The Future of Multi-Doctor Stories
Guest contributor Tom Mason examines some possibilities.
Multi-Doctor stories are great, fantastic even! They bring in past Doctors that you love (or hate) into the current series and allow the viewers to see how they react to each other. So far, in the New-Who era, we have only been treated to one full-length multi-Doctor story, which was of course ‘The Day of the Doctor’. Notably, they only occur on anniversary episodes for obvious reasons as they are such a huge treat for the viewers. But the writers have a puzzle to try pick a spot from the Doctors’ timelines to make sure not to ruin the continuity of the show’s past (and future). Now, I believe the genius mind of Steven Moffat has already planned ahead…
How to bring back Eleven
Cast your mind back to ‘The Time of the Doctor’ and the Doctor’s battle on Trenzalore. Over 900 years of battling, the effects of war are apparent on the Doctor: Ageing. He ages significantly (as you would over 900 years) and it mainly shows to the viewers how long he has been on Trenzalore and is also the consequence of not being able to regenerate at the time. And that ageing, intentionally or not, has set up Matt Smith in a great position for future multi-Doctor Stories.
It has been well noted that Smith would like to return for an anniversary episode in the future, and Steven Moffat has set it up so the 11th Doctor can return to a future story with ease, without worrying about continuity errors or plot holes as such, and also not worrying what Smith looks like in the future.
So, cast your mind to the future this time, maybe to the 60th Anniversary where we are on the 14th Doctor starring Benedict Cumberbatch (you never know). It is of course a multi Doctor story and Matt Smith is involved. The 14th Doctor has to travel back through time to find his past selves to fight the Daleks or risk the universe imploding! (readers will no doubt have better imagination than I but you get the point!). Anyway, it doesn’t matter how Matt ages in real life as he would come from a certain time on Trenzalore which would fit his actual looks at the present. I wouldn’t be surprised that when he is in his 80s he would be part of the 100th anniversary episode. Maybe the Doctor has already been visited multiple times during his time at Trenzalore but we haven’t had the chance to see it yet.
What about the other Doctors?
It’s much harder for other Doctors as they really need to be alone, as you don’t see companions with them in multi Doctor stories, apart from the main Doctor at the time. This may have been a problem with Eccleston’s 9th Doctor as he always had Rose and sometimes Captain Jack with him, so it would have been harder for him to appear in an episode, but I’m sure Moffat would have found a way round it if Eccleston agreed for the 50th. (Suggestions from which time period he might have appeared from below!).
It worked for Tennant in the 50th episode as he appeared between ‘The Waters of Mars’ and ‘The End of Time’ in which he was on his own and exploring. We see him at the beginning of ‘The End of Time’ speaking to the Ood: “I didn’t exactly come straight here. Had a bit of fun, y’know? Travelled about. Did this and that.” Ten then continues to say: “Got married, that was a mistake, Good Queen Bess”, which is of course a reference to the 50th anniversary special. (Though I’m not sure how he remembered it as the time streams were out of sync, but still!).
As for the classic Doctors, I’m not in a position to comment as I have not seen ‘The Three Doctors’ or ‘The Five Doctors’, but I’m sure they will be talked about in the comments below.
To conclude, Matt Smith’s era ended with a bang, and a slight but certain hint of looking to the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Capaldi’s Doctor have a certain time without companions when he is wondering about to use as a reference point, like Tennant’s, so that in the future, maybe he could return for a multi Doctor episode when his era has passed. I said it was a puzzle for writers, well Moffat pushed the final piece into the Matt Smith shaped jigsaw.