To Steven Moffat – my five Doctor Who ideas for next series

Steven Moffat in David Tennant's TARDIS

Steven Moffat in David Tennant's TARDIS

IN JUST a few days’ time, Steven Moffat‘s first series of Doctor Who will come to what me and the millions of people who watched The Pandorica Opens expect will be a triumphant conclusion.

But time waits for no man, as the Doctor well knows, and work on the next series is already well underway.

It may seem a bit presumptuous of me to suggest ways to develop the show to one of the greatest writers on British television, but after putting my thinking cap on, this is what I’ve come up with.

Feel free to use any of them Steven – on the off-chance you’re reading this. My fee will be a tour of the TARDIS and Upper Boat studios. Do we have a deal?

Here are my top five.

1. An alien companion for Doctor Who

BACK in 2005 when we started new Who, we understood the need for a human companion, and for that companion to be contemporary.

They were our representative in the TARDIS, our everyman or woman for us to identify with as they shared adventures with this extraordinary Time Lord from Gallifrey.

But things have changed now. The show is a massive success and with that success comes familiarity of all the elements that made it a hit.

So shake it up. Alongside the Doctor (and Amy, if she returns next series) throw in an alien companion, and I don’t mean a human-looking alien. I mean a real alien to give life inside the TARDIS a completely different dynamic and broaden the Doctor’s companion range from human girl.

If you really wanted to shake it up, why not have a companion who is one of the Doctor’s enemies? A young Sontaran who is the only survivor of a battle, that the Doctor takes under his wing, and who learns there is more to life than battle.

Or, you know, something good instead.

2. New Who goes old school

DOCTOR Who is matched only by Star Trek in terms of its amazing science fiction longevity and back story to draw upon.

Already this series, Steven Moffat has served up constant reminders that the Doctor is one of 11 and the show has benefitted as a result, while the return of Sarah Jane Smith has also been a treat.

But why not go further than that? What do I mean?

Well, my favourite Star Trek show was Deep Space 9 and one of the best Deep Space 9 episodes was Trials and Tribble-ations. In it, Sisko and his crew travel back in time to foil an assassination attempt on Captain Kirk, where they interact with the Enterprise crew in the original series episode The Trouble With Tribbles.

It is a beautiful, funny and heartfelt episode that uses special effects to have the two shows’ casts interact in several scenes.

Now imagine that with Doctor Who, as 11 has to journey back and interact indirectly with in one or more of his predecessor’s adventures, but without him knowing. So we have Tom Baker or Jon Pertwee fighting the Cybermen or the Ice Warriors, while Matt Smith and co dodge in and out thanks to some judicious editing and special effects.

I’m sure it could even end with a knowing wave from one to the other too. My geek alarm is going off just thinking about it!

3. No Daleks

They’re the baddest boys in the Who-niverse and have just got a shiny new makeover, but god I am tired of the Daleks.

I think the main problem is the number of times they have been used since Who’s return – at least once in every series and sometimes more.

Of course, lots of people say why wouldn’t you use them. After all, they are the Doctor’s nemesis and iconic villains, going back nearly 50 years.

But to me, familiarity breeds contempt and they could do with having a breather so when they do return (ipod style or not) – the series after next maybe – they have more impact and anticipation behind them.

Their absence would also mean we may get a new big Bad from Moffat’s fertile imagination, someone or something to step in and lighten the load.

4. Kill a companion

There are spoilers here if you are not up to speed with the British broadcast schedule of the show, so be warned. You may want to skip this one.

It seems a bit churlish of me to ask for this in Who, given that it seems Amy and Rory have both been offed at different points in the present series of Doctor Who.

However I can’t shake the feeling that a reset button is in our immediate future and that is not what I want.

The Doctor’s world is dangerous, as he pits himself again and again against the worst and most evil creatures in the cosmos.

Somehow he and his companions always make it through, as if they are protected from harm by an invisible barrier. Now matter what situation they are in, we know they’ll make it back somehow.

So imagine the shock if a companion was killed off, for real. Not wiped from time or half dead, but all the way croaked just like Adric back in the day.

It has been suggested that Who is not about that, and we should leave the killing to Torchwood, where Ianto’s death was a dramatic highpoint of any television show last year.

But if Who is to continue to grow and develop,I think the show and its audience could accept a companion death, especially one written by the Moff.

5. Longer Who stories

Since new Who returned, it has followed the same very successful format – 13 episodes, mainly one offs but with a few two-parters  leading to a two-part finale.

Within that, one or two will feature historical figures, one will probably be Doctor-lite, a few others will be set on an alien world or space station.

All of them to differing degrees will reference the ongoing series arc, like the crack in the wall this time around, leading to sad cases like me writing endless blogs trying to draw meaning from the way the Doctor parted his hair or something like that. In other words, just like the Daleks, the structure has become familiar.

But then a Twitter chat with fellow Who fan Martin Robertson made me think why not change it around and bring in a touch of old Who, which Moffat grew up watching.

Back then in the first series for instance, there were 42 25-minute episodes, with several stories spread over four or even six episodes. The Daleks Masterplan storyline in series three took place over a whopping 12 episodes!

On time alone, that first series is the equivalent of 23 45-minute episodes, which is not going to happen given the budgetary and production constraints on the show nowadays.

However if we are to stick to 13-episode structure, why not have that include a story told over four episodes, leaving nine for the usual doubles and singles? It could even be entirely self-contained, and promoted as event TV – a return to Who’s roots if you like.

If you still want to build to a climax, then the story could be the last four, maybe preceeded by a mini-finale. Or to really shake things up, throw in the four-parter after one or two episodes.

As Moffat has shown this series, Who is at its best when it takes established structures and ideas and messes them up, leaving us unsure what is going on.

A four-episode mini-story arc would be a great way to continue that process.

And there we have it … my five ideas for the future of Who. I’d love to see what you think about them or even some of your own thoughts on where Who could go next – comments welcome, as always.

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13 thoughts on “To Steven Moffat – my five Doctor Who ideas for next series

  • Ann M. Gross

    on

    I have to say when I watched the episode where Amy & Rory died I balled my eyes out I was so touched by it. the end of season 7 leaves a horrible feeling that you are going to finally kill off the Doctor & I am truly hoping that isn’t the case I LOVE Doctor Who but I do have one suggestion. The episode with the doctor’s daughter leaves it wide open for you to bring her back that could be a real thriller all in itself. Also other bad guys from the classic episodes would be nice seeing, the daleks & cybermen over & over again kindda gets old. New bad guys gives it a freshness to it.

  • I insist that you keep Amy Pond, get an alien companion (not Sontaran), and ESPECIALLY THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER. I saw the episode with her. You could also make a new enemy for the Doctor by making it the Doctor’s daughter enemy. Another crazy idea is get Rose Tyler by giving her a Tardis. How? You could make the Time lord’s live in the parallel universe she’s in. But hey that’s just me.

  • doctorwho fan

    on

    I think they should bring back the doctors daughter at some point in the future episodes.

  • Beth O'Lanahan

    on

    I agree with James Ryan. also I think all of these ideas are really good except having an alien partner. I think there should always be a link between doctor who and the audience, (having a human companion) the audience needs someone to relate to otherwise the audience might feel lost. Also if there was an alien companion there wouldn’t be that much point having adventures on Earth as much, as the doctor partly goes to earth so his companion can visit their home again and I think the audience likes the doctor having adventures on earth as, again, they can relate to it.

  • I think it would be cool to see a show on how the Dr has to crunch the numbers. That is, the potential pathways behind the scenes. To show how he was to deal with losses from each pathway that he computes. How he has to deal with the emotional pain of those lost pathways that no one even knows about. To show the pain it takes to run each potential pathway and what he needs to do to find the right pathway with the right outcome.

  • Chris

    on

    totally think that Matt Smith (eleventh dr) is fantastic… but needs more new story that isnt to the normal dr who frame. I’m a big fan of dr who, but seriously, create something new Steven, everyone knows you can. The new dr is new, amy and rory are new, but the stories are old…

    I’m thinking… NEW planets, NEW twists, something like series one with ecclestone (spelling??) and series two (with tennant)… Higher dimensions leaking into the present? (ie better dimenisions causing problems because they dont belong?)

    Realities have been explored, but dimensions haven’t (not well enough) (ie the higher possible planes…)

  • James Ryan

    on

    i think for the next series they should bring back jenny (the doctors cloned daughter) and do 2 or three episodes with her included

  • David

    on

    Agree wholeheartedly with the Daleks taking a year off. Every season has seen something from the classic era brought back and that should be continued (my personal favourite would be the Draconians from the Pertwee era).

    It would be interesting to see a companion evolve into a villain. Maybe not Amy, but there are possibilities.

    • Great shout David – companion as villain was something I had never considered, but it would be a great twist

    • Theo

      on

      You could make the villain a jealous ex-mini-companion who the Doctor forgot, like Adam or one of the special companions like Lady Christina de Souza, gone bad. Also, River could go bad because of something that happens in the future we don’t know about.

    • sam wofford

      on

      k-9 could go bad

  • I like the 4 episode mini-series idea, but why not sprinkle it through the whole 13 episode series, so that say, just as it appears to be reaching a climax, the Doctor is ripped away to deal with another situation, returning later to pick up where he left off.

    This current series has hinted at playing with a non-linear temporal stream, and I’d like some more of that, though I can imagine that some people might baulk and complain that it makes it hard to follow for people who aren’t devoted to the series.

Tell me what you think