As you may know if you are the type of person who might be drawn to read this site, Season 9 of Doctor Who is here and underway. In fact, it’s already approximately 16.7% over. Only ten episodes to go…or eleven, if you count the Christmas special. So far, I’d say the series has gotten off to a good start, as you can read about here and here.
And of course I’m hoping it will continue to be good and fun. That got me thinking about what I wanted to see for the rest of the series, so here’s my thoughts on that subject: 12 things that I want from the rest of this year’s Doctor Who (that’s one item for each of the remaining episodes, plus a bonus one).
First, let’s start with the bonus item, because this is the basic, catch-all item, and I’ve done enough lists already for something like this shows up at the end:
BONUS: Great stories, sparkling dialogue, solid performances, & tons of wit
Because let’s face it, without this, what point is asking for any other wishes from a TV series? More than any other item on this list, I want the show to be good, and I’m not so arrogant to think that will be achieved by my little wishlist here.
1. A follow up to Missy and the Daleks
I almost can’t believe I’m saying this. I mean, I’m usually the one saying “blah blah blah, the show relies too much on ‘classic monsters’, and I groaned a bit (mostly internally, but that’s just because nobody else was around who was interested) when I found out that Michelle Gomez’ Missy was going to reappear so quickly. But still, I found I enjoyed the appearances by both “classic” enemies in the opening two-parter, and thought the story seeded some interesting ideas: the prophesy of the hybrid, the Daleks learning Gallifrey exists again, the strange history between the Doctor and Davros. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again later this year.
But having said that, I also wouldn’t mind if we could also have…
2. No massive season long arc
As I said, I like the various plot threads introduced in the opening story, including the Doctor’s confession dial and the strange prophesy, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them followed up upon, but what I would rather avoid is an strong build up to one particular villain or situation that gets obliquely referenced in a bunch of the episodes, but doesn’t really get dealt with until the showrunner writes the season finale. This format has worked in greater and lesser degrees in previous seasons, but I’d be happy to see a change of pace this time around. So instead, let’s just tell some good stories, taking advantage of the ideas that are already introduced, and not just the ones introduced this year…
3. Pick up on some other dangling threads
How about going more into that malevolent Gus computer from Mummy on the Orient Express? I’d like to see what that was all about? Or how about that creature that was living under the sheets in Listen (no way do I buy that was just some kid playing a joke)? Or lets see a bit more about the Boneless from Flatline. Or dare I hope we could even find out why the Silence did half of the things they did in The Impossible Astronaut / The Day of the Moon? There’s a lot of richness in the history of the show, and it’s not just to do with Daleks or Cybermen.
4. Great Cliffhangers
The revived Doctor Who has had some great cliffhangers, and some so-so ones. The so-so ones usually involve monsters lumbering slowly at the Doctor and/or his companions, repeating the same malevolent but oversimplified phrase over and over again, while everyone looks panicked. The great ones involve something different, something surprising. Examples include Time of the Angels, The Pandorica Opens, Army of Ghosts and…The Magician’s Apprentice. That’s right, the season opener of the current run had a great cliffhanger, with the Doctor shouting “Exterminate!” as he raises his gun toward young Davros. Since this season is bringing back two-parters in a major way, let’s make all the cliffhangers great!
Steven Moffat has promised that the cliffhanger at the end up the series’ penultimate episode is going to be mind-blowing. I’m looking forward to it.
5. Truly epic feel to the two-parters
The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar were partially successful at this. Basically, my thought goes back to Season 7, when showrunner Steven Moffat said that they were doing primarily one part stories but trying to give each of them an epic, cinematic feel. I thought the show’s success at this was mixed. However, I felt that they did get there with Season 8, in which almost all of the one-part stories felt huge and complete. Season 8 is bringing back two-parters in spades – let’s play them big rather than safe, and make each one feel like an epic, cinematic movie.
6. Celebration of the series’ history
Not just by picking up old plot threads, but like they did in Episodes 1 & 2 of the season, with flashbacks to other episodes, or past incarnations of the Doctor being re-created for special moments. As an old fan, I do love this appreciation of the series’ history, in particular when those elements don’t bog the story down but instead are brought in in a fresh way.
7. But take us someplace new…
Be inventive! It’s one of the show’s greatest strengths. Remember that train flying through space last year? Come on, that was awesome: memorable, and also brand new. The season openers did a good job of this: we had all the familiar stuff like Davros, Missy, UNIT, the Daleks and so on, but there were also “hand-mines” and a guy made of snakes…stuff I had never seen before.
8. More Surprises!
The Magician’s Apprentice made a strong impression in the first five minutes with the reveal that the young child that the Doctor was trying to save was actually Davros. Now this is exciting because it’s sort of a combination of the last two points: familiar stuff presented in a way to make it completely new, and made to be a complete surprise for the viewer. Let’s have more of that this year. How about another shocking-in-a-good-way appearance by Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, or that long overdue return of William Russell as Ian Chesterton? I know, not very likely, but then that’s why it’d be a surprise! A more likely possibility is that Maisie Williams’ character could turn out to be Jenny, or Susan, or somebody
9. Clara being awesome
Season 8 was a great year for Clara, turning her from a character who was mostly serviceable to one of the standout companions. Now so far in Season 9, Clara has had some cool stuff to do (and some emotionally compelling stuff as well, with being stuck in the Dalek), but she also sort of played second fiddle for Missy for most of the story. Here’s hoping that her role picks up a bit. I liked Clara’s predecessor Amy Pond as well, but in the end, we were sorting of counting down the days until she left. Let’s not do the same with Clara.
Or maybe, just flat out get us there.
The biggest ongoing story-point that the series has right now is the Doctor’s quest of sorts to find Gallifrey again. Well, we know that somewhere in the 12th Doctor’s timeline, he plays a critical role in seeing Gallifrey saved from destruction, as seen via Peter Capaldi’s cameo in The Day of the Doctor. This could just be left as a throwaway moment of coolness, but it could also turned into a major epic adventure in which the 12th Doctor returns to that moment as a way of tracking down Gallifrey once and for all. I for one would enjoy seeing that adventure, including the presumed cameos we’d get with all of the other Doctors. Maybe the 12th Doctor could even team up with the 8th for part of the adventure!
11. A really satisfying conclusion to the River Song story
River was a hit and miss character for me, sometimes really winning me over and sometimes inducing fatigue. But for me the weakest part of her story came in her last (to date) appearance in The Name of the Doctor. That’s the only time we’ve seen River since her “death” in Forest of the Dead. The reason it didn’t work for me is it implied that the Doctor went to all the trouble of “saving” her in that story just to abandon her: that seemed sort of jerk-ish. I’d like to see a conclusion that really ends her story in a more absolute way. Back in the day, my idea was that the Doctor (still looking young and bow-tied) returned to The Library and downloaded River’s mind into a flesh duplicate of her body. He’d then spend 50 years adventuring with her as a married couple until she died of old age.
Now this all seems like an unlikely scenario now, but let’s hope that River’s slated appearance in this year’s Christmas special not only draws out new dimensions of her relationship with the Doctor (certainly, it will be a missed opportunity if it doesn’t) but also us all the closure with her that we haven’t had before.
My wishlist is fulfilled or not starting in just a couple of days!