Tonight’s episode of Doctor Who, Face the Raven, is going to be a very important one. At the Doctor Who Festival last week the writers and actors all discussed Face the Raven as a game changer. So naturally, I’m hyped. But one thing is certain; by the end of Series 9, Clara will be gone, almost certainly dead. Series 10 will hopefully see the return of a darker Doctor, one who has lost his companion and who is angry at the universe, which should hopefully change the style of storytelling.
I thought about writing this article after the series had finished, but I thought before tonight’s episode will do, given its importance. Any of the wishes I say here could happen by the end of the series. So here goes, 5 wishes I have for Series 10.
- An interesting and new companion
With Clara leaving, the new companion is of course going to appear soon. Now my hopes for a new companion is for someone completely different from the other New Series companions. Part of the reason I love companions like Romana and Jack are that they are so unique from all the others. I hope the new companion is either a male companion who travels independently with the Doctor (a Second Doctor/Jamie dynamic could be established) or an alien companion. Someone from the Earth’s past could be interesting as well. While I haven’t hated any New Series companion, they are all pretty similar in origins and there are several similarities between them. I love Donna because she was a break from the RTD era mould, so the third companion of the Moffat era should be a break from this era’s mould (a feisty girl with a mystery around them).
Clara’s departure should not impact the new companion either. Part of the problem I have with Series 3 is that the Tenth Doctor just wouldn’t shut up about losing Rose, meaning Martha’s introduction was like “new companion, yeah, but the old one is better”. This is partly why I find the Series 4 dynamic of The Doctor/Donna much more satisfying. I understand that Clara’s departure will be devastating for the Doctor (and the audience) but he shouldn’t be mourning for a whole series. Clara’s introduction worked because the Doctor got over Amy and Rory’s departure and accepted Clara, so the audience automatically did. The companion is the surrogate for the audience, so it is important the Doctor treats them with respect. Yes, Series 10 has to have an angry and upset Doctor, but the new companion needs to be treated as their own character, not just as a replacement for Clara.
- Bring back more old monsters and have better new ones
Series 10 needs to be braver when it comes to reviving older monsters. This year, the Zygons returned with a bang after only two appearances (one of which wasn’t focused on them) and Davros returned after seven years. This was much more refreshing than just the Daleks, Cybermen or the Master, although two out of three of them have already appeared. I love the Daleks and the Cybermen, but they need a break to make their appearances have more impact. The show needs to revive older monsters, preferably ones who haven’t appeared for a while.
The Zygons have already been successfully revived, so I think it is time for the Rutans, the Mara, the Ice Warriors or the Autons to have a revival. The Rutans and Mara haven’t appeared in the New Series yet, and they have plenty of potential, while the Ice Warriors and Autons are monsters who have appeared but can be used better than how they were. Cold War was a very rushed re-introduction to the Ice Warriors who deserve a two parter (as I write I’m listening to a Sixth Doctor audio featuring them), and the Autons haven’t been used since 2010, when they are a fascinating threat. On that note, why didn’t Closing Time use them? It’s set in a shop! Even the Sontarans haven’t had a story focused on them since 2008.
More monsters I would like to see include the Terileptils, Sil, the Mandragora Helix, the Fendahl and Omega. If the Macra can re- appear, then I see no reason why he can’t.
However, Series 10 needs cool new threats as well. In the whole Capaldi era, only the Teller, the Foretold and the Boneless have had a huge impact from Series 8, while Series 9 has lacked an awesome new alien. The ghosts were great, but the Fisher King should have been better than he was, and the other new monsters have barely made an impact. Christopher Eccleston had the Slitheen and the Empty Child, David Tennant had the Ood, Weeping Angels, Judoon and Vashta Nerada, while Matt Smith had the Silence. Capaldi’s era needs a truly iconic and terrifying threat. Series 9 could potentially have the weakest rogues gallery of the revival after Series 7, which barely had villains at all.
- More focus on story
I have loved the new focus on character and emotion recently, and the idea to make nearly every story a two parter is great. However, often the story gets lost in the muddle. The plot, villains and action of a story is just as important as the character and emotion in my eyes. Stories like Kill the Moon have suffered because it forgot the plot and became a talky episode about killing a moon baby (facepalm) and while the Woman Who Lived was significantly better, the plot still got sidelined to the point where the villain literally exploded for no reason.
Episodes like The Waters of Mars, Mummy on the Orient Express, Vincent and the Doctor and The Satan Pit are all great examples of a story has an equal balance of character drama and emotion and also having a great story and threat. Yes, the Krafygis wasn’t needed in Vincent and the Doctor, but it still functioned in the plot and didn’t feel sidelined, to me at least.
Other examples include The Waters of Mars, which is both a great base under siege story and a powerful character drama while Human Nature is a basic plot made into a story full of strong themes and ideas, with the threat still intact and the story in place.
In short, the story telling needs to be written alongside the character work, not written separatly and bunched together.
- The Doctor needs to have a consistent costume
A bit minor, but still an issue I want to address. When Capaldi was introduced, he had that awesome buttoned jacket and plain white shirt. Simple, but effective. So why does it keep changing? I don’t mind costume changes, as Pertwee changed costume all the time, but all his costumes were regal and posh. Capaldi has worn hoodies, boring jumpers and loose white shirts. It doesn’t really scream “Lord of Time” when the main character has a polka dot shirt, hoodie or baggy trousers. Yes, I know Troughton wore baggy trousers but that was in character with his Doctor. Capaldi is a harsh and uncompromising Doctor, so it really doesn’t suit him.
Thankfully, tonight’s episode has got the Doctor wearing a gorgeous purple velvet coat, similar to his original one.
This screams “Lord of Time” and I think he should coordinate between this one and his original coat. It’s a minor point, but I fail to see why the Twelfth Doctor has so many stories where he looks so un-Doctorly. Why is he wearing a baggy white shirt with a pink one underneath when confronting Davros, his archenemy? Into the Dalek, Flatline, Death in Heaven and now Face the Raven have had Twelve at his most regal and impressive, like he should be. Although the First Doctor esque costume in Mummy on the Orient Express was great.
- Alien worlds
I can’t stress this enough, but I am really tired of Earth in Doctor Who. I understand the budget may not be able to accommodate an alien world every week, but if the Classic Series can have unique worlds and planets every series, then I fail to see why the New Series can’t.
Capaldi has had two stories fully set on alien planets (Time Heist and The Witch’s Familiar) while Tennant and Smith has had plenty of interesting ones. The Doctor Who universe is so huge and vast, so quite why Earth is always visited baffles me. I won’t even mind a space station or a space ship, but Earth is really getting dull as a story location, especially London. If Earth stories are going to be the norm, then they should be set somewhere like Japan, Australia (the only story ever set there is the Enemy of the World) or Chandler’s Ford to shake things up a bit (OK, maybe not that last place). I understand location filming is expensive, but locations can be mocked up, and for the benefit of an interesting story I want a more diverse set of locations next year away from Earth.
So those are my five wishes for Series 10. There are still three weeks to go of Series 9 so some of this may become outdated but I think now is a good time to say what I would like from the show next series.
Oh, and a theme tune change. I want awesome time travelling, not strangled cats. The variation from Before the Flood is what Capaldi’s Doctor needs every week-
Until then, it’s time to Face the Raven…