The Great Moff has spoken. "It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show." Whether that's a fibby-wibby or not remains to be seen, but it's got me thinking. Could it really "feel different this time"? Let's try and innovate the whole process of regeneration in Doctor Who!
The Doctor's Position?
In the classic series, regeneration was almost always lying down. It was a moment of weakness, the Doctor a broken man. That changed with Eccleston. Standing tall proudly, with arms outstretched, it was almost celebratory, showing off even - almost "Look at me! Look at my Time Lord trick!" Jacobi's Master was the same. "The Master reborn!" he exclaimed, then danced merrily round his console, in his new loopy Simm form. Tennant adopted the same confident pose as he became Smith, even though he didn't want to go.
If it's not lying or standing, what about sitting? "Oh I'll just rest my legs" and FOOM! I think not. Squatting mystically and monk-like in a trance? Floating in the air? Leaning against the Tardis coatstand? We're getting silly. But it could be a regeneration in motion. Running is always exciting. Falling through the air as Eleven and landing as Twelve would be novel. Regenerative energy would protect him from any impact. Alternatively, the regeneration could be traumatic, with the Doctor flinching, staggering in pain around the Tardis, changing gradually as he moves. Regenerating under water, swimming like Ace in "Fenric" with a sodden Twelve stumbling out of the sea? I personally like the idea of spinning. Too "Wonder Woman" perhaps, but it's the kind of thing Smith would do. He cries "Geronimo!", performs a confident spin, then again, and again, faster and faster which becomes a blur of motion and blinding light, and Twelve staggers dizzily out, uttering a clever Moffat witticism. "Ooh my poor head!" or "I think I need a lie-down now." are highly unlikely.
How does the Doctor regenerate? In recent years we've had the traditional explosion of regenerative energy. In the distant past we had all sorts, like blurring, Pertwee to Baker, funny faces even, when Sylvester gurned goodbye. But how can we shake things up? Is morphing, like in Michael Jackson's video "Black or White" too old hat? What about seeing bodily and facial attributes change one by one, like when the Teselector became the Nazi guard in "Let's Kill Hitler"? First the eyes, then the nose, mouth and hair with the Doctor gaining or losing body mass at the end. What about a ripple, blurring or a fading effect?
What stage in the episode?
"Time and the Rani" and the "TV Movie" had the Doctor change at the beginning and middle of the story. Davison became progressively worse for wear due to Spectrox in "Caves" and in a sense stretched his regeneration throughout the story. However I believe we have a consensus here. We all want our money's worth of Matt Smith, before he takes off his bow-tie for the last time, so he's got to hang around till the very end of the episode. With a few secs of the new Doc of course!
This of course is the most important and most memorable factor in a Doctor's regeneration. We all know the Second was forced by the Time Lords to change after his trial, the Fourth fell from a great height and the Seventh got shot. These are the titbits of information that we love to trip off our tongues, as we show off our vast Whovian knowledge and reveal ourselves to be the social misfits we truly are. But we have a problem. The Third, Ninth and Tenth all regenerated due to some kind of energy or radiation and frankly it's getting a little bit boring. But what could befall the Eleventh? Something signposted during the story or a random event out of the blue? Whatever it is, it must be original. Something that the classic series couldn't do for budgetary or technical reasons. Like....
...falling out of a Tardis in flight? Being turned into a monster, like Peri in "Trial" and having to regenerate himself back into a Time Lord? Saving himself from a Cyber conversion? Merging himself into another Time Lord to save the other's life? A regeneration triggered not by some physical affliction, but a mental one? The Doctor must save himself from madness? Possessed by an evil entity and only regeneration can blast it out of existence? Or gruesomely tortured to death, in true Holmesian or Sawardian style, something out of the last episode of Black Adder the First! An adventure inside his own body, like in "The Invisible Enemy", to prevent himself becoming the Valeyard? What if the Twelfth Doctor himself was hatching inside, feeding off and possessing the Eleventh? We could have the voice of the Twelfth inside the Doctor's head, haunting him, as the Master did to Yana in "Utopia", whispering, "You can defeat them, but only if you change!"
In conclusion, all we can do is take a deep breath and keep the faith. In Moffat we trust. At Christmas, we should place ourselves in a sofa-oriented position of our choice, sit back and watch. We should make a global pact among Whovians. At the end of the episode we could all shout out, in unison, at the top of our voices and, of course, in tribute, the words of the late great Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart: "Ooer, here we go again!"