived on the TV series, O'Toole would make for a great elder.
The Daleks survived the Time War twice over, why not the Time Lords?

David Dixon - Twenty-five years on from 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' (TV version), and Ford Prefect remains one of my top 25 favorite TV characters of all time. And as visualized by Dixon, he already looked the part to be a Doctor. I've seen recent photos of the actor and I think he'd still be great in the role.

Julian Rhind-Tutt - Better known as Monty Pippin in 'Keen Eddie' (at least over here in America), he'd make sure that as a blonde, the Doctor would have more fun. There was certainly something kinky lurking in the background of Detective Pippin, and there might be for the Doctor as well.

Billy Boyd - I'm probably reading another incarnation of Ford Prefect into this choice, and maybe the name of "Pippin" from the last entry made me think of him, but Boyd certainly looked good in a scarf in "The Lord Of The Rings".

Roger Daltrey - The lead singer of The Who has shown he can act in the past, so that's not a problem. And it's hard to resist the temptation to use this tag line should Daltrey be cast in the role: "The Doctor Rocks!"

Richard Griffiths - The portly character actor who plays Uncle Vernon Dursley in the "Harry Potter" movies would bring the role back to the type of character played by Hartnell and Troughton - more of a brainiac than a man of action. That's what Companions are for!

Matt Lucas - Yeah, the short, chubby, bald guy from 'Little Britain'. Hey, Gallifreyans should look somewhat alien, don't you think? Here's a way to go.

Even if it would make Mark Gatiss jealous.....

Roger Rees - My personal favorite choice. Think back to the first time we saw him as John Lord Marbury in 'The West Wing'; the way he bounded across the Oval Office to shake the President's hand and to lay a few zingers on Leo. In my mind, that's the fantasy crossover image of a crossover between the two shows.

Colin Baker - Yeah, sure. He's played the role before and was reviled by some. But I blame that more on the writing and the bad production decisions (like that coat!) and not on his work as an actor. I think he deserves another chance, and this time to go in a different direction as far as the personality quirks are concerned. Strangling Peri right off didn't help endear the audience the last time.

And besides, the years have marched on and Colin Baker is no longer the curly-haired fellow he once was; there have been enough physiological changes over time to make him even look like a different actor.

Adrian Lester - I think it's about time for a new hue for 'Who', and any arguments to the contrary, no matter how rooted in TV science, seem to be masking some deep-rooted bigotry. Time Lords do have options in their regenerations decisions, if done voluntarily. The Second Doctor was shown a variety of different models from which to choose at the end of 'War Games', and Romana went through several versions during her 15 hour window before settling on a tribute to the Princess Astra.

So why not have the Doctor choose to be black? Or even have it happen at random if the regeneration was an unforeseen occurrence? And I think Adrian Lester would make for an elegant, hip Doctor. But I can also see him as being the latest human shell stolen by the Master to keep himself alive past his regenerations. In fact, I think Adrian Lester might make for a better renegade Time Lord than a heroic one.....

(Craig Charles once expressed interest in being the first black Doctor, but his recent troubles will keep that from ever happening I think.)

And finally, my second favorite choice.....

Rupert Grint - I think the teenager, who plays Ron Weasely in the "Harry Potter" movies, would make for an interesting version for two different scenarios.

First, as a continuation of the lineage, it would make for some interesting storylines to have the regeneration go back almost too far. And then the Doctor would have to surmount the resistance by others to being told what to do by a kid. (I know, it's rather like the situation faced by Tommy Sullivan on 'Third Rock From The Sun'.)

But here's my off-beat suggestion - Rupert Grint as the FIRST Doctor!

One of the best-loved traditions in the 'Who' canon has been the team-ups between various incarnations of the Doctor. As the years march on, it's becoming impossible to go back too far to pull this off. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, and Jon Pertwee have all passed on. The others from the original run of the series are showing the signs of age.

I've often seen hopes posted in forums that perhaps the current Doctor might be able to do a team-up with Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston as the Eighth and Ninth Doctors respectively.

With all but the First Doctor, each incarnation is locked into looking exactly as they did between their regenerations. Proof that it should be this way can be found in the Sixth Doctor's adventure, "The Two Doctors" - Patrick Troughton's hair had gone considerably grayish by that point in time. (But otherwise he still pulled off the illusion that he was still the Second Doctor from his time in the TARDIS.)

And as William Hartnell had already passed on, William Hurndall was brought in to impersonate the First Doctor in the Fifth Doctor's adventure, 'The Five Doctors'.

But the First Doctor had been the original bodily form for the character, eventually growing old and becoming the character we first met as played by Hartnell. There were hundreds of years in his life that we never got to see played out on the television screen.

It's TV tradition that we get a pass when it comes to casting the younger version of a character. The younger actor should look somewhat similar to the actor he's emulating (and his should emulate the mannerisms as well - at least show them as they first develop), but allowances can be made.

And considering there would several hundred years between the role as would be played by Rupert Grint and as he looked as portrayed by Hartnell, I think the differences could be splained away.

Let's say there's too marked a difference in the nose? Hartnell's Doctor was sometimes vain about his appearance..... Perhaps he had it fixed in the past.

So anyway, those are my choices for who should play the Doctor in the future. I'm hoping you'll write in and let me know who you have in mind.

By the way, the Rani is returning this coming season from what I hear. And that she'll be played this time by that vamp from 'Footballer's Wives'.

But you know who I'd like to see in the role? Amanda Donohoe of 'Murder City' and 'L.A. Law'.

At the very least, maybe she could be a regeneration for Romana!


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