Time Lord Regeneration and Resurrection (Part One)

I am going to talk about Time Lord Regeneration and Resurrection. Before I do it might be helpful for people who are unfamiliar with Doctor Who and his regeneration to look at Brian Rimmer’s mix-and-match clips from the entire series (from William Hartnell the first Doctor all the way to Matt Smith the eleventh Doctor; Rimmer has added some creative spin in the clips covering the regeneration of Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy, and again from Paul McGann to Christopher Eccleston). Watch it here.

Spoiler (taken from my co-written book The Cross Is Not Enough, page 100):

The idea of resurrection has been embedded in the series’ overarching plotline since the mid-1960s. A recurrent thread concerns the bodily renewal of the Doctor when he is mortally wounded he is “resurrected through Time Lord regeneration.” Every time it involves the Doctor undergoing a complete physical transformation. He is the same man but has a different appearance. From the TV-production side regeneration is a handy way of making explicable the visual transition from one actor to the next playing the Doctor.

Yet within the myth-making of the series the Doctor’s “dying” and “rising” does echo some parts of Scripture. When Jesus arose he was the same but also manifestly different (the disciples on the Emmaus road did not immediately recognize him; he could appear/disappear in the upper room). Those who have known the Doctor but encounter him in later regenerations recognize that he is the same yet different. In the joint US-UK television movie of 1996 the Doctor was shot dead and his body placed in a hospital morgue. The visual representation of his resurrection shows him triumphantly emerging from the morgue robed in a white garment. Since 2005, each time his resurrection is shown the Doctor stands in a crucifixion pose as his body dissolves and a new one emerges out of blinding light.

(More to talk about in Part Two).

N.B. The above written text in this blog-post Time Lord Regeneration and Resurrection (Part One) is Copyright © 2012 Philip Johnson.

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8 thoughts on “Time Lord Regeneration and Resurrection (Part One)

  1. Could the fact that the Doctor traverses time and space connect with a sense of an alpha and omega (beginning and end) conceptualisation of the universe?

    • Interesting question Keith, and thanks for dropping by. The series as an organic unfolding “text” acknowledges “Event One” (the beginning of the Universe) in Peter Davison the Fifth Doctor’s initial adventure Castrovalva. The end of the universe is affirmed at 100 trillion years in David Tennant the Tenth Doctor’s story Utopia. The Time Lord engineer who detonated a star that enabled the Time Lord’s to travel in time/space was known as “Omega” (see The Three Doctors and Arc of Infinity). While the Time Lords are not divine or eternal they are sometimes alluded to as being the most ancient if not the oldest (or first) planetary civilisation to come into existence. They alone appear to able to view through the time vortex to see all that ever was, is , or could be.

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