Whilst there’s no series of Doctor Who this year, Chris Chibnall and his team are busy working on a fantastic somophore season for Jodie Whittaker and the Thirteenth Doctor for 2020. Whilst her first season wasn’t perfect (I’m looking at you Tsuranga Conundrum) it was a great series overall and the viewing figures have spoken- Doctor Who is a household name again and is dominating the pop culture discussion once again. It is a great time to be a Doctor Who fan, as for the first time in years the average person on the street might know what you’re talking about and the quality of stories have reflected the level of attention the series is now getting (not you Pting). Chibnall’s all-new writing team were great and actually better than the man himself- I wouldn’t mind any of them returning, which leads me to this post. Here are twelve writers I would love to see write for Series 12 and make the next season as good as possible-
Would I really say no to the writer of my favourite Doctor Who story returning? Toby Whithouse is a Who veteran, first contributing the amazing Series 2 story School Reunion which still holds up as the strongest story from that series. His main contributions were to the Eleventh Doctor era, where his vision of the Doctor as a dark, mythical figure cropped up first in the underrated Vampires of Venice and then the magnum opus of the entire show, The God Complex, which masterfully deconstructed then reconstructed who the Doctor is. A Town Called Mercy and the Fisher King two parter are both great too, and whilst Lie of the Land was incredibly… not good I can’t really blame that entirely on him due to the difficult behind the scenes circumstances surrounding that arc. In short, any season without Whithouse is poorer off without him and his idea of the Doctor is one that I support 100%. I would have preferably wanted him as showrunner but if that’s not the case, another story would do just fine. Whithouse is a master of genre storytelling and is one of the finest writers this show has had and Lie of the Land is such a poor way to end a fantastic collection of stories.
In four days time, the world will be introduced to Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I cannot wait, and I eagerly anticipate this new era. Following an era that- Series 10 and the beauty that it is aside- I couldn’t enjoy as much as I usually do, to have a fresh new start with a new Doctor, new companions and a new showrunner is simply glorious. The Woman Who Fell to Earth is the first episode for the Thirteenth Doctor, and it’s important to have a good first impression. Whilst I have faith that Chris Chibnall will give us a great first episode (although I am far more excited for the more intriguing sounding Episode 2), there has unfortunately been precedent in the past for less than stellar first stories. Let’s look back at the past twelve times we were introduced to a Doctor and see how they hold up in celebration of this upcoming era-
Later this year, we will finally see the Thirteenth Doctor in action. While all the focus is on Jodie Whittaker, who looks amazing as the Doctor, let’s not forget about our new lead writer, Chris Chibnall. His announcement in January 2016 caused some fuss, as allegedly he is not seen as a good writer by a large percentage of the fandom. This completely baffled me then and continues to now, as I have always enjoyed his work on the show and found him to be a very consistent writer. Throw in his showrunning of Torchwood and we have a very competent head writer for the Whoniverse. Let’s dive into his very different but all very entertaining episodes.
Series 11 is coming. A new Doctor, a new era. Now is the time to look back on the brilliance of the past 13 years, which has encompassed four Doctors and ten seasons. Whilst I could discuss the best episodes, that would be harder than this list, so let’s look at the best moments of the revived show. With over a hundred episodes to choose from, picking 50 was hard. I’ve decided to limit the list to one moment per story, and to leave the quality of the episode aside to focus on the moment in question. There’s too much to go through, so I’ve split the list up-
One constant of Doctor Who is the companion. Designed as the audience surrogate, the companion has evolved into one of the essentials of the show. With a character as large and cosmic as the Doctor, a more grounded and relatable figure is vital to keep the show alive. Whether they’re savages, Time Lords, robots, from present day Earth, Time Agents or Highlanders, the Doctor Who companion is always a big deal. We’re getting three with the Thirteenth Doctor, so let’s look back at 54 years of companions and count down my absolute favourites. Let’s start with the ever loyal Last Centurion-
So, San Diego Comic-Con has ended, for me anyway. All I really wanted was information on Series 11, and information we got. As if I can’t get anymore excited, we get the first official footage and more information on an era I am already sold on, which is miraculous. It took me about six episodes to appreciate Matt Smith, MY Doctor, in 2010 but I am already sold on Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and she hasn’t even had an episode yet. I’m just so excited about this new era and this new beginning.
Over the past few weeks Twitch has been airing a giant Classic Doctor Who marathon, from An Unearthly Child to Survival, presumably to allow new fans to catch up on the old show before Jodie Whittaker makes her debut this October. It’s been a great time for me, as whilst I’ve seen the episodes before it’s great talking to other Whovians on Twitter and through Twitch chat and seeing new fans discover the joy that is the classic series. Ian Chesterton is a meme, Patrick Troughton has a legion of new followers and it’s great seeing Elizabeth Sladen’s legacy being continued even today through her stories. Today sees the Peter Davison era start with his first three stories airing today. His Doctor is generally well liked (particularly by a certain Whovian called David Tennant) but his era is often seen as the beginning of the end of Classic Who, with story quality dropping and the once large audience fading. Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve just seen this happen as new series fans, with Peter Capaldi. Annoying companions? Check. Reliance on the past? Check. Audiences leaving and viewing figures dropping? Check, check and double check. These two Doctors are about as different to each other as you can get, yet the eras have so much in common. What makes the weakest era in the classic series similar to the weakest era in the new series apart from the leading men being called Peter? Let’s find out.
It’s been over a month since Steven Moffat ended his tenure as showrunner of Doctor Who. Whilst I would do a retrospective, I feel like I’ve discussed his era too much in the past. For now, let’s look to the future and what Chris Chibnall has in store for Whovians. Outside of casting we don’t know too much about his era, which is great. I do have faith in him to deliver a strong run but here’s a list of things I hope he follows through on. I did a list before the Series 9 finale about wishes for Series 10, which were mostly fulfilled (two new interesting companions, great returning monsters and cool new ones and a better balance of story and character). My other two weren’t really followed through on (a consistent costume and more alien planets) so they are on this list as honourable mentions. I do like the Thirteenth Doctor’s costume so far, but I need to see it in action and let it sink in.
So, let’s dive into what I would like to see in Chris Chibnall’s era-
A new, original arc
I cannot stress this enough, but a series without the Daleks, Cybermen or the Master would be brilliant. I don’t think the latter two are appearing but the Daleks almost certainly will, which would be fine as long as they aren’t the story arc.
Remember (ba-dum) how effective the Silence were? We had a brand new, original threat for basically two seasons. You could argue the Series 6 arc teetered out of control and that the Silence were wasted but the fact remains that Steven Moffat created a fascinating new villain along with a highly engaging arc. I hope Chris Chibnall does the same and creates new threats, supporting characters, worlds and arcs.
Without trying to sound like I’m bias, the RTD era really had this under control. We had Ood and Weeping Angels, Torchwood and Sarah Jane, three trips to New Earth and well thought out, interesting arcs. Moffat had this in a way with Matt Smith (Silence and Angels, River and the Paternoster Gang and the Silence Will Fall arc) but Peter Capaldi’s run suffered from a lack of originality. Am I a good man? That was basically Eleven’s arc in Series 6. The companion and the Doctor are in a dangerous partnership? Explored in the God Complex. It’s why I loved Series 10, as rehabilitating the Master had never been done before. But there can still be more.
Have a cosmic war. Have a chase across time and space by bounty hunters. Have the Great Old Ones return, ready to wreck havoc across the universe. Have Rassilon plot an elaborate revenge against the Doctor. I would love Chris Chibnall to just go nuts with his story arcs and ideas. Don’t just rely on old enemies or retread old ideas, do something truly captivating and original. The whole universe can be explored, why are the arcs so Earth focused and why is everything something from the Doctor’s past? Move away from sequels to Classic Who or yet more Time War angst and do something new.
Without looking them up, how many Twelfth Doctor villains can you name? As in proper, compelling, original villains (Missy doesn’t count). My guess is that you can’t name many, as most of them weren’t really villains and the ones that were weren’t very good. The Monks were promising but ended up being just the Silence, and there really isn’t that much from Twelve’s rogue’s gallery. There’s the Boneless yes, but what else?
William Hartnell battled cosmic entities and rogue Time Lords. Tom Baker encountered the last of the Osrians, the Guardians of Time and more. Sylvester McCoy fought Fenric, a being from beyond comprehension and David Tennant battled the Devil. My point is that Peter Capaldi’s rogues were a bit less impressive. Oh no, lion people. Oh no, sleep dust monsters. Watch out for the weird robot owl thing and you better hide from the terrifying King Hydroflax!
My wish for Thirteen is that she gets some amazing villains. They don’t have to be sympathetic or misunderstood, you can just make them evil. Is there a single redeeming quality about the Mara, or the Family of Blood? No, they’re just evil. It would help if they had some depth but sometimes they can be just evil. As long as they’re interesting, the audience will care. It says a lot when the best villain last series was a CGI wolf with tentacles.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Doctor Who is at its best when it’s dark. There’s a reason Phillip Hinchfliffe’s era is beloved. However, it’s important to have fun and embrace the camp. Having the Doctor be light hearted, caring and zany is hugely important, and unfortunately Twelve was none of that, at first anyway. The show turned utterly serious and dour with plot points like the Moon being an egg and flying Cybermen being treated incredibly seriously without any acknowledgement to the stupidness of the concepts (and the show itself is stupid. It’s about a shape shifting alien who flies in a box through time and space. But that’s what makes it great). Tom Baker had dark stories, but he was still a buffon who tripped over his scarf. Jon Pertwee was a snarky know-it-all who loved driving and David Tennant had some of the most mature storylines in the show’s history, yet he still randomly referenced pop culture, had a positive attitude and made jokes, all whilst managing to maintain the darkness of the storylines.
Sometimes it’s good to go dark. Inferno, Waters of Mars, Curse of Fenric, The Doctor Falls- all very dark. But don’t have the basic outlook of the show be dark. Why did I like Robot of Sherwood and The Return of Doctor Mysterio? Because they were fun. Why did the fanbase dislike them? They were different from the typical Twelfth Doctor episode. Twelve was out of character for those as he was acting the way any other Doctor would act in those situations- having fun. My advice for Chris Chibnall is- lighten it up when it’s appropriate. When there are dark storylines, have them be dark. When there are light hearted or goofy scenarios, have fun. This is why having a lighter, nicer Doctor helps.
Take risks and don’t spoil things early
I’m going to go on a slight tangent and bring up The Last Jedi. Nothing about that film is what you’d expect. Luke Skywalker is a jaded old man and Snoke, the supposed big bad of the new trilogy, is killed off. Think about how risky that is, and how refreshing it was. Iron Man 3 does something similar with the Mandarin, turning the character from a generic bad guy to a metaphor about modern media and manipulation.
My point is, Chibnall really needs to think outside the box. Don’t give the audience what they’re expecting and subvert expectations. Of course it was going to be Missy in the Vault. But what if it wasn’t? Of course the Doctor wasn’t really working for the Monks. But what if he was? The funny thing about that last example is that Skulduggery Pleasant did a similar plot point in Resurrection, released the same week as Lie of the Land (having the main character turn evil) but actually stuck to it. That’s a risk.
The show has taken risks in the past, such as Heaven Sent, but I want more. Truly challenge the audience and make them think about the show they’re watching. What if the mysterious box in the TARDIS isn’t the arc, but the companion we’ve been following throughout the series has been working for the bad guys the whole time? What if the Earth is invaded by aliens in the most painfully generic plot imaginable, only for the Doctor to realise that they’re not on Earth and are actually on a game show? That’s the kind of risk I’m talking about. Extremis is a great example of a risk that worked.
There have been episodes in the Capaldi era that took risks, but the show as a whole needs to do more risky things, especially in regards to the story arcs. Do something that will shatter expectations and make the audience react. Don’t fear backlash, just go for it. Chibnall also needs to make sure the risks pay off- Series 8 had a dark and depressed Doctor but it didn’t really work as nothing was being subverted- he was just angry and miserable. How about a pure historical? Or a non-linear episode? Or (dare I say it?) a musical episode? As long as they’re good then the fans won’t mind.
How about a pure historical musical?
Also, don’t spoil things. How much more awesome would John Simm’s reveal in World Enough and Time have been if it hadn’t been spoilt? The Internet would have gone nuts. I know it’s harder to keep secrets know but the BBC need to have some degree of control over spoilers.
A consistent time slot
This is less about the show itself and more about scheduling. Back in the day, David Tennant’s Doctor would be on TV at around 7:00. OK, so I stayed up slightly later on Saturday. But with Peter Capaldi, I didn’t know what time the show was on as it was never consistent. Sometimes it was 7, sometimes it was 8:35. You’d think with a Spring start Series 10 would not fall victim to this, but as early as Smile the schedule was being pushed around for… football. I respect that people like watching football, but if Doctor Who is on at a certain time, I want it to be on at that time and not have to wait to see if the episode will be pushed back a week just because people can’t kick a ball in time. Seriously, is there not a separate channel for sports? That would be the only hiccup you’d think, but no, it happened again for Pyramid at the End of the World and then the show was aired even earlier to accommodate a new BBC show. Hey Beeb, maybe it’s not a good idea to start a new show when your flagship sci-fi show is currently airing.
Little things like it airing five minutes before or later than last week really bug me. Is it so hard to just have a slot for Doctor Who? It’s managed with the other shows. Even Peter Capaldi has spoken out about this, and it’s believe to be one of the reasons he left, despite initially stating he was going to do more than three seasons. With Series 11 not airing until autumn, I’m worried that the same thing will happen with Series 8 and 9- instead of putting the show in that magical slot known as “before Strictly Come Dancing”, the Beeb are just going to put it afterwards and air it depending on how long Strictly lasts. It got even worse in Series 9 when the BBC chose not to air the show before the Rugby World Cup, rather letting the show run through it. Great move guys, maybe this is why the viewing figures have tanked.
If I was managing the BBC, I would air the show at 6:00-6:50 every Saturday. This way, the whole family can eat dinner whilst watching (which was the point of airing the show at around that time anyway) and there won’t be any conflicts. It’ll be autumn so it’ll be dark so any scary episodes will be appropriate and the show will not air too early or too late. I really hope this is sorted out and I hope Chris Chibnall actually has a say in this as he has a lot riding on this series (if the viewing figures are low, the BBC will just assume it’s because of Jodie Whittaker being the first female Doctor). I know when the show is on every week because I watch every week and make sure to check when it’s on but the general public, who drop in and out, will not be as dedicated as me. The show needs a proper time slot.
So, those are five points I hope Chris Chibnall expands on in his era. Have some original ideas, some great villains, have fun but don’t forget to take risks, don’t let anything be spoilt in advance and don’t let the show air inconsistently. Let’s wait and see.
Well, something happened in the Whoniverse recently. No, I’m not talking about the Christmas Special trailer (which looks awesome, although I am worried that Bill’s return will be another Hell Bent). In fact, I’m referring to this-
Yes, we have a female Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. What do I think? I’m fine with the Doctor being a woman and it’ll be interesting to see Chris Chibnall’s vision of the show. However, this isn’t what this post is about. This is going to be about the fandom and how we all need to calm down.