Overall my household found “The Time of the Doctor” to be a bit of a mess–but Dara, Paul, and I were all in agreement that Matt Smith’s regeneration speech was the shining gem of the episode.
The Doctor: It all just disappears, doesn’t it? Everything you are, gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror. Any moment now… He’s a-comin’.
Clara: Who’s coming?
The Doctor: The Doctor.
Clara: You. You are the Doctor.
The Doctor: Yep, and I always will be. But times change, and so must I.
And this part:
The Doctor: We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.
All of which I mention because the recent regeneration has been on my mind, what with the ongoing emotional reactions of Great Big Sea fandom to the departure of Séan McCann from the band. Many fans have been heartbroken by this news. Some have sadly expressed how this will impact their ability to enjoy Great Big Sea concerts moving forward, and that they’re not sure they’ll want to try. A few have been actively, alarmingly resentful on the matter.
In Doctor Who fandom, many fans speak of “their” Doctor–often the actor who was playing the role when they first imprinted on the show, either as a child or as an adult, but sometimes not. For me, although Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor who made me start paying attention, David Tennant is “my” Doctor since he’s the one with whom I’ve developed the emotional connection.
Great Big Sea feels the same for me. The band’s already been through a few changes–the departure of Darrell Power back in 2003, the addition of Kris MacFarlane on the drums, the replacement of Darrell by Murray Foster. All of these have been changes that caused their share of brouhaha among the fandom, and all of them bring to mind Matt Smith’s speech up above.
Because like Time Lords, bands change. But when you’re a devotee of a band, it can be almost like being one of the Doctor’s Companions. Your Doctor is the one you travelled with in the TARDIS–even if you meet the Doctor again many years later and he’s gone through half a dozen regenerations since you saw him last, as we saw happen to Sarah Jane in “School Reunion”. Likewise, your version of a beloved band is going to be the one whose combination of vocal and performance chemistry is the one you fell in love with–the one that got you to eagerly seize every new album the day it’s released, and to snap up concert tickets the instant they go on presale.
My Great Big Sea was the original four–Alan, Séan, Bob, and Darrell. I’ve very much enjoyed the Great Big Sea made up of Alan, Séan, Bob, Kris, and Murray, mind you, much as I’ve happily enjoyed other Doctors besides David Tennant. This second version of Great Big Sea, for example, gave me The Hard and the Easy, which remains one of my all time favorite albums of the group’s.
But that said, I made the transition between these versions of the band much as I made the transition from Eccleston to Tennant. Losing Séan, though, is harder. It’s like losing Tennant as the Doctor–I’ve found things to like about Matt Smith, make no mistake, but he just never grabbed me on the same level that Tennant did for the most part.
Still, though, I haven’t stopped watching Doctor Who. Neither will I stop listening to Great Big Sea. It may be that when the group regenerates again (aheh), I’ll find new things to love about what they’ll provide to us fans. And as I periodically keep an eye on what Tennant’s doing now that he’s no longer the Doctor, I’ll be keeping an eye and an ear on what Séan does with his music.
But I’ll always remember when Great Big Sea had Séan McCann.
Shantyman, good night.