It's Time for Russell T Davies to Go Full Regeneration on Doctor Who

Doctor Who will have a kind of finale this Autumn with showrunner Chris Chibnall and lead Jodie Whittaker's final special. For the show, it's a cycle. One ends, another begins: a new showrunner brings in a new Doctor. It's the same show, yet new. Russell T. Davies will take over and remake it according to his own agenda. How much he will change the show is anybody's guess. Maybe the best course would be to start from scratch again. By that, we mean cut out all past continuity and start at square one again.

The show already has a high concept pitch that works: a mysterious time traveler in an old-school British police box who can go anywhere in Space & Time and rights wrongs. In 60 years it has picked up a lot of baggage, way too much. The Doctor has a home planet, Gallifrey that's full of corrupt old duffers. There have been many companions who traveled with The Doctor. There are many aliens and enemies. They keep coming back. Familiarity breeds contempt. Things get old. As Davies said over ten years ago about the cancellation of the show back in 1989, it got old. People got tired. Only the most diehard fans stayed, not enough to keep up ratings.

Doctor Who: Ace, Tegan, The Master & More Return for Final Special
Image: BBC

When Davies revived Doctor Who in 2005, he was cautious. He wouldn't say if it was a reboot or if it kept its continuity. He needed to sell the show to a whole generation of kids who had never seen or heard of it. Previous attempts by other producers throughout the 1990s failed because they all kept the continuity of the show, making it inaccessible to newcomers. Davies was – is – as big a fan of the classic show and all its baggage as the most hardcore, but he realized that show had to be comprehensible to anyone watching an episode for the first time. He dropped little hints that the show was still in continuity but waited till his third season to even bring up Gallifrey. He had cleared up the baggage of the Doctor's backstory and home planet by destroying the planet in a behind-the-scene war so that the Doctor was the last of the Time Lords.  By the time he left four years later, he had built up a new continuity of his own, enemies and recuring characters he created to tell his own stories. When Steven Moffat took over from Davies, he brought back Gallifrey.

Chris Chibnall turned the show's continuity into a crutch to cover up the lack of ideas or surprises. Doctor Who has become old and creaky again. He just had to make Gallifrey part of everything again. Gallifrey is a big problem that hardcore fans refuse to let go of. Gallifrey has always been the most boring part of Doctor Who. The Doctor's people were originally mysterious and unknowable until writer Robert Holmes wrote it as a Science Fiction satire that combined the bureaucracy of the British government and the stuffiness of his old professors at Oxford University. 60 years' worth of continuity might be more trouble than it's worth.

A mysterious stranger who travels through Time and Space who has secret knowledge of the universe, who whisks an ordinary person with them on their travels. That's all we really need. Maybe Davies will take the show back to that.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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