Doctor Who Short Trips: Regeneration Impossible
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Written by Alfie Shaw
Performed by Jacob Dudman
A Time Lord dying in a mortuary? Surely the Doctor has to look into it, but just as the Doctor is disappointed to realize the time lord in question is him, Shaw’s Eleventh Doctor might not be the one fans most want to revisit in “Regeneration Impossible.” That’s because this is Matt Smith’s Doctor right after he lost the Ponds. He’s not himself and while the Doctor always likes to make a show of not interfering — right before he changes his mind and interferes — you can actually believe he might have stuck this one out if it weren’t for the extraordinary circumstances.
Enter the dying Twelfth Doctor. Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi don’t exactly sound alike, which is why you wouldn’t think the same person could voice them convincingly. Dudman voices three characters in this audio drama and not only do all three sound different – they sound like the actors who played them.
Someone is causing Capaldi’s Doctor to regenerate, but who, and why is his face not changing while a corpse in the mortuary’s face is? The structure for this story is really well done and feels like how an episode of the show would’ve been structured. Capaldi’s line right before the opening credits is one of those “okay, we’re really doing this,” lines that makes the title music sound even better (if you’ve listened to the trailer then you probably know the line) and the use of repetition gives the Doctors time to think and also insult each other (like Twelve’s dig at Eleven’s chin)
That’s the best part after all – getting to hear the two doctors go at it, and what’s most surprising is how much the Twelfth Doctor runs circles around Eleven. The lines are well-written to match each Doctor’s personality and Dudman’s delivery is spot-on. Shaw includes references to each Doctor’s respective run. Eleven’s line about the astronaut from “The Impossible Astronaut” is especially appropriate, as is Twelve’s response to Eleven asking what number regeneration he’s on. It’s always been complicated, and of course this is when Eleven was under the impression that he wouldn’t be able to regenerate, so it takes some convincing for him to believe Twelve is him. Also important: Eleven doesn’t know about Gallifrey, so that’s more news he has to process, while trying to save Twelve/himself.
The one thing that doesn’t come together is Shaw’s answer for who, or what, the regenerating corpse is. Putting a Spoiler Warning here, but there’s a monster Shaw brings in towards the end that’s pretty popular outside of Doctor Who, and every time this monster comes back there are different rules for how they can be killed and what their abilities are. Until those rules are established, you can’t really assume anything and “Regeneration Impossible” doesn’t leave enough time at the end to explain.
Doctor Who Short Trips: “Regeneration Impossible” is available to purchase from Big Finish. Hopefully Dudman’s Twelve and Eleven can work together again sometime.