As pretty much all Doctor Who fans know, the 10th season of the modernized show begins in just a few days. And we also know that this is the last season to feature Peter Capaldi in the title role, the so-called “Twelfth” Doctor. Word on the internet is that he will regenerate into his successor at the end of this year’s Christmas episode. So, that’s a 12 regular episodes and 1 Christmas episode before we say goodbye to Capaldi’s version of the character.
So that’s led me to ponder 13 things I’d like to see in this next year of Doctor Who, before we are introduced to the 13th Doctor.
1. A companion who lives on the TARDIS
One of the oddities that has crept into the series over the last couple of years is the idea that the companions don’t actually live with the Doctor on the TARDIS, instead he comes and regularly picks them up from normal home life. Amy & Rory seemed to go back and forth with this, but it really became a thing with Clara. I don’t know if it’s just been to facilitate stories about the companion’s home lives (eg. Danny Pink) or if there is some other reasoning, but I hope that with Bill and Season 10, we’re ready to bring the companion back on board full time, devoting more of our time “out there” and less of our time “back home.”
2. The Day of the Doctor revisited
Peter Capaldi made his surprise debut appearance in a micro-cameo during the 50th anniversary story, Day of the Doctor. During that sequence, all of the Doctors that we knew about at that point were present helping to save Gallifrey from being lost in the Time War. It makes perfect sense for the 12th Doctor to be part of that, but it’d be fun if there could be a story that tied into that moment, where we saw that bit from The Day of the Doctor from his perspective. And better yet, if that perspective added something significant about our understanding of the story.
3. Sontarans…in Space!
I’ve no idea if the Sontarans are slated for any sort of return appearances this year–they haven’t been seen since they made a brief cameo in Face the Raven last season. But they are amongst my favorite elements from the original series, so I’d be happy to have them back. But if they do return, I’d love to see them actually as the major galactic threat they have always been described as. It’s odd, but in the 45 or so years since they were introduced, we have never really seen this threat realized. Usually we just see a small group either trapped somewhere, or invading the earth, or up to some other mischief. With the addition of Strax to the show’s recurring cast a while ago, they are often played for laughs. But I want the full juggernaut of the Sontaran war machine to be on display, waging mighty battle across the galaxy, and see how the Doctor has to deal with that. Bonus points for bringing their ancient enemies, the Rutans, into the picture as well.
4. Who was pulling Gus’ strings?
Gus was the evil computer in Mummy on the Orient Express, one of the best stories of Season 8. He was obviously working for some other “big bad” that was never revealed. It’s one of the stories that I’d be interested in the show revisiting, but only if it didn’t turn out to be the Master. That brings me to the next one…
5. A new recurring villain
I’ve been wanting this for years, for the show to actually work on developing new threats for the Doctor rather than relying on old favorites. And not just a new monster (we do get lots of those) but actually new characters. I wondered if that was happening with Ashildr last year, but she didn’t end up being a villain, really, just a nuisance (albeit one who caused the Doctor more damage than most villains do). I think the last time the show gave us a genuinely new recurring villain, who wasn’t really the Master or Davros or someone like that, was Lady Cassandra back in Seasons 1 & 2. So maybe that’s why the show hasn’t tried to do that again.
6. Taking the opportunity before it’s too late
In spite of what I said above, there are a few familiar faces I’d like to see, just not villains. Really, I just mean a cameo appearance by fan-favorite William Russell as Ian Chesterton. Is he really a fan favorite? Well, I’m a fan and he’s one of my favorites. It was a massive wasted opportunity not putting him into the 50th anniversary season somehow a few years ago, and then not the years after that when Clara apparently worked at the school that he was the headmaster for. But the other character I’d love to reappear before it’s too late is Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter. It’d be cool if he finally “came back”, as he promised back in 1964’s The Dalek Invasion of the Earth. My thought is that Susan could be played not by the original Carol Ann Ford, but rather by Claudia Grant, who played Ford so well in An Adventure in Space and Time, the documentary about the early years of Doctor Who that was also part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Then we could get a story about the 12th Doctor meeting Susan, say only 10 years after he dropped her off. Work out some way for Ford to have a cameo and the results should be amazing.
7. Missy & the Daleks, with neither of them looking like buffoons
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of either Missy or the Daleks, but it’s pretty clear that both are returning this year. The last we saw either one of them, they were together, and no doubt about to be up to more naughtiness. So it’d be good to pick up where we left off and show just how bad things can get for the Doctor and the universe, without either concept suffering at the expense of the other. Let’s get them to multiply the villainy, rather than to cancel each other out. And if we’re adding in John Simm’s Master as well, then we’re going to have to work extra hard to not let anyone look stupid.
8. No Zygons, Kate Stewart, Madame Vastra, Davros, Lady Me or Clara
And just in case I’ve confused anything with my last couple of entries, I’d like to avoid all these characters and concepts this year. The Zygons and Davros could use a break, Kate Stewart has not been tremendously successful and I’d say needs to be rethought, Madame Vastra I hope is permanently retired, and it’d be overkill to have Lady Me / Ashildr be important this season after playing such a major role last year. The exception I’d make to this is Clara if it’s the traditional cameo prior to the regeneration. In fact, it’d be a bit disappointing if Clara didn’t turn up in some way for the regeneration. Maybe she could reappear to help him regenerate, bringing his memories back of her just before she returns to face her own death.
Also, if the series did something huge like make Clara, having decided she never wanted to return to her proper timestream to die, into some sort of surprise big bad this year, I’m sure I’d participate in the general sense of fanrage, but I’d be into it as well.
9. Mix up the story lengths
This is a pretty safe bet, but I think the series works best when it’s a combination of 1 and 2 part episodes, not mostly one or the other. It’s fun to be surprised. I’ve heard that this year is mostly one parter stories to show Bill in a greater variety of situations, but that two parters would still feature and that there may even be a three parter. So, should be interesting.
10. Ice Warrior Politics
I’ve heard the Ice Warriors are back, after coming out of hibernation for Cold War a couple of years ago. I used to like the Ice Warriors a lot because they weren’t just villains, but rather characters in the Doctor Who universe. Consequently, I was disappointed by Cold War because there was really nothing special or unique about the use of the Ice Warrior in that story, it could been just about any creepy monster stalking through the dark. This is kind of like my Sontarans comment earlier–if we’re going to have Ice Warriors then let’s not just have a murderous villain, but let’s show them on a larger galactic canvas, full of the political intrigue that marked half of their original series appearances.
11. A solid story arc
Every season of the modern Doctor Who has some sort of story arc that comes to a head in the final episodes. Steven Moffat has upped the ante of this since he became the showrunner, to sometimes greater and sometimes lesser success. For this final year, please oh please can we just give the inevitable story arc some solid thought, hammering out the structural problems and making sure it’s got a compelling beginning, middle and end. Capaldi is definitely leaving, so we don’t want to have to pull a Time of the Doctor, where several years worth of loose ends were all tied up a bit too rapidly to be fully satisfying.
12. The return of the Mondasian Cybermen to have massive implications
It’s no surprise that the Cybermen are back. They make at least a token appearance nearly every season that the show has been back. But a big deal has been made that this is the first time the Mondasian Cybermen have been back for many many years. Why does that matter? Because the Mondasian Cybermen are from the planet Mondas, and Mondas only ever appeared in the show properly once, in 1966’s The Tenth Planet (guess what the tenth’s planet was called!), which is the story when the 1st Doctor regenerated into the 2nd. The planet all the indigenous Cybermen were destroyed then, so if they’re back then it should mean something big. Not just that a few survived by falling through a time corridor or whatever, but hopefully something more massive, like someone has interfered with the Doctor’s past so that he never regenerated the first time, or something similarly mind-blowing. Capaldi’s 12th Doctor has to somehow put this to rights while at the same time figuring out who could be behind something so monumental.
Now that sounds like an epic story.
13. The regeneration to surprise us somehow
Back in the day, regenerations were always surprising, because you never knew what effects were going to be used to achieve them. When Christopher Eccleston regenerated at the end of The Parting of the Ways, the show truly blew us away with the sight of the Doctor regenerating standing up, flaming energy blasting from his body. But in the years that followed, that effect got to be a familiar and even tired, as we saw everyone from the Master, the 10th Doctor (twice), and River Song (also twice) go through the process. That was finally shaken up a bit when Matt Smith turned into Peter Capaldi and the final effect was cut abruptly short (although, to be fair, it had been used earlier in the story) in order to make the arrival of the new Doctor something unpredictable again. I’ve no idea how they are going to have us say goodbye to Peter Capaldi this Christmas, but I’m hoping that Steven Moffat can surprise us with his last moments as showrunner of the series just as much as he did at the beginning.