Doctor Who has gone through a lot of changes over the last 59-year history of the series, and one of the most significant occurs when the person who plays our beloved double-hearted Timelord, The Doctor, decides to leave the series. Since the announcement of Jodie Whittaker leaving the show, I felt very nervous about how the final episode will play out, especially since Whittaker’s Doctor was filled with a much more positive persona. Of course, I did not want My Doctor to have a painful “end”. But as a fan of the series for many years, I have witnessed several regenerations, and this current send-off episode ranks high on the list.
Traveling through time and space has its shares of excitement and dangers. Doctor Who has always relied on a blend of the two and this episode was no exception with the return of the Cybermen, the Daleks, and The Master. Their involvement creates a recipe of destruction and mayhem which would make children jump behind the couch for safety. Sacha Dhawan shined once more as The Master. His portrayal of The Doctor’s nemesis is quite sinister and memorable. Yet I am curious if he will be brought back for future episodes or if there will be a changing of the guard. A theme that this franchise has been doing for many years, most recently with Missy who was played wonderfully by Michelle Gomez.
This outing was also special treat for fans of the “classic era” with the additions of Sophie Aldred’s Ace and Janet Fieldings’s Tegan to the cast. The series does not touch on the “classic era” too often, but when they do, it is wonderful to see. I will not go into much detail, but I will say their appearances are not for cameo purposes, as they each had roles to play in the events throughout the episode and were also given their chances to shine in their own way. There were many easter eggs placed within the special and for diehard fans like myself, they were an absolute delight to watch (shhh … no spoilers).
As far as the story is concerned, the special had everything from grand weapons of destruction to variations of history itself, with The Master playing a role as part of his many disguises. I thought the episode did not have any flaws or gaps in execution. Overall, it was well written, with several memorable performances and dialogues that marked the significance of the occasion – saying farewell and looking ahead to the regeneration into the Next Doctor. The special effects were also a highlight, and it looks like The BBC poured considerable resources to ensure the production value was solid.
Whittaker’s landmark tenure is now over (for now at least … we will touch on that later!), and when I look back on her time in the series, there were some accomplishments to expanding the mysteries surrounding The Doctor. For instance, there was a revelation that The Doctor was not actually from Gallifrey, and that the true origin is still a mystery. Second, the introduction of The Fugitive Doctor, played brilliantly by Jo Martin, adds further mystery to the lineage of the series; we are not certain where in the series of regenerations she resides – adding to the time-wimey nature of the franchise.
But the finale of seeing Whittaker as The Doctor was not only great overall; it was also a love letter to all Whovian fans. The events leading up to the regeneration were bittersweet since we knew this was the 13th Doctor’s final battle against the forces of evil and mayhem, but there was some solace afterward with heart-warming scenes to celebrate the bonds of companionship The Doctor has forged throughout her journeys to help others through time and space.
We were treated, though, to the re-introduction of David Tennant as The Doctor. Yes, he is back! Officially, I think he will be coined the 14th Doctor for three episodes set to air in 2023 to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the franchise. The backward regeneration was mentioned in the 50th Anniversary special, Day of The Doctor, when Tom Baker made his appearance as a museum curator, and during his conversation with then-Doctor, Matt Smith, as he mentioned that “some old faces” may return from time to time.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond we know the TARDIS, and the universe, are in good hands with the 14th Doctor aka David Tennant and with the 15th Doctor in waiting, Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education). Maybe we will see Jodie Whittaker return in some way in the future in some way whether it is a multi-Doctor team up or a stand-alone special. I also hope Jo Martin will get a chance for her own run as The Doctor but only time will tell. For now I will thank Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Matt Strevens, Chris Chibnall, and the crew for a fantastic ride during the 13th Doctors’ adventures.
Overall, The Whovian franchise is unlike any other. It is a long-standing British series with a global fandom. But it is nice to see Doctor Who news grace the major news outlets such as CNN when there are significant changes, but it is proof that the series has a significant impact worldwide.
As we close there is one more significant bit of news to share. It was announced today that Disney+ will be the global streamer for the series outside of the UK starting in 2023. This move marks the departure of the series from BBC America and HBOMax for those in the US.
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