Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Regeneration: Who knew?

If you can read this, it means that - finally - the Internet is cool enough to touch again.

As has been widely reported, the sheer level of fan speculation following Saturday’s explosive climax (it reached an incredible 17.3 on the Hugh-Bonneville Scale) caused heat exchangers at the Internet’s UK hub - actually a giant warehouse in Rugby - to go into meltdown.

As I write, fire crews are still damping down frothing pockets of superheated, liquid opinion, while explosives teams are slowly defusing servers full of unfounded conjecture about the Osterhagen Key.

It’s great, innit?

When your correspondent first broke cover back in April, we recalled a time when Doctor Who was the love that dare not speak its name; this week it’s been hard to get people to stop (although it might be that they think it’s all the Watcher is interested in… quite correctly, as it goes).

There have been texts, calls, e-mails and whatnot from the long- and longer-lost.

Some Saturday snapshots, then, Russell T Davies-style, from Team Watcher’s UK operatives, a loose collective known (by their wives) as the Big Children of Time; cue that teleprinter…

…in Edinburgh, a ‘respected’ geneticist blows mushroom biryani threw his nose, such is his excitement at the ‘I’m regenerating!!’ bit…

…in the Black Country, a hospital radio DJ slips on an emergency prog-rock tape, dropping the requests and shout-outs to Ward D so he can watch the last 20 minutes of the show uninterrupted by suffering…

…in deepest Worcestershire, a church - church! - barbecue-and-celebration is delayed by 25 minutes while the organiser experiences (ahem) ‘car trouble’ on the way there…

…in the blasted East, a gentlemen connected with the Press spectacularly fails to get to sleep through sheer ‘It can’t be!/It might be!’ excitement; he was, at the last count, 36...

What’s neat about all this chatter is the way it mirrors the show’s quaint adoration of the mobile phone, the ’net and social networking sites - surely no one’s idea of a new thing any more.

But RTD in particular seems in the thrall of connectivity - odd, given that instant communication arguably strips some essential urgency from drama (though to be fair the writer does use it to spring the narrative forward, on the whole).

Perhaps it’s just an extension of the way the show’s own big-screen, backdrop moments - y’know, First Contact with aliens, alien invasion, er, alien invasion - are validated by constantly referring to them on the telly. The Doctor himself viewed one such happening in the Tylers’ front room, and thanks to Saturday’s ep., we now know his phone number (no, don’t bother: we tried).

Of course, you could say it’s just a savvy show reflecting its own time, the information age; quite right too. But the odd, really pleasing thing about Saturday’s is-he-or-isn’t-he? regeneration twist was that nobody at home, or online, or anywhere but the future saw it coming.

RTD played us like a flute - and all in the name of delivering the most spine-realigning, satisfying few minutes of Saturday night telly since, ooh, June 8, 1974. It was old-skool, showbiz surprise, the lost art of not knowing what’s going to happen next, rediscovered: how very Doctor Who.

Now, it’s highly likely that David Tennant will continue in the lead role… but suddenly we just can’t be sure, and what we already ‘know’ about the Christmas special, and next year’s schedule, and 2010... well, all bets are off.

Reading the online runes is suddenly a bit like listening to Dalek Caan after he’s had a few.

Basically if you need to know, you’ll have to watch, Saturday’s finale really is unmissable, event telly, just like it used to be.

Anything could happen.

I like Saturdays.


Anonymous said...

awesome episode!!!!!
cant wait for saturday.this was the best bit of t.v. ever, what a shock climax!
hopefully not the end for the greatest doctor ever, SIR david tennant, oh come on is got to happen soon!