The Doctor: “That’s the thing. If I don’t dare, everyone dies.”
Rose: “Do it.”
The Doctor: “You don’t even know what it is. You’d just let me?”
Jackie: “Please, Doctor, please, she’s my daughter, she’s just a kid.”
The Doctor: “Do you think I don’t know that? ‘Cause this is my life, Jackie – it’s not fun, it’s not smart, it’s just standing up and making a decision because nobody else will.”
Rose: “Then what are you waiting for?”
The Doctor: “I could save the world but lose you.”
— The Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, World War Three
I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I have a series pet peeve related to people who deliberately skip the Ninth Doctor. I understand people just making an arbitrary decision to start in on the series – that’s the beauty of the show, there are so many potential jumping in points. Yes, you’ll miss some back story, and you’ll miss inside jokes and comments, but you’ll soon catch up enough to understand what’s going on. Perhaps it will even be enough to eventually make you want to go back and catch up on previous Doctors. And, in choosing to start with the Ninth Doctor, you are necessarily skipping Doctors One through Eight. Nine is a logical starting point, however, as it is the first Doctor of the reboot series.
But the pet peeve comes in when people make the decision to skip the Ninth Doctor because they think he wasn’t good enough. Or that his stories weren’t important enough. Or that his regeneration is not worth it because it only lasted one year. There are many other reasons given. I view very few of them as acceptable reasons (yep, I said it).
What are my reasons for this belief? They are many and varied, and they increase every time I re-watch episodes; every time I think about the links between the Doctors. I won’t get into all of the here. But I will mention the ones that this quote points to.
1. Nine introduced new viewers, and possibly reminded old viewers, that though the Doctor may have fun or act silly, his life was made up of making difficult decisions. Nine particularly felt this weight, being the first regeneration after the Time War, the first Doctor to be burdened with the memory of having to decide to wipe out all of the Timelords and the Daleks to save the rest of the Universe from their bitter war. Through Nine we learned that the courage of the Doctor came from his willingness to make those decisions, even when they were hard, and even when he knew that he might make the wrong decision one time. We learned that courage isn’t necessarily about not being afraid, it’s about being afraid of the consequences but making a decision anyways; because someone has to do it.
2. Nine reminded viewers that, though a companion might join for the fun and the adventure of travelling through space and time, the life of a companion was not always safe. Jackie often hated the Doctor because he could not guarantee her that Rose would be safe, as much as he might want to. His life, and by extension the life of the companions, was not safe; it contained a great deal of danger.
3. This first of Rose’s season showed us her courage. She learned quickly what needed to be done. She trusted that the Doctor would come up with the right solution, and follow through with it, even when he did not trust himself to do that. And Rose’s courage and trust throughout the series gave the Doctor the confidence to do what he needed to do; the confidence to make the hard decisions. Rose’s trust reminded him of who he was.
4. Finally, this series was the series where the well known relationship between Rose and the Doctor began. Though the relationship flourished between Rose and the Tenth Doctor, it began when he was the Ninth Doctor. There are multiple quotes throughout this short season that reinforce that – on some level, whether friendship or romantic in nature – the Ninth Doctor loved Rose. The love did not begin when he put on a newer, younger face. It slowly grew over this series, and then continued into the Tenth Doctor’s series’.
Okay, so this post turned into something a bit different than I initially though it would, but I think I’m going to leave it. One further comment on this quote – I think what the Doctor says about his life is something that transfers to all of the regenerations (at least the ones that I have seen). He might have fun, he might seem goofy at times, but at the bottom of it all, he travels around the universe making difficult decisions. And, though he often forgets it, he truly benefits from having a travelling companion who will help him make those decisions.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you watch Doctor Who? What Doctor did you start with? Have you gone back to watch previous Doctors?