Monday, December 15, 2014

Talking 'bout Regeneration - Destiny of the Daleks part 1

Once again we're back with Tom Baker. The Doctor who had the longest stint in the role, and the one I've probably watched the least of up to know. Maybe second after Sylvester McCoy. There's no real reason to it, just how my choices have fallen.

However, before we look at 'Destiny of the Daleks' as a whole, I'm going to look at the first five minutes of the first episode. Romana's regeneration. Which is just bizarre. It seems to go against everything we've ever known about the process. Clearly Douglas Adams was playing it for laughs, as so much of this era is about (something I click with as I watched the following serial). However, some fans can't just leave it like that. These things need explaining. So I'm going to live up to that part about wanting to be a writer and try to provide one.

Every Doctor regeneration we've seen is because he's dying and he regenerates to save his life. The exception to this is "War Games" where it's forced upon the Second Doctor as a sentence for his crimes and, this is the important part, the Time Lords offer the chance for him to pick his next face.

Now Romana clearly isn't doing it to save her own life, she's only doing because she wants to change her face which, for all we know, is how most Time Lords do it. After all, the Doctor is a rarity in that he's taken on this life of adventure because he found life on Gallifrey 'boring'. Regeneration is his Get Out of Jail Free card when things go too far. As a result his regenerations are always traumatic affairs and his body does its own thing in order to keep him alive. Romana's 'I've had this face a long time, think I'll have a new one' could be the way 'boring' Time Lords use up some of their regenerations. Other wise it's always going to be 'wearing thin' like the First and War Doctors.

As for the multiple attempts at her regeneration, the important part here is the conversation is between two members of a telepathic race, at least telepathic with each other. It could be Romana is running through possible variations in their mind's eye, trying to decide what to settle on, and is generally ribbing her friend after he turns down the face of someone they met recently, the one she really wants. All of which takes places before any physical change happens.

The other important aspect is that Romana suffers from none of the side effects of regeneration we're used to from the Doctor. No memory loss, no trying to figure out the new body. It's straight on with the job at hand.

In conclusion, Romana's regeneration is far more typical as to what a normal Time Lord would go through, compared to the traumatic affairs we've seen of the Doctor and the Master.

Also her feminine Doctor get up is awesome. Sure there'd probably be cries of it being in pink these days, but that's missing the point. With this regeneration and those clothes, the producers are literally putting her on the same level as the Doctor. Not the usual companion stuff of providing the muscle, or the bait, or the screams. She's wearing his 'uniform', therefore she's his equal.

I'll talk about the actual serial on Friday.

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