Was the Eighth Doctor Really So Different?

“But Brian, you mentioned the Eye of Harmony but didn’t explain it, did you think we would let you get away with that?” No, not really. Here we go:

Yes, the TVM placed the Eye of Harmony inside the TARDIS, where previously we had seen it only on Gallifrey itself. This doesn’t mean that it is a break from continuity though. Until Deadly Assassin we’d never heard of the Eye, so why should we assume that it was never in the TARDIS before now? After all we never knew the TARDIS had a Zero Room before the Fifth Doctor needed it in Castrovalva. We also never heard the word “regeneration” until the Third Doctor did just that at the end of his era. More recently we found out about ‘The Chameleon Arch’ in Human Nature, which seems to have been a permanent feature in all TARDISes, yet it was new to us. I expect there is a lot we don’t know about this ship.

Next we have the alien threat, The Master. Executed by the Daleks and yet still clinging to life with every ounce of evil that he is.

Now we get to the good stuff.

Daleks holding a trial ending in the execution of the Master and not their mortal enemy, the Doctor, who came to collect his remains from them?

Not so odd when you think about it. Going way back now to the Troughton era, we know that the Doctor gave a group of Daleks emotions and personalities when he gave them the “human factor.” It would make sense that these Daleks are still out there growing in numbers and trying to better the universe. Since the Doctor gave them new life it also makes sense that they would not try to exterminate him when he shows up on their doorstep to retrieve the Master’s urn.

With that in mind it would also be believable that, with these newfound emotions, they would gain a sense of society and hold fair trials for their criminals rather than just exterminating them on sight.

Another possibility that could explain this trial, if a second one was needed, is the revelation of “The Cult of Skaro,” the elite group of Daleks crated by the Emperor to think outside the box. This trial of the Time Lord could have been an exercise in understanding for the Cult. Just one of their experiments. Perhaps they even brokered a truce with the Time Lords during this period as part of those experiments.

I said in the beginning of this article that some complain about the Americanization of this story and when I ask what they mean by this, I am usually given the motorcycle chase scene as an example. When this happens I refer them back to the James Bond era… er, Pertwee era, to see that the motorcycle scene was not so far removed from its past.

The New series seems to understand the need for a good chase scene as well when they had the Doctor and Rose on a moped in The Idiots Lantern. Which I might add was a totally British production.

The story itself seems like the last stop here.

It’s said to be potpourri of ideas over the 9 years the show was off air, but more so it is considered to be a bit of a rehash of a Tom Baker story Deadly Assassin. But is this true? It’s certainly not a word-for-word copy of the script. The main similarity is the Master’s use the Eye of Harmony to gain more lives.

In Deadly Assassin he tried to use the power of the eye itself to give him new life. In the TVM he uses it to try to steal the Doctor’s life. Different enough. If you try to make a house out of wood and fail on the first try you don’t say “That’s it, I’m using brick!” No! You “try, try again.” A good idea is a good idea, and when you are clinging to life with only one chance in sight, you take it.

This story also brought us the Doctor’s first on-screen kiss, but because it is a battered old subject I’ll leave you with this thought: Susan is the Doctor’s Granddaughter. She had to come from somewhere, and although kissing doesn’t make babies, it is the first step in the process that gets you there. Not convinced? Remember that Paul McGann’s Doctor kissed his new friend during a fit of happiness upon remembering who he was – this is no different than Tom Baker’s or Patrick Troughton’s boisterous hugs with their companions during bouts of happiness. Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss.

Looking back on this 11 years later, it’s nice to see that while there is change it was still very traditional. Infact, throughout the 26 years of the Original series, change was a constant. The TVM was no different and now the New Series is proud to continue the trend. In the end, the TVM is just as canonical as the story that started it all way back in 1963.

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Brian A Terranova


Doctor Who and me go way back. I first discovered it on my local PBS Station WHYY in the suburbs outside Philadelphia when I was a young kid; though I am uncertain of the exact age.

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