Wishes for a New Doctor Who

tombakerelisabethsladenSo this New Year’s Day marked the final episode of Doctor Who with David Tennant as the Doctor, and with Russell T Davies at the helm as head writer and executive producer.

Technically there was nothing remarkable about the death of Tennant’s character; it was a bog-standard regeneration, as those things go.  And in the grand scheme of things, Davies was just another writer for the Doctor in a long, long line of them.

But let’s not kid ourselves here.  Davies essentially brought the Doctor back to life after a long hiatus, and Doctor Who is more well-known in the US than ever.  He also made some of the biggest changes and additions to canon – some well-received, some not.

So the last few episodes of the last season, as well as the holiday two-parter, seemed like the most drawn-out goodbye ever.   So it seemed a little silly given the context of the show, and I wanted to yell at Tennant’s Doctor to not be such a pansy about dying as there’s nothing special about it this time (and he had tons of warning – Tom Baker’s Doctor got a mysterious figure and an abrupt fall from a satellite dish, after several years!).  Still, we all knew this was more Davies’ goodbye than Tennant’s.   It’s obvious that we’re entering a new era for the Doctor.

And as such, I’d like to make a few suggestions.  They’re entirely my own opinion – things I’d like to see, and not see, under the new head writer, Steven Moffat.  I’ve got high hopes for this guy, as he wrote some of my favorite Doctor Who episodes – “Blink” and “The Girl in the Fireplace,” among others.

I Don’t Need to See:

  • The TARDIS in mid-flight – one of the silliest effects, and unnecessary for a space-time machine, is the TARDIS spinning around in the air like a dreidel.  It vanishes, and reappears – that’s the most efficient way for it to travel.  I don’t need to see it hanging out in orbit.
  • The Slitheen – I don’t know of one person who would count that as their favorite of the new Doctor Who monsters, and we’ve seen them, what, five times across different shows?  Also, they’ve apparently been on The Sarah Jane Adventures, a more appropriate venue since that’s the one targeted to children.  No need to have them on Doctor Who ever again.
  • TARDIS eyes – One of the recurring storylines that drove me crazy was the whole “absorbing the vortex” bit.  Maybe the whole thing was a little too woo-woo for my sf sensibilities, but it just annoyed me (and was part of the Bad Wolf letdown).  And then Donna’s “knowledge of the Time Lords” bit just seemed like more of the same.

I’d Like to See:

  • Multiple companions – The last few companions have all been women, one at a time, and they all seem to have romantic thoughts about the Doctor, at least briefly (and who could blame them?).  For a different dynamic, I’d like to see a team of companions – we’ve come close in the new series, but the additional help was always related to the main companion in some way (and Captain Jack’s tenure was all-too-brief).  Plus, more than one companion makes it easy to throw in some diversity – someone from the past or future, or an alien species altogether, without having to build an entire season on them alone.
  • A real arch-nemesis – Yes, the Master has always been the Doctor’s true equal in the past – but in the new series, he was hampered and lessened by his madness.  Made for a good character, but not always a good Master.  I’d like a baddie that truly tests and taxes the Doctor.  I’ve always wished Anthony Head had been used more than simply in “School Reunion.”
  • A Doctor with less angst – one of the things that shocked me about Eccleston was his whole “You humans are apes!” thing – unusual for a Doctor who tends to count humans among his favorite species.  Then we lost angry Eccleston, and gained Tennant, who might have been manic, but was also Mr. “No Second Chances” and brooded more often than not.  It was a fresh and interesting perspective on the Doctor at the time, but now it’s worn on me.  I don’t know what to expect with this new Doctor, but I hope he truly enjoys living.

And finally, a little note: some of the best episodes of the new Doctor Who have been of the one-off, monster-of-the-week variety.  It’s fantastic when a season of episodes has some epic, overarching scheme and everything is revealed in one breathtaking swoop; but those things can go wrong and can bog down otherwise good scripts.  I hope Mr. Moffat and his team don’t feel they have to out-epic the last season; if they concentrate on good, solid episodes first, and get into themes and conspiracies when those are settled, they’ll have a winner in my book.

That being said, I’m really quite excited about the new season of Doctor Who, and confident in the team, both new and old.  I can’t wait to hear how they’ve tweaked the theme song (again); I can’t wait to really feel out the personality of the new Doctor and his new companion.  It would seem that the last year was one long goodbye to the last Doctor; I’m ready to say hello to the next one.

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