The War Doctor Returns in a New Novel

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Allyn Gibson, May 1, 2014.

  1. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Sacramento, CA
    If we're including The Gallifrey Adventures Audios, the Final twist of the 6th and Final Series suggests why Romana wouldn't run from the Presidency during such a crucial time.
  2. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 16, 2000
    South Pennsyltucky
    The Engines of War hardcover arrived in the mail on Thursday. After the week I've had, I needed it. I needed it badly.

    I wanted to love Engines of War. I only liked it.

    First, the good.

    The plot is solid and interesting. The Doctor discovers an alarming situation on the planet Moldox, he unwillingly gains a partner with a personal stake in the situation, he realizes that he's in over his head and has to turn to Gallifrey for help in resolving the situation, and that puts him in an entirely different pit of vipers. It's straightforward and linear; there's no counterplot, it doesn't run off on dead-end tangents, even when Cinder joins the Doctor the book remains centered on the Doctor and his story. If you like your Doctor Who with a little more plot and a little less nonsense (in other words, the antithesis of the Moffat era), Engines of War is the Doctor Who story you're looking for.

    The Doctor is characterized well. The novel consistently refers to him as "the Doctor," the characters, including new companion Cinder, call him "the Doctor," and at no point does he do anything that a different Doctor would not have done. Even the way the Doctor dispatches the main antagonist is not out of line with past characterization. He is the Doctor, full stop. Some of his dialogue captures the Doctor's poetic flights of fancy, and I could "hear" John Hurt behind some of the lines. (Of course, it helps that Hurt has a distinctive voice.) John Hurt is my Doctor, after all, and this book didn't change that one iota.

    Cinder, though something of a pastiche of previous characters, is a fascinating one-off companion. She is a bit like Rose in that she "awakens" the Doctor to the possibility of an existence that offers more than loneliness. She comes with interesting baggage by virtue of a lifetime spent fighting Daleks in the ruins of her homeworld. (And I'd like to think the Greenpeace t-shirt she adopts halfway through the book is one of Sam Jones' leftovers.) I would really compare her to Izzy, and not only because, like Izzy, Cinder is a lesbian. Like Izzy, she's seen enough that the Doctor's world doesn't take her by surprise. (In Cinder's case, it's from personal experience; in Izzy's case, it's from watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. That's what I loved about Izzy; she was conceived as, "What if we put a science-fiction fan in the TARDIS?") But she's also like Leela; life has made her a warrior, and now she sees a way out of that life and an opportunity to become the person she's capable of being.

    The Tantalus Eye is, conceptually, a fascinating place. The Doctor's description of it is evocative. What it's capable of is certainly unique. It's a nebula made of raw time rather than raw materials. It's like the Darkheart from Lonemagpie's The Dark Path, but infinitely more powerful.

    The Skaro Degradations and the Interstitials. The Skaro Degradations were interesting; they're a bit of a misnomer in that they really are pure Daleks, albeit unusual ones. (They reminded me a great deal of Big Finish's Dalek Empire II with its alt-universe Daleks.) The Interstitials reminded me a bit of some of Lawrence Miles' concepts, like something inbetween I.M. Foreman and the Celestis. In a total war, everything is on the table for both sides.

    Now, the bad.

    The pages turn quickly, but the writing is superficial at best. Someone on Gallifrey Base compared George Mann's prose to Dan Brown. It's not that bad, but it's also not ambitious. I would call Mann's prose functional and very tell-y; sometimes it felt like I was reading a super-detailed outline. The writing sometimes is as subtle as a sledgehammer. I wanted more depth to Engines of War, and I couldn't help but imagine how a different writer -- a Lawrence Miles, a Lance Parkin, perhaps even a Timothy Zahn -- would have written this. The story has the plot of a New Adventure (in that it's too big and too wide for the small screen), but in execution it's like a Terrence Dicks novelization.

    The Doctor's antagonists have all the depth of Snidely Whiplash. The Daleks are what we expect them to be -- they want to exterminate ad nauseum. Rassilon shouts and spits, but at least we have Timothy Dalton's performance to reference. The real failure is Karlax, a sadistic assholish toady of Rassilon, whose entire motivation is "a sadistic assholish toady of Rassilon." Why does Karlax do what he does? Mann never explains. Why does Karlax hate the Doctor so much? I have no idea. He exists to be an obstacle for the Doctor to get past; he's a plot point, not a character, and I think the book suffers for that.

    Cinder's fate. Given the circumstances of the novel -- this is the Doctor's adventure prior to the Fall of Arcadia and "The Day of the Doctor" -- Cinder's fate shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. The problem is the execution. It's a "women in refrigerators" moment for the Doctor. He's been able to stomach this, this, this, and this, but what happens to Cinder is what finally pushes him over the edge and motivates him to do what he does in "The Day of the Doctor." I think that's an unfortunate choice on Mann's part, to reduce her in the end to a motivational tool.

    So, in the end, Engines of War is a mixed bag. It gave me what I wanted -- a novel starring John Hurt's Doctor. But I needed more from it. It could have been so much more.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  3. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 16, 2000
    South Pennsyltucky
    On Gallifrey Base, someone posted that he found the Doctor in Engines of War to be too much of a "good guy" Doctor. He wanted the "Warrior" that he thought "The Night of the Doctor" promised.

    Here's my response:

    After "The Day of the Doctor" I came to the conclusion that the War Doctor's unworthiness of the name "Doctor" was largely a retrospective thing. Yes, he tells the Moment in "Day" and Cinder in Engines that he doesn't go by the name "Doctor" any more because he feels he's unworthy of it, but he's also a soldier, at the end of a long and fruitless war, and he's not sure what his life means any more because he can no longer imagine a life without war and conflict. He may be reluctant to call himself "Doctor," but he also doesn't care if others do. It's still his name, for good or ill.

    What I mean by "retrospective thing" is this -- the ninth Doctor awoke in the TARDIS after his regeneration, he remembered having the Moment, he didn't remember what happened after that, he saw that Gallifrey was gone, and he drew the not unreasonable conclusion that he had pressed the Big Red Button and Done It. In his mind, the person who pressed that Big Red Button and Done It could not have been the Doctor, because that's something the Doctor wouldn't do. He held that part of himself as something other, something different. "What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity" was not actually Hurt's Doctor speaking; it was the eleventh Doctor's perspective on who that version of himself was. The eleventh Doctor doesn't admit to the one who fought the Time War because he can't see himself as the man who would press the Big Red Button. And when Hurt's Doctor meets the tenth and eleventh Doctors in Elizabethan England, he sees that they look upon him with "dread"; they know he can't have Done It yet (because they would remember regenerating after it was Done), but they know (or think they know) that he's the one who did, and they can't imagine how they could ever have been that man, not realizing until the end that he's no different than they are, and they're no different than him.

    I think there's enough in "Day" and Engines to support that reading. The Doctor in Engines behaves like the "good guy" Doctor because he's the Doctor and he does Doctor-ish things. He's experienced more pain and terror than his predecessors and successors, he's lost the fun and adventure in his life, and those circumstances have made him gruff and cynical. Yet, he's still capable of the Doctor's romanticism, such as when he describes to Cinder what the Tantalus Eye is or when he imagines for her what a life of traveling with her in the TARDIS would be like. The War Doctor isn't a dark Doctor or a fallen Doctor or a failed Doctor. He's simply the Doctor.
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    ^Good analysis. I agree -- the point of "The Day of the Doctor" was that the Doctor was wrong to see his Warrior incarnation as a corrupt version of himself, that he truly was the Doctor all along. So the novel would've missed the point if it had done as that poster suggested.

    And I question whether we'd really want to see adventures of a "bad Doctor." So many people these days seem to glorify darkness and grittiness and antiheroism, but while there's a place for such things, it wouldn't be good for every character and franchise to go there.
  5. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    Haven't read the novel yet, but based on Day of the Doctor, my disappointment with the War Doctor came more from the fact the Doctor has always been implied to have a hidden dark side. We see it in the Seventh Doctor being manipulative, with how the Tenth Doctor dealt with the Family of Blood, and then there's the Dream Lord, a manifestation of the Doctor's dark side. The Doctor has darkness, and it would have been nice to see a Doctor who embraced the darkness and channeled it towards accomplishing his goals. As it is, the Doctor considered unworthy of the name and had his existence turned into a repressed memory is actually kind of mild compared to things we know the "legitimate" ones have done.

    That being said, I agree that it is important that even a dark Doctor should still clearly be a good guy. A lot of people get a hard-on about wanting to see the Valeyard and a truly evil Doctor, but that really isn't something I want to see. Besides, in Trial the Valeyard wasn't really evil or menacing, just a dick.
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    That sounds more like the Master to me. The dark side is something to be resisted and contained, not indulged. Even in war -- especially in war -- it's imperative to hold on to your principles and not compromise more than you absolutely have to.
  7. Emperor-Tiberius

    Emperor-Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Jul 30, 2005
    Kavala, Greece
    If the War Doctor was always going to be the Doctor ANYWAY, I again fail to see the reason why an incarnation had to be retconned into existence, when the Eighth could've served the EXACT same purpose, and layer it with a meta-textual reference to how he's often been refered by some fans as the Not-Doctor.

    If you're gonna "invent" an incarnation of the Doctor, it has to serve an actual purpose that would make sense in the long run. Night of the Doctor clearly showcased the Eighth sacrificing himself to be NOT himself. Doctor no more - and thats not just because he fought in the war, but because he himself has to be different from his usual self to distinguish himself from his other incarnations.

    Nothing against the War Doctor, but this once again proves that the sole reason he was invented was to generate an ultimately pointless speculation towards the 50th.
  8. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 16, 2000
    South Pennsyltucky
    I'll be the first person to say that Moffat mercilessly trolls his fandoms (like just the other day when he said he wants to do a Sherlock/Who crossover but his Sherlock compatriots won't let him, damn it!), but I really, truly doubt that Moffat's "sole reason" for inventing the War Doctor was to rile Who fandom. I doubt that was even in Moffat's top five reasons.

    I believe Moffat when he says that, when Eccleston passed on "Day," he saw an opportunity to do a one-off "mayfly" Doctor and cast an actor of stature and heft.

    I recognize that the War Doctor doesn't work for some people, and these people have their reasons.

    I admit that I have great difficultly giving credence to those whose reason for rejecting the War Doctor is because he doesn't fit with how they think the Time War went down and who fought in it because series was totally silent on what happened after the 1996 film and before "Rose." It was widely assumed that McGann led into Eccleston, but we didn't know that and there was nothing binding on the production team about that assumption.

    If you don't think the character was conceived well, I have an easier time with that. The character in "Day" is a bit of a mess of characterization, and that's on Moffat. The character works for me, and that's on the strength of John Hurt. His Doctor works in spite of the material, not because of it.
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    While I would've loved to see McGann return, I think it was a brilliant idea to reveal that there was an incarnation of the Doctor we didn't know about. After all, there was this huge gap in the Doctor's life story that we only got glimpses of, an era full of mystery, so why shouldn't it have surprises that go to the core of our understanding of the Doctor himself? And it's an inspired twist to recognize that "the Doctor" is his title, not his name, and that it's therefore possible that he could've had an incarnation in which he didn't call himself the Doctor, so that "the eleventh Doctor" wasn't necessarily his eleventh life. I love how that played with our assumptions.

    Besides, I don't think either McGann or Eccleston would've worked in the role as well as Hurt did. McGann did a terrific job in "The Night of the Doctor," but still came off as a more youthful, fun, Doctory figure -- not as dissimilar from his successors as Hurt was, and not as world-weary and worn down by long, hard experience. And Eccleston wouldn't have made sense in the role, since I've always seen him as the incarnation that emerged in the aftermath of the Time War. Moffat's said that he would've used Eccleston if the actor had agreed, but that he felt it worked better for the story to create a new character. And I entirely agree.
  10. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Sacramento, CA
    Yea, I would've loved to seen Eccelston in the 50th, but, if he was "The War Doctor", it would've really clashed with my "Head-Canon". Like you, I always saw Eccelston as being born from the Time War being ended. I would've been fine with McGann as the War Doctor, and I love what actually aired.

    Regardless wether or not it was RTD's idea that Eccelston was the War Doctor (Or that it was Moffat's original idea), it would not have fit for me, and I am glad it didn't play out that way (Though, I would've been happy to see Eccelston in the Special in some regard)
  11. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    I had no problem with the idea of a forgotten incarnation of the Doctor, and indeed when the first rumours began circulating that that's what John Hurt would be playing, I defended the concept while others were fuming "they can't do this! It screws continuity, it disrespects Eccleston, it upsets my cat." Unfortunately, the execution of the idea is lacking. I still believe the role was meant to Eccleston, since the basic story of Day of the Doctor is the Doctor contemplating genocide to end the Time War getting a look at who he becomes should he follow through with that decision. Had it been Eccleston meeting Tennant and Smith it would have made sense, Ninth Doctor meeting two of his successors and seeing how the catastrophic event he is currently considering has shaped them. Likewise, Clara's description of the War Doctor and Tenth Doctor as the "warrior and the hero" would really fit with Eccleston, since prior to DotD he was considered to be the "warrior" Doctor, or at least the soldier Doctor.

    With Eccleston unavailable, Paul McGann could very easily have been inserted into Day of the Doctor as written and have worked perfectly. You'd have the exact same character arc, the Doctor meeting two of his successors, with the immediate next incarnation oddly missing, and you could even end it with the spontaneous regeneration. Also, you could have included the joke about modern Doctors holding the screwdrivers like they're weapons. Hell, the War Doctor was envisioned as something of a Doctor in-between classic Who and nu Who, but that's what McGann already was, not a nu Doctor but to recent to be considered a classic Doctor. Moffat said he didn't want the Eighth Doctor fighting the Time War, since that kind of grim situation didn't fit with the cheerful and optimistic character we saw in the 96 telemovie, but IMO that would have worked perfectly to illustrate how the horrors of war can change a person, moreso that actually turning the Doctor into a different person to fight the war.

    I like John Hurt and his performance as the War Doctor, and ultimately I guess that's what matters. But every time I watch Day of the Doctor it always nags me they needlessly created a new Doctor when two of the actual ones would have worked just as well.
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    And I say again, creating a new incarnation of the Doctor wasn't "needless," it was an inspired and interesting twist and very much worth doing in its own right.

    The thing is, it was a surprise. It went against what we expected. Some people don't like surprises. They want things to be the way they assumed and expected, and they feel frustrated when things go in a different direction. But other people love to be surprised, and are fascinated to discover that things aren't the way they thought. I'm very much in the latter category, at least where my enjoyment of fiction is concerned. I love the idea that we "missed" a Doctor all this time. I love what that adds to the mythos, the new doors it opens. That surprise is worthwhile in its own right, regardless of the reasons behind it.
  13. Emperor-Tiberius

    Emperor-Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Jul 30, 2005
    Kavala, Greece
    Entirely agree - even though Hurt's Doctor in my least favorite incarnation by default, he still did brilliantly with what little he had. I really love the idea of a forgotten, hidden incarnation that the Doctor is just too ashamed to reveal or even talk to himself about, who did something foundamentally horrible that would scorn his psyche just aknowledging it....

    ... and the War Doctor, I thought, wasn't it. The writing just wasn't there. At the end of the day, it was just John Hurt playing the Doctor. Which is fine, of course - Hurt is one my favorite actors ever - but if you're gonna use that potentially great idea, better make it count.

    And I've said it before - John Hurt alone sold the character of the War Doctor. Had it been almost anyone else, it just would've fallen apart.

    And was, and is, at the end of the day, a pointless ploy. Because the revelation itself didn't bring any other surprises with it. Did it?


    Look, almost ALL Doctors had changed over the course of their associated histories, some to lesser degrees than others.

    The First left Gallifrey an angry, spoiled "brat", a rotten character who wouldn't hesitate to bring a rock on a caveman's head, and he changed to a cheerful, delightful explored who cared for his companions deeply, always keeping his stern figure.

    The Third Doctor started as an pompous scientiest with a gentle side, to a real gentleman with a justified arrogance. He was also, arguably, the first of the Doctors that had genuine emotional feelings for another, in Jo Grant namely. And of course, he was the most human Doctor until Tennant's Ten, but he didn't start out that way.

    The Fourth started as a cheerful, youthful adventurer, keen on taking his TARDIS to new desitnations with a smile and a gelly baby, more serious at his begginings but still a robust man, to a man riddled with the weight of his own self-importance, whose youthfulness had given way to a sombre, more gravely Fourth Doctor who, at the end of his time, contended that it was the companions' fault that they got in the way of danger (though admitedly in a rather tense moment, for sure).

    The Fifth was consistent throughout, although by the time Tegan had left, he was growing increasingly restless and irritated at his own ability to contain the danger away from his companions. Finally, he was the Doctor more guilt-ridden, for Adric's death haunted him until the end of his incarnation.

    The Sixth started almost as a reaction to the Fifth, an effite snob who liked the sound of his own voice more than anything. However, he did change - mostly thanks to Evelyn Smythe, admitedly - to a softer, more gentle man, who although remained arrogant throughout, was still more concerned and obviously caring of all creatures in the universe.

    The Seventh, indeed, seemed to evolve from that, starting out even softer, verging outright buffoonery. However, its not long that the darkness inante in him takes hold, and envelops him to the maste rmaipulator he was at the end of the show, and the rest of the Big Finish range. His change was the most sudden, I admit, but its evident.

    The Ninth visbly opened up from the reserved but reluctant Warrior to being the Doctor once more - alll thanks to Rose, in part, of course.

    And the Tenth, well... Time Lord Victorious? Arguably Day of the Doctor put a stop to his rampant God-like frenzy, but the potential to seize all time and space to his liking was there.

    So you see, all Doctors had gone through some periodic change from when they started to where they ended. The Eighth's journey from his upstart to his Moment-taking would've marked the most drastic, interesting, compelling arc yet, cause there was a Doctor who genuinely aspired NOT to be like his Seventh self.


    Hurt delivered, absolutely - to the point where I have no actual qualms about him being the Doctor. However, the character he portrayed was, at best, an amalgamation of the Ninth with elements of the First and/or Third. He doesn't really bring anything new to the table as far actual contributions to the history of the show, other than being a cheap twist that was, ultimately, not nearly as clever as it could, and shoul've been.

    For thats what the War Doctor really is: A waste of a genuinely exciting idea - the Secret Doctor!

    In your opinion.

    I vehemently disagree. As said, it was a waste of that idea, since what the War Doctor was neither a secret to most characters associated with the Doctor or, most importantly, the audience. We knew the Doctor undid the Daleks and the Time Lords for 9 years nearly - did it matter that he didn't consider that incarnation the Doctor?

    And, amusingly, only in retrospect, as the book in whose thread we're discussing says he really was called that, just not by himself, admitedly.
  14. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 9, 2008
    Of course it's in his opinion - who else's would it be? Do you think that Christopher is under some illusion his statements are objective fact?

    I never understand that response.
  15. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    And that's where the concept fails. This is the forgotten Doctor, the incarnation the Doctor denies the existence, represses the memories of being him and considers his experiences to be that of another man. And yet everything we see him doing and being involved with, the Time War, the Fall of Arcadia, the supposed mutual genocide of the Time Lords and the Daleks, and so on are all things the Doctor has mentioned experiencing and doing himself anyway. So really, that line in Doomsday should have gone "I witnessed the Fall of Arcadia. Well, it wasn't really me. Well, it was but I don't consider that regeneration to be a real proper Doctor. But the Fall of Arcadia was terrible, and someday I might even come to terms with it. Probably after I resolve the identity crisis of whether or not that was me who was there."
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    But that's the whole point. That the Doctor believed this part of himself was some shameful facet that deserved to be hidden away and forgotten, but came to realize that the reality was more forgivable. It was a story about the Doctor reconciling with himself, coming to terms with the guilt that's been driving him ever since the new series began and finally seeing himself more clearly. It's the same as what I said about creating a new incarnation: you're asking for a story that merely affirmed what we'd already been led to expect, but what Moffat did was to give us a story that made us -- and the Doctor -- re-examine what we thought we knew and discover we were wrong. You're saying it should've lived up to what the Doctor had said before, but the point is that the Doctor was wrong, that he'd been punishing himself for doing something horrible when the truth was that he'd never actually fallen from grace. And I thought that was a marvelous way to bring the whole Time War arc to a resolution.

    Because that's what this was about: Picking up all those lingering RTD threads and finally giving them closure, ending the whole Time War/Last of the Time Lords arc once and for all in order to clear the board for something new. If they'd done a story where it turned out the Doctor really had done some horrible atrocity, then his guilt wouldn't have gone away and the story arc wouldn't have been resolved. We would've just gotten more of the same in years to come. But that storyline has had its day. It was time to wrap it up and move on.

    It didn't have to. The idea is fascinating enough in and of itself. Being shown a new way of looking at something I thought I knew is a gift. So no, it was not pointless. The point was the story itself, and the story worked quite well for me.


    You really mean to suggest the First Doctor didn't have genuine emotions for his own granddaughter?

    Maybe for people who were familiar with the character beforehand, but of course they're only one segment of the audience. There would've been no such "arc" in evidence for the many viewers unfamiliar with the '96 movie or the audios. The story had to be able to stand on its own. And in that sense, it might've been better to use a new version of the Doctor without prior baggage.

    Just as what you're saying is your opinion. People should try to listen to each other's opinions and be free to express their own with the expectation that they'll be listened to in turn. We shouldn't try to dismiss the worth of other people's opinions simply because they are opinions. Sharing opinions is how we converse. It's what this BBS is all about. It's why we're aboard her! (Sorry, wrong franchise.)

    So we've both expressed our opinions on opposite sides of the question, and that's good, because that's what makes a conversation. Neither of us has to be proven objectively right or to change the other's mind, because the world has room for a diversity of opinions. All we're talking about is how we personally felt about the story, and there's no sense pretending either of our positions represents anything more than that.

    Again, I consider that a feature rather than a bug. The ambivalence of the Doctor's attitude toward that part of himself points toward the truth that it was never really a separate self in any case, that his attempt to define it that way was inconsistent and flawed and mistaken. So it's hardly a failure to show the Doctor's view of himself as flawed and contradictory when it's meant to be wrong.
  17. Emperor-Tiberius

    Emperor-Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Jul 30, 2005
    Kavala, Greece
    Thats not it at all. Such story would've ended with the Doctors pressing the Moment together. The story was about the Doctors' redemption, not just reconciliation.

    I wasn't saying that at all. I was pointing out that the War Doctor was a wasted concept for this story. The Warrior should've been a different Doctor from everyone else, and he simply wasn't. By comparison, the Seventh was more ruthless and amoral than the Warrior, since he blew up a whole planet, and without much regret. And made a Dalek destroy itself.

    Point is, the conceit of the War Doctor is a narrative dissapointment. Its something that sounds cool - the Doctor that fought in the Time War, the one inarnation he really hates - but like most things in the Moffat era, if you think too much about it, you see the obvious, gaping flaws - which are there. Apart from the fact its an obvious retcon, obviously - but given that we never saw the Eight-Nine regeneration up to this point, I'd say thats only fair, and actually clever.

    I wasn't aware the Time War was a tangling and open case? I thought it was perfectly clear that we were past it - the Matt Smith era didn't actively adress the Time War since the regeneration. References aside, the show seemed to have put that story behind, as it rightly did, especially given that the whole point of End of Time, at the time, was to close that chapter, and finally have a less gulit-ridden Doctor after Nine and Ten.

    Lets not invent arguments, lets present the facts. But since you seem to think thats an important point, I'll bite.

    But his arc had been resolved. End of Time effectively showed why the Doctor at the end had to destroy Gallifrey: because they'd become as ruthless, power-mad and dastardy as the Sixth Doctor had called them in his trial. As amoral and corruptible as the Fourth and Eighth frequently called them.

    What Moffat did is an admirable and honorable retcon, but it is that.

    I agree it had its day. And years later, Moffat decided to retcon it for the sake of the anniversary.

    Again, the Time War was not at all a focal point on the show, hasn't since Ten's regeneration to Eleven. The latter's era was entirely concerned with the Silence, the River Song mystery, his impending death and the Impossible Girl.

    Ideas are great, but you can't sell stories on ideas alone. You know this, damn it. For ideas to work and really marvel, they need to be fleshed out, explored and dictated with clear parameters and obvious showcases. The only time the War Doctor acts like the Warrior is when his TARDIS hits those Daleks after he writes "No More" on the wall.

    Yes, the Forgotten, tacked-away-Doctor is a great idea. And with the gap between McGann-Eccleston, indeed an opportune idea. But it doesn't fly beyond that. And what if that Doctor was the Doctor that the Seventh was shy of being: A real bastard? Yes, that would've made him a villain, and not like the Doctor... but what if he was the villain, and the only way to secure him being the Doctor again was to regenerate into one? Its an idea, and not an uninteresting one (albeit quite off for this character, but still).

    But to take the idea and just make a character that either a former or a later incarnation could've filled, and without any fuss (in fact, in Eight's case, you have the oft-repeated, very interesting parallel to the TV Movie)... thats just lazy. Why make the War Doctor just like one or two of the other Doctors?

    Thank God for John Hurt!

    I obviously meant romantic feelings? Of course he had feelings for Susan - as he did for numerous, if not all his companions - especially Ian & Barbara. But it has been an arguable point, championed by Moffat recently, that the Doctor did fency Jo. Which, while I doubt that the Letts & Dicks team had in mind, I wouldn't dimiss out of hand entirely.

    Now you're just sounding like a biased apologist.

    Of course they could've used the Eighth Doctor for a new audience. The "arc" would be visible and present to the existing fans, but I seriously contend how having the EIghth would've been "too much" for the new audiences. Especially given the uprorious excitement over his on-screen return since '96. The story is about an incarnation of the Doctor who fought in the War, who was tired after fighting in it for so long and who did so at the cost of his name, and who was willing to perish along with Gallifrey and the Daleks. His function in the story is such, and Eighth would've filled it nicely, because at the end of the day, he's still the Doctor.

    The only real difference, and the point that I contend is, Paul McGann is not John Hurt.

    PS: And had Eccleston returned instead, the EIghth would've been the one to have fought in the War for the most time anyway, with the distinct difference that he wouldn't have been the one pressing the Moment. Nine would've done it.

    The Doctor wasn't wrong. He did destroy Gallifrey and did wipe out the TIme Lords - until the Eleventh changed his mind, and they ultimately didn't. But besides that rather obvious point, thats not what Wormhole is saying. He's pointing out at the inherent flaw of Moffat's War Doctor retcon - that if he was so ashamed of this incarnation and what he did, than he should've been equally secretive about what he did - which is genocide on a planetary scale.

    And yet, the Doctor at the end defends this decision, because at the sign of them coming back, he picks Wilf's gun and sends them "back in to the hell."
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Wow, you could not have more totally misread what I wrote there. As I said, the reality was more forgivable -- because he didn't actually do what the later Doctors thought he did. What I'm saying is that the War Doctor never really was as bad as they thought, that this image they'd built up of him was never really true.

    Yes, thank you, I know what you're saying -- I simply disagree with it. What I'm saying here is that the point of "The Day of the Doctor" is that the later Doctors were wrong to think the War Doctor was fundamentally different. That was the illusion they'd built around him, and the truth is that he was really the Doctor all along, just as much as they were.

    He blew up Skaro, which presumably was populated only by Daleks at that point. He didn't blow up his own species including billions of children. So that's kind of a spurious comparison.

    Depends on the observer. You found him disappointing because he didn't live up to the hype. I prefer the story as told, in which all the dark, horrible hype turns out to have been untrue after all, because it reaffirms the Doctor's true self and lets him reconcile with a part of himself he'd unfairly condemned. I would've found it much more disappointing if the Doctor actually had destroyed Gallifrey, because that would've just been more of the same old tiresome, predictable Dark And Gritty storytelling that's become a cliche by this point. I'm much happier that Moffat decided to exorcise that angst from the Doctor's past.

    We thought it was a closed case, but it was still baggage that lingered over the Doctor even if it wasn't openly confronted. And indeed I love the way Moffat made that very avoidance part of the narrative: Eleven's personality was defined by his effort to run away from his guilt over Gallifrey, so it was still informing his actions after all.

    I wasn't saying the story had to tie off loose ends; I was saying that Moffat chose to make TDotD a bookend to the beginning of the revival and a culmination of all of the revival's arcs, both RTD's and his own. It was nominally the anniversary for the whole franchise, but in practice it was a climax to the entire revival up to that point.

    The plot had been resolved, but guilt and pain like that never resolve. They're always part of you. What I'm saying is that I'm glad the Doctor doesn't have that hanging over his psyche anymore, that I prefer him without it -- actually without it, not just trying to ignore it by acting like a goofball all the time. (I thought it was quite brilliant of Moffat to address the youthfulness of the past two Doctors by revealing that they were afraid of being grown up -- and that nicely paves the way for the more mature Capaldi Doctor once they get over that fear and guilt.)

    Obviously. But as I said, Moffat chose to tie TDotD in to all of the revival's arcs, not just his own. Making it a culmination of 50 years of episodes wouldn't have really worked, since there wasn't as much continuity in the original series and most of the audience wasn't familiar with the old show; but making it a culmination of the entire revival was more fitting for an anniversary than just making it the climax of Smith's seasons.

    As I said in the part you just quoted, I was satisfied by the story. You were not. That makes me different from you, not objectively wrong.

    Again: I already know this is what you want. You have told me that already. I'm not unaware of your position, I simply disagree with it. So there's no need to restate it further.

    What you said was "genuine emotional feelings for another." If you meant romantic feelings, you should've specified that. Romance is far from the only kind of genuine emotion.

    No way. That was clearly a father-daughter relationship. (And I never cared for the way RTD retconned the Doctor & Sarah's relationship into a pseudo-romance. They were best friends!)

    What??? That's bizarrely ad hominem. I'm simply clarifying the decision-making process that goes into shaping a story with one's target audience in mind.

    I wasn't saying they couldn't have used the Eighth; I was simply disagreeing with the assertion that the "arc" thus created would in and of itself have been a sufficient reason to do so. Most of the audience would be unaware of such an arc, so it couldn't be the main reason for doing it; it would at most be a sidebar, a bonus for the old-school audience. The actual reason for going with the Eighth rather than the War Doctor would've had to be something else.

    Among a certain portion of the audience. The makers of a show have to balance the interests and awareness of all the different segments of their audience.

    Indeed he isn't; as I said, he's still fairly youthful and wouldn't have conveyed the sense of an aged, worn-down Doctor as well as Hurt, or contrasted with Tennant and Smith as well as Hurt.

    No, that's not right. He never actually did it at all; he just thought he did, because his earlier selves' memories faded after they parted. History wasn't changed; only our understanding of it was.
  19. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 15, 2006
    Star Trekkin Across the universe.
    Except a ruthless warrior type like they thought he was was what the Eight Doctor seemed to be going for when picking his next incarnation, and Strax seemed convinced the War Doctor was when he mentioned how good it was the Sontarans never met him.

    Instead we get the basically slightly grumpy typical older leaning Doctor.

    Seriously it sounds like the Sisterhood of Karn utterly sucks at making ruthless warriors and that the whole controlling regenerations thing was a bunch of BS.

    I mean Five, Six, and Seven seemed more ruthless that the War Doctor. What with Six cracking one lines when minions drop into acid, Five using biological weapons on the Daleks when he isn't pushing them out of windows at the top of buildings, and Seven tricking people into blowing themselves up.
  20. Emperor-Tiberius

    Emperor-Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Jul 30, 2005
    Kavala, Greece
    But the Doctors reconciled with the War Doctor before he was about to press the Moment. What are you talking about?

    Up until then, the story was about him, the Hurt Doctor. However, the story then becomes about the Doctor in general - and indeed, all the incarnations of the Doctors end up rescuing Gallifrey.

    As such, the story literally fails on living up to the promise of a Doctor who was so different that the Doctor would literally pretend he didn't exist. Who was War-like NOT JUST AT THE END OF HIS LIFE.

    Remember, the Eighth said to the Sisterhood of Karn, "make me into a warrior." Not "make me into a slightly less violent and not nearly a bastard as I was in my sixth regeneration."

    Thats not what Day of the Doctor is about at all! Its a story of redemption, not just for the War Doctor, but for all the NuWho Doctors up to this point. Its specifically about Eleven coming to terms with his past, by taking Nine and Ten's guilt and saving Gallifrey.

    And thanks to no small part by Clara, who forces him to confront the essence of his name, his title. That while Nine and Ten were Doctor-like, only Eleven can become the Doctor again by undoing what he had done so long ago.

    Thats one helluva weak excuse. The Daleks were still living beings, weren't they? Evil or not, the Doctor blowing their planet up is as nasty as a character can get. Remember how the Fourth Doctor hesitated erasing their existence? And while allowing them to survive was unwise, blowing up a whole planet is still, well, nasty. Similarly, the Doctor wouldn't have even considered wiping out his own people if they weren't nasty themselves - and they have been far more often than not.

    What changed things this time around is that the Moment him that, hey, there were kids on that planet, too (did someone say Lungbarrow?).
    OK, what the hell are you talking about? Both 10 and 11 reconcile with the War Doctor before they decide to actually save Gallifrey. They recognize that the War Doctor was just like them that horrible day, because he took the most difficult decision possible.

    What changed things was how Moffat retroactively put himself in that situation, with Eleven being his avatar. This time, there were three of them there.

    And beyond that, you seemingly don't recognize that the Time War storyline was really done, by this point, and what Moffat did really was a retcon of RTD's development of that character. Seemingly, you also seem to disagree with the character's direction during those years, but I'm sorry - I thought what he did for the character was both important and necessary. Part of the charm for the Doctor, to me, has been that he's a lone wolf.

    And thats why the anniversary, as great as it was, just wasn't an anniversary of the 50 years of the show, but rather its almost-nine years. Tom Baker-aside, it wasn't really celebratory of the show's history and overall journey, which the trailer lied that it was, btw.

    Anyway, despite finding the excuse that Moffat couldn't have written a more enveloping, ancompassing storyline for the 50th laughable and simply untrue, I do think he made the right choice with this storyline.
    Yeah, we get it - you really love the fricking story.

    However, the Doctor had indeed gone on with it. Whether he was running away from his guilt or not, its irrelevant, because thats all he could do with it in his own lifetime. They were gone, he was still around.

    I was satisfied by the story. However, I do admit to its flaws, which are there, regardless of personal preference. Simply put, Day of the Doctor good, but not truly great. Not least because the conceit of the War Doctor, who is the most pointless retcon in Moffat's run of the show, and only really served the purpose of adressing the regeneration limit in Time of the Doctor.

    And yet you patronize my opinion by re-iterating your own again and again. I similarly know what you mean too, and so do others, as well.

    I don't mind it at all. Its possible Sarah developed feelings for him. Its only human, and things like that are what gave the show some dimension that it lacked from the old show (though BF haven't exactly shyed away from it).

    And hey, take it up with Moffat - he insists that Doctor loved Jo. Katty Manning comments on it on the Green Death Special Edition DVD's.

    Sure, but that doesn't stop you from defending that story foundemental flaws with passion, just because you liked the "idea" of the War Doctor. I mean, it did basically "absolve" the Doctor of RTD's dark direction, didn't it?

    Except that you very clearly did before your first reply.

    Indeed. One-time stunt casting of a much more well-known actor to the part.

    Right, because the audience that normally wouldn't watch DW is too dumb to cope with three returning Doctors? Thats rather unfair to assume, you know.

    Thats not why Moffat wrote the War Doctor, though. He wrote him he could have a great actor like John Hurt portray him, not to have an old character that an actor could have played him.

    It was stunt casting. Period.

    That is absolutely what happened. The first time around.

    Not really. History was changed. Remember that 10 and 11 actually saw Gallifrey burn?

    Ten: I've seen that.
    Eleven: And I never want to see it again!

    Besides, Eleven is pretty sure he and Ten weren't there the first time around, and if they really were, he'd remember it afterwards.

    Otherwise, the story doesn't work nearly as well.