The BBC is a fickle bitch. It delivers some of the most entertaining and riveting shows in the world on a shoestring budget and consistently reinvents itself. But don’t get too attached to them or heartbreak will follow? Love Sherlock? Here’s three episodes a year, every two years, and maybe one Christmas special on a whim. Fan of Ricky Gervais’ groundbreaking comedy The Office? Six episodes each season, for two seasons, and a couple of Christmas specials. The same show remade for the U.S. starring Steve Carell ran for 201 episodes. Sigh.
Doctor Who – the spectacular beast that is – faces the same scheduling shenanigans. It ran for thirteen episodes and a Christmas special consistently for four whole years before David Tennant went to West End, prompting the 2009 “Specials Series” of four episodes, then back to thirteen and a Christmas special for a whole year before Season Six was spread across 2011/2012. Five delightful episodes and a Christmas special aired later that same year before seven below-quality episodes, the AMAZING fiftieth anniversary special and a regeneration episode hit our screens in 2013. That was the year to be a Doctor Who fan.
For Peter Capaldi’s run it has been two seasons of twelve episodes and a Christmas special. We all knew it was too good to be true, and despite rumors circling the interwebs just before Christmas we hoped this wasn’t the case. We can’t go back to a five-episode series.
Well brace yourself because the BBC themselves – not RadioTimes or the bloody Daily Mail – have confirmed that next year will only broadcast ONE Christmas special. And as a fan I can say with my hand on my heart the only good Christmas specials are A Christmas Carol, The End of Time and Time of the Doctor. And two of those don’t really count because the Doctor regenerates and it has barely anything to do with Christmas.
So the series we were promised is delayed. It’s still shooting next year, so it’s not Moff’s fault as per usual. It’s the BBC Controller! She said she wants to delay the whole series til the following year because her schedule is too crowded and she’d rather broadcast the Rio Olympics. *lifts sonic shades to eye roll* *sarcastic comment* *flips her a sonic screwdriver* *replays her the many deaths of River Song to make her cry*
Why is this all happening?
Well it’s time for the Moff to go. Steven Moffat has been showrunning Doctor Who for the same length as his predecessor Russel T Davies. His original ideas – from River Song to the fantastic Amy/Rory relationship to absolving the Time Lords and returning Gallifrey have all been completed (the last one divisively so). His accidental ideas – John Hurt as the War Doctor, Michelle Gomez as Missy, Dalek eye stalks in the head – have all hit big. He brought back the Silurians, the Zygons, the Headless Monks and the real Cybermen. His greatest creations – The Weeping Angels – are engraved irreversibly into Who lore forevermore and the Silence (the monsters, not the organisation) are not far behind. He’s been experimental in Heaven Sent and has worked very hard to not make the series feel as though it has been on air for eleven years.
The Moff is probably the only man in history to do the impossible three times: casting the next Doctor. It’s prolific and ridiculously challenging. Collecting Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and John Hurt would have been terrifying.
He is a very successful showrunner and he should be applauded. The fact he’s been running Sherlock at the same time has sometimes come as a detriment to Doctor Who but I am sure the Sherlock fans would argue it was worth it. His greatest sin is consistently giving his best friend an episode a season (GATISSSSSS!), but I’m a sentimentalist and I can understand why.
The Moff has hinted for a while this season that passed would be his last and at its conclusion he told press he was “actively searching” for a replacement. Nobody can do this job forever. So now it’s Chris Chibnall’s turn.
The Chib, as he will now be known, kicked off his career writing for Life on Mars starring former Master John Simm. He went on to write two not-fantastic episodes of Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood – Day One ft the Sex Monster and Cyberwoman ft…. well a Cyberwoman. After that came the Torchwood episodes that would send tingles down your spine – Countrycide, where they were NO ALIENS and Adrift, where Gwen finds the creepy af mental facility.
He wrote Torchwood’s first finale (eh) and the season two premiere and two-part finale. Say what you will about Torchwood (corny at times, never should have been sold to America, John Barrowman is a beast) but that trio of episodes is the best they have ever made. The premiere features Buffy/Smallville alum James Marsters as Jack’s evil ex-partner and it just a lot of fun. The finale rips out your soul, flashbacking to everybody’s first day on the job before killing two of the best characters on the show shockingly, and separately. It was fantastic.
Naturally he’s also worked on Doctor Who before this, premiering with the forgettable Martha story 42. It got better after that, with the Silurian hostage drama The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood keeping to the bonkers quality of season five. In season 7A, aka the season with only five episodes, he was allocated two episodes. That’s the same amount as the Moff.
The Chib’s episodes were a farewell to soon-to-be-dead companions Amy and Rory. It focussed on Rory’s father (Mark Williams, formerly Arthur Weasley) in both Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three. I have gone on record before to say that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is in my top five Who episodes of all time. I stand by that. The Power of Three was still a great episode but it’s resolution was rushed, almost like it needed a sequel. *HINT*
Complimenting these episodes was the hilarious, Ood-y webseries Pond Life and the powerful P.S. Pond Life was great because it was a wild romp, the in-between bits we never get to see. P.S was great because it was a heartfelt farewell from Rory to his dad via the Doctor, in a way. It was just great. And despite scheduling conflicts they persisted, with Mark Williams dropping by a local radio station to film audio to be placed over hand-drawn animation of a storyboard. It’s that quality that Doctor Who NEEDS to survive.
After six episodes of Law and Order: UK he began his passion project Broadchurch, starring ex-Doctor David Tennant, ex-guest star Olivia Coleman and ex-companion Arthur Darvill. In season two he would bring in ex-Torchwood star Eve Myles. I haven’t heard a bad word against it.
Broadchurch is looking to finish this year with its third season before the Chib turns his head to Who. It looks like it’s going to go out on top.
2016 – One Moff-written Christmas special.
2017 – One Moff-headed series
2018 – One Chib-headed series
There we go Whovians. Alons-y!