7 Wanted Changes for Capaldi’s Era
Guest contributor Andrew Gledhill-Carr suggests some changes he’d like to see.
I think it’s fair to say that, despite some flaws, the Eleventh Doctor’s reign has been a very successful one. We’ve seen the show maintain its viewership with a firm grasp, even amongst a few wobbles and shakes. Some people, who I am confident to say are a minority, feel that the show is on a downwards slope but I refute that. If ratings are not proof enough (they have been consistent since the series revival) then just take a look at the overwhelming positive reception delivered by fans and casual viewers alike. The future of Doctor Who isn’t just bright; it’s a gleaming diamond of endless potential. But I would like to see some changes made to the show now that Peter Capaldi holds the key to the TARDIS.
Less reliance on the timey-wimey
I have started to notice that episodes are beginning to recycle ideas. Plots and characters are starting to feel stale. A lot of things have been rehashed at least once. One thing in particular I’d like to see toned down or removed is the heavy reliance on time. Now that might come across as striking considering the fact the Doctor has a time machine, but I believe that time doesn’t need to be central. It doesn’t need to be heavily woven into every overarching plot.
Time has been undermined. During Ten’s reign it was made to be the highest power, something that sat quietly in the corner of the universe, and most importantly, would take no nonsense. Looking at an episode like The Waters of Mars really made you appreciate the solidness of the universe. That they were limits to the show’s and the Doctor’s powers. It’s the occasional episode that revolves around time that makes the concept so powerful. In short, paradoxes, non-linear character meetings, and timey-wimey in general all need to become scarce. Doctor Who is not about time travel. It’s about adventure.
Slower paced stories
The second change I’d like: slower stories. Not as slow as the classic era, mind, but stories that take time to unravel. The roller-coaster mentality is starting to feel old. Endings get rushed. Characters get brushed aside. Plots get forgotten and holes emerge. I would like stories to take a few key ideas and run with them without the baggage of a complex arc and the over-used powers of time, which brings me to my next point.
Smaller Story arcs
Before I begin I’d like to mention another great show. A very long time ago there was a television series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was overseen by a very clever man, Joss Whedon, who made sure that each series had a theme and an arc. These arcs were usually very simple and always addressed in the finale episode which was always some of the best and most memorable. They often dealt with an arch-enemy referred to as a “big bad” and in different ways each time.
Now Russell T Davies has mentioned that he drew inspiration from this show and its arcs and gave us, in my personal opinion, incredibly, well-thought and well-developed overarching plots along his four series. I’d like to see solid arcs back. Nothing complex and hopefully staying away from the concept of time, but something that binds each series of thirteen episodes and confronts it head on in the finale episode, and each arc should be different and unrelated. It’s a golden format that makes the show exciting to watch and accessible to casual viewers. I fear, I really do, that The Time of the Doctor is very unfriendly to the casual audience because it relies on your knowledge of previous arcs and threads. It’s not a good place to be because like-it-or-not, they matter. If the show cannot garner enough viewers it risks cancellation.
Variety is the fourth change I’d like to see. I feel that the show has lost quite a bit of its variation and thus episodes have started to feel too similar. Variety in all places that is. Episode settings (I feel like it’s been a very long time we’ve had a largely historical outing.) Series 7 was a step forward in this regard. But I’d also like to see variety in situations. I miss episodes that stood out because they shook things up. Companion and Doctor-lite episodes come to mind. But in general, widely different situations for The Doctor and his companions. It’s this variety that really makes Doctor Who, Doctor Who, because each story should feel individual and unique. It also allows us to explore every dark corner of our characters and universe. Series Four of Doctor Who is my all-time favourite because it excels at this and many other things too. It has such a diverse range of episode themes and settings and we really get to see inside The Doctor.
New Opening Credits
The fifth change I want to see concerns the opening credits. Ever since The Snowmen aired I’ve rather disliked the title sequence. Now I know you might say – “it’s just the opening, it doesn’t matter!” but the opening sets the feel of the show. Now in these current credits I feel that they are a bit too tacky. Things flying at you and its general awkwardness is not good and the multi-coloured aspect just strikes me as a tad too childish. It tries to do so many things and fails at many of them and as a result, reflects a tainting quality back on the show, especially in the CGI department. It is particularly embarrassing and saddening when some quick searches on YouTube can bring up some far superior, both technologically and stylistically, results. Just look at NeonVisual’s incredible work and try to wonder why we have the current opening as it is.
The theme tune is the sixth change I’d like to see. I have to say, I have not enjoyed any revision of the theme since 2010. I am not fond of the countermelody at the beginning of the theme that popped up in series five as I feel it’s too overpowering and I am incredibly unhappy the closing credits does not contain the middle-eight. Hearing it during the closing titles of The Day of the Doctor made me smile so much and really showed what we were missing. This part of the theme, to me, marked the closing of an episode in a way that was sad, heroic, alien and exciting. It just completed the circle of the forty-five minute episode in a great way, signally the ending with a bright, red flag. Personally, I’d like to see a stronger theme tune featuring heavier drums and more layers of instruments. The 2005 rendition of the iconic theme I regard as the best because of how many layers it has, and more importantly, the emotions and feelings it conveys. Right now, I think the theme tune is too happy. Too one-dimensional.
One final change for series eight. The sonic screwdriver. While I think the device suited Matt, I do think it’s just a bit too big for Capaldi. Too much like a baton than a screwdriver. I miss the more intimate interaction between it and the Doctor which was an advantage of its smaller size.
Doctor Who is all about change. It’s how it survives so much. It adapts. I am sure we will be seeing several changes, even if they are not the ones I have expressed want for, and I look forward to whatever Capaldi and Moffat throw at us. It is great to love such a dynamic show, knowing that if you dislike one era, you can come back for the next because it is highly likely things will be completely different.