3:00 pm EDT, April 6, 2015

What ‘Doctor Who’ needs to survive another 5 years

Doctor Who is in talks to stay at least 5 more years, but what will guarantee success?

Showrunner Steven Moffat recently remarked to The Radio Times, “I didn’t think it would last 10 years with BBC Worldwide trying to get me in a room to talk about their plan for the next five years! It’s going to do a minimum of 15. I mean, it could do 26!”

Doctor Who is the undisputed king of BBC television globally. The BBC has managed to introduce other shows “across the pond” such as Call the Midwife, Ripper Street, and Top Gear, but nothing has had the wide appeal and ratings along the lines of Doctor Who.

Anyone helming a series is bound to get criticism. It comes with the title of showrunner that you are instantly the most revered and reviled person. However, the disgruntled voices of Whovians have been getting louder. Here’s what Doctor Who needs to take it to 2020 and beyond, otherwise audience fatigue is inevitable.

Pick up the pace

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One of the things that was really appealing with the first three Doctors in the reboot era was that there was a sense of urgency each episode. It was a bit like being shot out of the proverbial cannon, and then towards the climax of the episode. We’ve missed Christopher Eccleston’s fast paced snark, David Tennant’s need to run coupled with alliteration tongue twisters, and Matt Smith’s frenetic jumping and shaking. The most energetic thing about Peter Capaldi is his eyebrows, and that’s not saying much.

Companion with chemistry

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Now, we don’t mean romantic chemistry, we are talking acting chemistry. Arguably, the best Doctor and companion chemistry happened between the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble, and there was nothing going on there in the romance department. Clara’s chemistry with the Doctor has been uneven at best. The highpoints were “The Snowmen,” “Mummy on the Orient Express,” and “Kill the Moon.” Low points sadly included Matt Smith’s farewell episode, “Listen,” and “Deep Breath.”

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Tie up loose ends

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What happened to the family Clara nannied for? Why is there no mention of Ian and Barbara if they are still connected to Coal Hill School? What’s with Clara’s mother’s death date being the same as the reboot date? Will we get to know Clara’s family more? So Clara’s favorite book was one Amy wrote, and does that ever tie in? Who was the Danny Pink family member who was a space traveler? There’s a whole lot of debris floating around, can we lasso it please?

Get a female voice

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It’s impossible to imagine that there are no female writers and directors interested in this job, and if they are not, then let’s find out why. Why was Catherine Tregenna (pictured above) the first female writer hired in six years? Let’s repeat that, THE FIRST IN SIX YEARS on the most popular TV show. You’d think everyone would be trying to get an episode on the show. There seems to be a veritable bevy of women working on Call the Midwife, a decent representation on The Casual Vacancy and Poldark, and roughly half the producers on Banished. Why are decent numbers of women working as writers, directors, producers, and showrunners on every BBC show BUT Doctor Who?

Bring back favorites

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Can we say Captain Jack Harkness, or Martha Jones? How about Jenny or Craig (and we don’t mean weight loss)? Let’s go old school, what are Ace and Tegan up to these days? Everyone loves a cameo by a beloved actor. How about ancestors of Rory and Amy? We need a hook, something familiar to latch onto. Bringing back the Master in the guise of Missy wasn’t a bad idea, but we need more.

Grumpy needs to be more fun

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So, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is grumpy, that’s fine, but he also needs to be more consistently fun. A great example of how it works well is in “Robots of Sherwood.” An example of how it works badly is in just about every other episode last season. No one wants a mean spirited Doctor who truly feels mean and uncaring, who tells children they are unimportant, who belittles Clara, etc. We’ve just had enough.

Doctor Who returns late autumn 2015, date TBA.

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