Doctor Who: 5 Things to Hope for in New Show Runner, Chris Chibnall

Steven Moffat is stepping down as show runner on Doctor Who, to be replaced by Chris Chibnall, who is best-known for episodes like “42” and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” as well as his work on Torchwood and Broadchurch. Moffat leaves behind an impressive legacy, having written for more Doctors on television than any other writer (1, 5, 8, War, 9, 10, 11 and 12, not counting the five “Curse of Fatal Death” Doctors) and having produced more Doctor Who episodes than anyone else except Barry Letts and John Nathan-Turner. Series 10 in 2017 will be Moffat’s last, with Chibnall stepping into the position for Series 11, presumably in 2018.

I’m not sorry to see Moffat go. The man is responsible for some of the most brilliant moments in the history of the show, but it’s time for some new blood and new ideas. It’s a long way to Chibnall’s first season, and I thought I’d make a quick list of things to hope for.

5. An Easier Transition for a New Doctor
The main rumor right now is that Peter Capaldi will likely not stay in the lead role as The Doctor after next season when his contract is up. It’s still just a rumor, but few actors have played the part longer than three seasons. The role is famously demanding of both an actor’s time and his physicality, and I would be surprised to see Capaldi bow out with Moffat to give Chibnall a blank slate to create from. Regardless, it’s very unlikely that Capaldi will stay through Chibnall’s run even if he does sign on for more, and that means a regeneration is coming.

Capaldi’s first season was a bit of a mess, with far too much of it taken up with getting Clara to accept the new Doctor as the genuine article. It’s the sort of thing that used to take just an episode, with “The Christmas Invasion” and “Power of the Daleks” being prime examples of a post-regeneration story with current companions done right. I felt that it wasn’t until “Last Christmas” that Clara and Twelve really became the team that made Series 9 one of the best of the modern era.

Hopefully when we find our Thirteenth Doctor, there won’t be a messy love triangle to clean up, and he or she can just be a team without baggage for a new companion. Speaking of a new companion…

4. No More Companions or Enemies as Mysteries
Probably the defining theme of Moffat’s work was women as mysteries. Who was River Song, really? What made Clara the impossible girl? Where in The Doctor’s past did Missy originate? What would be the fate of Ashildr? Nearly every season of Moffat’s run was built around The Doctor trying to “solve” some woman, and frankly it got old.

It’s certainly the thing that hurt Clara as a character. She was largely aimless after “The Name of The Doctor,” though Jenna Coleman did a lovely job with the leftover character development. Still, it got tired watching woman after woman be treated like a puzzle to be deciphered.

Let’s have our companions be companions in the proper sense. No more part-timers who go home away from the Tardis at the end of every adventure. Rose and Martha and Donna and even Amy Pond at the beginning of her time ran headfirst into adventure and made the Tardis their home. Isn’t there enough evil in the universe for The Doctor to fight without always having to second-guess his friends?

3. Uniting the Television and Big Finish Audio Universes
Steven Moffat made a huge portion of fans supremely grateful with “Night of The Doctor” when the Eighth Doctor saluted his companions before death. It canonized the long-running series of audio plays within the television show, at least as far as Eight goes.

It can go further, though. What would be lovely is to see a character from Big Finish make the full-fledged jump onto the show. Bernice Summerfield, long-serving associate to The Doctor in both prose and audio, is an obvious choice, but villains like Nobody No-One or the Selachian race would be fine as well.

With Big Finish becoming an ever-bigger part of Doctor Who, the brand, the show is only better served by bringing in more from the audio plays. Especially when you consider Big Finish is the only scripted Doctor Who we’re going to get in 2016 save for the Christmas specials. Which brings me to…

2. More Specials
I live for the Christmas specials. They are consistently some of the best episodes and a holiday tradition in my house. Sometimes we set them on a marathon to be played all day.

There’s more than Christmas, though. A Halloween episode would be amazing, for instance. The show already does spooky well, as Moffat himself is famous for. Why not a proper look at another holiday?

Also, don’t you think it’s time for a special dedicated to The Master? How exactly she escaped Gallifrey after confronting Rassilon is still unknown, as is how she got out of the Eye of Harmony she fell into in the 1996 film or off Cheetah Planet in the original series. “The Five Masters” is perfectly doable. Michelle Gomez, John Simm and Derek Jacobi all still fit the role physically, and Alex Macqueen from the recent Big Finish series “Dark Eyes” would be a nice addition. Eric Roberts remains passionate about his time as The Master, or they could always bring back the rotting master from “Keeper of Traken” with a new actor under the makeup. It would make for some riveting TV.

1. Some New Recurring Villains
Doctor Who lives on its villains, and the modern series has done wonders with many of the classic ones. Julian Bleach’s Davros and Richard E. Grant’s Great Intelligence alone have been worth the cable subscription. However, since 2005 the production of new monsters has been somewhat lackluster.

The Ood and the Judoon have been worthy enough additions to the mythology, but they’re rarely out-and-out bad guys anymore. Moffat has created two truly recurring villains of the revived series, the Silence and the Weeping Angels. The Silence have since become allies of The Doctor, leaving only the Angels as antagonists. The Clockwise Men might possibly shape up to stand the test of time, but the jury’s still out. Under Chibnall, hopefully we can see some new blood in the evil game, either pulling from previous monsters from the Moffat or Davies eras or creating some out of whole cloth. The show needs fresh antagonists who can go toe to toe with The Doctor and live to vex another day. Good luck, Mr. Chibnall. I’m looking forward to it.

Jef’s collection of stories about vampires and drive-thru churches, The Rook Circle, is out now. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter

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