A Series 8 Wish-list (Part 1)
Guest contributor Cooper Jennings on what he wants to see in 2014.
Moffat says the 50th will set up the next 50 years, so Series 8 could be very different indeed. What do we want to see? What worked in past series, who do we want to see again and what are the stories we want told? What is your Series 8 wish list? Here’s some of my ideas of how I would like to see it structured.
SERIES 8. EPISODE 1 and 2
A MOFFAT 2-PARTER
I re-watched “Silence In The Library”/”Forest Of The Dead” in preparation of the Series 7 finale. To me it was proof that ‘2-parters’ should return to Who.
Doctor Who was once famous for its serial format and cliff-hangers. New-Who ‘2-parters’ share at least some of that same DNA. But “Silence In The Library”/”Forest Of The Dead” argues another reason for their return.
“The Name Of The Doctor” demonstrates how 45 minutes is sufficient enough to pack pace, action, wit, danger and enigma into one episode – but 90 minutes is required for the kind of pause, care, sadness and reflection that “Silence In The Library”/”Forest Of The Dead” delivers in tearful abundance. If this ‘2-parter’ was crammed into one episode, producers would have had a lot to cut, including the beautiful silence that made Miss Evangelista’s ghosting so uncomfortable and sad… “Don’t tell the others, they’ll only laugh”. Crammed into 45 minutes producers wouldn’t have had time to allow for the detailed construction of Donna’s alternate family life, so delicate and subsequently so sad when the children disappeared. By removing ‘2-parters’, we miss out on some true television gold. And you sometimes don’t notice the gold until it’s gone, is that why Series 7 felt so consistently good and yet often short of soaring?
The week after “The Impossible Astronaut” was one of the longest in my life. I have rarely been so excited, not since “The Pandorica Opens” and before that, “The Stolen Earth”. Cliff-hangers can work to tormenting effect. If you want Series 8 to have impact, invest in its opening two episodes. Both Series 7a and 7b fell a little flat in their second episodes, as a result, the series lost some valuable momentum fairly early. There was not enough arc invested in the opener.
I love a story arc. I understand why some fans see Series 6 as too much, and I can see how Series 7 is criticised for too little… Can we agree that Series 5 was a great medium? In Series 5, every week (or two) was a fresh story, not directly linked, but with a sense of the arc progressing and leaving clues. The ‘Crack’ and a jacketless Doctor appearing in “Flesh And Stone”, Rory joining the TARDIS crew in Venice, later dying in “Cold Blood” – every week the arc was added to without feeling tacked on or to blame for overshadowing the episode, as may be criticised of “The Almost People” or “Closing Time”.
I can see a return to the Series 5 format, both in scheduling (enough messing around with split series) and in story arc integration.
MARK GATISS: A GOTHIC HORROR WHO-NOSTALGIA
We now know for sure what we always suspected; Mark Gatiss has particular flare for Gothic Horror and Ancient Who-Lore.
On a slightly separate note, I don’t think any writer bar the head writer should be contributing more than one story per series, because that second story is a missed opportunity for another writer to surprise and offer variety. Neil Cross, a new writer to Who, really delivered with his first (to be written) story, “Hide”. But producers needn’t have hurried him for a second; they had the opportunity to introduce yet another new writer, another new point of view to Who.
Mark Gatiss was an exception for the last series, I enjoyed both his stories for very different reasons. Looking to Series 8 I would like him to return with a story combining the two, demonstrating what he does best; horror and Who-lore. So what’s gothic and goes way back? Maybe it’s time for a straight remake (of a lost episode, such as “The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve”) or discovering a reason to return to “The Caves Of Adrozani”, Mark Gatiss would be the man for this. Horror and nostalgia.
I cannot wait all series for another Neil Gaiman episode, I am too impatient, so let’s do it early on and enjoy the rest of the run. “The Doctor’s Wife” was an early treat – excellent scheduling. “Nightmare In Silver” (which I LOVED and LOVE to revisit) had to fight off weeks of escalating expectation and in the shadow of the impending finale.
I’m sure Gaiman could do anything. But however much I wish for him to revive Who-histories, an original from him would be something to behold. We need a monster race of his design, to be revived time and time again by other writers.
Or a new super-villain, something we are remarkably short on (I wanted Soloman to be a returning villain before he became William Hartnell)! In short, something for the future, new Who history, Gaiman Style! He’s a master of mythology, alternate worlds and Gods.
SOMEONE NEW… CREDENTIALS FROM ANOTHER SHOW
Simon Nye gave us one of the best New Who episodes (Amy’s Choice), the idea was intriguing, the Dream Lord was the best new villain for some time and the dialogue was on fire! It was clear this writer had roots in comedy (like Moffat). Re-watch this episode, it is fresh, funny and forward thinking. Who would have thought “Men Behaving Badly” would do Doctor Who in such an original way that worked…! Clearly Moffat did! So I say – get him in again, or, make a similar decision; invite a writer famous for another franchise to interpret the Time Lord.
How about David Renwick of Jonathan Creek fame? Imagine what he could do? Certainly something unique and fresh. The dialogue would be fierce as would the plot and the cast lining up to take part.
Or, with a growing audience in the States, welcome an American TV writer. Vince Gilligan. “Breaking Bad” is one of the HOTTEST TV dramas with its balance of humour, sensitivity and absurd truth. He would nail a Who episode with something raw and unthinkable.
Who would you like to see write their first Who episode for Series 8?
In Part 2 I continue to list hopes for Series 8 through Episodes 6-12.
Like me, I’m sure you have loads of ideas, hopes and reservations, so please feel free to discuss in the comments.