Personally, Caves of Androzani
is a rare Doctor Who that is a perfect story even without the regeneration aspect of the story, but where the regeneration adds to the story's excellence by examplifying just how excellent as the Doctor Peter Davison really was. Some say that the Big Finish audio stories that feature the Fifth Doctor and Peri have somewhat diminished the effect of the Doctor saving a freshly-met companion, but I think they're missing the point, just for a bit. The essence of the sacrifice of the Doctor is, he would do this for anyone
of his companions, ever, under any circumnstances, and regardless of how well he knew them or not. He'd it for Peri whether he knew her just barely or for a while. This is never more confirmed than in the Tenth Doctor's sacrifice to save Wilfred, who's an old man anyway, but the Doctor won't have him die when he can save him - and in Caves
, he won't have someone die because of him, because he brought her to that planet. It just doesn't get much better than this, really. And as far the regeneration scene goes... Its a mini-confrontation on its own (indeed, a short audio story in the Circular Time
Big Finish audio anthology dealt with it), with the Doctor fighting to stay alive enough so he can regenerate, and with the help of companions lost and gone, he does - barely. And on a moment too soon...
is a great story, through and through, and the first time in a while where the Doctor really struggles to deal with a situation - and not without reason, given that a Time Lord is his antagonist in this one, and he's giving him a run for his money! The performances all-around are top-notch, and David Maloney really knew how to make a 10-episode story into sustainable viewing, as much of that carries through even the most repetitious of episodes. Its long, but at least its good while at that. It was a decent, and fitting situation that gave credence to the introduction of the Time Lords. Troughton's at his absolute best throughout, but never more perfect than in his farewell scenes to Jamie and Zoe, and in his confrontational trial on Gallifrey. His regret on knowing that his two companions would never remember him beyond that one adventure, and his anguish over trying to, basically, stay alive at the end, and his pain as he is forcefully regenerating at the very end... Its all wonderfully written, directed, staged and performed. The companion's sad fates is only topped by Donna's own at the end of series 4 of NuWho, and even then RTD admitted influence from this very serial, but the Doctor's forceful regeneration has never, and will never be topped. By far the saddest regeneration of them all, because his moment was not
has enormous stakes in it, and the Doctor ends up saving as much of the universe as he could, and on that regard its certainly a remarkable ending for the Fourth Doctor... but characterization-wise, I think its lacking. Tegan should've either been introduced in a previous serial, or after this serial - as is, much time is wasted for her not to be properly introduced into the Doctor's environment, and she serves instead as a nuisance rather than an integral part of the TARDIS. Similarly, I'd have liked some kind of interaction of the Doctor with Tegan and Nyssa, instead of the cold aloofness of his which, while a trademark of his, doesn't really explain their characters very well. Plus, why did
the Doctor want to fix the chameleon circuit all of a sudden? I'd have appreciated maybe having the Doctor having a premonition of things that were to come. But anyway, I think its just fine, whereas it should've been better - the story and ideas behind it were good, but the characterization is, for a lot of it, flat. A memorable, but underwhelming ending for that Doctor - but then again, wasn't The Robot
a rather unpresuming start? Perhaps it fits in that regard...
Still, the regeneration scene works completely, if not because Tom Baker sells it via his trademark smile and wistful performing, in an understated way. The flashbacks, although awkwardly edited IMO, are all very fittingly placed, and showed the real impact of the Doctor to both the good and the bad. Really, really touching farewell.
The Bad Wolf
two-parter is, in a lot of ways, the epitome of the Ninth Doctor's character progression throughout the series. His character was, in a lot of ways, the First Doctor, indeed for a whole new generation, and in a manner of speaking, he was a lot like him - grumpy at times, impatient and critical of those "stupid apes". But here, he's willing to sacrifice himself to end all Daleks for them, and prefers being a "coward" rather than commiting genocide once again. Its awesome, because it returns the Doctor to the man he really was. Its also a great siege story, and IMO a more effective use of the Daleks than in the following season, complete with the appearence of the Emperor. Regeneration-wise, its the best. The scene itself is unexpected, but played so wonderfully. Its sad, celebratory, bittersweet, just all-around awesome. And you know what? He really was
End of Time
, for me, is a lot of very, very disparate ideas that never gel. Its an epic story alright, but after the Stolen Earth
two-parter, it was never gonna be as good a last story for the Tenth Doctor. Very messy, very so-so... but all well-directed, and above all well-acted. Tennant really manages to sell the premise of a dying Doctor and his anguish over regenerating, perhaps feeling that he should have a say in it for once, instead of being the victim of circumnstances, as he's always been throughout his past. Indeed, this two-parter is at its best after all threats are done with, all but the one on Wilfred's life... Like in his Fifth self, the Doctor just can't walk away and let someone die because of him or his people - no matter what. Its a triumphant end for him, and his extended farewell to all companions is as touching, as impressive and as sad as anything the show's ever done. And what better way to contrast his Allons-y attitude, but with the uttering of "I don't want to go." Believe me, many wish he hadn't.
Of all stories mentioned, The Enemy Within
is, easily, the weakest. Not gonna go to detail, just that the Seventh Doctor going out midway the TV Movie was probably not the most fitting of ways. The regeneration scene itself, I like, seeing as how it blatantly rips off the Frankenstein monster's birth in the eponymous 1933 film. If I counted The Enemy Within
alongside Big Finish's Master
, I'd rank it higher, but as is, its not that great. Not terrible however, just.. underwhelming - that said, his last scenes in the TARDIS as wonderfully nostalgic, as I suppose was meant to be the point.
Sadly, I haven't seen Tenth Planet
and Planet of Spiders
, but both regeneration scenes are great in their own right. Pertwee's acting in that scene is sorrowful and meaningful, and if the Doctor ever were to die, thats the most fitting of ways to go. Indeed, he died, I think, but his old mentor gave that push to regenerate thus allowing him to live - which makes me think that the TARDIS is essential to the Doctor's regeneration, seeing as how he always experienced serious problems when regenerating outside it (see the Fifth and Eighth Doctors, too). And the First Doctor's last look around the TARDIS is, well, priceless.
Wow. That was wordy. I apologize if I bored you with my endless wording.