Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Doctor a Day 8: "Timing malfunction..."

The 8th Doctor & The 4th Master

Ah the 8th Doctor...he never got a fair shake really. Or did he? 'Doctor Who: The Movie", his first and only televised appearance, was placed in the US schedules against the final ever episode of 'Roseanne' and so never stood a chance ratings-wise. It's a shame. The movie certainly isn't a brilliant Doctor Who story, but it's nowhere near the worst. It just wasn't the right way to kick off a reboot (for the right way, see 'Rose' or 'The Eleventh Hour'). But that TV failure didn't mean the death of Paul McGann's time traveller. The 8th Doctor has thankfully lived on and on in a very successful line of audiobooks and graphic novels. So while we never really got to know the 8th Doctor on TV, he's undergone the same sort of emotional development seen in every other Doctor, just in audio form. He's even gone through a change of costume, ditching the frock coat in favour of a leather jacket and moving towards what he's destined to be; the man who'll one day commit genocide to save the Universe.

Dressed in a stolen wild west costume, Paul McGann initially played the Doctor as a wide-eyed romantic, amused by everything and prone to letting slip what was to happen in the future. His frock coat and waistcoat remind you of the 1st Doctor, but personality-wise he couldn't be much further from him. Until the 10th Doctor came along his was the most human and vulnerable portrayal of the Time Lord, and McGann's portrayal marks the start of the 'romantic hero Doctor' motif that has been kept up through the revived series. In his audio adventures his lightness has been tempered by more than a few setbacks, allowing McGann to explore the darker side of the Time Lord, something that flows into Ecclestone's 9th Doctor.

(Fans of continuity may notice the 8th Doctor's holding his chameleon arch pocket watch, introduced in the 10th Doctor (or 7th if you read the book) story 'Human Nature'. Don't worry, the 8th Doctor also mentions using one in 'The Forgotten', which s actually quite a good multi-Doctor graphic novel)