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  1. #1
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    Default Regeneration: a radical concept

    As we all know, our beloved show took a very different approach when the lead actor decided to bow out. Rather than writing the character out, they simply replaced the actor - and included a narrative device that explains exactly why he looked completely different.

    The concept of regeneration has undoubtedly changed over time. The original description of the process from 1966 (when it was referred to as "renewal") from the production team was thus:

    The metaphysical change which takes place every 500 or so years is a horrifying experience an experience in which he re-lives some of the most unendurable moments of his long life, including the galactic war [which was believed, at this time, to have been the cause of the Doctor and Susan's departure from their home planet]. It is as if he has had the LSD drug and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect.
    Clearly, the concept has evolved significantly now - it's not every 500 years, it's whenever he would die. But the idea of him re-living some of the most unendurable moments of his life has survived on occasion - I'm particularly thinking of the various enemies appearing in the Doctor's mind when the Fourth Doctor was hanging from the satellite dish, or the Master appearing to the Fifth Doctor.

    So, let us know your thoughts on the whole regeneration thing - particularly with reference to Season 4. Did it give the show a new lease of life?

    Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek homeworld? The Oncoming Storm.

  2. #2
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    It's one of the most retconned ideas in the history of the show. Make no mistake, Patrick Troughton is supposed to be a younger William Hartnell.

    There's nothing initially about having different lives, changing your personality, renewing your cells or anything.

    Put simply, the old Doctor activates the TARDIS, and this "renews" him and he is a younger man. End of story.

    "The War Games" is actually where the REAL genius comes in, yet this is rarely given proper credit for inventing the idea of the Doctor being able to completely transform his appearance. Between 1966 and 1969 the impression seems to have been gained that the Doctor can "change his physical appearance", where-as all that really happened originally was that the TARDIS "youthed" him.

    Si.

  3. #3
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    Regeneration didn't come in to the show until Barry Letts took over. This is almost certainly a rejuvention (as the old battle used to go) but I accept that in the way most long running shows have to alter their continuity to include facts that are settled later, so this one has to be let go really...

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  4. #4
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    Absolutely. Facts can be re-written with more facts. This is what a lot of people don't seem to be able to accept.

    You can establish that John likes cakes. That is then fictional fact. 20 years later, you could establish by equally valid fictional fact that John has been pretending to like cakes his whole life so as not to offend his gluten-intolerent wife, Abby. NOW it is fact that John hates cakes.

    So many people down the years have cried "The Doctor has 12 regenerations! Argh! The show will end soon!" just because it was stated as fact, completely forgetting that with one swish of his pen a future writer could say "By the way, when the Time Birds Of Frax Fly Into the sun at the end of the 62nd segment of time, the resulting zigma rays will gift all Time Lords with an extra 22 regenerations". Or "By the way, I was wrong". Clots.

    So it is now fact that the Doctor can regenerate, and also fact that this is what his rejuvination was. It's still interesting to reflect on what they intended at the time, though.

    Si.

  5. #5
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    And of course, going back to the limit of twelve regenerations, we've been told that Time Lords are immortal (barring accidents), this more or less being confirmed by the Five Doctors' comment that they can be given extra ones - and by the Master having taken a couple in Utopia. Who's to say that the Doctor will take, or has been given, extra ones at some point, either through the Watcher, or as a reward for assembling the Key to Time or whatever. We might even be able to take the Doctor's "five hundred and seven" remark in SJA seriously - who knows?

    If the series is still popular when the time comes to address the matter, they'll find a way.

  6. #6
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    If we're talking about a limit on the number of regenerations, then the opinion I've always taken was that it was a limit imposed by the High Council of Time Lords, and thus with the Time Lords gone... the Doctor can regenerate any number of times now

    Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek homeworld? The Oncoming Storm.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    "By the way, when the Time Birds Of Frax Fly Into the sun at the end of the 62nd segment of time, the resulting zigma rays will gift all Time Lords with an extra 22 regenerations". Si.
    What a brillaint concept - you should be writing for the show!
    'The Time Birds of Frax' sounds like a classic two-parter to me.

  8. #8
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    Ha, we're in danger of reviving the classic Regeneration V Rejuvenation argument from DWM!!

    Although I have to agree it's not explicitly a regeneration in season 4, on the other hand it's surely not as simple as saying it's just rejuvenation. It's quite obvious that nobody involved (writer, producer, lead actor) is trying to suggest that Troughton is playing Hartnell as a younger man; the Doctor's reference to a butterfly would also seem to make that explicit.

    What fascinates me is that (at least from my memory of the Power audio) it's presented as a painful, traumatic process - I guess it's inevitable that they should play that down over time, but it's interesting that the 11th Doctor said it always hurts in the SJS.

    The other thing I'd say is, it could have been a disaster. The idea of the lead character, without any real explicit explanation at all, suddenly totally changing his appearance and behaviour, could have been up there with "Bobby comes back in the shower" - the fact that it works is I suppose down to the care taken by all involved. But, yes, a radical idea, a moment of inspiration!

  9. #9
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    I think it was Letts and Dicks who actually hatched the idea of 'regeneration' (certainly as we know it), planting seeds throughout their time on the show until when Planet of the Spiders arrived, it was pretty much a fait accompli. Whether or not they realised they were basically inventing their own continuity, or perhaps had a sort of faulty 'folk memory' of the first two changes and were working from a distorted version of those, we'll probably never know. Dicks is always recreating the past in order to take credit for happy accidents in interviews and commentaries these days!

  10. #10
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    Of course, regardless of whether or not it was considered to be a "rejuvenation" as opposed to "regeneration", the way in which the Doctor's clothes changed with him was just bizarre... and I'm very thankful they didn't go with that one ever again!

    Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek homeworld? The Oncoming Storm.

  11. #11
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    Apart from Tom's regenerating boots of course!

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  12. #12
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    And of course when the Master "regenerates" from Tremas into his new body, the Source neatly gives him an evil black suit and a sparkly collar to go with it!

    Si.

  13. #13
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    "A new body and fancy velvet suit at last hahahahaha!"

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  14. #14

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    And now it's been turned into the amazing, formulaic standing-up-and-spouting-orange-flames-show that we've seen about 15 times in the past few years. Well done to all concerned.

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