Jan 5, 2018
Late Christmas Day is always bittersweet for "Doctor Who" fans. Most people feel wiped from a day of Christmas parties, midnight Mass, and the game of having to discover scraps of wrapping paper hidden in the oddest places. But most Christmases also have a Doctor Who Christmas special: one final episode of "Doctor Who" before fans have to wait a criminal amount of time before the next episode sometime in September. Those who aren't Whovians, the nomenclature for "Doctor Who" fans, probably think that Whovians should be excited. After all, a Christmas special should be a special treat. It is…kind of. But many people aren't aware that many of the Christmas offerings given by the BBC are remarkably bleak. This isn't true 100% of the time. "A Christmas Carol", the Eleventh Doctor's first Christmas special, is a hilarious interpretation on Charles Dickens's famous tale. But something terrible seems to happen every third or fourth Christmas special.
On Christmas, the Doctor often dies.
For the uninitiated, "Doctor Who" has been on and off the air since 1963. To maintain such a show, the lead actor has to be recast fairly regularly. The First Doctor, played by William Hartnell, was replaced by Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton by a process of regeneration --then called "renewal." Because the Doctor is an alien, he has the ability to repair his body by reshaping it and adopting a new aspect of his personality. This allows the BBC to recast the titular role when needed and keep the show going. Since the show returned to the air in 2005, often this regeneration has happened on or near Christmas. This sounds fun, but it is also a traumatic experience for fans of a particular actor. This Christmas, Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, regenerated into Jodie Whittaker, the show's Thirteenth Doctor. With this regeneration came another changing of the guard. Showrunner Steven Moffat left the helm and gave the wheel over to former Broadchurch showrunner Chris Chibnall.
This regeneration was special, though. In a way, they're all special to me. But I really was moved by Peter Capaldi's regeneration. Capaldi's regeneration spoke to me not only as a fan, but as a Catholic. The running theme throughout Capaldi's run as the Twelfth Doctor was summarized in the question, "Am I a good man?" Over the course of Capaldi's three seasons, his Doctor transformed from a gruff, emotionally-stilted general into a gruff, but caring mentor for those who had lost their way. His battle for redemption and growth led him to a place of spiritual exhaustion. He just wanted to stop. Aware that he was going to regenerate, he wanted his regeneration to hear the advice that he never got. He didn't want his impending regeneration to force him to relearn the same lessons he had already learned. So he spoke, quite plainly, to his next incarnation. And some of those lines meant more to me than to any fictional trope. His speech is transcribed as such: