Could A River Song Spin-off Work?

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Guest contributor K-Ci Williams weighs up the pros and cons of a potential River Song spin-off.

In 2008, writer Steven Moffat introduced us to the character of River Song (Alex Kingston), who was revealed to have had many adventures with her ‘sweetie,’ the Doctor. Since her appearance in Series 4 she has appeared in four episodes from Series 5, and six episodes in the arc-driven Series 6. As viewers, we have followed her adventures from her final encounter with the love of her life, to her birth on asteroid Demon’s Run. But from Melody Pond’s point of view, her timeline is back to front from the Doctors. She states that ‘his future’s my past, his firsts are my lasts.’

Though we have followed this enigmatic woman from Silence in the Library (2008) to, most recently, The Wedding of River Song (2011) many of her journeys have not been chronicled and are universally known as ‘spoilers.’ Conversations have been circling around the web, with Whovians expressing their ideas and needs for future spin-offs. The most monumental of these are the pleas for a River Song spin-off. Could this work? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros

- As a result of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, The Sarah Jane Adventures was cancelled, and with Torchwood currently in limbo, there are no Whonivese series to fill the void when Doctor Who is off the air. A River Song series could create a nice filler for the empty place in the Who family and boost the franchise ratings.

- River Song is one of the more popular companions of the Matt Smith-era, but so much is unknown about her life. We only see River in Doctor Who when she meets up with the Doctor, but she claims to have had other adventures. Knowing Moffat, some of these points will be unfolded very slowly in Doctor Who, but why torture us with teasers? Why not gift us with a River Song spin-off to charter this sexy, feisty character’s adventures without the Doctor?

- When Russell T Davies created his two spin-off series, there were opportunities for the fanbase to increase. Fans obsessed over the new craze, especially the return of beloved Classic Who companion Sarah Jane Smith. So, maybe a “Melody Pond: Action Hero” series would grow to be loved. But as the Doctor says, ‘not that title, it’s a rubbish title.’

- River Song is only ever seen being her flirty, mysterious self when opposite the Doctor, so without him, what is she? A crazy archaeologist, with an assumption that she’s married to the only Time Lord remaining in creation? Or a mad woman with a vortex manipulator?

Cons

- Since Russell T Davies left the showrunning duties to Steven Moffat, two successful series have been produced, along with two beloved Christmas specials. But with his other hugely successful television adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels, Steven Moffat is far too occupied with these two commitments to seriously consider creating any spin-offs at the moment.

- River Song’s timeline is so complex that a spin-off could ruin the uniqueness of her character, and lessen the intimate relationship she has with the Doctor.

- Spin-offs from Doctor Who usually are a little puzzling and can cause continuity issues as Whovians ask, ‘Why couldn’t the Doctor just stop it?’

- We don’t want the central character of a spin-off to be too much like the Doctor. Essentially, River Song is almost the female equivalent.

- For all the those who would treasure a River spin-off, there are many that wouldn’t. Her character is divisive, unlike Sarah Jane.

Verdict

After considering the pros and cons of a spin-off series, this is a tough one to call. Assuming Steven Moffat somehow had the time to develop the show, it would probably be years off, only once he’s told the main stories about River and the Doctor in Doctor Who. Maybe then Alex Kingston can have a full-time job? Many Whovians also probably don’t want a River Song spin-off while we are still peeling the outer shell of her relationship with Doctor. Or do we?

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