Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: The Tenth Doctor - Rude and Not Ginger

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly time-y wimey . . . stuff.”
-The Doctor

We here at MTVP are unabashed Tenth Doctor fans. I for one love the combination of wits and bravado. Ten is the smartest man in the room, knows it, and has fun with it. He delights in the unusual, even when it may not be appropriate. Ten is one of the all-time iconic Doctors, probably second only to Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. He is also (spoiler alert) going to be making an appearance in this Saturday’s 50th Anniversary Special. Ten and his first companion, Rose, are going to be helping Eleven and Clara solve some sort of big universe-in-jeopardy problem, and it’s likely to be a whole lot of fun. I also have to give Sarah some credit for helping me with the end of this post, as she has seen all of the post-series 4 specials, and I have not seen two of them (I'm a bad Tenth Doctor fan, I know)!

A Very Arthur Dent Beginning

The Tenth Doctor first appears at the very end of the series 1 finale, “The Parting of the Ways,” but his first proper appearance was in the subsequent Christmas special, “The Christmas Invasion.” The Doctor spends most of the episode in his pajamas, recovering from an especially rough regeneration, but when he is recovered, he joins the narrative with a vengeance. One of the great things about “The Christmas Invasion” is how it quickly establishes several of the Tenth Doctor’s essential characteristics. He will always give an enemy one chance to redeem him/herself, but there are no second chances. He says whatever is on his mind, to the point where he is sometimes rude. He takes responsibility for the universe’s safety, especially Earth’s, and because of that, he thinks he’s the highest authority on how certain big situations should be handled.

The last characteristic is most exemplified by his interaction with Harriet Jones (we know who she is!), who is Prime Minister during the events of “The Christmas Invasion.” The Doctor thinks he has dealt with the invading Sycorax by telling them to stay away from Earth, but Harriet does him one better and has the Sycorax ship completely destroyed. The Doctor doesn’t appreciate being overruled, even though Harriet has very good reasoning for doing so. She knows the Doctor isn’t going to always been around when there is trouble, and Earth has to be able to defend itself sometimes, too. The Doctor disagrees, though, and in retaliation, he ends her government by saying just six words to her assistant. “Don’t you think she looks tired?” It showed that while he has good intentions, the Tenth Doctor will sometimes be ruthless in trying to follow his personal moral code.

Children of Time

Although he collected quite the entourage of people who were willing to sacrifice anything for his cause, the Tenth Doctor had three major companions. First there was Rose, who got over the shock of Nine’s transformation into Ten pretty quickly. Rose and Ten really bonded, and there relationship was something more than just friendship. They giggled their way through time and space until a tragedy forced Rose to go to a parallel universe forever. There were romantic undertones to their relationship, although the Doctor never could quite bring himself to say “I love you.” I think he thought it wouldn’t be fair to Rose. He thought she should have someone in her life who would age as she would, and he gave her that by setting him up with “10.5” (see yesterday’s recap of Stolen Earth/Journey’s End).

Martha, the series 3 companion, was pretty much just a rebound. Lucky for her, she was probably the most put-together in her outside-the-TARDIS life of all Ten’s companions, so she did perfectly well for herself after leaving. She became a doctor and worked for UNIT. Donna, the third major companion, was pretty much the Doctor’s best friend. The Tenth Doctor and Donna were truly partners in crime, and it was a lot of fun to watch them. Catherine Tate, who plays Donna, is a well-respected comedienne, and her comedic chemistry with David Tennant was superb. The best example of this is in the series 4 premiere, “Partners in Crime.” The Tenth Doctor and Donna are separated by windows when they see each other for the first time since the series 3 Christmas special, “The Runaway Bride.” They mime a whole conversation with each other before being discovered by the baddies of the episode, and it is absolutely hilarious. Another interesting aspect of Donna was that although she didn’t think much of herself (she had been temping for a long time), her specific clerical skills come in handy quite often in her adventures with the Doctor.

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

While we have seen the Doctor be forgiving and willing to give other species a second chance, we learned that the Tenth Doctor was far more dangerous when not surrounded by his Children of Time. As Donna said in “The Runaway Bride,” he needs to be with someone to keep him in check. As Ten’s time in the TARDIS comes to an end, he’s traveling alone, and that rage and anger that bubbles up under the surface through his run is in full force during the “David Tennant Specials.” With no one to temper his Lonely God tendencies, the Tenth Doctor spirals into a dark place, wallowing in his solo status as the last Time Lord in existence. Perhaps it is some of what he felt while ending the Time War coming through. Besides, David Tennant was wonderful at portraying the Tenth Doctor’s range of emotions, from the goofy excited explorer to the vengeful god raining Hell down upon his enemies.

As we head for the 50th Anniversary, it seems clear we will witness the final days of the Time War, which is something that has been a thread through the modern era of “Doctor Who.” With the little breadcrumbs laid out, it will be exciting to see what happened that caused the Doctor such anguish. As all things go to hell in “Waters of Mars,” the Doctor angrily proclaims, “Yes, because there are laws. There are laws of time. And once upon a time there were people in charge of those rules. But they died. So you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize, the laws of time are mine! And they will obey me!” The anger and the fire that fueled the Tenth Doctor towards the end shows just how much the Time War really weighs on his conscience. But Ten makes one final trip back to Earth in “The End of Time” to save the planet he loves so much and give his life to save Wilf in the aftermath of the Master and the Time Lords trying to exert their own control. He doesn’t want to go, but he does anyway for the sake of his friends.


The Internet is replete with information on the Tenth Doctor, but here are a few choice bits to get you started...

Here is BBC America's Tenth Doctor page.

Here is a really nice guide to the Tenth Doctor courtesy of Nerdist.

Here's an amusing video of David Tennant "introducing" the 50th Anniversary special.

Here's a video of David feeling guilty about being disloyal to "his" TARDIS.

And to wrap things up, here's a fun guide to the Tenth Doctor's costume.

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