Round and Round We Go, OR Why The New Season of Doctor Who Has Me a Little Bit Worried.

“Well, Peri, what do you think? Hm?”

“It’s terrible.”

“Oh, never mind about the clothes; they’re easily changed. What about me?”

“I meant you!”

“Sorry, afraid I don’t understand.”

“Well, neither do I. I mean, people don’t change like that. I mean, physically, just in a flash.”

“I’m not ‘people,’ Peri, I happen to be me.”

“But why?”

“Natural metamorphosis. A form of rebirth. I call it a renewal. And this time, a positive triumph. I can sense it in every fiber of my being.”

a7857309129c241ca3ef82b757addbb4-i-am-the-doctor-whether-you-like-it-or-not-30-year-anniversary-of-colin-baker-s-debut

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the eighth season of the 21st century incarnation of Doctor Who and the debut of the latest actor to portray the time-traveling Doctor, Peter Capaldi. That’s not him in the picture above, of course; instead, you’re looking at the sixth actor to take on the title role, Colin Baker, who flew the TARDIS from March 1984 through December 1986, and the dialog up top is a back-and-forth between his Doctor and his young companion Peri from his proper debut story, the much maligned “The Twin Dilemma.”

We’re looking at dear old Colin because of something that struck me last Christmas, as we entered the final moments of Matt Smith‘s final bow in the TARDIS. Smith’s Doctor’s current companion, Clara, has been through an anniversary special, so unlike Peri she knows the drill; when the Doctor is mortally wounded (or is about to succumb to the effects of old age; that’s happened three times now), the regeneration process kicks in and transforms him into a new man. And yet, that almost seems to make things worse — as she watches him stumble around the console and make his last speech she knows that the dear man she’s come to know, come to have a bit of a crush on even, will be replaced with a complete stranger. When that moment hits like a blow, when in the blink of an eye Smith’s face is replaced with Capaldi’s, Clara is in complete shock and remains in a wide-eyed, slightly terrified state through the end of the episode. The best point of comparison really is the end of “Caves of Androzani,” Colin Baker’s prececessor Peter Davison‘s last tale, through the opening of “The Twin Dilemma”; the TARDIS is in flight, the Doctor has regenerated before his pretty young companion’s eyes, and because of ill effects of that process it seems the poor companion’s life is in immediate danger.

Continue reading