By now, I’m sure everyone in Doctor Who fandom has heard the news. For anyone who has been living under a rock or entirely absent from the Internet for a week, Steven Moffat has announced his imminent departure and anointed his successor: Chris Chibnall.
For anyone not in Doctor Who fandom, this is a pretty big deal.
It didn’t really take me by surprise. He’d mentioned the struggle to find someone willing and able to helm Doctor Who in a number of interviews over the last year, so I knew that it was coming. I knew that we wouldn’t get to keep him forever. It was just a matter of time and finding the right person to take the reins.
I’m going to come out here and say it, even though it’s become a bit of a controversial thing to confess to: I’ve really enjoyed Steven Moffat’s reign. I haven’t loved every single thing he’s done – season six and seven were not my favourites – but he’s had far more hits than misses for me, and I’ve really enjoyed the risks he’s taken. I adored season five. I liked the experiment of season eight, the year of no two-parters, even though a couple of the episodes didn’t work for me. Season nine has been my favourite since season five. Overall, even though it’s not been perfect, I’ve been really happy with Moffat’s Who.
So, I’m going to miss him. Miss him a lot. I’m really hoping he comes back to write the odd episode. His episodes during the RTD era are some of my favourites.
I’m also looking forward to seeing what Chris Chibnall does. I choose to be hopeful. His work on Broadchurch has been amazing. I didn’t always love his Torchwood episodes, but writing an individual episode is very different from running the whole show, and I know that he can deliver tense, coherent stories over a long run.
And for me, the good news is that we’ve got one more Moffat-led season of Doctor Who. There will be a hand-over period, it will be a smooth transition, and it’s all looking hopeful. I’m trying not to speculate yet on whether Peter Capaldi will go with Moffat. I think that losing Capaldi will be far more tragic to me than a change of show runner!
The part that hasn’t been discussed much, because it was quite thoroughly hidden at the end of the press releases, is that we’re not getting season ten until 2017. We’ll get a Christmas special, and there will be the Class spin-off at some point this year, but that full season of Moffat episodes? Not until 2017. That’s the part that hit me like a punch to the gut!
How will we cope?
Well, I plan to have a few Doctor Who marathons with friends, as a partial coping mechanism. They’ve even agreed to sample a few classic adventures to widen their Doctor Who knowledge. I’ll just have to decide which ones to show them. And figure out which new Who episodes would make a really good marathon schedule. A very large part of me would really like to spend a day bingeing on the whole of season four, because that’s still my favourite Doctor-companion combination. Or perhaps season five, because it had such a wonderful arc.
Or season one for nostalgia factor.
And for classic episodes? Battlefield is probably my favourite of all – it’s got Seven and Ace, it features the Brigadier, it includes one of my favourite guest characters (Bambera!), it’s got Arthurian myths and Doctor arcs, and Ace’s girlfriend of the week is particularly wonderful. So that’s got to be on the schedule.
And then there’s City of Death, which is a brilliantly entertaining fourth Doctor episode. It was written by Douglas Adams, so you can imagine who much fun it is if you haven’t seen it yet. It even has a John Cleese cameo that is never not hilarious.
And there’s the third Doctor. I adore The Daemons for more reasons than I can count. The Brigadier on fine form. Roger Delgado chews the scenery masterfully (pun intended) as the Master. Mythology and magic overlap with science, which is a theme I love in Doctor Who (see Battlefield above).
No new episodes in 2016 is going to be the hardest part about this news, but just typing up plans for marathons is making me feel better.
How are you feeling about the Moff’s departure, the new guy, and the lack of Who in 2016?