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Where is Paul McGann’s Doctor Who Spin-Off?

Okay, now that everyone has seen and freaked out over “The Night of the Doctor,” can we just talk for a minute about how Paul McGann is finally the Doctor on screen for the first time in seventeen years, and for the first time within the actual arc of the television show, and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts?

I mean, other than everything in that minisode. (Spoilers ahead for all the other crazy things that happen in the minisode!)

So… let’s talk about Paul McGann and the Eighth Doctor. Let’s talk about the fact that while the movie was certainly ridiculous, his portrayal of Eight was gorgeous. How his audio dramas for Big Finish have only strengthened his hold on the character. How after all this time, he stepped right back into the role on screen effortlessly, at an emotional climactic peak for the whole of the character and sold it.

Why can’t they just give us some damned episodes with the Eighth Doctor?

I know logistically why this is a problem. When one actor is the Doctor, it’s their role. You have to let them be the Doctor. You can’t keep crossing over or under them and talking about yesteryear because it’s not fair to the current guy holding the role. It’s the real reason why we don’t get multiple Doctor episodes every season; you have to love the one you’re with while he’s there.

Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann

But Paul McGann is an excellent Doctor, and the only actor who didn’t get close to his fair share of screentime in the part. (Colin Baker was kicked off rather unceremoniously, but he had the part for a few years, and Christopher Eccleston chose to leave, no matter how many of us wish there was more of him.) He had one messy movie script that was never going to turn into a revival of the show anyway. And the audio plays are great, but it’s not the same as watching the Doctor—his Doctor—run around, and eventually lose the velvet costume frock coat, and have Charley cut his hair one day because the length is getting silly even to him.

I’m not even going to get into the fact that all of his audio companions have now been canonized (sorry, I’ll just be screaming over in another room), so they have a fantastic pool of actresses to choose from. Just gonna leave that here….

Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann

If a show is out of the question, what about the occasional special? They could give him an hour or two while we’re waiting for new seasons. Let a specific showrunner be in charge of it, like Toby Whithouse or Mark Gatiss, and have them in touch with Moffat to make sure everything jives. Every once in a while, Eight’s arcs could play into what the current Doctor was doing was fun. No need for crossovers, just a random shoutout now and then.

Because it’s sad that we’ve only seen his beginning and end on screen. That bouyant excitable thing who kissed his first companion because his shoes were so comfy, followed by someone so broken that he is prepared to say that the universe no longer needs a man like him. Where is the in-between? Don’t we deserve that journey too? I’d take that over knowing Time War specifics any day of the week.

Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann

We now know that it was the Eighth Doctor who truly did make the most difficult choice of all—the choice to become someone who could fight a war and end it. Would any other Doctor have made that decision? I suppose we’ll never know. But I would like to know him better for it.

Wouldn’t you?


Emily Asher-Perrin is giving a heads up that between Thor 2 and this, she’s just going to be a bumbling, weepy wreck for the forseeable future. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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