Thursday, July 26, 2018

Waiting for The Doctor

By Cat


This year’s San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone; and, with it, the usual emergence of sneak peeks, trailers, and tidbits from our favorite fandoms. Now that information has had time to circulate a bit for those of us not fortunate to grace Hall H with our physical presence, I’m totally geeking out about things to come.

What’s my current focus? I wanted to know when the new season of Doctor Who (2005-) would start up again. Alas, we’re still in the ‘waiting room’ for that – but at least we’ve been given a hint that it will be sometime in the fall. (Apparently they are being a bit cheeky with the pun here.)

I’ve seen so much back and forth about the choice to cast a female lead for the series for The Doctor’s 13th incarnation. Personally, I think the concept is ‘brilliant’ (which may very well be the 13th Doctor’s new catchphrase). My sentiment when the big reveal happened, and Jodie Whittaker (The Kid, Black Sea, Broadchurch) appeared on the screen, was “it’s about bloody time.” I just don’t understand anyone arguing against the change – aside from understanding some people are reluctant to or even actively avoid change. Change is scary. I’m holding out hope that the only nightmares involved are along the lines (that’s right plotlines) of former showrunner, Steven Moffat’s (Coupling, The Adventures of Tintin, Sherlock), creations.

Brand new showrunner, Chris Chibnall (Camelot, Gracepoint, Broadchurch), told Entertainment Weekly “I just felt the time was right...I think if the show hadn’t done it, we would have been behind the world, and Doctor Who has got to be out front leading the world, and being a great example of all the amazing things that are in the world. So, it wasn’t even a question in my mind.”

I can’t agree more. I feel that this is also part and parcel of the same cycle we experience with nearly every reincarnation for The Doctor, though, isn’t it? The new casting is announced and many shake their fists at the sky…and then the season starts and everyone falls in love with the new version. Then that Doctor has to reincarnate and the cycle begins anew with fist shaking bluster and tears. I’m quite sure that it will play out the same this time, as well.

The whole brouhaha over The Doctor reincarnating as a new gender is, frankly, silly. It’s been done before – look at The Master/Missy. That story arc alone proved that this was a potential. It’s simply ironic that it didn’t happen until after The Doctor’s life-long frenemy had already allegedly fallen. That would have really been something – to see both simultaneously with the gender flip. Would it have helped or hurt their chances at reconciliation? Things that make you go hmmm.

It’s a beautiful and glorious positive message for young women out there. I can tell you that my daughter is excited, too. Doctor Who was a special show that I had shared with my mom when I was little – and now it’s something I share with my own daughter. When asked, about two years ago, what sort of hero she could be if she had her own comic book, she answered that she’d like to be The Doctor. (Her father was cooking up a present for her with a comic artist buddy.) Her sonic screwdriver was in the shape of a narwhal. That’s an entirely different story, though…I digress.

This go-round, not only do we have a new Doctor, we have new companions and a new production team. There’s even a new composer for the musical score. That’s not all that’s new. Diversity and celebration of the fresh start seems to be the theme all-around. There’s more diversity amongst the production behind-the-scenes as well as the structure of the new season’s story.  The showrunner explained at a SDCC press conference “We’re doing lots, but our plan across time is to do lots more. It should be the most inclusive show on television. The whole concept of Doctor Who is that anybody can go anywhere and do anything, and we want to reflect that on-screen and off.”

Chibnall explained during the Hall H panel that this season’s 10 episodes will be stand-alone stories and there will be all new villains, characters, guest characters, and monsters. At the time of SDCC, he said that they had 2 weeks left of shooting and had not written in or filmed any old foes as of that date. Anyone looking to see Cybermen or Daleks will just need to have patience to see if they get filtered in to the 13th Doctor’s 2nd season.

I’m excited about that, actually. In a time where we rail at Hollywood for recycling ideas, this pillar of science fiction that has become so ingrained in so many of us (and pretty much an entire nation) can’t just keep telling different versions of the same story and keep us tuned in, given this modern world of instant gratification and short attention spans. We love the nostalgia of the old set-pieces, but all crave something fresh and exciting.

Chibnall promised to deliver. “What we want is for people to feel like we’ve got the range and variety of Doctor Who this year. So if you’ve never seen it before, you’re gonna fall in love with it, and if you have seen it, you’re gonna get those things that you love about the show across the 10 episodes.” He encouraged the SDCC panel audience to grab someone who hadn’t seen the series before and introduce them with this season.

We’re reassured that the core of The Doctor remains the same – pacifist, mental over muscle, and helping those in need. My only burning questions are now centered around the tone of the new season, and whether or not it will go to the same sort of dark places that Moffat loved to dwell whilst stomping on all of our feels.

All in all, I have great hope for this upcoming season. I’m feeling rather impatient about it, but there’s not a lot to be done about that save for treasuring every nugget of information dispersed between now and then. However, don’t expect any big reveals about plot or anything even remotely spoilery – this season’s being kept under some pretty strict secrecy. The production team, as Chibnall explained at SDCC, is very committed to keeping everything a surprise so that everyone can enjoy exploring this new season for the first time together when it airs.  

From the 3 new companions to the new Doctor, herself. Everything I've seen so far for the upcoming new iteration of this series is, indeed, brilliant and worth the wait.