The Effects of the Time War

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Guest contributor Mark Nixon examines the huge event and its impact on the Doctor.


The Time War, once a throwaway explanation to simplify the Doctor Who universe for a new audience. Now, it has become legend amongst casual and avid viewer alike.

Small amounts of Time War related information have been leaked, hinted and teased throughout the years, particularly during Russell T. Davies era. Perhaps the legend of the Time War would be ruined if the story was blatantly told from A to B? The Nightmare Child, The Master’s retreat from the Dalek Emperor, the Crucible and other hints conjure such imagery that ultimately may never meet our expectations. Besides, as frustrating as it is, fleeting drops of Time War make any new additions all the more exciting. And Who wasn’t excited to see the single shot of Gallifrey during The Time War in The End of Time: Part Two? For solid proof of the horrors of the Time War, perhaps the most vital evidence, is the effects we’ve seen in the Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston, forever the thespian, gave us a multi-layered performance. A veteran, filled with sadness and regret. Almost too quick to slip into manic happiness, one could almost suspect the Doctor faked many of his happier moments. Many times his smiles still seemed somewhat sad. Perhaps this what makes the end to The Doctor Dances so special Just this once, everybody lives! We witness a moment of pure joy for a man who desperately needs it. This is why Rose, a less than average girl by her own admission, could become so special to both Eccleston’s and Tennant’s Doctors.

I’ve never been a massive fan of Rose, she was good for the Doctor, and she accomplished much. But Rose as a person, always seemed annoying. Yet, she became the most important thing in the Doctor’s life for some time. Rose helped the Doctor heal, over a trauma so great it took two incarnations to fully get over. This closure was even admitted by Tennant’s Doctor to Rose, after the Meta-Crisis incident. If David Tennant’s Doctor had fallen for Martha, it would have immediately cheapened that unspoken love between Rose and the Doctor, and the emotional journey they took together. Without companions such as Rose, The Doctor may have sooner became Time Lord Triumphant, witnessed in The Waters Of Mars. Even seeing this change so soon as Eccleston, a Doctor so desperate to do right, to fix things, that he’d sacrifice himself, his enemies and sadly, sometimes even passing friends.

In Parting of the Ways, when tasked to fire the Delta Wave that would destroy the Daleks at the cost of the Earth, the Doctor can’t do it. We know the Doctor ended the Time War, but Eccleston’s Doctor was afraid to commit an act much smaller in comparison. A far cry from the Destroyer of Worlds echoed throughout history. The disgust displayed by Smith’s Doctor toward the John Hurt Doctor, similarly proves that the end of the Time War was one step too far for the Time Lord. Yet, the post-Time War Doctors do seem to back up the action, Smith’s Doctor even agreed with Hurt during his confession. While Tennant’s Doctor was quick to take up arms against the madness of the Time Lord President, forcing back into the Time War. There is some hypocrisy, but such things tend to arise when you’ve had at least eleven or twelve major personality changes.

Naturally, the assumption has usually been Paul McGann’s Doctor fought in the Time War. The effects of which caused him to regenerate into Christopher Eccleston. The Name of The Doctor has changed much, and seconds after gasping in excitement, my thoughts turned to John Hurt’s Doctor being a post McGann Doctor who fought in the Time War. Of course, the rest of the internet also reached the same conclusion. I sincerely hope this is the case, John Hurt is a fantastic actor and in those few moments we have seen of him showcased deep sorrow. His brief, yet profound dialogue does seem to back this theory. Perhaps yet more Time War treats await us in the 50th anniversary, and this time, the viewer can gain some closure. Hey, if we’re lucky, this whole Eccleston denial is one huge bluff and we’ll get to see Hurt regenerate into Eccleston. Moffat has hinted at huge bluffs after all!

Oh Moffat, we thought you’d forgotten about the Time War. You clever boy.