If you skipped Nine, then you and I cannot be friends. Sorry. Those are the rules.
Marking the beginning of the modern series, the ninth Doctor marks a dramatic change in the show’s tone. With the introduction of the Time War storyline, which would go on for almost the entirety of New-Who, the Doctor we all knew and loved from the original series would take a much darker and more tragic turn.
Even still, the ninth maintains that magical spark integral to the character. That same zest for life, silly attitude, and kind heart(s) that made the Doctor so iconic is still alive and well. Only now, the Doctor has gone through some horrific events off-screen.
The ninth Doctor is a soldier still struggling to step off of the battlefield. Whenever he crosses path with a military force, the ninth often slips into the role of the leader and charging at the front of the pack, sometimes without even meaning to. When confronted with death, he treated the deceased like a fallen soldier. The trauma of the Time War lingered strongly in all of his actions.
Most notably in his temper. Whereas other iterations of the character could be grumpy, the ninth was downright aggressive. It wasn’t just when he was confronted with his mortal enemies, the Daleks. Many times, when he was annoyed, frustrated, or uncomfortable, he would snap. His sass would escalate to vocal cruelty, whether the person he was speaking to deserved it or not.
All of this only made it all the more impactful when the ninth displayed any sort of joy or delight. A great example can be found at the end of the episode titled ‘The Doctor Dances’. When the conflict resolves without so much as one casualty, the man is positively brimming with joy! It’s impossible not to smile!
The ninth Doctor’s arc is one of the best in the entire show’s history. Seeing a hardened, darker version of the Doctor learn to leave the war behind and become a helpful coward again is compelling from beginning to end. For all its ups and downs, this arc was masterfully delivered on in the first season!
Bringing it to life was the brilliant Christopher Eccleston. His range in this role was absolutely insane, perfectly capturing the anger and the hatred, the weary age and regret, and the goofy madman, sometimes all in one episode! It’s a damn shame he was only around for the one season!
Let’s just not go into the behind-the-scenes drama, agreed? That’s a rabbit hole best left alone.
Of all the versions of the character we’ve seen so far, the ninth Doctor is one of my absolute favorites. He was the one who introduced me to the show, and I love him even more now than I did back then. From beginning to end, he was truly fantastic!
If you’re one of those people that skipped nine and went straight to ten, I’d highly encourage going back to season one. It has its ups and downs, but it’s still an incredibly solid season of the show. Trust me, you’re missing out if you skipped it.
And now, we get to talk about the really popular one.