I’ve decided that one of the ways to acknowledge the fact that I’m now in my 47th year is to embark on a 47-day blog series about the revival series of Doctor Who (2005 to present). I came up with 47 topics / questions to answer, all of them basically positive and upbeat about the program. Each day (or as often as I can actually write these) I’ll pick one of them at random (using this convenient random number generator) and then write up an answer.
Why 47? It’s my favorite number.
Why Doctor Who? It’s my favorite show.
Why the modern day Doctor Who only? Simply because I remember it better.
Why only positive stuff? Because really, I write enough snark.
So today is Day #1, and consulting the Random Number Generator, we find the first number is 37, which means the topic of the day is this:
“Best Season Arc”
This refers to the fact that pretty much every year of the modern Doctor Who has had some sort of season-long story that culminates in the last episode or two.
How do I rate which one is the “best”? I guess I’m looking for a few things:
• That it’s actually intriguing and worth paying attention to over a whole year
• That it doesn’t feel like it gets in the way of individual episodes (either by being well-integrated into the stories, or kept appropriately in the background)
• That it resolves in a dramatically satisfying way
Looked at with this in mind, none of Doctor Who‘s season length concepts are without fault. Seasons 1-4, those under Russell T. Davies, didn’t even have season arcs per se, it was more like they just had recurring words that hinted at stuff going on in the finales.
Steven Moffat’s tenure as lead producer has had much more ambitious season long narratives. Probably the most ambitious was Season 6, which included the full understanding of River Song’s history & identity, the story of Amy’s kidnapping and recovery, and the mystery of the Doctor’s apparent death by Lake Silencio. It was ambitious, and a lot of it was really good, but it had a number of fundamental flaws that I think drop it from the top spot.
So in the end, I think I’ve got to go with the story that we find in Season 5
The Universe is cracked. The Pandorica opens. Silence will fall.
Or so says Prisoner Zero in The Eleventh Hour, setting up the ongoing mystery of cracks that are seen all over the universe during the Doctor’s travels. As it goes on, we learn that it’s all tied into the TARDIS itself and a devastating event that will occur on June 26, 2010, the day that Amy Pond is scheduled to be married. It goes on to include the death, elimination from time, and eventual rebirth of Rory Williams. It builds to a climax when the Doctor is drawn to investigate the Pandorica, a mythical trap made real that opens not to reveal its prisoner, but to receive him…the Doctor himself. Ultimately it resolves with the Doctor sacrificing his existence in order to restart the universe, but leaving a very clever escape hatch buried in the memory of his companion that leads to one of the most emotionally effective denouements of the series: Amy Pond demanding at her wedding for the Doctor to come back into existence:
I remember you. I remember! I brought the others back, I can bring you home too. Raggedy man, I remember you, and you are late for my wedding!
If the story has weaknesses, it’s simply that too many explanations are held back for later years, such as River’s identity, the identity of the force who destroyed the Tardis, and what “Silence will fall” ultimately means.
So, the answer:
Many, of course, will disagree. But will they do so publicly, on this blog? Please feel free to do so!
More (I’m trusting) tomorrow.
Click here for a master list for this series.