It only feels like five minutes since we were told that there would be no new season of 'Doctor Who' in 2019. Now, 2019 is drawing to a close, and the twelfth season of the revived show is drawing closer. We know from the BBC's previous communications that the show is due to hit our screens in 'early' 2020. We also know that filming started much earlier on this year, and will shortly wrap up even if it hasn't wrapped already. A few short months from now, the Doctor will be with us once more.
There are two completely different groups of people looking forward to the return of the show; the fans who liked the new direction of the eleventh season, and the foaming-at-the-mouth detractors who insist that a show that has always been left-leaning has suddenly become more left-leaning. In the middle of those groups is the casual audience, who may have watched on and off since David Tennant and Matt Smith left the central role, and don’t quite know what to make of all the fuss. It’s those viewers in the middle the show will want to win back. Ten million people tuned in to Jodie Whittaker’s first episode. Only seven million of them were still there by the end. That’s still more viewers than Peter Capaldi was reaching during his final season, but it still isn’t great.
Even if you’re not one of those angry internet posters who were ready to pick up a pitchfork and march to the BBC because the Doctor was a woman and some of the people on your screen looked a bit foreign, there were some aspects of season eleven that felt a little flat. We hope that, given time to reflect, Chris Chibnall and his writing team have made some amendments to their writing strategy to tighten up the presentation. Here’s what we’re hoping to see.
The Return Of A Season-Long Arc
Note to Chris Chibnall: taking a weak villain from your first episode and putting him back into your last episode does not constitute a season-long arc. We now live in the box-set era. People love to binge-watch, and they're capable of following a story from the first episode through to the last. Not only that, but they're actually more likely to tune in if there's a hook. All too often, season 11 of 'Doctor Who' didn't give the audience a reason to check back in the following week. Each episode was self-contained, and whatever situation the Doctor and her friends were in had been dealt with by the time the hour was over.
Since 2005, the show has been at its best when there's a thread running all the way through it. Think about the Ninth Doctor's season, and 'Bad Wolf.' The mystery of Torchwood ran all the way through season two. In season three, it was 'Mr. Saxon.' Planets kept disappearing in season 4. All the way through season 5, Matt Smith's Doctor was tormented by the crack in Amy's wall. Season six? River Song's identity. From season 7 onward the show has seemed to lose track of the bigger picture, and it's been all the poorer for it. Season 11 was the worst offender, and that's despite the obvious tease of 'the timeless child' in episode two, which was never followed up on. Give us a thread to hold on to!
More Travel In Space
The show has an enormous budget, and only ten episodes to shoot. That means there's no excuse not to change up the location every now and then. The TARDIS should work like an interstellar mobile slots game; each time you press 'spin,' you never know what you're going to get out with. Mobile slots players will either win or lose. The Doctor and her friends will either end up somewhere incredible, or somewhere awful. Casino slots players cling on because they're looking for a jackpot. 'Doctor Who' viewers cling on because they're looking to see something spectacular.
During season 11, we were on Earth for episodes one, three, four, six, eight, and nine. That’s more than half the season. There’s an enormous universe out there, and it’s high time we saw more of it. Take us somewhere incredible. Show us more aliens.
There's a reason that 'Resolution' was better received than any of the episodes we saw during season 11; the Daleks were back. We have no objection to introducing new monsters - Steven Moffat gave us the Weeping Angels, and we've never been the same since. He always knew to include some old favorites at the same time to keep us interested, though, and Chibnall is yet to demonstrate that he's willing to do the same. More to the point, the monsters he has created have been forgettable. We'd rather not talk about the Pting ever again if at all possible.
There may be some encouraging news on this front. The Judoon have been confirmed as returning, and we've even seen pictures of them on set. They're not our favorite monsters, but we'll take them as a start. We've also heard - and this is just a rumor - that we're going to see the Cybermen. Monsters from the past make the show feel more like 'Doctor Who' - something the show didn't always manage last time around.
More Focus On The Doctor
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that the Doctor was going to travel with three companions, and not without good reason. The show had to quickly establish the entire TARDIS team as well as the new Doctor, and we don't feel like it succeeded. We don't feel like we know the true personality of any of the characters yet, and the Doctor least of all. For Jodie Whittaker to succeed in the role, she needed a strong character to play with, and she hasn't been given one.
An episode that focuses purely on the Doctor would be very welcome. It doesn't have to be as forensic an examination of the character's soul as the Twelfth Doctor received in 'Heaven Sent,' but think of the Eleventh Doctor's speech in 'Rings of Akhaten,' or David Tennant going beyond the pale in 'Waters of Mars.' It's those little character moments that define a Doctor, and the Thirteenth Doctor hasn't had one yet. All we can say about her in terms of character is that she's a little breathless. After eleven whole episodes, that's not good.
Will we see any of the above when the show hits our screens again early in the New Year? Who knows, but we can hope. Agree? Disagree? Want to rant about the show’s alleged politically correct agenda? Let us know down in the comments.