I’M becoming more and more excited about Steven Moffat‘s visionary decision to split the usual 13-episode series of Doctor Who into two next year, and not just because of the ‘game-changing cliffhanger’ the Moff has promised.
To me, the most important thing about his announcement is that the game seems to have changed already.
What do I mean? Simply this – it is not everyone who can solve two seemingly insurmountable problems in one stroke while changing an already brilliant thing for the better, with the elegant simplicity of Alexander cutting through the Gordian knot.
Let me explain.
For Moffat’s first series at the helm of Who, I could practically feel his frustration whenever he was interviewed – firstly at factors outside of his control like the sunny weather or the World Cup, taking potential viewers away.
That inevitably led to ‘Who ratings falling’ stories, regardless of truth, but seemed a fact of life, the way things must always be with new Who and its 13-week run, starting every Easter.
The inspired decision to begin in early summer and then break to autumn with its dark, cold, stay-at-home nights – one the Doctor himself would be proud of – has taken care of that.
But then we had the Beeb playing broadcast bingo with one of their most high-profile brands, changing its start time week after week to support other shows in the schedule (and let’s not forget Nortongate).
Of course, we’ve been here before, with RTD also railing against Who’s start-times being messed with.
The difference this time is that Steven Moffat – as well as ruling the Who roost – has delivered the magnificent Sherlock.
However Moffat’s stock must be so high at Broadcasting House now that even in these times of austerity, I’m sure he has the Director General making his packed lunch for him, before couriering it over.
I’d bet the Who budget has also been increased by the cost of a team of strippers too, to dance while he writes. (If so, expect the Doctor to reveal the Go-Go Swinging Pussycat Dance Club room in the TARDIS this time around. Then we’ll see how sexy Amy really is!)
So when he strolled in and calmly asked the Beeb to completely change the way their flagship programme was broadcast, after five years of nothing but critical and commercial success, they had no choice but to agree given his leverage in the Corporation. And the shorter runs should make a fixed start time much easier to agree too.
Quite apart from my belief that it shows the BBC are treating Who with respect, I also think the change will also make for a more exciting series, or two.
I made a case earlier this year for how Who could develop, including longer episodic structures of three or four episodes per story, instead of two-parters at best.
Now with a six and then seven episode structure – separated by a mid season cliffhanger to beat all mid-season cliffhangers, and including Neil Gaiman‘s story too – I think Moff can really go to town and break the familiar into something new.
What’s more, just think of how he may use that cliffhanger to go some way towards finally answering the Silence Will Fall and River Song mysteries layered throughout the last series.
For instance, it has already been implied that River was jailed for killing the Doctor – how’s that for starters? Even thinking about it now has my geek alarm going.
All in all, it reinforces my belief that Moffat was the perfect choice to look after Doctor Who.
A game-changer indeed, and for the better in every instance.
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- The next season of Doctor Who will be split into two parts [Television] (io9.com)
- Steven Moffat On A Split Series 6, More Details (lifetheuniverseandcombom.blogspot.com)