Played by: Christopher Ecclestone
Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: The most obvious contribution to the Whoniverse with the start of Ecclestone’s reign as the Doctor is that he started the second, more successful, attempt to reboot the franchise. More successful in that this is the reboot which is still running today and that has us all excited for the 50th anniversary coming in November. Ecclestone only stayed for one season, citing his displeasure with the team behind the cameras as a major reason why. So it was already a known fact to the audience part way through the season that he was not sticking around.
That said, he helped establish what Doctor Who has become from then until now. The serial structure of the show was dropped for a more episodic structure with a single story normally lasting only one or two episodes. The idea of an overarching story for the season was also established though, despite the fact that not every episode may speak directly to this overarching theme. For instance, in this series, the repeated use of the term Bad Wolf in a number of episode ended up feeding directly into the season conclusion. This type of structure and theme has remained until today.
It is also made evident that some time has passed since we last saw the Doctor. Many references are made to a Time War, in which all Daleks and Timelords aside from the Doctor himself were obliterated. It is clear that the Doctor had to act to cause this genocide of one race and personal isolation as a result of the near genocide of the other. In some episodes it is made very clear is suffering from having had to make that choice.
Finally, there are a few other firsts for the Doctor in Ecclestone’s sole season. Eve Myles and Naoko Mori both appear in episodes, both of whom go on to become cast regulars in Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. Their appearances in these episodes even get written into the plot of the latter show. John Barrowman also gets introduced as Captain Jack Harkness, whom will later go on to lead the Torchwood team. [SPOILERS] It is indeed as a result of events at the end of this season that lead to Captain Jack’s immortality, which makes a very important plot point of the Torchwood series.
Reflections by Film Nerd: I find myself very torn about the short length of Ecclestone’s tenure as the Doctor. He was amazing in the role, brining a level of gravitas to the character that we had not yet seen as an audience. This obviously was an appropriate approach, being now a man alone suffering from a great deal of guilt for his necessary actions. Yet he still managed to get a certain level of kookiness and charm that was a fitting continuation of the personalities every Doctor has had. However, if he had stayed longer would that have meant David Tennant would not have been available to replacing him, ushering in for me what is my favourite period of modern Who??
Regardless, the combination of great acting and some fantastic, sometimes very emotional plots, the Doctor was updated to be appealing to a modern, more jaded audience. It feels more relevant than the Doctor had in a long time, and is still reverential of what has gone before. It has proven entertaining for many established fans, as well as bringing in a whole new fanbase to ensure the longevity of the franchise.
Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)
Rose chooses to board the TARDIS after having had a chance encounter with the Doctor as a result of being attacked by returning villain, the Autons. The series delves deeply into the character and her family history, creating one of the most well-rounded companions in years. She clearly enjoys her travels, opting to travel through space and time at the expense of her relationship with her boyfriend and very much against the wishes of her mother, whom fears for her safety. She forms a delightful relationship with the Doctor, and is the only one present at his next regeneration.
Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley)
Adam’s first of two adventures see him as an assistant to a collector of alien artifacts, whom ends up supporting the Doctor and Rose when a lone remaining Dalek causes havoc in the Earth’s near future. He boards the TARDIS at Rose’s request, given that she fancies him. It becomes quickly apparent in the next adventure, however, he is not quite suited for travels in time and space, more interested in personal gain than in exploration for discovery and enjoyment. The Doctor is quick to send him packing.
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman)
Captain Jack is a Time agent from the 51st century whom meets Rose then the Doctor during a thrilling episode that takes place in London during the Blitz of the Second World War. He is posing as an American officer on loan to the British, however his goals are profit and not philanthropy. It turns out that the bizarre goings on around town were inadvertently his fault, but selfless actions see him join the TARDIS crew. He remains travelling with them until Ecclestone’s last episode, where it appears that he is killed by an attacking force of reborn Daleks. However, death can’t keep a good man like Jack down, as is shown many times after this particular encounter.
The Ninth Regeneration [A LOT OF SPOILERS]
Things look pretty bad for the Doctor and Rose at the end of this season, so much so that the latter sends the former back to her family with no hope of return. Of Course Rose does not accept this, and manages to open the heart of the TARDIS and absorb the time vortex. This gives her super-human abilities and she reverses the Dalek advance and apparently Jack’s ability to die!!) The time vortex will kill her though, so the Doctor finally gets to kiss her to suck all the super juice out. Unfortunately, this action spells the demise for Nine…..
Feel free to check out our previous Doctor Who Summaries!!