Another venture into the realm of abandoned posts. Sometimes with a series with as long a narrative tail as Doctor Who has, much of what remains in immediate memory for any particular story are mere snatches of something associated with the story. This doesn’t have to be something important from within the story but it does, by definition, have to be memorable.
What comes immediately to mind when you think of Destiny of the Daleks? For some, no doubt, it’ll be the sight of Suzanne Danielle as a Movellan, but for others it will be a scene right at the beginning of the story which attempts to explain away the recasting of Romana from Mary Tamm to Lalla Ward. Because a companion hadn’t been re-cast before (and no, the alt.Jamie in The Mind Robber, though clever, doesn’t really count) and also because Romana was a TimeLord offered a chance to do something unprecedented to that point…
It played with the concept of regeneration.
Now, at the risk of sounding needlessly ponderous, in a ‘sad fan’ sort of way, we here at the Tour regard regeneration as one of the fundamental concepts in all of Doctor Who.
And in Destiny of the Daleks it was played off for comedy.
When viewed in the larger context of Season 17 this is not surprising as Douglas Adams sensibility suffused the show at this point, and you could argue that changing out Romana in this way was simply writing your way out of a casting decision. All true. But doesn’t it, at least a little, cheapen the whole idea of regeneration?
We made a similar argument about the head-fake regeneration that straddled The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End because it plays against viewers expectations in a manipulative way, not to mention is messes with the notion about just how many Doctors there have been so far.
It’s not a rabbit-hole, but we can see it from here.