How I Would Have Changed Series 7
Guest contributor Lee Garrett gives his opinion on the last series as a whole.
Doctor Who Series Seven was a series for me that felt the most uneven since the shows return in 2005. Of course this is my own interpretation of things but there was a distinct lack of cohesion between 2012’s part one and 2013’s part two that prevented making it an enjoyable experience as a whole. It’s a feeling I have seen shared with people I have long watched the show with and even after a straightforward watch through of the series, the feeling is still there. So, what could have been done? Well, here’s how I believe things could have been tackled:
NOT changing the theme tune/titles
In the grand scheme of things this is not the most important thing going, but having parts one and two of the series looking so different in something like the title sequence and their accompanying theme makes cohesion a very difficult thing for me when watching. It was clear that the font change seen in part one’s titles were testing the water for part two’s credits, but they didn’t look right at that time – it felt a bit basic and done on home movie making software. I liked the titles as they were and the new font, whatever it is, looks more childish if that’s the right word – it’s not easy to describe, but it doesn’t look right. It is also a reminder of Eccleston and Tennant era font, which however much I liked; I wish could be moved away from in that respect.
The Snowmen titles onwards have not been a favourite of mine at all; in basic they feel too busy and too red – but the change in vortex doesn’t feel right within the same showrunner’s era. Admittedly, it is something I would have accepted a lot more if someone new was in charge, but it feels like change for the sake of it and it’s something that just falls flat for me. The cloudy look that Series Five, Six and part one of Seven saw felt more real and spacey while the current look feels like a desktop screensaver. It is full of space and stars I will admit, but I just can’t take to it at all. Again, it just falls a bit flat…
Quite simply then, for cohesion the titles had to be one or the other – changing it mid-series makes it feel too separate from each half and adds to a lack of symmetry seen through a straight run. I quite like the series split format (controversial I know!) but in doing that, each half has to feel like it’s the same show. Sadly, something as simple as this change makes it hard for me to like.
Holding back Clara for the 12th Doctor
Now, this is where people may begin to think ‘oh dear’, but to explain as concisely as possible I don’t like companion overlaps between Doctors – something that has been forever tainted by series two I’m afraid with Rose and the Tenth Doctor. I like companions staying with their Doctor, yes dynamics can change throughout that time period, but to me letting an overlap happen denies the chance for a new person to come aboard; both in the sense of the show and as a viewer – I do just worry at times that new viewers might slightly be put off with a companion whose already been explored for her mystery and will then be delved into each further presumably in Series Eight. Putting myself into their shoes, I’d feel slightly put off by it all.
I admit that isn’t the best argument in the world and by no means am I a Clara fan, but I think holding her back for the incoming Peter Capaldi as the Doctor next year would have served the series even better. A brand new start for a whole new era is how I like it, a clean slate approach, it works for me – The Eleventh Hour is my favourite first story for a new Doctor in the post 2005 era of the show. Obviously this then begs the question of what could have been done for part two companion-wise, doesn’t it? What options are there, well…
Keeping the Ponds ALL series
In a way, this wouldn’t have been bad in my mind as it would have allowed more time to prepare for their goodbyes. I was always annoyed slightly by the fact it was promoted by the media as Amy’s farewell more so than her’s and Rory’s. So by giving extra episodes to them, could we have had a possible Amy-lite episode to reinforce the nature of two companions leaving and give more time to the Doctor/Rory combination? I think so. Things like this would have aided the show along into its 50th year for me and kept things going well from a cohesive POV. The on and off-screen chemistry between Matt, Karen and Arthur was amazing and I’d have loved to have seen it carried on past September 29th 2012 (The Angels Take Manhattan’s air date).
This would also mean rewriting the Oswin/Victorian Clara storyline too, but I’m sure Steven Moffat could have got round that – having the Oswin character still around in Asylum of the Daleks would be fine, but obviously a different actress and character name for a start. As a result, the Christmas special would have to be different too, but then again that wouldn’t be too difficult would it? (He asks rather jokingly!)
Returning characters in part two
Of course if the Ponds still did depart in part one’s finale, then bringing back characters like Kate Stewart, River Song, Liz 10 or Vastra, Jenny and Strax for part two’s episodes would equally just have made the show motor along to the big 5-0. Treating the episodes in the vein of 2009’s specials year would have made it even better to me in part two with the undercurrent of the Doctor deleting himself from databanks still present. For me this would have worked better and would have made consistency much better between episodes as the writers knew who they were working with. A big problem with part two was how differently Clara was written by writers other than Moffat, and not in a good way. She felt too different between episodes and at times it made it difficult to watch because of that. Established characters are best in this respect and more than likely would have aided my enjoyment of Series Seven as a whole.
Another positive of this would of course be bringing back great actresses in the form of Alex Kingston, Sophie Okonedo and Jemma Redgrave as well as the wonderful trio of Neve McIntosh, Dan Starkey and Catrin Stewart back to the fore. In the case of River and the Paternoster Gang they did appear in part two, but I wanted so much more from them – Kate is due to appear in the 50th too which is great, but I’d have liked them so much sooner. Taking advantage of great characters like this is something I think is beneficial to the show and holding back Clara’s mystery would mean there is a clear direction for the start of Capaldi’s tenure. It felt somewhat rushed for me as it was.
From a cohesion and consistency perspective, this is where something like these ideas would have better for Series Seven if you ask me. New companions are fine and good, but Clara will only have had 10 episodes with Doctor 11 when he bows out at Christmas which, when mainly shadowed behind her mystery, hasn’t allowed enough 11/Clara dynamic in my opinion. Starting afresh with Capaldi’s Doctor and her storyline would have been a clear and defined start to a new era and one that would have opened up a more paternal Doctor/companion dynamic from Series Eight’s beginning. After the long storyline with the Ponds for two and a bit years, a slight break and taking on a specials kind of vibe would have given the show a little breather again as it builds up to the celebratory event of the anniversary episode.
In brief then, these are the two main bugbears that provided a lack of consistency and cohesion for Series Seven in my mind and rectifying them in ways like this would have benefitted the show. Of course this is my own personal view and I know that many enjoyed Series Seven, but for me it showed a lot of promise but let itself down dearly.
I accept that unless I actually meet a time traveller myself and put these things into action, Series Seven will remain as it is. It was a missed chance to make it flow much better to me, but this is all a ‘what if?’ scenario, and it was fun writing it.
The thing is, do you agree with me? Leave your comments on Series 7 below and let me know.