My biggest problem with the Doctor Who Christmas special…

Is that the collective fandom deathwish represented by harping constantly on the regeneration limit has now been legitimized. The premise of Doctor Who is infinitely extensible; the only thing that can end it is the viewers not wanting it to continue, and that’s what the regeneration limit has always represented. By explicitly giving the Doctor a new cycle as opposed to saying the limit is gone forever, the series has embedded the limit even more strongly into the series’ DNA. That the Doctor will eventually run out of regenerations and die permanently is now inevitable. It might be in 2060 with the 23rd Doctor or 3015 with the 405th, but it is unavoidable now.

0 thoughts on “My biggest problem with the Doctor Who Christmas special…

  1. Perhaps I was slightly too glib. How does this in any way make the series less likely to continue? Doctor Who can still nip back to Karn, get another set, or find some other way to trigger a new life. Nothing about this new set stops a future runner from needing only the willingness to stop the cycle. Nothing has changed the longevity of the show or Doctor Who as a character .

  2. No, I just hadn't had a chance to reply.

    The problem is that the regeneration limit represents a fundamental death wish on the part of Doctor Who fandom. You can hear it when people defend the limit on the grounds that it somehow adds tension that isn't otherwise present–they are arguing that they can only enjoy the show if there is a chance that the Doctor will permanently die.

    That death wish has now been legitimized and canonized. Despite countless excuses and reasons why the limit shouldn't apply or should just be ignored, the show has caved to the fandom's perverse desire to see the show die, strengthening that desire. When we get to the 23rd Doctor, maybe sooner, fan outcry and demands for the regeneration limit to be addressed will be even stronger than they were this time around. For the 35th, even more so.

    And probabilistically speaking, there will come a point where the series ratings are low and the current Doctor is at or near the regeneration limit. At that point, almost certainly, the Doctor will be killed off for good in one last event episode… and then the next time the series comes back it will be as a reboot, not a continuation. The series which could have continued forever, won't.

  3. I agree with your definition of the unhealthy fixation with the regeneration limit as a death wish, but we can't make prediction for what will happen when this regeneration cycle end. We can assume it will take 20 years at the very least, with 35 being a more realistic prediction. Since reinventing itself is an intrinsic quality of the show everything could happen, as long as enough people actually want to continue watching, writing and producing it. When (if) the Powers That Be (Be Cee) will decide it's time to axe the show having a convenient excuse might help but it will not be necessary at all.

  4. Oh, the series will definitely get canceled again at some point. Thing is, it has a proven ability to come back from cancellation. The only thing that could prevent it from coming back as a continuation is if they killed off the Doctor in the final episode–and this reification of the fandom death wish makes it far more likely that they will do so.

  5. I think most people who were being picky about the regeneration limit are pedantic canon sticklers, not people who secretly want the show to be canceled.

    The former are probably more annoying than the latter, though.

  6. I disagree. The thing about pedantic canon sticklers is that they are selective about what they count as canon and what they don't. Why is the regeneration limit canon but not the rapid cycling of forms by Romana, the statements in the new series and Sarah Jane Adventures by the Doctor that imply he has many more than 13 regenerations, or the scene in “The Brain of Morpheus” that implies that the Doctor had several regenerations before Hartnell?

    Like Biblical “literalists” who choose to believe passages banning gay sex but ignore adjacent passages banning the eating of shrimp, the fans who insist on a regeneration limit can make arguments rationalizing why they insist on following one element of the text but not the other. Ultimately, however, they are choosing what to believe based on what they prefer to believe, and that preference is fairly obvious to anyone looking in from outside.

  7. Nah, they can just reveal he was resurrected somehow. Worked for Agents of SHIELD, and Doctor Who doesn't even need as much justification as that.

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