BBC and BBC America have released on youtube a mini episode prequel to the 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor called Night of the Doctor, that bridges the 8th Doctor into the new series.
I have to say, I have mixed feelings about this. It’s great to see Paul McGann back as the 8th Doctor. He really got short-changed with only the TV movie. I’ve loved the audio adventures he’s done with Big Finish, which probably helped him fall back into the role so easily. He did a great job being the Doctor, and like so many other people are saying, it would be great to see some more 8th Doctor adventures, even as a web series. What I’m not so sure about is the explaining of the Time War that Moffatt has decided to get into for the 50th Anniversary.
I have a really love/hate relationship with Moffatt. I think he writes great stories when there is someone editing him and reining him in. I loved the stories he did in Russell T. Davies’ era. He consistently had the best and most memorable episodes. But once he became show runner and could do whatever he wanted with no restrictions, I wasn’t so happy with his work. I disliked the River Song story line, and really didn’t like that he continued Davies’ characterization of the Doctor is this dark and dangerous person. This short, and really the concept of the “War Doctor” falls into this.
War is no stranger to the Doctor. He is constantly getting pulled into conflicts, and whether it is on the battle level, or on the level of the war itself, he will always search for a peaceful resolution, and always willing to help the innocent caught in the crossfire. The opening of this mini episode still reflects that part of the Doctor, and don’t have a problem with that. Where it loses me is right after that. The Doctor wouldn’t let himself get killed so easily. He would try to find a way to live and save Kass. He’s no stranger to saving people who don’t want it. He wouldn’t stubbornly stay on the ship to die. Time Lords have always been able to control their regenerations. I think the Doctor just prefers the randomness of not choosing. It’s more exciting to see what come up. If he really wanted to become a warrior, he wouldn’t need some elixir from the Sisterhood. But most of all, I don’t believe he would ever choose to become a warrior. Considering the participants in this battle, I also don’t believe he would have distanced himself from the conflict. Despite his disdain for Time Lord society, I don’t think he would turn his back on his people. He always returned to Gallifrey when he was needed. He would work to find a solution to stop the war, not run from it.
My Doctor wouldn’t choose to be a warrior. He would be true to himself and find another solution. The War Doctor isn’t my Doctor. I know that is part of the point, but I don’t believe the 8th Doctor would make that choice in the first place. Very little of this episode felt like a Doctor Who episode. It felt more like an awkward fanfic that was written to connect the classic series to the new series.
We don’t need any more awkward fanfic in this series.