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Media Essays: The Eighth Doctor Deserved Better

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Written by The Wandering Fox

Greetings, and hey, it’s a birthday week! And who is it who’s having a birthday? Doctor Who! Doctor Who has been around for sixty years, and the series has had a hard life since it was first made, from being cancelled in 1989, tried to be revived in 1996, then returned in 2005, but was almost on hiatus a few times since, especially how the recent episode The Power of the Doctor was originally going to end with the Doctor regenerating and the screen would have faded to darkness. Thank goodness Russel T Davies came back and had David Tennant reprise his role as the Doctor at the end, and we are gonna be having Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor.

Doctor Who is a show I’m a fan of, been a hardcore fan since 2005, my mum and dad told me of it and at first I was scared because I thought it was gonna be a show about Doctors and there’d be blood…well, I was stunned by what it actually was. XD Doctor Who was a family shared evening my mum and dad watched with me as they grew up watching it back in the 70s and 80s, and they told me interesting things of the show. And once I heard the Doctor was going to die at the end of series 1, I was heartbroken, but then dad told me “He dies but he comes back as someone else”. I watched it and the Ninth Doctor faded before my eyes and the Tenth Doctor took his place. Since then, I gone to charity shops and Forbidden Planet to collect the classic stories of Doctor Who, but there was one which caught my eye: the 1996 TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

The Eighth Doctor

The Doctor of the year of my birth.

Back then his Doctor did hold my interest in some manner, with his fashion resembling the gothic movie fashion I’d watch his TARDIS beautifully made, his youthful and charming behaviour, and I wanted more….then I found out he didn’t have another TV appearance. I was confused and we ended up learning McGann would’ve returned at the beginning of the 2005 series to regenerate into the Ninth Doctor.

The Eighth Doctor has had a deep impact on the modern series, from being a younger Doctor who has a romantic relationship with his companion, to a giant TARDIS, and a more modern setting amd a man with a taste for adventure, you can tell Doctors Ten and Eleven were inspired by him. And there’s his sense of wisdom and inspiration.

“But it was a child’s dream that made you a Doctor. You dreamt you could hold back death. Don’t be sad Grace. You’ll do great things”

As many, we all came to believe the Eighth Doctor fought in and ended the Time War. His Big Finish audios did catch my mind in 2012 after seeing his new costume and details about his latest adventures becoming darker.

The Eighth Doctor in leather


From here we go into spoilers, so for those of you who are curious, stay. For those of you who don’t want to be spoiled, go.

In the audio To the Death, the Eighth Doctor’s companion Lucie Miller and his great grandson Alex Campbell were killed during the Daleks invasion and tried turning Earth into a time ship, with Alex killed by the Daleks and Lucie sacrificing herself, and a former friend of the Doctor’s was killed as well. This all deeply damaged the Eighth Doctor, his formerly kind and charming love for adventure was replaced with a cynical, angry and hurt man who, in his depressed state, left Susan to grieve alone and became a bit reckless, in the following story Dark Eyes he tried to reach the end of the universe to try and see if things were finally alright in the end.

“It would’ve been such a beautiful view. To look back from the end of everything, to see how things finally turned out”.

With him facing the Daleks again, rescuing Molly O' Sullivan, and wearing a leather coat and a blue lighted Sonic Screwdriver, and the Daleks and the Time Lords beginning to battle Big Finish were obviously trying to do the Time War and the Eighth Doctor was going to be in it. I began collecting his audios and I loved this Doctor so much he’s my favourite of the Classic Doctors.

With the fiftieth anniversary a year away, we all hoped McGann would return and he did in the mini episode The Night of the Doctor.

The Night of the Doctor

McGann as the Doctor in The Night of the Doctor.

At first I was happy to see the Eighth Doctor on tv again, and McGann won a lot of hearts from the modern fans who had been unfamiliar with his Doctor, but after a while I kinda….began to feel unhappy about what happened to him. The Eighth Doctor gone through a lot in the audios, having lost his companions C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, Molly to death, taking in how the Time Lords were becoming a lot worse, and with the Time War, the way he died was kinda insulting. The Eighth Doctor gone through a lot and in the end he gives up and takes a drink to regenerate into a incarnation who can fight in and end the Time War….until you then look at the novelisation and find out the drink did nothing, he would’ve regenerated into the War Doctor anyway.

Doesn’t help he could’ve jumped in the TARDIS and dematerialised it and materialised it on Cass to save them both.

So, for the 50th anniversary, Steven Moffat had the last Classic Doctor everyone wanted to see again die as a broken, depressed man who gave up on being the Doctor, created a different Doctor because Christopher Ecclestone didn’t want to return for the 50th, and felt the Eighth Doctor wouldn’t be a dark Doctor….Huh, kinda like what Disney ended up doing, Huh.

Moffat’s excuses were low, like “The Eighth Doctor wouldn’t do anything dark”... Steven, I know you lie a lot, but if you listen to Big Finish, you’d know the Eighth Doctor has done dark things, like Blood of the Daleks in which he blew up a bomb next to Dr Martez.

By DoctorDisco

Yeah, the Eighth Doctor sent humans into battle and died. You tell me Eight wouldn’t do dark things? And this was in the audios you made canon to the series.

John Hurt did a good job, he was really doing what McGann or Ecclestone would’ve ended up doing. Did the War Doctor have any impact on the series going forward? No. Did the Time War’s true end even need the War Doctor? No. Was the War Doctor even a dark Doctor? No, he was more like your grandfather who had fond memories and was a kind guy.

Of course, Moffat’s Series 9 finale damaged Day of the Doctor even more with him not exploring much of Gallifrey’s survival, and Chris Chibnall tossed it aside. Though hey, Chibnall did bring the Eighth Doctor back in The Power of the Doctor, his appearance softening his death in Night of the Doctor a bit.

The Power of the Doctor

McGann as the Doctor in The Power of the Doctor.

Of course, my whole thing is the Eighth Doctor should’ve had a better end. Eight was the last Classic Doctor, had a impact on the Modern series, yet all he got was a mini episode and had no happy ending. The Day of the Doctor didn’t feel like a anniversary of all of Doctor Who, more focused on “HEY DAVID TENNANT IS BACK! AND ZYGONS! AND TOM BAKER AND DALEKS AND….UH, THATS IT!” Yeah. Didn’t help you had doubles for the Doctors in saving Gallifrey.

But how would I have done it? Simple, Night of the Doctor has the Doctor materialise the TARDIS on Cass, they go to a space port, the Doctor lets her leave as she doesn’t trust him, the Daleks then come to the space port, kill everyone, Cass dies, the Doctor kills the Daleks and leaves for Gallifrey to find the Moment. Day of the Doctor then has the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors meet a more cynical and broken Eighth Doctor, who wants to get back to Gallifrey to end the Time War. The latter Doctors begin to understand they couldn’t really remember what happened to Gallifrey, they remembered Cass being killed, Eight took the Moment, then the Ninth Doctor remembered the Dalek fleet turned to flames by where Gallifrey was. The latter Doctors realise how much in common they share with the Eighth Doctor, he does as well and recalls how he began, he was full of life, adventure, and he does regain it, but at a cost of being remembered as a failure. Then they save Gallifrey, the Eighth Doctor goes back into his TARDIS. The room lights up, and he looks at the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors on his screen.

“I finally found it. My beautiful view. At the end of everything. Things turned out just alright. Things turned out just well!” He regenerates with a smile and we briefly meet the Ninth Doctor again.

I hope I wasn’t harsh on Moffat, and if you liked Night of the Doctor, and Day of the Doctor, I’m all good with it, but to me they weren’t good enough. If the Eighth Doctor does return again, I hope he’s given a more happier end.

You best stay tuned as up next is the Fifteen Facts About Doctor Who.


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