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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

semi-‘Doctor Who’ blogging: Tate & Tennant on Comic Relief

After you watch “The Runaway Bride,” you need to see this sketch from this spring’s Comic Relief, which pairs of David Tennant and Catherine Tate to hilarious results. (And if you’ve never heard Tennant use his actual, and delicious, Scottish accent, here ya go.)

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  • Poly

    End of March I was very lucky to attend a recording of a radio programme where Catherine Tate interviewed David Tennant on stage. Apparently they didn’t know each other before working at the Runaway Bride, but they are good friends since. They have great chemistry together, even without a script.

  • JSW

    He’s a fair bit older than 945. He was 953 at the beginning of his seventh incarnation and he’s regenerated three times since then, spending who knows how much time in between. I wish they’d stop with this whole “900 years old” bit, since he’s got to be past the 1000-year mark by now.

  • And how is it possible that he is still the last Time Lord? Surely, with a time machine at his disposal he could pull a Millennium (the movie, not the TV show) by going back in time, snatching some of his fellow Time Lords (who would have been presumed dead), and then dropping them off in the future to build a new Gallifrey.

  • MaryAnn

    Duh! The Doctor can’t travel along his own timeline.


  • Of course he can. In Doctor Who: The Five Doctors, from 1983, we had Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee, and Patrick Troughton on the screen all at the same time, pulled from their various times into one single location in spacetime. (William Hartnell appeared only as archive footage because he’d already passed away, and Tom Baker’s Doctor ended up trapped in some sort of temporal vortex for most of the movie because Baker couldn’t be available for any length of time to film the movie.)

    Russell Davies might be a good writer, but his grasp of both the history of the franchise and how time travel “works” are pretty shaky a lot of the time. He needs to sit down and watch some movies that deal with time travel, such as 12 Monkeys and Millennium (both of which deal quite a bit with “time travel etiquette”, what you can and cannot get away with), The Terminator, The Final Countdown (which deals a lot with how information affects time travel; what you don’t know is often a GOOD thing), etc.

    If Time Lords had access to all of history through their time machines, there’s no reason at all why there shouldn’t (or couldn’t) be other Time Lords still out there that the Doctor simply doesn’t know about.

  • MaryAnn

    Russell Davies might be a good writer, but his grasp of both the history of the franchise and how time travel “works” are pretty shaky a lot of the time.

    How “time travel” works and how “Doctor Who” works are not necessarily the same thing. :->

  • True, but it’s still incorrect for the Doctor to say he can’t go back and interact with his own timeline when it’s been done before, on more than one occasion. The only real problem he’d have is not revealing “future” information (from his own past) to his “past” self and thereby causing that “past” self to change his “future” actions (i.e., we don’t want to create any paradoxes).

    This brings up a larger problem for any story that involves time travel (Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, etc.): What’s to stop the downstreamers from using time travel to send the very latest technology back upstream, where it can be used to influence the outcome of events? Why haven’t time travelers come back to the present, a la The Toynbee Convector, to help us solve our problems with their superior technology and information about the future? (There are a few possible answers. First, it’s likely that no one will ever invent a time machine. Even if they did, current physics theory suggests that you could never travel back to a time before the machine was actually built, since it would likely require a wormhole with one end anchored at a particular time and the other end moving into the future. And even if you got around that problem, time travelers might be forbidden to do anything more than observe us and do trivial things that don’t change history.) The lack of timeline contamination, with information and technology leaking back from the future, would seem to suggest that there never will be time travel.

    Side note: I do like how in Tennant’s first season, the Doctor ran into his old companion Sarah Jane Smith (the Pertwee/Baker years) and he remembered her; of course, she didn’t recognize him at first. And it’s nice that Tennant is still pining for Rose… too often in Doctor Who, once a companion is gone, they’re quickly forgotten and never mentioned again. But what if Tennant had encountered Sarah Jane before Pertwee did? (From a logistical standpoint, this probably wouldn’t be shown on screen, since the actress has obviously been aging.) He allegedly can’t hit his own timeline out of order, but what about someone else’s? (Pretty sure he’s done this before.)

    One question I have to pose, though: Are they still sticking with the original statement that Time Lords are limited to (I think) 13 regenerations? Tennant is the 10th Doctor (9 regenerations expended so far) if we count Paul McGann from the awful 1996 TV movie. If they’re true to their original word, we only get 3 or 4 more Doctors after Tennant.

  • MaryAnn

    Oh, they’ll find a way to give the Doctor more regenerations if it becomes necessary.

    As for the conundrum of time traveler: Could be time travelers have their own prime directive, as you noted, or it could be that the timeline is more robust than we imagine. I’ve always imagined that the obvious answer to the “grandfather paradox” is that if you managed to somehow kill your own grandfather, it would turn out that they guy you *thought* was your grandfather (the one you killed) actually wasn’t, that your granny was fooling around with the milkman or something. You know: the universe won’t LET you kill your grandfather, no matter how hard you try.

  • The “kill your own grandfather” paradox was nicely explored in the Futurama episode Roswell That Ends Well. Having traveled back in time, Fry meets his own grandfather and learns he’s a complete klutz. In the act of trying to protect his grandfather from harm, Fry indirectly causes his death… but Fry doesn’t disappear. Fry then consoles his grandmother and finds himself seduced by her (of course, she has no idea who he is, and he’s just being Fry)… and that’s when he learns that he is his own grandfather. Of course, this whole scenario is possible because of having originally had bad information (i.e., who Fry’s grandfather really was).

    Another popular theory nowadays is that there is only one timeline (no Many Worlds theory) and that if you do go back in time and change something, the Universe from that point forward would “recalculate” like a spreadsheet… you and your time machine, having traveled back in time, would be immune from the recalculation (the very act of time travel separates you from causality). So, you could kill your grandfather, and this would change things going forward from that point in time, but you and your time machine would still remain. Of course, if you returned to the future, it might be different from the future you previously inhabited. In this theory, there are no paradoxes and there’s no need to spin off a whole new Universe (as Many Worlds posits).

  • MaryAnn

    Ah, the Marty-McFly-is-fading-from-the-family-photograph theory of temporal dynamics. :->

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