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In the 1996 movie, the Doctor already knows about every human he meets. He knows who they will become and detailed information, such as which answers they got wrong on a test.

Why are none of his other incarnations as knowledgeable?

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Cold reading maybe. A lot of people can do that to some extend. Maybe the eighths Doctor was just very good at it... –  Einer May 29 at 17:03

1 Answer 1

Looking at the transcript here, here is the line you're talking about:

DOCTOR: I know you.

GARETH: You do, huh?

DOCTOR: Gareth, answer the second question on you mid-term exam, not the third. The third may look easier, but you'll mess it up.

GARETH: What?

DOCTOR: Remember, answer the second question. Don't forget!

But this doesn't go unexplained, in fact the very next few lines explain it in terms of Gareth being a historically important person:

GRACE: What was that about?

DOCTOR: Ten years from now, Gareth will head the Seismology unit of the UCLA Task Force, and devise a system of accurately predicting earthquakes.

GRACE: You mean that, don't you?

DOCTOR: Of course. His inventions save the human race several times, but first he must graduate in poetry.

The Doctor has shown in-depth familiarity with Earth history before, so I would guess at some point he read about Gareth's life story, including the detail about almost failing the midterm exam (or maybe he actually witnessed an altered history where Gareth answered the third question on the exam and didn't graduate). Regardless of the exact details, the point is that this isn't showing the Doctor to have a general ability to know details about random strangers, he only knows about Gareth because he's familiar with his (future) history.

Not sure what you mean when you say he "already knows about every human he meets"--the only other example I saw of his seeming to have some extra knowledge about people were in some of his conversations with Grace, like this one:

GRACE: Please! Okay, you're trying to tell me that you've come back from the dead.

DOCTOR: Yes.

GRACE: No, sorry. The dead stay dead. You can't turn back time.

DOCTOR: Yes, you can.

(A clock strikes the part hour.)

GRACE: I'm not a child. Don't talk to me like I'm a child. Only children believe that crap. I am a doctor.

DOCTOR: But it was a childish dream that made you a doctor. You dreamt you could hold back death. Isn't that true? Don't be sad, Grace. You'll do great things.

It's possible "you'll do great things" suggests he also knows about Grace from history, but it's possible he's just being encouraging to her, and judging that she's a caring idealist who might wish she could save everyone from dying. Then again, this exchange seems to suggest he does actually know something about her future:

GRACE: So, do you know what's going happen to me?

DOCTOR: You don't want to know.

GRACE: Right. You can't not tell me!

DOCTOR: Grace.

GRACE: Oh, God! Brian's going to move in again.

DOCTOR: I can't say.

GRACE: Please?

DOCTOR: The universe hangs by such a fragile thread of coincidences. It's useless to meddle with it, unless, like me, you're a Time Lord.

So maybe she becomes someone historically significant too, although it's also possible he's bluffing here (the Doctor lies!) or that the writers really were suggesting that Time Lords have some quasi-psychic ability to just read the fates of people around them.

edit: and I see he also seems to know something about Lee, saying this to him right before Lee departs:

DOCTOR: Lee! Next Christmas, take a vacation. Just don't be here.

Again I suppose it's possible the Doctor just knows about Lee from history, or maybe he knows that some disaster is coming in the neighborhood Lee lives. Since this scene takes place once the Doctor's returned to the TARDIS it's also possible he took a moment offscreen to look him up in the databank. But his knowing about Lee along with Grace and Gareth might favor the idea that the writers wanted to suggest he had special abilities (since the TV movie grew out of an failed plan for a rebooted series that wasn't going to be too fastidious about respecting the original show's continuity).

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#8 isn't the only Doctor to know intimate details about a person, either. "Rose Tyler: Look at you, beaming away like you're Father Christmas! // The Doctor: Who says I'm not, red-bicycle-when-you-were-twelve? // Rose Tyler: What?" Sure, Rose is a Companion, but unlike, say, Amy, there isn't an indication that the Doctor went back and stalked her as a child. –  Brian S May 29 at 21:20
    
@Brian S - that line was probably just meant as a joke by the writers, so in-universe we could imagine that the Doctor was just joking too--Rose's "What?" doesn't necessarily mean that she actually got a red bicycle as a child. Another in-universe possibility is that even if he didn't physically go back and stalk her, he could observe some of her history using the TARDIS scanner (or some other gizmo like the time-space visualizer the First Doctor had: tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Time-Space_Visualiser ) –  Hypnosifl May 29 at 21:30
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Another possibility: 11 or so years from now, maybe Gareth meets the Doctor, learns that he can travel time, and tells him that when they meet in his past, but the Doctor's future, the Doctor gives him some particular advice about the exam. The Doctor remembers and then does so. –  AlbeyAmakiir May 30 at 0:16
    
@AlbeyAmakiir I believe that is referred to as "pulling a Sally Sparrow." –  Chahk May 30 at 18:07

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