A little while back, [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] fans may remember reading a rumour that some massive, game changing development was going to take place on the Sarah Jane Adventures that would answer a long-speculated question. Well, we can reveal tonight that that question was: how will Doctor Who deal with the Time Lord’s 12 regeneration limit?
And the answer – apparently – is this: it’ll erase the regeneration limit entirely. *pauses for effect*
That’s right, your favourite Time Lord is now a full-blown immortal. And this fact will be dispatched in a throw-away line on the Sarah Jane Adventures, presumably in the forthcoming episode titled Death Of The Doctor.
Is it possible to be relieved and horror-struck all at the same time? I think so. On one hand, the future of the series seems secure, with an unkillable Doctor on our hands. On the other hand, it silently takes away all that gravitas from David Tennant’s final scenes in which we were made to feel that he was getting impossibly older and slipping towards his final incarnation. And now we find he isn’t.
The story was broken this evening in the online edition of The Guardian, and it carries a handy breakdown of the history and theory of the regeneration limit as we’ve understood it on the show:
Fans have always thought that the 13th doctor would be the last, thanks to a 1976 Doctor Who episode, The Deadly Assassin, featuring Tom Baker as the Doctor in his fourth incarnation, and revealing for the first time the regeneration limit. But a passing comment in a children’s television programme later this month is set to rewrite history and cast the Doctor, iconic hero of the world’s most successful and longest-running science fiction series, as immortal.
Of course, many of us expected this to happen at some point. With Matt Smith being the 11th incarnation of The Doctor, it was inevitable that if the series was to continue past the 13th regeneration, it would have to develop an answer to the question of the limit.
Fans of the classic series will know that The Doctor’s old adversary, The Master managed to cheat his regeneration limit through a deal with the Time Lords in which they granted him another regeneration cycle. I’m sure that most of us thought that this would be the way The Doctor would eventually gain an additional life. Or perhaps through some obscure fumbling with the first two incarnations, which some people don’t class as technical regenerations.
Rusty’s Last Laugh?
Interestingly, this is the first time that former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has written for the 11th Doctor. And given his love/hate relationship with rabid fans, could this be his last laugh at fans who obsess over this kind of stuff? Probably.
The question I’d ask you lot is – is it right or acceptable that such an important detail of the Time Lord’s life be delivered through a spin-off series? Do you consider it canon? And if so, I wonder if this was written in with the blessing of the BBC and current showrunner Stephen Moffat?
One thing’s for sure, we’ll all be tuning in for that two-parter!