Exactly how the eighth Doctor (seen only once in the 1996 made for television movie/backdoor pilot to a revived series, portrayed wonderfully by Paul McGann) came to regenerate has been a mystery which fueled the imaginations of fans since the current series was announced in 2003. One depiction of it was supposed to occur in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine. They have a long-running comic strip that parallels what is happening with the series. They were meant to handle the transition from Doctor 8 to Doctor 9, but legal malarkey prevented it from happening. Since then there have been fan films and other speculative works devoted to his regeneration, none of them officially accepted as canon.
Today, that changed. Doctor 8’s death is detailed in the BBC’s latest Mini Episode: Night of the Doctor.
The 6 minute and 49 seconds long video not only serves as a bit of prologue to the quickly approaching 50th anniversary special, it also provides closure to those of us who longed to see Doctor 8 one last time.
Honestly, I had a feeling something like this might happen – until I saw an interview with Paul McGann a bit ago where he confirmed he was in no way involved in the anniversary (you cheeky man. I wonder if this means any of the other Doctors claiming to not be involved will appear). The reason I though Moffat might try and bring in McGann is because he was originally brought in to write for the series of Doctor Who audio adventures that Big Finish Productions was beginning to do. When he found out they had yet to sign Paul McGann, he left in a fury. It would seem he liked Doctor 8 quite a bit.
Since that time, Big Finish has had massive success crafting their own Who stories (many of them equal to, if not better than, what appears in the television series), including an outstanding run with the 8th Doctor. For me, he shined through the audio dramas, every bit as thrilling as anyone other Doctor.
To see him again was really special. Not only that, but he mentions his companions from the audio dramas, now canonizing them to a small extent. A great way to honor a part of Doctor Who history that goes largely unnoticed by the general fans.
Was the mini episode any good? Yes, it was. There was a bit of The End of Time vibe to it, with the robed mystics and cups with smokey stuff, and prophecy-ish things, and The Time War. It didn’t blow me away, but it satisfied the McGann fan in me. The last shot was a little corny, but easily forgivable.
Now our eyes turn to the 23rd, and The Day of the Doctor.
I truly hope that as far as anniversaries go it’s one of the good ones.