And so today, November 23, is the 49th anniversary of arguably my favorite television show, Doctor Who. That’s very exciting, but of course the big news is that next year that show will be turning 50. There’s been a fair amount of hype as we head into the 50th anniversary, but very little details other than that we know there will at least be the last 8 episodes of Series 7 airing sometime early in the year.
So I got to thinking, what do I want to see in Doctor Who’s 50th year? Then I got to thinking…could I come up with fifty things I wanted to see? I decided to find out!
What quickly became clear is that I don’t necessarily want to see all fifty of these things. We’re not going to have enough episodes to justify that. But here are fifty things I would enjoy seeing (or in some cases, as you’ll read, that I would enjoy not seeing).
(There are spoilers contained herein for the series up to this point.)
1. A resolution to the whole “first question” thing!
Now to be fair, this one is probably a bit of a gimme. I mean, this question is introduced at the big conclusion to Series Six, and the question (“Doctor Who? Doctor Who?! Doctor Who?!?”) has been teased a handful of times already in the first few episodes of Season Seven, so it’s fair to say it’s likely to be hit during the rest of the seventh year. And I’m all for it. I want to see the Doctor at Trenzalore, I want to see the Fall of the Eleventh (but not too much of a fall, see #15), I want to see the Oldest Question asked and answered. In fact, I want to see…
2. An actual resolution to the whole “first question thing”
Hopefully, when this is done, it will be done so in a “complete” sort of way, not allowing lots of lingering plot threads dangle for who knows how long. I don’t mean that the show has to remove all mystery, but it’d be nice to not leave a big question mark hanging over our head that we end up wondering if the producers just forgot about or not. Speaking of which…
3. A resolution to the whole “Silence will fall!” thing.
Specifically, I’m talking about the bit in The Pandorica Opens when River finds she is trapped in the Tardis and it is exploding, potentially causing the destruction of the universe. An ominous voice repeats the above mentioned tagline for Series 5, leaving us with the fairly natural assumption that we’d get to the identity of this apparent master villain in the season finale which came the next week. That didn’t happen. Then we found out that the Silence were a main villain in Series 6, leaving us with the natural assumption that they’d get to the identity of this apparent master villain sometime that year. Again, that didn’t happen. Instead, we’re told that the goal of the Silence (actually a religious order) was to kill the Doctor in order to prevent a prophesy coming true about a question being answered that for some reason, must never be answered (see above), and not, it would seem, to destroy the universe. So who was the voice at the end of Series 5, and why did he apparently seem so happy about potentially destroying the universe?
For that matter, the cadre of aliens in that story wanted to put the Doctor in the Pandorica not to prevent this question from being answered, but because they believed he was responsible for the cracks which threatened to destroy the universe. So how did their actions (“The Pandorica opens”) come to be associated with the Silence (by Prisoner Zero, amongst others)? Or is it just a big wacky coincidence? Even if it is, it still doesn’t explain who that voice was. Fan speculation has often been Omega of The Three Doctors fame. That’d be okay, I don’t mind. But I’d prefer it to be someone.
It’s not too late! They explained the brief clip in The Eleventh Hour of young Amelia Pond sitting on her suitcase in the morning a full 2 1/2 seasons later! So bring it on!
And while we’re at it…
4. An explanation as to why the Silence wanted Amy to tell the Doctor that she was pregnant
Or whatever it was that they meant in The Impossible Astronaut when they told her that she had to tell the Doctor “what he must know, what he must never know.” Speaking of which…
5. An explanation of why the Silence kidnapped Amy in The Day of the Moon in the first place
In spite of the obvious possibility of it being during this kidnapping that Amy is replaced by a flesh duplicate, the Doctor theorizes that it took place before they were in the USA. So I wouldn’t mind a little explanation about that, or perhaps just confirmation that the other, more obvious possibility was the correct one.
6. A conclusion to the River Song story
River Song is one of the most inspired and “game changing” creations of the modern Doctor Who. Debuting in The Silence in the Library, the character has gone on to be one of the cornerstones of the Doctor Who universe under Steven Moffat’s producer-ship. I’ve enjoyed her role in the series, even if I’m not the biggest fan of the character herself. But how long can this go on for? We’ve had pretty much all the key story beats of her life explained at this point, if you count the series of minisodes, Night and the Doctor. I’d suggest finishing it off with the Doctor returning to the Library and retrieving River’s consciousness from the supercomputer therein and downloading it into a Flesh duplicate of River (from The Rebel Flesh). Then they can share 50 years of adventures and living together off screen before she dies a peaceful death, and he moves on. The series has shown its capacity to skip over large periods of the Doctor’s life in recent seasons, so this wouldn’t be too difficult to accept. And we could have a little voice over at the end throwing out obscure references to adventures they shared together that could fuel fan fiction for years.
7. William Russell returning as Ian Chesterton
Having Carole Ann Ford as Susan return is a bit more obvious, as that character popped up for both the 20th and 30th anniversaries of the show, but I think Ian would be much more interesting, even if it was just a brief cameo. I read a comment on Youtube of all places that had a great suggestion – have the older Ian talking to the Doctor on a park bench, unaware of who he is. Use the scene to allow the Doctor to reminisce on just how much he’s changed since he kidnapped Ian & Barbara all those years ago. After the conversation is over, have the Doctor drop a line (eg call him “Chatterton” or something) that gives Ian a clue about who he is talking to, leaving him in a state of wonder.
William Russell is obviously not a young man, so I don’t know how much of a role he’d be up to. But if we can have even something, it would make my day. It’s only sad that Jacqueline Hill’s Barbara could not appear with him.
Incidentally, I know (but have never seen) that Sarah-Jane Smith implied in one story in her spin-off that Ian and Barbara were married and have apparently never aged since the 1960’s. We could explain that with some veiled comments from Ian that “Barbara had kept him young” but that after she died, the “years caught up with him.” Somehow their time with the Doctor kept them from physically aging, but didn’t make them immortal, and after Barbara died the effect wore off. Or something.
8. No Daleks.
We’ve already had the Daleks this season, even if it was during the show’s 49th year, and not 50th. Those Daleks even turned out to be a lot of survivors from previous episodes. So there was an anniversarial feel to that story. And as Steven Moffat himself has pointed out, the Daleks threaten to be the most defeated enemies in the universe if they keep showing up. So how about a little break? Or even a longer one?
There is one exception to this request that I’d be happy with – see #50.
9. And definitely no Master.
And the Master…there has been speculation that the Master would be a natural choice to return for the 50th anniversary. I say no! I say the Master has been the absolute worst element from the original series to be revived so far (except for the cool Derek Jacobi performance in Utopia). I have nothing against John Simm as an actor, but I was not interested in his performance of this character during Series 3, and in The End of Time it just got silly, over-the-top, and ridiculous. We don’t want to go down that road again. I just don’t see anything interesting coming out of his return.
And while we’re at it, no Rani either. I’m not a big fan of the character, but aside from that I’d be annoyed that if we’re going to bring back yet another Time Lord, that it also turn out to be yet another villain from the classic series.
Instead, I’d prefer…
10. A cool new recurring villain
Or at least the debut of one. One of the names I’ve heard bandied about for a new Master is Benedict Cumberbatch, from Sherlock. Obviously, I don’t want to see that, but I’d be totally into Cumberbatch showing up to play a new villain. Not a Time Lord, but some sort of traveling character whose goals clash violently with the Doctor’s. Free him up from the baggage of being the Master (and the Master has tons of baggage) and create someone new who is ruthless, ingenious and evil to show up in four or five episodes over the next three years. Don’t make him the leader of his alien race. Don’t make him kind of turn out to be the Doctor’s friend, or brother, or whatever. And don’t have him associated with any of the other big arcs in the series (ie the Silence). The Doctor Who universe should feel bigger than that.
11. A decent amount of episodes
So far, we don’t know what the plan is for next year. We know that in February or March or sometime, we’ll have the rest of Series 7, with 8 episodes, which will take us into April or May perhaps. And according to tradition, we’ll have a Christmas episode in December. But is that it? Will there be a new series in the fall? Or an anniversary special in November? I wouldn’t mind seeing a few specials, but overall I’d say the regular episodes have been a lot more enjoyable. Maybe what we need is a “mini series” of sorts,like they’ve done with Torchwood, telling a particular epic tale. I have an idea a couple of ideas (see # 21 & #50)
12. No more snarky comments about religion
I’m tired with the show’s occasional negativity toward faith: the future church is a semi-crazy military organization in A Good Man Goes to War, faith is a death trap in The God Complex, only nutters say “saved” in Forest of the Dead, the preacher in A Town Called Mercy is lightly mocked for giving his transgender horse a biblical name, etc. I’m a Christian, I’ve a lot of Christian friends who are also Doctor Who fans, and I enjoy the show in spite of these comments, not because of them.
13. A companion without strong ties to home
I don’t mean they have to have no ties to home, but I’d be happy to have for a while a companion who doesn’t have to go home a couple of times a season to angst with her family, like everyone in the Russell T. Davies era did. Amy obviously broke this mold to a degree, but then over the last while she’s been havering between home and the Tardis anyway. Having a companion who is so uninterested in home that it kind of disturbs the Doctor would make for an interesting new dynamic.
14. No attention given to the possibility of a romantic connection between the Doctor and his companion
Yes, Jenna-Louise Coleman is very attractive, but the Doctor’s had lots of attractive companions before without any real hint of romance between them, and no real need to deal with why there is or is not. After the mutual affection with Rose, the unrequited crush of Martha, the regular joke and disdain over the whole idea with Donna, and the confusion with Amy, I’d be happy to just put the whole thing on the back burner for once.
15. No regeneration
I’m not in a hurry to say goodbye to Matt Smith, and with all that we’re hopefully going to be doing for the 50th anniversary, it’d be nice to not have to deal with saying goodbye to a Doctor or hello to a new one.
That said, there is one regeneration I’d be interested in (se #48-50).
16. A backing off on timey-wimey mechanics, where things happen just because “they’re supposed to.”
Now actually I’m a big fan of Steven Moffat’s time-traveling craziness in the series, but one of the things that can be frustrating is when major plot advances take place simply because they are time-fated to do so. An example was the revelation of River Song’s identity. River states with foreboding numerous times about how there comes this point where everything changes, because the Doctor finds out who she really is. But when we actually get to that point, it takes place only because River shows up and tells him herself. That was the worst example, but similar things have happened with River Song’s name, the Doctor’s escape from the Pandorica, and with Amy & Rory’s departure story. It’s time to learn some new tricks.
17. A visit in on Luke Smith
Really, I mean an acknowledgement about our good friend Sarah Jane, who is Luke’s adopted Mum from The Sarah Jane Adventures, and who was one of classic Doctor Who’s most popular companions. We’ve found ways to acknowledge the Brigadier’s passing since we lost Nicholas Courtney, let’s do the same with Elisabeth Sladen. The story could even include Clyde, Rani (it’s a different Rani) and Mr. Smith if you want.
18. UNIT and Kate Stewart
Speaking of the above, the appearance of Kate Stewart in The Power of Three was the perfect tribute to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – an acknowledgement of the past while still looking ahead to the future. I wouldn’t mind seeing her role in the series solidified.
19. The Ice Warriors
Almost certainly the most popular monster / villain from the original series that hasn’t been revisited in the revival, the Ice Warriors are due for a return. Actually, they were due for a return well before the original series ended. Rather than just being generically out to destroy the universe or take over the earth, they could be used to tell some nifty political intrigue stories, along the lines of the old Peladon stories.
20. The Sontaran-Rutan War
The Sontarans have been an important part of Doctor Who mythos since their first appearance in The Time Warrior back in the 1970’s. They have forever been at war with another race, the Rutans (who have only been seen once), but that war has never been shown. All of the Sontarans stories have been set on earth except for one – let’s get them to outer space where they belong, and show some big cosmic space war action.
21. An enemy who is “interfering” with the Doctor’s past
Sort of like the “evil leaper” – someone undoing the Doctor’s good deeds. This was an intriguing concept back in a run of New Adventures novels in the 1990’s, and the concept is well suited for some anniversary-themed stories. Maybe this could be part of a 5 part “miniseries” (see #11) with each story having a new environment, building to a confrontation with the villain who is behind this. Each story could revisit the setting of an old story, showing what life would look like if the Doctor hadn’t turned up, but in a way that still allows the series to use its modern sensibilities. Each scenario could be taken from a different era of the series, and one of them could be…
22. A return to the Land of Fiction
One of the classic series’ niftiest ideas, which was redone for a New Adventure novel, and could easily be updated for the new series. I actually got a bit hungry for this when I saw trailers for The Girl Who Waited, with its all-white environment and clumsy robots. The Doctor and his companion find themselves in oddly contrived environment, with elements from various recognized fictional tropes, and then slowly realize they risk being turned into fictional constructs, with a new “Master of Fiction” to face off with. In the book I think it was a nerdy pre-teen boy, which I think could work fine.
Another idea for the this arc of stories could be…
23. Sutekh the Destroyer
What if that horrific vision of 1980 from The Pyramids of Mars had come to pass? What would it mean for the rest of the universe? Sure, you couldn’t possibly have all of these stories in one season, but you could pick one or two. Or how about…
24. The Return of the Silurians
What if the Silurians had won back in their debut story in the early 1970’s? We could pick it up 30 years later and have the Doctor help the ragtag group of human survivors in their battle for survival. I think this was part of that New Adventures arc about time changing as well. During that arc, the culprit behind all this was, I think the Meddling Monk, but in light of the new series mythology, I think a better mastermind would be…
25. The Valeyard
This “dark amalgamation from somewhere between the Doctor’s 12th and final incarnations” is a character that was sort of reworked to become the “Dream Lord” from Amy’s Choice, but there’d still be room for the original to reappear, especially as the big bad in an anniversary-themed mini-series.
26. More Sherlock
I love that show as well, and don’t want Steven Moffat to get too busy to work on it.
27. Paul Cornell writing an episode
In the first few years of the revived series, Paul Cornell wrote the best non-Steven Moffat episodes – Father’s Day and the Human Nature / The Family of Blood two parter. It’d be great to have him back again.
28. For Matt Smith to go Forrest Gumping his way through previous adventures
Another approach that a 50th anniversary could take is to pull a Trial and Tribbilations and have the current Tardis crew interact with previous Doctors and previous companions via the magic of brilliantly done compositing special effects, like in Forrest Gump. Like a professionally done mash-up (see #30)
29. A purely historical story
Like back in the old days, when the Doctor and his companions would interact with situations in human history, where they would be the only science fiction elements involved. The last one was back in the original series’ Season 19, and that had been the first one for many years. So it’d be a bit of anomaly, but there no reason that the right story could not work. Maybe something set in feudal Japan? Or would that be too much like that storyline in Heroes that I never watched? In any case, bring it on!
30. Kelvington’s Five Doctors with five Doctors in it!
Kelvington is a Youtube poster who has created some fun Doctor Who mash-up videos. There’s a trailer up here for the next project they are doing – inserting Tom Baker into The Five Doctors as if he’d been there all along. After seeing the fun work they’ve done on their Doctor Who – Star Trek mash up, Trek Through Time, I’m looking forward to this.
31. The rest of Richard Morris & Richard Brackin’s A Time To Kill
A Time to Kill is a web comic which mashes up Doctor Who (10th Doctor / Donna) with James Bond, at the same time giving James Bond a Doctor Who twist. So far, four incarnations of Bond have appeared, as portrayed by Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby, and Sean Connery, and they’re beginning to cross over together, sort of Five Doctors-style. It’s not clear whether Bond is actually a Time Lord, but the concept is a fun one. 2012 is the 50th anniversary of James Bond movies, and 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, so it’s the perfect timing to see this comic to conclusion. Or even if it does not conclude, hopefully we’ll get a bunch more installments.
32. And while we’re at it, let’s see the conclusion of Josh M’s The Four Doctors.
Quite a while ago, Josh M on his blog A Look Askance began a fan fiction featuring the most recent four Doctors. He only posted three chapters, but he did a good job capturing the voices of the characters. I’d like to see more, but I’m not sure how likely that is – he hasn’t posted there since this last January.
33. More Minisodes!
Those little mini-episodes that you catch on line and as extras on the DVD’s are a lot of fun, and have the potential to fill in the gaps with moments we might not have a chance to see otherwise. Just check out the awesome Night and the Doctor for an example. Let’s have more of these. In fact, you could make a dozen of them without interfering with the flow of the main series. You could revisit Amy & Rory, or Rose & the other Tenth Doctor (as unlikely as all that seems), and of course numerous moments from “between the scenes” with the Doctor and Clara. All sorts of possibilities.
34. Animated versions of more missing episodes
I haven’t seen what they’ve done with the animated version of the two missing episodes of The Invasion, but it sounds like a great idea and would be wonderful to see all the missing stories in that form.
35. Complete copies of Marco Polo, The Dalek Masterplan, The Tenth Planet, The Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, The Web of Fear, and Fury from the Deep to be discovered and released.
I mean, as long as we’re wishing for things…
36. No weeping angels
In Blink they were scary and cool. In The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone they were still scary and cool. In The Angels Take Manhattan they were still scary and cool, but beginning to feel a little familiar. How many times can we buy the flashing images of the frightful angels advancing toward the camera accompanied by the pounding music? I think we’ve had our fill for the time being.
37. For Clara to make Amy & Rory into a fond memory
I was fond of David Tennant, and I felt like I was going to miss him. But then it only took a couple of minutes of The Eleventh Hour for Matt Smith and the new Doctor to make David Tennant a fond memory. Now, we have just said goodbye to Amy & Rory, after nearly three years. I’m going to miss them. But I’m hopeful that come this Christmas, and as we head into the 50th year, that Jenna-Louise Coleman will establish herself strongly and quickly as the new companion, engaging me like Matt Smith did in his debut.
38. The Doctor to go back
He promised Susan he’d return at the end of The Dalek Invasion of the Earth. Now, I know I said earlier that I didn’t think having Carole Ann Ford back again would be all that interesting, but it could be if he decided to visit earth again 50 years after the Dalek invasion and we actually saw how she was getting on after all that time. Of course, that seems unlikely, considering the number of times the Doctor has said his family is dead. But maybe, he knows she’s out there, and he’s keeping it a secret, because of the fearsome terror that will descend if it is ever known that the Doctor has a living flesh and blood relative out there…
Speaking of which…
39. Georgia Moffett as Jenny
Aside from River Song, the other biggest character concept from Series 4! Steven Moffat was apparently the one who suggested she live at the end of The Doctor’s Daughter – is it time for the Doctor to find out?
40. The “Season 6B” theory…confirmed!
It wouldn’t take more than one line of dialog, but it’d be nice to have an onscreen confirmation of what we all know already, that the 2nd Doctor’s regeneration in The War Games was a sham, and that the Doctor was then made into a secret agent of the Time Lords. It’s the generally fan-accepted explanation for the inconsistencies we see otherwise in Patrick Troughton’s appearances in The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors
41. A story set in the Tower of London about Ravens
I just visited there recently and heard the legend that if the ravens ever left the Tower of London, the tower would fall, and with it, the entire British empire. I couldn’t help but to think, what a perfect fit for a Doctor Who story. Set it in sometime in the late 21st century (1000 years after the tower was established), have Clara befriend a local soldier. A mysterious death, a recently discovered hidden room…and the ravens are leaving. Can the Doctor defeat a reawakened evil and learn to ancient secrets of the Tower?
42. The Dark Dimension
A proposed idea for the 30th anniversary of the show which never got made, which would feature an older 4th Doctor who never regenerated. I don’t know if Tom Baker would be up for it, but there is no reason you couldn’t go forward with the core script idea, even if all the details would have to change. Actually, this would fit easily in the “changing history” notion suggested in #’s 21-25, above.
43. Liberal use of flashbacks / easter eggs
Like the way we saw all of the earlier incarnations in The Eleventh Hour or The Next Doctor,or the zippy flashbacks / references we got in The Lodger, The Almost People, Let’s Kill Hitler, and others. Obviously, in a way that doesn’t drag or distract, but are fun for the fans like me.
44. The Headless Monks
I know I made the comment back in #11 about negativity toward faith, but the Headless Monks from A Good Man Goes to War were an incredibly creepy but underused concept. I think there’s got to be at least one more story in there about them.
45. Some reasonable excuse to include Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy
I don’t think you could “Dark Dimension” each of them (see #42), but it’d be great to have all three make some sort of appearance in the show that season. Maybe there could be an enemy that attacks the Doctor by trapping him in his own psyche, where he then encounters various old Doctors who represent imprisoned aspects of his personality. They are old because of the Doctor’s weakness. The end up helping the Doctor defeat his psychic enemy, and grow younger in a special effects triumph at the end as he achieves victory!
46. Solid scripts, strong direction, good acting, and lots of fun
Of course, this is what we all really want, even if none of those other elements come to pass. We just want Doctor Who to be a good show that we can enjoy. That means having some big ideas, some humor, a grand sense of adventure, scary monsters, and some wrongs for the Doctor to right. That’s what will make this 50th year worthwhile – if we continue to see the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Even if it has the Daleks in it. Or the Master. And they never explain the snickering voice as the Tardis exploded. (Although boy, it’d be a shame if they don’t get William Russell involved).
However, that said, there is one last set of things that I’d really like, and I’d be willing to sacrifice almost all the rest of it for this. It starts here:
47. A one-off movie special airing on November 23, 2013…
This would be in addition to the rest of Series 7, the 5 part “mini-series” for Series 8 (or maybe they’ll just be the first five episodes of Series 8, like we just got for Series 7) and the obligatory Christmas Special. Kind of like The Five Doctors, but better…
48. …starring Paul McGann…
Because Paul McGann’s the one Doctor that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for him to come back. The guy could be 70. But right now, he’s only 54. And he’s the one actor who could return and it wouldn’t have to be about the actor (like it’d be if David Tennant turned up) but rather the character. Because by and large the Doctor Who public doesn’t remember him and his one appearance in the role. Amazing opportunity to tell a hidden chapter in Doctor Who history, if only there was a story big enough to justify it.
49. …with a cameo by Christopher Eccleston…
I know that the guy hasn’t seemed to have been very happy about his time in Doctor Who, but this is my list and I’d like to see it. Just a brief cameo, maybe. A few minutes, at the end of the story, staring in shock over the reality of what he sees, over what he’s just done, before donning his leather jacket and heading forward from all that’s happened…
50. …in the Last Great Time War
The most hinted at, never fully revealed story in the world of modern Doctor Who. We know a fair bit now, thanks to The End of Time and others, but I’d like to see it told straightforwardly. Let’s see this story played out beat by beat, as we watch the horror mount in the Doctor’s eyes. The biggest adventure with the biggest stakes in the Doctor’s long life, starring Paul McGann, and featuring the one regeneration that we’ve never been able to see. Happy Birthday to the Doctor Who fan!