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.


“Would You Like A Jelly Baby?”

You love Doctor Who, right? If you do then welcome. It’s time for a different kind of adventure through Doctor Who.

If you don’t like Doctor Who then now is the time for you to click away from here!

Check your pockets to make sure you’re ready for a new journey. I’ve got my Tardis, fob-watch and sonic-screwdriver: just a few handy tools to use along the way.

What’s that, you say? Oh you want to know what this is all about.

Well pop a jelly baby in your mouth and savour it. This is a journey into some ultimate questions that pop up through Doctor Who. Yes, some perennial questions. If you probe them enough you’ll find that just like the Tardis they’re bigger on the inside than on the outside. It’s that perception filter problem: ask one question and soon it grows in depth and dimensions. Oh yes, they can even be questions with transcendental dimensions.

“It’s been done before,” I hear you say. Well, yes and no.

It’s true, some philosophers have had a bit of a go at ultimate questions found in Doctor Who. There’s a jolly old time to be had wading through the pages of that book! It’s fun, isn’t it?

Then there are those wonderful American and British Tolkienesque fans who have delved a bit into mythology and Doctor Who, and I’ll happily admit that there’s more than an *inkling* of truth to be discovered through myths.

I love a good myth, and yes I’ve read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings more than 20 times. Yes, I’ve also written about the significance of myth and spirituality in various articles and books. I am really glad that these Tolkien fans have looked at myth in Doctor Who.

A few years ago, some academic fans came together under David Butler’s guidance in exploring the cultural phenomenon of Doctor Who. What a neat thing to do at Manchester University! It’s the kind of thing that you come to expect nowadays as undergraduate and postgraduate students enrol in courses devoted to screen, media and pop cultural studies. There’s some really good stuff to be digested from that book too!

Oh yes, and a little bit of theology in Doctor Who has been briefly but handsomely examined in Thomas Bertonneau and Kim Paffenroth, The Truth Is Out There. Thomas’ and Kim’s book was released by Brazos Press in 2006. Brazos is an imprint of Baker the same firm that recently published one of my books.

You’ll find that I’ve already had something theological to say about Doctor Who and resurrection. Not a lot mind you but burrow around pages 100-101 and 103, and you’ll see my brief remarks about Doctor Who and the resurrection in my co-written book The Cross Is Not Enough.

So, this blog is a different kind of Tardis to travel in … it is all about Theology and Relative Discourses in Space. Oh there’s no spoilers you have to be willing to run inside the Tardis to explore.

I’ve been around a few years longer than Doctor Who (the TV Series that is, not the Doctor himself). So I’m looking forward to the fiftieth anniversary in 2013. It’s great to know that Dame Diana Rigg (and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling) are guest-stars in the 2013 series.

So as we approach the fiftieth anniversary (no matter which time zone you’re in, forwards or backwards), I welcome you into this TARDIS where Theology and Relative Discourses in Space are explored all through Doctor Who.

Quick rush inside I hear the wheezing sounds of the Tardis’ engines … “see you earlier love the Doctor”**

** The Doctor’s note hurriedly scribbled and left for Leonardo Da Vinci to read … see The City of Death.