Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Companion's Guide: The 9th Doctor

Name: The (9th) Doctor, The Oncoming Storm
Portrayed by: Christopher Eccleston
Number of episode as The Doctor: 13
Catchphrase(s): "Fantastic!"
Appearance: Black U-boat leather jacket and black pants

First Impressions
Mannequins are coming to life, it looks like they might have already killed one person and Rose is on the run. In walks this funny looking man in all black that is completely calm as he leads Rose through the building and sets up a bomb to blow up her work place. It was strange how the Doctor seemed completely in control of the situation while also like his mind was spinning out of control at the same time. It was almost as if he had a checklist of completely unrelated things that he was reading off while going through the actions.

As this was my first ever introduction to the Doctor, I had no prior knowledge on how the others acted before him or any of the differences. After doing quite a bit of Doctor Who research I know that he is a "stripped down version of the previous incarnations" (according to Wikipedia). But if we're going on my first impression, I remember liking how frantic his mind seemed, how he always seemed about six paces ahead and how quickly he got things done. I liked the improvisation of just living in the moment, of relying on his sonic screwdriver to get things done and create openings were there wouldn't normally be any. His elation at just being alive and watching people do people things carries over the entire season with him but I'm also equally interested that he could go very dark.

Meeting Rose Tyler
I was instantly drawn to the fact that the Doctor kept showing up around Rose Tyler in the episode "Rose" and even though his words told her to go away, his actions kept asking her to stay. He knew she was digging to find out who he was and though he told her it was better for her if she didn't, he didn't forbid her from doing it either and would even answer a few of her questions.

I liked how their relationship was defined by the Doctor encouraging Rose's inquisitive nature. He never seemed overbearing, never told her she couldn't but just warned her that it would probably be better for her if she didn't keep looking. He could have come off as Godlike and outright told her no but instead he let her make her own choices. When he finally asks Rose to travel with him at the end of the episode, even though it's light hearted, you can see how badly he wants someone to be with him when he comes back and asks her again, trying to tempt her with it time traveling as well. I liked this blend of always in control but also lonely and I loved how he wanted Rose to make her own choices.

Going Dark
The first time we see this dark anger bubbling just under the surface of this goofy man in black is during the episode "The End of the World". The villain of the episode Cassandra ports out of the spaceship leaving everyone else to die but this form of the Doctor is great with re-porting people back to their original location so he is able to get Cassandra back on the ship. Though Rose almost dies, she asks the Doctor to listen to Cassandra's pleas for mercy but the Doctor refuses, allowing Cassandra to dry out and explode.

This is the first time that we see the Doctor unwilling to understand or sympathize. In the last episode, the Doctor begs for the alien force to stop hurting earth and tries to reason with it. However, in this episode he refuses to listen to Cassandra and stands there to make sure she dies. It shows Rose and us as viewers that he while he is fair, he is also willing to let people pay the ultimate price if her finds them knowingly guilty of a crime. While I find the Doctor interesting as a light-hearted character, this hardened part of him added a completely unexpected layer that I was interested in finding out more about. He then goes on to explain to Rose that he was part of a war that destroyed his home planet which explains a little bit about how he could let someone die.

Falling Deeper
It is in the next episode "The Unquiet Dead" that we see the Doctor take that rage and anger and turn it on Rose. We see another one of his fatal flaws as well. The Doctor seems to always know what's going on and has things under control which often leads to him thinking he is always right even when he might not see reason. During the episode, "angels" are visiting a girl and asking for use of humankind's dead to make them corporal forms. The Doctor considers this a fair trade, after all humans are just burying the dead anyway, but Rose thinks this idea is appalling. She argues that people have a right to burying their dead and that it is sacred but the Doctor shoots down her arguments in a sort of "Doctor-knows-best" way, completely disregarding what she says. When the "angels" turn out to be more demonic and want to take over the human race, the Doctor realizes he should have listened to Rose.

I like that this episode shows why the Doctor truly needs a companion. Sure, he's often lonely but he needs a companion to remind him of what humanity is really about. He needs them as a moral guide because as soon as he believes he knows everything, he makes a horrible mistake that threatens the world. This isn't just a flaw with this Doctor but with them all. However, since this is the first Doctor of the series, I think this revelation has much more impact than with the others.

Finding Meaning
In the following episodes, "Aliens of London" and "World War Three" we get a peek at what Rose is beginning to mean to the Doctor. When they are trapped in a building and Rose's mother is on the phone she screams at the Doctor to promise that he will get her daughter out alive and the Doctor swears he will even though he knows the only solution is to blow up the building they are both in. It speaks volumes about their relationship that the Doctor turns to look at Rose before giving the command to send the missile their way. He respects her enough to ask if she would give her own life and I truly believe that he wouldn't have made the call if she'd objected. Even though Rose knows he doesn't have a backup plan, that there is no secret he is keeping up his sleeve, she agrees.

Later, in "Dalek" we meet the Doctor's main enemy and he is willing to risk the entire compound and world outside to get Rose back safely. Both of these examples show that he is not only listening to Rose and what she wants and helping her grow but he is learning to love her. Not in the romantic way (well, sort of in that way too) but in the way you love your best friend. He doesn't just view her as his responsibility but he views her as something precious, something worth risking his own life for. He finds meaning in her and that lets him find renewed meaning in everyday life.

Meeting the Daleks also shows us how blinded the Doctor can be by his own hate. He is completely unwilling to see the trapped Dalek for anything other than what it was during the war that destroyed his homeland even after Rose manages to reason with it and change its mind. He seems to take pleasure in torturing it and almost succeeds in killing it in its weakened state and tries to kill it again even when Rose says that it just wants to be free. It's only when he realizes that Rose imprinted on the Dalek and it is no longer a true Dalek that he lowers his weapon and really looks at it. He is so blinded by his own past that he won't allow himself to see what's in front of his face.

Rage Redirected
Against his better judgment, the Doctor takes Rose to the day her father died in "Father's Day" and though he explains that she can't change what happens, he doesn't anticipate that she will anyway. He is so infuriated that she would go against his wishes that he unloads on her accusing her of scheming to get there the entire time since she only agreed to go with him the second time he showed up and mentioned it was a time machine as well. He calls her names like "stupid ape" and really screams at her. Rose refuses to apologize or take his insults so he storms out.

This is the first time we've ever seen the Doctor redirect his rage at Rose and I have to say that I really didn't like it. It made me really uncomfortable watching him shout at Rose and insult her for wanting to save her father when we all know she wasn't doing it so much to change her life but because her father was in trouble and she wanted to make it right. I was glad they made up but his words left me stinging and I wish they had a little more impact on Rose.

From Doctor Who Gifs
The Dancing Doctor
In the twofer "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" we finally see the Doctor and Rose's growing attraction addressed. In the first episode, Rose picks up a very flirtatious Captain Jack Harness which seems to bother the Doctor, especially when he finds out they danced to a song. Rose then asks the Doctor if he's ever danced to which he replies that he's danced before. It's implied by several sources that dancing is a metaphor for sex and upon another watch of the episode, I can definitely see where that happens. Later on, when they pick Jack back up and Rose offers to dance with him, the Doctor says he's dancing with her and asks Jack who he's going to dance with because Rose is his partner.

This is the first time we've seen the Doctor be slightly jealous and "proclaim" Rose as his own. She's talked about Mickey and he's even let Adam on the Tardis with them but he seems to draw the line with Jack and makes sure that Rose knows that they are together. Seeing the Doctor act jealous confirmed their chemistry that had been threaded through the earlier episodes. It felt like a conformation for the fans.

In this episode we all see how much the Doctor craves for everything to be okay. When the nanobots recognize the mother/child bond and go on to repair every person they changed, the Doctor exclaims "everybody lives Rose! Today, everybody lives!". We haven't seen this kind of joy from him in a long time and I love how his happiness can make everything seem so light.

When All Hope Is Lost
"The Parting of the Ways" sees the Doctor, Rose, Captain Jack and everyone they've acquired stuck on a ship with an entire fleet of Daleks coming for them. The doctor assigns everyone to a task and sets to work on making a contraption that he tells everyone will save them. He asks Rose to grab something on the Tardis to help and tricks her into getting sent home. Then the Dalek leader taunts him because it knows that the Doctor is building a machine that will kill both friend and foe.

This is perhaps the Doctor at his most interesting because he is left with a simple choice. Will he become like the Daleks and kill everyone? Would it be more humane than allowing the Daleks to get a hold of everyone on board and possibly the world? What should he do? These are the sort of decisions that define the Doctor at his very best. He's good with these because he has a strong moral compass and partly because Rose has helped shape him into a better person. He chooses not to blow up everyone and resigns himself to be killed. If people are going to die, it won't be by his hand. I love that throughout the season he has been explosive and vindictive in many of his adventures but this shows how much he has changed. If this was the same Doctor as in "Dalek", there would have been no choice. He'd have just killed them all to spite the Daleks but instead, he chooses to lay down his own weapon and keep his hands clean even though the Daleks essentially win.

A Kiss To Send Him Off
Luckily, Rose is there to save the day having absorbed the soul of the Tardis into herself. She can divide particles, bring people to life and see all of time and space. This also means that she will burn herself up from the inside out. The Doctor has proven time and time again that he would go to the ends of the earth and beyond to save Rose. He's even put the whole of humanity on the backburner to help her. So it is no surprise when he decides to take the Tardis' soul into himself, even knowing it will destroy him.

In a final kiss, he saves Rose and kills himself. But before he regenerates, he turns to Rose and tells her she was fantastic. "And d'you know what? So was I!"

I found it so interesting that this 9th incarnation had such a short life span but was able to capture that joy he always find in life right before he essentially died. It was a perfect little capsule of everything there was to love about the 9th Doctor. He was selfless, devoted, a little goofy and so full of joy and I love that his final moments represented that.

The 9th Doctor may have only had one season but his portrayal truly does set a precedence for the rest of the actors to follow. With his maniac mind, his absolute love of life and his deeper than black dark side, the 9th Doctor had a hell of a ride in a very short time. He introduced me to the Doctor and made me fall in love with the idea of a "madman with a blue box" despite the way he looked or acted. I connected with an alien that was just as human as you and I and it made me want to keep watching.

Great 9th Doctor Episodes:
  • The End of the World
  • The Unquiet Dead
  • Dalek
  • Father's Day
  • The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances
  • Boom Town
  • The Parting of the Ways
What did you think of the 9th Doctor? Short but sweet or so over him?


  1. I love the 9th Doctor. As a matter of fact, he's my favorite. I've been watching the show since I was a kid, and I was impressed with Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the Timelord. Although he is darker after the Time War, you can see he really wants to be happy. And his "everybody lives!" speech makes me cry every time, but it's a happy cry. :-)

  2. This is my first (Well, second. I came back after commenting) visit to your blog. I love it!

  3. I really enjoyed watching the 9th doctor but he's not my favorite. He is hilarious though and I think that is one of the reasons why I like him. I loved this breakdown of his character. "Fantastic" post!

  4. I love the ninth doctor!!! I started watching with him and fell in love with his personality right away. He is the perfect mixture of goofy and sweet. While he may hold anger and guilt over past events, he tries his best to keep it hidden. Miss him!!!


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