The Time Meddler: My Tenth Doctor Wish-list

If I was an unscrupulous Time Lord with the ability to travel through the fourth dimension and to try to affect changes that I thought would make things better, there’s probably a bunch of stuff I’d do with my favorite TV series, Doctor Who.  Like many-a-fan (I assume), I’ve thought of these things from time to time, and I now I’m going to list them over a series of posts. 

(Daily Doctor Who #210)

I’ve been doing this for a little while now, and managed to create cool alternate reality where Doctor Who is even better than it was in the original timeline (you can read about my involvement with the eras of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, plus The Five Doctors, by following the links). However, my ambitions became too grand and eventually my activities drew the attention of those officious guardians of reality, my own people, the Time Lords.

Undaunted, I continued my heroic work, once again with the Eighth Doctor, and then the Ninth Doctor with the revived series in 2005, and now the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.

To avoid drawing more unwanted attention, I will be trying to keep all my manipulations subtle. So I won’t be mixing up actors from different time periods, or bringing in futuristic special effects technology, or doing a bunch of stuff in one era that has massive implications on the future of the show.

I also try to limit myself to five alterations to each era.

So…what are we after?

Adjust the Doctor’s reunion with Sarah Jane Smith

It was exciting to see Sarah Jane Smith again in School Reunion, but I was a bit annoyed at how the character was depicted. There was a lot of anger and jealousy in Sarah’s response to the Doctor, which didn’t jibe well with what we saw the other two times the character had returned (in K9 & Company and The Five Doctors) after leaving the TARDIS. Particularly the idea that she’d never married because the Doctor had sort of “ruined” her for anyone else was especially annoying.

I understand that all of this added to the drama and tension (and humor) of the episode, but I’d have preferred a bit more balance to the depiction.

Love and Monsters…just change so many things

I love a lot of David Tennant’s era on Doctor Who, but I also dislike a handful of stories. Even so, I was planning on not worrying about individual episode nit-picks for this list (as I only have five “wishes” here, after all), but I just couldn’t not take the opportunity to address the most egregious elephant in the room, Love and Monsters.

Love and Monsters is not necessarily the worst Tennant episode, but it might the most frustrating in its badness. The idea of a story about the people the Doctor leaves behind has got a lot of potential, and there are some parts of this script that are quite moving. But there is also a lot that is tremendously bad–the disgustingly silly nature of the villain, the repetitively unpleasant deaths of all the potentially likable guest characters, and the revolting implications about Elton’s relationship at the end…it’s an encapsulation of the worst parts of Russell T. Davies’ approach to the show. The episode is in desperate need of a complete overhaul.

Tweak John Simm’s portrayal of the Master

As soon as Derek Jacobi’s Master regenerated into John Simm in the episode Utopia, I thought, “This guy is ludicrous,” and unfortunately it only got worse. Simm’s performance (and the writing that inspired it) turned the Master from a diabolical mastermind into a prancing Joker-wannabe lunatic–a vibe the show has been unable to shake no matter how talented the actors who have taken on the role. When the Master came back in End of Time, he was even worse (but more on that later).

To address this, I’d pull back on that whole shtick, and make him like we saw in The Doctor Falls from the get-go. Like he really is a guy burns “like a sun, like a whole screaming world on fire.”

A fourth season!

As always, this is the obvious one: I want more episodes of pretty much each Doctor. With David Tennant, the obvious time to do fit this in would be in 2009, when in real life we just go a series of special episodes. My plan is to have a new 13 episode season using the basic story of Planet of the Dead (in real life, an Easter special) as the opening story), introducing Michelle Ryan’s Lady Christina de Souza as the new companion.

I actually don’t like Lady Christina all that much, but I think she works thematically with the season. She’d have a contentious relationship with the Doctor that would be built on his apparent double-standard of the Doctor saying he’s allowed to do whatever he wants, but that she isn’t. After about half the season, she would leave in frustration.

The Doctor, meanwhile, would be dealing with the prophetic hints that begin to appear with greater and greater frequency about his coming death (“He knocks four times,” etc). After spending several episodes without a companion (or with just one-time guests), he’d have some sort of end-of-arc resolution with Lady Christina, and then head into The Waters of Mars as the season finale. The ending of The Waters of Mars would be rejigged so it made a little bit more sense (how does Alelaide Brooke killing herself on earth create the same future as her dying in a mysterious explosion on Mars?) and then tie directly into The End of Time (see below).

Make The End of Time really solid

There are a bunch of things about the two part The End of Time that I didn’t like, and other than the Tenth Doctor’s closing tour through the Russell T. Davies era of the show and the regeneration itself, I think it’s a legitimately bad story. The Master is at his very worst, with his sudden powers of shooting lightning and jumping really far, and his penchant for eating people. The idea of everyone turning into the Master goes high on my list of things that would be terrible in real life but are really dumb to see in a story (along with, say, the mutated poodle from Hulk). The Time Lord story is potentially epic but is thrown away–the return of Gallifrey shouldn’t have been a last minute thing that gets quickly resolved, but should have been the mid-point of the story. And Martha’s cameo should not have revealed that she married Mickey Smith and apparently became an adrenaline junkie, undoing all of her character development.

So, basically, in our new reality, I’d fix that.

Plus maybe I’d get Carey Mulligan back for a cameo as Sally Sparrow in the final tour.

And that’s it! The Tenth Doctor’s era is fixed! What will I get up to next?

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