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SciFriday: The Biggest Genre Mistake, Finally Corrected

Patrick Troughton’s Doctor had it right all along

I’m sure this is hardly a news flash for most people who have frequented Airlock Alpha over the years, or at the very least this column. But before 2005, I really wasn’t that much of a “Doctor Who” fan.

Sure, I had seen episodes here and there from the Tom Baker years, and maybe a little from the Peter Davison days. But I didn’t really keep up with it.

Once I watched and fell in love with the modern version of the show starting with Christopher Eccleston, I researched as much as I could about The Doctor’s history, because I didn’t want to miss a single in-joke (and it would be nice to win a trivia contest at Necronomicon, too).

In any event, imagine my surprise when I found out that The Doctor, for some strange, inexplicable reason, had only a finite number of regenerations. And for whatever reason, it was limited to 12. The whole rule came from the group of episodes in late 1976 called “The Deadly Assassin” from writer Robert Holmes. The idea that regenerations are limited to 12 was more of a passing reference, and from what I understand, was meant to explain why some of the Time Lords who were killed didn’t simply regenerate.

It actually contradicted what another Doctor said previously. In 1969, writers Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks inscribed into the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, that Time Lords were, in fact, immortal — barring any accidents.

So there we have it — an attempt to establish continuity in 1969 that’s abandoned in 1976 to help fill a plot hole. Yet people are up in arms about this news?

I actually think it’s good. Otherwise, the actor who portrays The Doctor after Matt Smith will be the last actor to play the role. Why would we want that?

That’s the last thing anyone wants. “Oh, we want to cast you as The Doctor, Ms. Tyra Banks, but we can’t, because the Doctor already used up his 12th regeneration. So here’s your ticket back to the United States.”

OK, maybe there’s several things in that sentence we don’t want, but you get the picture.

All I can say to Russell T. Davies is thank you! Not only for bringing “Doctor Who” back, but by correcting idiotic laws of Time Lords that we just don’t need to have here. No one in 1976 could imagine the show would continue on nearly 35 years later, so let’s just sweep that factoid under the rug and not talk about it anymore.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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