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Doctor Who "Bigger on the inside..."

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Old November 6 2012, 04:17 AM   #1
Klaus
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Are regenerations still capped at 12?

...in classic Who the limit for regenerations was supposed to be 12, which means 13 different Doctors. I know that the Master went past his 12th via artificial means [though it made him crazy[er] IIRC.

The discussion about actors for the 12th Doctor reminded me that we're getting near that point. Has it been mentioned/retconned/technobabbled in the past few decades, or are they just ignoring it?
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Last edited by Klaus; November 6 2012 at 04:17 AM. Reason: typo
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Old November 6 2012, 04:33 AM   #2
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

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Old November 6 2012, 04:37 AM   #3
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

It has not directly referred to one way or the other in the series. However, in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Death of the Doctor," The Eleventh Doctor tells Clyde he has 507 regenerations. Some people (myself included) choose to believe he was joking (and the scene itself merits this belief) while others firmly believe it as truth. Of course, this is the same episode where Sarah Jane suggests Ian and Barbara are ageless and immortal and many people don't believe that either.

That all being said, I want the producers to stick to the regeneration limit because I want to see how this affects The Doctor. I want to see The Doctor to completely and utterly face his mortality and not like how The Tenth Doctor did prior to his regeneration. I want to see The Thirteenth Doctor defined by his mortality and having to face his inevitable fate. I want to see how that shapes his adventures for better or for worse. And then when the time comes, have The Doctor actually die and end the series. For good. I know very few people will agree with this but I think that would be an incredible way to end an incredible series.
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Old November 6 2012, 04:46 AM   #4
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

That would be something, but they'll never do it... this is where McGann and Eccleston's brevity hurt them, to be sure.
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Old November 6 2012, 04:46 AM   #5
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

I agree with Emh. The Doctor shouldn't be immortal; he should be able to die just like any other time lord.

And they should stick to the 13-regeneration limit. Maybe explain *why* there is such a limit, but stick to it nonetheless.
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Old November 6 2012, 04:47 AM   #6
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

What it's going to come down to is whether or not the showrunner at the end of the thirteenth Doctor's tenure is enough of a classic series fan to have "only twelve regenerations" in his or her head as one of the Rules of Doctor Who. If so, there'll be some hand-wave around it, possibly after a tedious, melodramatic "Doctor faces mortality" storyline; if not, it's unlikely to get mentioned at all.
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Old November 6 2012, 04:58 AM   #7
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

I just had a thought. Perhaps they'll do this:

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Old November 6 2012, 05:07 AM   #8
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

If ratings are strong, they won't let the 13 regenerations thing stop them from making more. Off the top of my head:

1. River could've given him more then we realize. He expects to die after his 13th life and he doesn't and sits up amazed "Well that shouldn't have happened"
2. The "507" lives is canon, so, no explanation bothered with
3. 13 Finds/Meets a Dues Ex Machina that gives him a new Cycle
4. Time Lord Society comes back long enough to give him a new Cycle
5. Maybe someone who's People he saves, somehow transfers Life force enough for more regenerations
6. He somehow absorbed life from The End of Time brief Time Lords return

The explanations can go on and on
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Old November 6 2012, 05:13 AM   #9
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

The Master, who was but a noncorporeal intelligence of sorts in the 1996 telefilm, was a full-fledged Time Lord with the ability to regenerate by the time he surfaced in the new show. It's possible that the Doctor's regeneration cycle has already been extended, so that he could fight in the Time War or something.
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Old November 6 2012, 05:48 AM   #10
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

Sindatur wrote: View Post
If ratings are strong, they won't let the 13 regenerations thing stop them from making more. Off the top of my head:

1. River could've given him more then we realize. He expects to die after his 13th life and he doesn't and sits up amazed "Well that shouldn't have happened"
2. The "507" lives is canon, so, no explanation bothered with
3. 13 Finds/Meets a Dues Ex Machina that gives him a new Cycle
4. Time Lord Society comes back long enough to give him a new Cycle
5. Maybe someone who's People he saves, somehow transfers Life force enough for more regenerations
6. He somehow absorbed life from The End of Time brief Time Lords return

The explanations can go on and on
7. The 13th Doctor's final story arc centers on his mortality. He moves through the stages of grief, and as he accepts it, the time comes - but an outsider/outside force intervenes and the great surprise is that the Doctor resists having his life extended.

In fact, if it was me, I may do all sorts of takes on the reasons behind the 12 regeneration limit - probably going in the direction that the biggest reason for it is simply that after that, the process gets more and more uncertain, with a Time Lord who continues ultimately getting dottier and dottier with each subsequent regeneration. Sure the 14th incarnation seems okay, but one or two more and he or she has turned into the ultimate Alzheimer's patient. There's no quality of life, so it's best to end it then. The Doctor knows this and decides the time has come, and when offered an extension, he rejects it - but in the end, it gets imposed on him, and the big question that will follow him from that point forward is how much of his mind will he lose as a result, and when, if at all.

I would also at some point have reintroduced the concept of the Matrix - perhaps the Doctor would have discovered that, yes, some Time Lords did survive the Time War, but as disembodied minds in a computer archive somewhere. In short, they hid themselves away in the Matrix (for convenience it'd turn out to be hidden well away in the TARDIS itself)...so part of his arc would be figuring out what to do with the TARDIS. He can't just let it die, because it contains the minds of the surviving Time Lords in the Matrix archive, and he plans to download his own mind there when the final end comes - and that's when the outside force steps in.
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Old November 6 2012, 05:54 AM   #11
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

Sindatur wrote: View Post
If ratings are strong, they won't let the 13 regenerations thing stop them from making more. Off the top of my head:

1. River could've given him more then we realize. He expects to die after his 13th life and he doesn't and sits up amazed "Well that shouldn't have happened"
I like that one and it would fit best into the show.

Think about how ever regeneration could be the Doctor's last because he just doesn't know how many are left. I think that would be great for the series because clearly they will never actually end it after the 13th Doctor.

But I do like the idea of ending it and they can do spin offs and such with his daughter or soemthing. be kind of fun.
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Old November 6 2012, 06:53 AM   #12
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

I think there will definitely be more than thirteen Doctors, but I also think there will come a point where how many regenerations he has won't be an issue. It may harken back to what the Second Doctor once said said that Time Lords could live forever, barring an accident presumably so fatal that regenerating won't work.

To me, that makes each incarnation of the Doctor much more precious, because that particular version will be gone forever.
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Old November 6 2012, 08:50 AM   #13
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
I just had a thought. Perhaps they'll do this:

I've read this idea many times and I still don't like it.

Peacemaker wrote: View Post
Sindatur wrote: View Post
If ratings are strong, they won't let the 13 regenerations thing stop them from making more. Off the top of my head:

1. River could've given him more then we realize. He expects to die after his 13th life and he doesn't and sits up amazed "Well that shouldn't have happened"
2. The "507" lives is canon, so, no explanation bothered with
3. 13 Finds/Meets a Dues Ex Machina that gives him a new Cycle
4. Time Lord Society comes back long enough to give him a new Cycle
5. Maybe someone who's People he saves, somehow transfers Life force enough for more regenerations
6. He somehow absorbed life from The End of Time brief Time Lords return

The explanations can go on and on
7. The 13th Doctor's final story arc centers on his mortality. He moves through the stages of grief, and as he accepts it, the time comes - but an outsider/outside force intervenes and the great surprise is that the Doctor resists having his life extended.

In fact, if it was me, I may do all sorts of takes on the reasons behind the 12 regeneration limit - probably going in the direction that the biggest reason for it is simply that after that, the process gets more and more uncertain, with a Time Lord who continues ultimately getting dottier and dottier with each subsequent regeneration. Sure the 14th incarnation seems okay, but one or two more and he or she has turned into the ultimate Alzheimer's patient. There's no quality of life, so it's best to end it then. The Doctor knows this and decides the time has come, and when offered an extension, he rejects it - but in the end, it gets imposed on him, and the big question that will follow him from that point forward is how much of his mind will he lose as a result, and when, if at all.
I think this is the best idea barring my idea doesn't happen (which it probably won't). Either way, I want a sense of "this isn't easy and it's taking a toll." The Tenth Doctor's whining at the end of his incarnation doesn't really fit the bill.

Peacemaker wrote: View Post
I would also at some point have reintroduced the concept of the Matrix - perhaps the Doctor would have discovered that, yes, some Time Lords did survive the Time War, but as disembodied minds in a computer archive somewhere. In short, they hid themselves away in the Matrix (for convenience it'd turn out to be hidden well away in the TARDIS itself)...so part of his arc would be figuring out what to do with the TARDIS. He can't just let it die, because it contains the minds of the surviving Time Lords in the Matrix archive, and he plans to download his own mind there when the final end comes - and that's when the outside force steps in.
This is an all right idea, but I much prefer your other idea.
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Old November 6 2012, 01:36 PM   #14
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

The Doctor facing his own mortality is an idea I find completely lacking in interest. Mortality as a literary theme can be explored in countless works of art, chief among them those that don't deal at all with genre conventions. Addressing this theme in a series which tells the adventures of a man who constantly regenerates when he should die, a series in which anything can happen and be explained away with just one or two lines of dialogue, doesn't sound like an exciting perspective at all. I'd rather have the series deal with themes that connect more naturally with its tropes, i.e. what happens to your sense of self when you keep coming back as a different man every time you should die.
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Old November 6 2012, 02:44 PM   #15
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Re: Are regenerations still capped at 12?

Honestly, the 13 life limit was a bit of a mistake. It served the story purposes of The Deadly Assassin, sure. But it was obvious, even back then that the Doctor will continue to regenerate. Classic Who even put in precedents allowing Time Lords to get another set of 13 lives.

When the time comes, the Doctor is going to live past his thirteenth life. We will see a 14th Doctor, we will see a 507th Doctor and so on in that order.
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