Time for Some Changes
Guest contributor Liam James explores some changes he thinks could benefit Doctor Who in the future.
It’s officially over. Matt Smith has left the show; Peter Capaldi is taking control of the TARDIS. Doctor Who has been left with the unique chance that every regeneration brings: a fresh start.
When Matt Smith came into the role, almost four years ago, we had a complete overhaul, a semi-reboot, if you will. New Doctor, new TARDIS, new opening sequence, new companion, new crew, new show runners, new ideas. And I for one felt, it was breath of fresh air; something I feel Doctor Who is in need of.
So, I’m going to suggest a few things, for your entertainment.
A New Composer
I can’t stress how much I have loved Murray Gold’s music for the past 8 years. I think he’s done a wonderful job. But Series 7 felt a bit lacking in the musical department. It first struck me when I decided to give it a re-watch between The Day of The Doctor and The Time of the Doctor. Tracks such as The Long Song and Together or Not at All – The Song of Amy and Rory are fantastic pieces. However, I’ve heard I Am The Doctor (or some variation thereof) too many times now. I knew I’d heard it too many times when the occasional viewer in my household, who only caught five episodes of Series 7, began humming it whilst doing the dishes. The tune is iconic, it’s brash, it’s epic, but it’s overused. One of the problems I had with The Time of the Doctor was its repetitive structure, and I have the same problem with this piece of music. The Doctor does something epic, the music plays. The Doctor flies the TARDIS, the music plays. The Doctor blinks, the music plays.
What could a new composer bring to the series?
A simple change. We’ve done the big orchestral scores now. From the brief few seconds we’ve seen of Capaldi, he looks rather angry, frantic, perhaps a little Tom Baker-esque. Perhaps something more along the lines of David Arnold’s Sherlock’s Theme might fit him, and whilst Gold could very easily provide this, like having a new Doctor, having a new composer could just give the music the flair that it has arguably been lacking recently.
Lighter Story Arcs
Whether Steven Moffat had it planned all along, or whether he stumbled through 4 years of show running is a different debate. The story arcs of his years have been heavy, compared to that of Russell T. Davies era. Even the supposedly “switch in the other direction” seventh series had its ever-present story line in the mystery of Clara. Moffat can’t resist; and why should he? They make the series interesting, and bring people in to watch every week. Doctor Who is at its considerable height of popularity right now, and that is down to the story arcs, in some way or another.
However, Capaldi’s Doctor has a story arc now. The search for Gallifrey. And what a brilliant arc could be made of it! Span it across two Doctor’s, bring in rogue Time Lords that escaped through the cracks, have him race against the Daleks to find his planet, bumping into other Doctors, little hints being dropped every so often. Anything is possible. But let’s keep it light. We know the mission. So let’s really see how the Doctor gets from the start to end.
What could having a lighter story arc bring to the show?
A vastness. Taking a look at the sixth series arc, whatever your opinion on it, it was really pressing on the show. Every other week we were hearing “the only water in the forest is the river”, “I’m your daughter”, “You named your daughter, after your daughter”. The show was constricted, even if only for a year, to that story arc. However, having a loose thread is a bit like having an open knit jumper, for want of a better metaphor. The whole garment is loosely shaped, but there is a shape, and a thread that weaves through the shape, guiding it. In-between those threads are little holes. These holes are episodes where the Doctor just takes a week off. Has an adventure with a Slitheen, meets a Zygon, has tea with the Emperor of China, all in one afternoon!
Basically, it keeps the series going somewhere, without constricting the plot, or rushing it, whilst still giving a bit of breathing room for those of us that just want to explore the universe.
Who knows what’s in store though?
This is perhaps one of the most major issues for Doctor Who in the present. Having just 45 minutes, or sometimes 90 to tell a big story that will impress viewers just isn’t feasible really. Even in the Davies era, we’d have the odd rushed ending, such as Voyage of the Damned, or The Next Doctor. Plot devices seem to keep popping out of vortex’s, the screwdriver or cracks in time at random, because writers need to tie it up with a bow. Again, looking at Sherlock, the writer is allowed 90 minutes, and not once have I ever felt the pacing to be off on that show. I’m not suggesting we have three episodes of Doctor Who a year, but perhaps ten to twelve at sixty minutes.
What does this bring to the show?
Again, more breathing room, for both viewer and writer. The Eleventh Hour remains one of my most one of my favourite episodes because it has a clear 15 minute beginning, an intriguing half and hour middle, and a nice spare 15 minutes to tie up any loose strands, and build up to the next week. If every episode had the room to do that, we wouldn’t have the need for the sonic screwdriver to magically revert heart attacks. The Power of Three could work brilliantly with this structure. 15 minutes exploring the Pond’s life, setting up UNIT and the black cubes, half an hour of the Doctor popping in and out, and 15 minutes to solve the black cubes. Instead, we’re suffering from a 15 minute start, a twenty minute build up and a five minute end, in some cases.
A New Show Runner
“When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go”
Steven Moffat has provided us with a four year long rollercoaster ride. It’s had ups and downs, it’s spun us upside down and made our brains bash against our own skulls, but we’ve all come out laughing, and feeling a little dizzy. I can’t praise the man enough for where he’s elevated Doctor Who to. But this article is about change. Breathing new life into the show, giving it new ideas; and the way to do this is to let someone else steer.
What does having a new show runner bring to the show?
That breath of fresh air. When Moffat took over from Davies, there was a notable magic in the fifth series. It was different. More fantasy, a more intriguing plot line. That’s what Capaldi’s Doctor needs. Now, good things come in threes, so, if my last three suggestions are fulfilled next year, then this one can certainly come in 2015. Have Moffat guide us through the next series, this new Doctor. Maybe have Clara leave, tie up any loose ends that might come with her. Then bring those new ideas, new scripts and a new outlook to Doctor Who. I cannot stress enough that I am not ‘Moffat- bashing’, but I feel he’s done what he can. He’s give us a good ride, and it’s someone else’s turn.
This seemingly contradicts what I said early about having a story arc. But if it is kept loose, then Moffat can welcomingly leave a few notes, a few pointers, the odd post- it note. The reason Doctor Who has survived so long is because of the fresh ideas that are constantly being brought to it. At the end of the day, we don’t want to ride the rollercoaster too many times; we want to explore every bit of the theme park.
So, that concludes my suggestions for some changes that could be made to the next couple of series of Doctor Who. Let us know in the comments if you have any yourself, or whether you agree or disagree with the suggestions given
Here’s to fifty more years in the TARDIS.