WARNING: Gross story ahead, you've been warned. So, my adult autistic son had to go to the doctor today. (No, not the Doctor, just a doctor) He is basically non-verbal and can't tell us what is going on, but he gave some signs of having an ear infection and/or a sinus infection. The good news: he didn't have an ear infection. The bad news: that's probably because his ears were so plugged with wax that no infection could penetrate the protective seal. It took ear drops plus a half dozen rounds of irrigation to flush out his ears, and you would not believe the chunky bits that came out. Oddly enough, ever since his doctor visit he has been playing his videos and music at a noticeably lower volume with no prompting. Poor guy. He also had the beginnings of a sinus infection, so now he is on antibiotics to fight that off. Hopefully he will be feeling better soon.
That, however, was the third doctor I had seen today. Or the twelfth, depending on how you count. So let's talk about that.
The Next Doctor
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
It is impossible to appreciate this story without understanding the context of when it was broadcast. It was filmed as a part of Series Four, so it was already in the can before David Tennant publicly announced that he would be departing the show. But it aired after that announcement, and it was very much written with that timing in mind. Tennant announced that he would be doing the 2008 Christmas special, plus four more specials in 2009, and then he would hand over the keys to the TARDIS. Of course, when the title of this episode was announced there were rampant (and strategically fed) rumors that Tennant's successor had, in fact, already been selected and would appear at Christmas in some kind of timey-wimey adventure with his future self.
So of course, much of the drama of the first third of this story comes from Ten arriving in 1851 London on Christmas Eve, hearing someone shouting for the Doctor, and upon responding to the call running smack into David Morrissey's Doctor. He is brave and dashing, mentions Time Lords and Gallifrey and the TARDIS, and by all accounts appears to be a future Doctor. After some initial credulity, Ten even seems to believe it for a little while. Even when he realizes NextDoctor only has one heart, he notices a pocket watch and thinks it might be the work of the Chameleon arch. Ultimately the whole thing turns out to be a red herring, and the remaining drama derives from the question "what terrible thing would cause a man's mind break and hide from itself by assuming the Doctor's identity?" (Hint: it's having his wive murdered in front of him by Cybermen, who then proceed to kidnap his young son.)
The scene where Ten explains the answer to
NextDoctor Jackson Lake is noteworthy for one huge reason: it contains the first time in the modern series in which his earlier selves are shown onscreen, unless you count the doodles in John Smith's Book of Impossible Things. Here, then, is the very first time that all ten Doctors are shown:
And yes, this is a Cybermen story with lots of stomping and shouting and deleting, but it also has a very interesting antagonist in the person of Miss Hartigan. She is a brilliant woman trapped in a society that will always dismiss her, and honestly the snotty old Gentlemen that she kills seem to genuinely deserve their fate. She very much hews to the writing axium that the villain should be the hero of their own personal story. When she is ultimately put in control of the giant steampunk CyberKing at the climax of the story, there is a moment in her downfall in which she finally realizes what she has done, and it is wonderfully tragic.
So that's it, another great Christmas story. Weirdly, instead of the normal two weeks between Christmases, I get to celebrate another one on Monday. But first I have to get through the Harry Potter episode tomorrow and the Lonely God episode on Monday.
Doctor(s): Tenth, Next
Companion(s): Jackson Lake
Episode(s): The Next Doctor
Steps Walked: 8,540 today, 2,960,070 total
Distance Walked: 4.25 miles today, 1,544.58 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 100 today, 3,514 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 929 total
Is the Doctor So, So Sorry?: Oh yes, he expressed the depth of his sorrow when he figures out who the Next Doctor really is, and then again when he defeats Miss Hartigan - two "so sorry's" in one episode!
Weight: 253.04 lbs (five day moving average), net change -54.26 lbs