There apparently was a Doctor Who panel this past weekend at SDCC. I read a bit about it, but not so much to spoil myself. But there was one thing I was hoping to learn. I was hoping to learn that season 7 would feature an appearance by Paul McGann. Because quite frankly…it's past time.
As many Who fans know, Paul McGann played the 8th Doctor in an in-continuity, Fox/BCC-produced, made-for-TV movie back in 1996. It was a back door pilot that didn't do well enough to merit a return of any kind. It wasn't a particularly great movie, but it had some elements of the Classic Who and set the stage for a more youthful, excited Doctor to arrive in 2005.
A couple things make this movie stand out. The first being that it was even made. The backstory on this is quite interesting to a "behind-the-scenes" guy like myself. The DVD contains a 50 minute feature that explains this history of the movie. Very cool. But the second and more notable reason is Paul McGann. In just a few short scenes, McGann owns the role and makes me want more.
Alas, outside of non-canonical audio books, that hasn't happened. We've seen the 8th Doctor in a rendering during the third series of the new Doctor Who and then in a clip in a montage in one of the specials after the fourth series, but no new footage.
The 8th Doctor is a bit of a blank slate. There are "expanded universe" items that go on and tell adventures of his incarnation, but once the Eccleston run began, all that could likely be thrown out the window. I had believed that the 8th Doctor fought in the "Time War" that occurred before the new Doctor Who series began. But further research reveals that may not even be the case. He may not have even been a part of the Time War. Either way, we don't know if he lasted a day or 20 years as that version.
Of all the previous Doctors from before the new series, McGann's is the one that will require the least amount of explanation to bring back. We didn't see him regenerate so the way the actor looks in comparison to how he looked when we last saw him makes no difference. If Tom Baker wanted to come back…well, there's some stuff that needs explaining.
Plus, McGann has said he is willing to come back. He'd be up for it. Not all actors are eager to rush back and relive old times like that. And if Paul McGann is willing to come back, then take him up on that. Because Paul McGann is a great actor. I just watched through the series Luther and there could not be enough Paul McGann on my screen.
So, all that to say what I said at the beginning and what we all already know…it's time Who producers. Paul McGann. Get him back on Who. Stop waiting around on this and get it done.