Since its revival, Doctor Who has been consistently knocking it out of the park through excellent season arcs, complex characters and an exploration of what makes the Doctor worthy of respect, admiration or even fear. However, the more experimental the show gets with pushing the boundaries of time travel and even the medium of the 50-year old family show itself, the further it risks alienating its family audience and losing in the ratings.
Though under Moffat’s very distinct tenure as showrunner we’ve seen more sides of the Doctor – from family man to fearful cosmic being – and more playing with the rules present of the universe of Doctor Who and more manipulation of time travel than in any season previously, things need a mix-up. More than ever before, there are things that need to change before season eight airs, within the universe of the show and in its production, to avoid alienating the family audience the show is made for and to stop the show’s decline in the ratings.
Change is a good thing, and it’ll certainly help the upcoming 12th Doctor find his feet if his run on the show has a different flavour to Smith’s, Tennant’s and Eccleston’s.
5. No More Midseason Breaks/Hiatuses
We get it. TV is a developing medium and shows do need breaks and time to develop further. It works in favour of other genre shows like Supernatural where there are more overall episodes per season and the season is aired within the same year. Midseason breaks don’t work for Doctor Who – it made this season feel disjointed and meant that the Doctor’s broken down appearance in ‘The Snowmen’ had far less emotional impact. This wasn’t helped as the season aired over a two-year stretch. We had plenty of time to get over the loss of Amy and Rory, and so his depression seemed both out of place and then it was far too easy for him to get past.
This is exacerbated, not improved, by the annual Christmas special, as it must do two things – function as a holiday-flavoured standalone and continue with the themes and concepts brought about during the previous season. This was done usually quite well in the Tennant era. In ‘The Runaway Bride’ we see the Tenth Doctor still dealing with the fallout of Rose being locked into an alternate universe and have the elements of Christmas, such as the delightfully cheesy Santa-dressed killer aliens. Torchwood, the main mystery of the previous season, and Mr. Saxon, the Doctor’s upcoming antagonist are also mentioned in passing.
‘The Snowmen’ serves more as a continuation of the plot of season seven than a Christmas episode, despite the setting and resolution to the monstrous snowmen attacking the house – “A whole family crying on Christmas eve.” This forces the audience, from casual viewers to fanatics to be continually up on the plot as to the mystery of Clara and on the ball as to why the Doctor is moping about on a cloud, going against the convention that the Doctor Who Christmas special should be watchable by anyone without prior knowledge. In short, mid-season breaks only work when there are more than fourteen or so episodes in a season; they just don’t work for British TV in general.
This article was first posted on July 1, 2013