Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor

Played by: Christopher Ecclestone

When: 2005

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.

Ninth Doctor

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Doctor Who – The Eighth Doctor

Played by: Paul McGann

When: 1996

Significant contributions to the Whoniverse:   Doctor Who had been off the air for seven years when the first attempt at a reboot was attempted.   A such, the most significant contribution of McGann to the Whoniverse is the fact that Doctor Who has survived at all.   Talk that the 1996 telemovie was to be a reboot for the series never became reality, but the fact it happened at all proved there was still interest alive and well in the franchise.

Being a reboot, it was a big event and some significant additions to Whovian lore.   A new function of the Eye of Harmony was revealed.   The Eye has appeared previously, originally in the Fourth Doctor’s era.   It is an artificial black hole which provides the power for Gallifrey and for time travel technology.   In the telemovie, a resurrected Master attempts to use the eye to steal the Doctor’s remaining regenerations for himself.

Another element introduced in this film, though subsequently ignored in future incarnations of the Doctor, is the implication that the Doctor is half human.   While making a significant plot point in this story, it seems now to be flatly denied.   I have read that explanations have been flying around the interwebs and in print media of the further adventures of the Doctor, including that this particular incarnation alone is half human.   In the end though, I find it amazing the lengths people can go to explain away a plot discrepancy    In the end, it is just an introduced idea into the franchise which was later decided to be dropped.

Eighth Doctor

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