With only just over a month to wait for the new series of Doctor Who, everyone’s getting hyped, analysing the new trailer, re-watching previous series and talking with friends about what they hope would happen. Or is that just me?
But if I’m being honest, I feel like by getting hyped I’m getting my hoped up too high, because I didn’t personally like the last couple of series. More specifically, in my own personally opinion, I hated the second half of series 6 (the first half was amazing), the second half of Series 7 (the first half being OK) and all of Series 8 was just OK. But nothing’s ever lived up to the magic of series 1 – 5 for me. I hated Series 7, part 2 so much I almost cut Doctor Who out of my life all together.
So, in this article, I want to address the issues I have with Doctor Who, try to explain what I would do differently and also show you what I would like to see in Series 9.
So here goes! This is very long, so read at your own peril!!!
The first issue of Doctor Who I’d like to address is the characters, which I personally think there is none of. The ‘people’ we see in the show are stock characters with names. I just think every character is very bland and 2D.
The Doctor is a ‘Mary Sue’, which means he’s perfect in every way; he’s better than everyone in every way you can think of and he can solve every problem and everyone loves him. This is less the case with Peter Capaldi’s incarnation of the Doctor than it is with Matt Smith’s. I would like to see more vulnerability in the Doctor; a side of him that we struggle or feel uncomfortable with or a side that we don’t trust or aren’t confident he’ll save the day. Now, I know that they to try and do this with the Doctor, but I’m never convinced by it, especially with Matt Smith. I feel like these situations where we see the Doctor’s dark or vulnerable side are brought up randomly and then quickly resolved or forgotten. I want to see a recurring struggle. We see that Capaldi’s Doctor is less emotionally attached and less sympathetic and empathetic, but in Series 8 it was usually used as a joke or a way to keep the plot moving so we didn’t have to mourn someone’s death, but I want to see it stop the plot, I want it to be a barrier, a genuine weakness.
Clara has also become a better character in this last series; before she was just like a default companion, only there as a bridge between the audience and the Doctor, but in Series 7 she started to flesh out more, having to deal with this new unemotional Doctor whilst balancing a relationship, she’s becoming more human. She doesn’t need a special wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimey reason to make her special anymore. None of the previous companions did before Amy; Rose, Martha and Donna were interesting and special just because they were written well.
The Extras are an issue for me too. By extras I mean the main characters of an episode apart from The Doctor and the Companion. The last few series they have also been very bland and we’ve been supposed to care about them, but we just don’t. I’m no writer, and I can understand how hard it is to make a character that we’re only going to see for one episode interesting. But this has been done in the past. Russel T Davis, who head wrote Series 1 to 4, was very good at fleshing out characters and making them interesting.
The Villains, to me, aren’t scary, intimidating or interesting to me either. I know that Doctor Who’s an all-age show, and the last few series have tried to appeal to kids more, but that’s not the issue. Loads of shows that are just for kids have had more interesting villains. One of my favourite villains from the “Whoniverse” is the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures, a Doctor Who Spin-Off on CBBC. Again, I think the issues with the villains is the fact that we haven’t given them the chance to flesh out and develop; we barely know who they are, we barely know their motivation, or we don’t see how they get from one place to another in their development. Apart from that a lot of villains we’ve had have just turned out to be victims of circumstance, which is fine, but it’s getting a bit old. And remember when the Master, the Daleks, and the Cybermen were scary and intimidating? I may be just a Russel T David fan boy, but I honestly don’t feel we’ve had a good story for these villains since he ran the show. These iconic villains seem to just be shoehorned in to the series for nostalgia and not because they have an interesting story.
How can this be fixed?
I would like see a T.A.R.D.I.S crew; The Doctor, Clara (because she’s coming back after leaving) and maybe two more, one could be a human from either another time period on Earth or another planet and the other could be an alien, not too alien though or we wouldn’t be able to relate to them. This would solve all of the characterisation problems; we won’t need to try and focus on extras because we have a cool, diverse group already that bounce off each other well and learn about each other well and develop together. This will also give Clara a lot of time to grow as she could almost lead the team, and have the Doctor struggle with the new power dynamic. He and Clara could have some friction which could cause the Doctor to make a mistake because he’d rather be wrong but in charge than have Clara right and in charge. But ultimately have the Doctor as almost the ‘Gandalf’ character; in the background but an ever-presence of aid.
Then I would like a recurring villain that pops up every other episode. Obviously the Doctor and this companion(s) are jumping around time and space, so let’s give this villain Time Travel. They could be the Master/ Missy or a link to Gallifrey or not. Ideally, I would love a villain in the story arc that doesn’t have a link to the Doctor, but maybe a link to one of the companions, like the alien companion. Ultimately, if the villain is recurring then we have loads of opportunities to get to know them, their history and motivation.
As for the stories, I just feel they’re all over the place and there’s no consistency. Now, by this I mean the flow and tone of the series and pacing and plot of each episode. Most episodes now just feel like filler episodes; by this I mean they’re either, really light and weak in plot or, although packed with plot and depth, really rushed and quickly resolved making each episode really short. The light and weak plotted episodes like, for example, “Hide” in Series 8, are less about the plot and whatever and are more about the characters and character development and the more packed ones, like “A Good Man Goes to War” in series 6, are more about plot than characters. The episodes that don’t feel like fillers, the ones that feel like go on for hours and the ones that have a good balance between plot and character, but we’re getting less and less of these kinds of episodes. I think that if story that a writer wants to do has problems getting this balance right then the story should be a double episode, which is something that they’ve stopped doing. The last double episode we had before the finale of Series 8 was in the part 1 of Series 6 back in 2011!
How can this be fixed?
This can be fixed by just balancing character focus and plot focus out and re-introducing regular double episodes. Or even make it all double episodes like in The Sarah Jane Adventures where there were 12 episodes in a series and 6 stories, all double episodes.
Story and Plot
As mentioned I feel that a lot of episodes are really packed with so much plot is leaves little room for character development and also explanation and resolution. Steven Moffatt, the current head writer, has had some great ideas and concepts, but he tries to squeeze everything into 45 minutes and it just doesn’t work. His stories have been very deep and quite complex but the resolution to a plot or a solution to a crisis has been rushed and the explanation is usually quite weak. The worst episodes I have ever seen have been “The Name of the Doctor” and “The Time of The Doctor”, both of which lack character, have a lot going on, but no consistent in-depth plot and are very rushed, although both being extra-long episodes. If you’re finding it hard to understand what I’m trying to put across in this article (I’m not the best at expressing my opinions with words) then just watch these two episodes.
How can this be fixed?
Again, I think this can be fixed by good balance and good pacing and bring back double episodes. Moffatt has amazing ideas for stories that could take all 12 episodes if he wanted. But he also wants smaller adventures, and also we want other writers to get involved, so this is a tricky one. Moffatt wants one big continuous story whilst having smaller stories and there just isn’t the time to do it. He’s better off extending the series to 20+ episodes like a lot of American shows if he wants that much content. But instead he decides to get rid of an episode, from 13 to 12…
From all 8 series of Doctor Who I’ve managed to define 2 types of story arc. The first being present in series 1 to 4, which were written by Davis; the story arcs in these series were really well hidden, only revealed in the finale meaning you had to go back and connect the dots. These were Bad Wolf, Torchwood, Saxon and the Doctor-Donna. Whereas series 5 to 8, written by Moffatt, has full scenes and obvious easter-eggs throughout the series that build up and lead to the finale. They made you think, speculate and theorise as the series went on. These being the Crack, Madame Kovarian, Clara and The Great Intelligence’s various appearances and Missy in ‘Heaven’.
There are issues with both types of story arc. Davis’ being that you don’t feel the series is going anywhere until the finale when you realise it was going anywhere and Moffatt’s making you feel like you’re on a journey, but only the viewer knew it, and the Doctor didn’t, unless he occasionally notices the arc and then forgets in the next episode, or the weird convoluted plot twists making you confused and disappointed at the end.
How can this be fixed?
Again, I’ll say the same as I did in my previous point; either you should have the entire series focusing on the story arc or not a story arc at all. As mentioned, if we have a recurring villain that can time travel or a quest that requires a lot of time travel to achieve then we can still visit crazy worlds, time periods and small distractions from one story arc which should be the main focus of the series.
What do I want from Season 9?
From what we’ve seen in the trailer for series 9, it looks like we’re going to see Skaro, classic Daleks and maybe even Thals, as well as Missy, who’s rumoured to be helping the Doctor this series, and the Sisters of Karn. We also see the Doctor in his first incarnation’s outfit and it is rumoured that Maisie Williams is to be playing the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan. All of these show great reference to Classic Doctor Who and will potentially get us closer to Gallifrey!
In the classics, the Master kidnaps Susan. So as I said, the Master/ Missy, our recurring, time-traveling villain could have an evil plan involving Susan, our new alien companion. And visiting old Skaro and the Sisters of Karn could be part of our story arc leading us to Gallifrey.
That’s my ideal Series 9 anyway! When I was a kid and watched the first part of a double episode, I would speculate the next episode by playing with my action figures and I usually got most of it right! So hopefully I will get this right!
Thanks for reading for this long!
I have so many other opinions and beefs with Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who that I would love to express in one endless article, but I would never put you through that. But if you want to ask me about my opinions on a particular episode or series, then drop a comment! Do the same if you want to disagree and challenge me! Let’s have a discussion about Doctor Who!... My girlfriend won’t talk to me about it anymore… apparently I talk too much…
So! What does your ideal Doctor Who Series 9 look like?
AND, is Doctor Who broken beyond repair?
By the way, I wrote this article on the toilet... on toilet paper! So follow me if you want some more of this raw material!