As of a few hours ago, long-time fans of Doctor Who were given a major treat when we finally got to see the regeneration of the Eighth Doctor into…well, what do we call him? We can’t call Hurt’s Doctor the Ninth Doctor, because, well because, obviously. I guess I’ll settle for the War Doctor, since that’s what the credits and Wikipedia call the character. Plus it’s close enough to the War Chief to make me squee a little.
This does, however, create a problem. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi have all played, or in the case of Capaldi, are going to play, incarnations of a Time Lord normally known as the Doctor. This creates something of a problem, because back during the Fourth Doctor’s day, Robert Holmes wrote a (very good, highly underrated), story called “The Deadly Assassin”, which explicitly states that Time Lords have only thirteen lives. This was backed up in later stories.
Now, clearly, with Capaldi being the thirteenth incarnation of the character, this has become a slight issue. I say “slight” with no overtones of sarcasm or understatement; clearly the BBC will insure there is a work-around one way or another as long as the show continues to remain popular. The only question is how they’re going to work around it. Let’s have a look at some options.
4. 508 lives!
In an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures called “The Death of the Doctor”, an episode every old-series fan should watch, by the way, since it includes Jo Grant, the Doctor casually mentions that he can regenerate 507 times. Clearly this is a throw-away line that isn’t mean to be taken seriously.
Or is it? I mean, it’s played that way, but if the person in charge of the series once Capaldi retires wants to, they can just go with this and accept it as canon. It would be a pretty cheap way out, sure, but it works, and it’s unlikely that the series will ever really have to deal with the 507th Doctor regenerating into the 508th.
Also, cute little bit in that. Notice that 507 can be broken into 5+0+7 = 12. So twelve times. Probably not intentional, but cute nevertheless.
This article was first posted on November 15, 2013