What to Change in Who and Not

I didn't mean for this to be a "Doctor Who Week", I really didn't. It just kind of... happened. But while I'm here...

[No important spoilers, and thanks for not putting any in the comments section either.]

With new head writer/producer Steven Moffat and new Doctor Matt Smith, we're in for a ton of changes in 2010. We know that. We've accepted that. The RTD era will soon be over and a changing of the guard is on the horizon, and with it, the show will perhaps look as different as when Troughton gave the keys over to Pertwee. And that's fine, even great. Though it will be shocking to those whose first taste was New Who, its evolution every 3-5 years is part of what makes it so interesting. Of course, there's always the danger of a 6th Doctor snafu, but Moffat has shown he has what it takes already by writing some of the very best Who episodes ever.

What we know for sure has already changed: The producer/head writer, the Doctor, the Companion, and the logo. What else? We can only guess at this point, though some are pretty obvious.

The opening credit sequence: A change of logos means a change of opening sequence. The flight through the vortex was really great, so it'll be hard to beat. There are a couple of clues as to what it'll be like though.The animation for the TARDIS initials element will likely be to make it materialize on screen, and the way those half-serifs point might mean a return of the "howlaround" effect from the first credit sequences (the words bleed into a vortex effect). Everyone's going around saying Moffat is introducing a more old school/classic Who sensibility to the show, which goes hand in hand with that idea. It could be cool if the logo materialized, then the words turned into the time-space tunnel and the TARDIS went cabrioling through it.

The theme: With a new credits sequence, this is also a likely change. While I loved the 2005-2007 version, I thought the faster 2008 version was over-produced. But I still don't want it to change too much. A new orchestral arrangement, sure, but please let's not go back to synthesizers. And is Murray Gold, who put his musical stamp on New Who, even involved? There is often too much music in New Who, wall-to-wall even, but I really love it and other composers in the Doctor Who machine (say on Torchwood) don't come close to creating tunes that will stick in my head for months on end. I'd be happy if Gold stayed, but had to fill less screen time.

The TARDIS console room: This is another given. The "coral" set has been standing for 5 years now and a change would make a bold statement about the changing of the guard. That, and Blue Peter is running a contest to create a new console room. One lucky kid will see his or her design realized on screen. Don't panic, we're not gonna be saddled with the equivalent of the Abzorbaloff for three years. I predict it'll just be part of a sequence where the Doctor shuffles between console room "themes" until he gets the perfect one. No real spoiler here, but I HAVE seen a picture of the partial console room through the door of the TARDIS shot on set (a backdrop) and it doesn't seem THAT far off the current one. But... levels?
Episode length/structure: Now heading into complete guesses... There's no way the show will move from its Saturday tea-time spot, and while I thought that it might move into more multi-part stories, that's probably not going to happen. I fully expect the Series scheme not to change: 10 stories over 13 episodes + Christmas specials. I do hope for one minor change however. While the cliffhanger sting has successfully been repurposed to end the pre-opening credits teaser, I hate hate hate it at the end of an episode that DOESN'T have a cliffhanger. It just destroys whatever mood the episode ended on and sounds just bad. Take it off please.

Tone: Shouldn't be too worried there. Moffat has proven he can write high drama, creepy suspense stories, meta-textual postmodernism and comedy. The fact Richard Curtis - the man responsible for Four Weddings and a Funeral - has written one of the scripts means Moffat is surrounding himself with people who can do the same. Should be a well-written series.

The Doctor: What will Matt Smith do with the part and how will he be written? Tennant cut quite the romantic figure, so a break for that would seem to be indicated, no matter what you think of Smith's looks or Moffat's very romantic episodes in Series 1-4. Moffat originally wanted someone much older in the part. Is that an indication that the 11th Doctor will have an older, less love-prone attitude? Did Smith do something at the audition that made Moffat revise everything, or was the combination of written for old/played by young perfectly Doctorish?

New monsters: We know the Daleks are gonna be featured at some point (it's been announced, but it's no surprise). I think it's time to see the Ice Warriors in their 2010 glory, personally. It's their turn now isn't it? I'd be more confident in that prediction if BBC World was released The Ice Warriors on DVD soon, but with its missing chunks, it takes a lot more time to restore it (I'm hoping for more animated episodes). The Peladon stories (featuring SOME Ice Warriors) IS coming out so... fingers crossed!
Paradigm shift: I think the biggest thing that could come out of The End of Time to set up the next series is the return of the Time Lords. If Davros could escape the time-locked Time War, then theoretically so could anyone. It'd be a proper sacrifice to send Tennant out on, and would create a new Whoniverse for Matt Smith's character. Five years of bawling over their loss, and once they're back, they're jerks again. The Monk and the Rani can come back or even some new Time Lord enemies and the Doctor can go back to being on the run. I don't know what to expect, but if I were writing it, that's what I'd do to get out of the shadow of the Time War the series has been under since 2005.

The original novels: How much influence does the series producer have on licensed merchandise? The novels at least are published by the BBC itself. For the past 5 years, Who fiction has done a couple of things that have disappointed fans: 1) completely abandonned the first 8 Doctors (and #9 once his term was over); and 2) been resolutely aimed at younger readers. Could this change because of Moffat's "old school" sensibilities? Might we see longer, more interlocked novels featuring past Doctors? Probably a pipe dream, but of Moffat wants to cater to older fans as well as new ones...

Well, those are my guesses for the new series. What are yours? What do you desperately want to change? What would you be disappointed to lose?


snell said...

Please, please, please let them get rid of the deus ex machina/storytelling laziness of the sonic screwdriver. You know it was becoming overused when they had to invent technobabble ("deadlocked," whatever that means) just so they could ocassionally have something it couldn't open...

De said...

Not sure why, but I think this season is going to have the feel of the Peter Davison era. I have no basis for this whatsoever. Just a feeling.

Anonymous said...

My guess is, Moffat is going to bring back the Time Lords -- but in their infancy. As in, the Doctor will somehow spark the creation of the Time Lords; Gallifrey will thrive but will not be "his" Gallifrey (which was zillions of years later, near its end). Of course the Doctor will need to leave Gallifrey alone lest he do a wibbly-wobbly thing; this keeps the Doctor as a loner, but instead of grieving for the past, he can take hope in the future.

Jeff R. said...

I'd rather see the Time Lords stay gone, honestly. (Ideally, my version of The End of Time would take us back to Utopia and, with the Paradox from S3 unravelled, the last humans become the new Lords of Time rather than the Toclifane. I'm not entirely unopposed to the New and Old being the same thing in an Oruborous-like manner, as in comment 3, but I think it would cheapen the entire current run if the actual Time Lords who were lost come back.)

And If we don't see Ice Warriors on Mars, I don't think we'll see them soon...

Jack Norris said...

"A new orchestral arrangement, sure, but please let's not go back to synthesizers."

I feel compelled to respectfully disagree with that. Less orchestra, more electronics; said electronics just need to be throbby, buzzy & dirty, as opposed to wimpy & weebly, like the late-Colin-Baker-to-McCoy versions. A real "old-school Radiophonics lab just recorded with modern equipment" sound would be ideal for me. Every run-of-the-mill SF show goes for the orchestral-pomp default, I'd like to see that stranglehold broken.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

What about a combo of orchestra and electronic? Done right, it might work.

One thing I won't miss is the current console room. Sure, the Movie TARDIS control room was majorly different from the classic room, but I thought it looked cool. The Davies room? Ugh. I've never liked it. It never grew on me.

I'd like to see something like this guy's:

As for the Time Lords, I wouldn't mind seeing them brought back, maybe a little wiser after the war. But give them a good reason to be in hiding, leaving the Doctor convinced there were no others. Make a season arc about it, with maybe hints the season before. Don't just start off with the Time Lords suddenly back.


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