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 #213)
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, Ninth, and Tenth Doctors with the revived series in 2005, and now we hit the Eleventh Doctor, as played by Matt Smith.
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?
Amy’s aggressive approach
I love Amy Pond, I love The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone, but I’ve always thought that the bit at the end where she comes on so strongly onto the Doctor, trying to get him into bed, was always a bit icky and really unnecessary.
Adjust the big story arc
The story arc of Season Six (which really began in Season Five) is the most narratively ambitious and complex thing that the show has ever attempted. It was pretty exciting, but doesn’t fully hold up under scrutiny. There are a few things I’d address if given the chance…
a. When did Silence replace Amy? The obvious time would be in the midst of Day of the Moon, when they actually are seen taking Amy captive from the mental hospital. But we know that in the original timeline that Amy was already a flesh duplicate at this point, given that she had already had a hallucination of Madame Kovarian. But if that’s true, then in the episode as aired there’s not really any reason for her to be taken prisoner at all.
b. In The Impossible Astronaut did the Silence tell Amy to tell the Doctor what he must know and what he must never know? Obviously, it has something to do with Amy telling the Doctor that she’s pregnant. But why it’s necessary for the Doctor to hear this is not ever made clear.
c. In A Good Man Goes to War, there’s a lot of hoo-hah about how the Doctor is approaching a fated time where he will learn the truth about River Song. As it turns out, the “fated moment” turns out to be River Song turning up and basically telling the Doctor the truth, rather than anything intrinsic to the adventure the Doctor is having.
So, at a bare minimum, I’d adjust all of these things to make them better.
Amy and Rory’s marriage problems
I quite liked Asylum of the Daleks, except for the forced marriage problems between Amy & Rory, and their overly simplistic solution. If they were going to have Amy and Rory have relationship issues, I’d take it a bit more seriously, and maybe address it over a few episodes. Given my final adjustment below, there should be plenty of opportunity for this.
Revisit the Agenda of the Silence
The Silence (or Silents) as seen in The Wedding of River Song were obviously up to something, as seen in the way they betrayed Madame Kovarian, their supposed leader. Were they simply corrupt? A rogue cult of evil priests? Alien invaders all along? I never liked the explanation that the Silence were priests genetically bred to be forgotten so people wouldn’t remember they had made confessions to them (because that makes absolutely no sense at all, with how confession works), but even if we keep that, having another story about the Silence which really explores the agenda of this particular group of extra-evil Silence would really have served the story.
This also would have helped the pacing of The Time of the Doctor–too many things were left for that story to quickly explain, so it’d be good to spread that out a bit.
This is always the obvious go-to. I like Doctor Who, and in some way or another I like all of the Doctors. And I particularly like Matt Smith’s Doctor. So of course I’m going to want there to be more episodes of that Doctor.
The obvious place to fill in more stories without causing problems in the timeline with what came after the 11th Doctor is with the real life Season 7. This season was a normal length—13 episodes, but it was split over two years. So in my revised timeline, I’m just saying let’s make that two different seasons, 13 episodes long each.
One way this could go would be to start Season Seven, like we did before, with Asylum of the Daleks, with Jenna-Louise Coleman’s surprise guest appearance. Then we’ll throw in a two-parter which will feature the Silence (see above), still with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as Amy & Rory. Then we’ll carry on with the rest of the first part of the season, like we had on TV (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan). After that, there will be a one-part story with the Doctor and River returning to modern day earth which will include Brian Williams (Rory’s dad) as a guest character, and incorporate the never-fully-produced-but-you-can-still-kind-of-watch-it scene PS as part of its story (where Brian learns of Amy & Rory’s fate and meets his adopted grandson).
Then there’s still five episodes to fill out. We want them to be fun episodes that we enjoy watching, but they have to build up to the depression that we saw the Doctor steeped in at the start of The Snowmen (the 2012 Christmas episode). I think we could have some stories with UNIT which introduce a new temporary companion—maybe a young, idealistic male UNIT agent. We’ll call him Mike Sloan for the sake of calling him something. The Doctor could bond with Sloan, but then get discouraged when Sloan seems to “toe the military line” and favor more force-based solutions to problems, leading to them parting ways.
Then to real seal the discouragement deal, the last story could bring back Alex Kingston and take River and the Doctor back to Starship UK (from The Beast Below), where the Star Whale could end up dying via self-sacrifice, because of the selfishness of the latest generation of humans. This could help set-up the Doctor’s feelings of “What’s the point of all this?” about his whole life, and set up his isolation in The Snowmen (which would carry on as it did in real life, except leaving the Doctor a bit more uncertain about Clara’s name, and saving the brief introduction to modern-day Clara for the next story).
Then with the second season, we again kick things off with a two part earth-based story where the Doctor seeks UNIT’s help to identify any records of Clara—something they are unable to do because he doesn’t have her full name. Sloan could make a guest appearance, and the story could introduce Osgood early as a character the Doctor might have taken on as a companion but won’t, because “he doesn’t do that sort of thing anymore.” At the end of the story, which ends up being about something completely different, we’d get that brief modern day introduction to Clara, as the Doctor goes to the monastic life seen at the beginning of The Bells of St. John.
The next eight episodes of the season are the same eight from the real-life second part of Season 7, from The Bells of St. John through to The Name of the Doctor. Then the next episode is The Night of the Doctor, expanded to a full length story, ending with a short scene where we see it established that the 11th Doctor is telling Clara this story after having escaped from his time stream. The season ends with some an epic two part adventure, unrelated to the 50th anniversary, which ends with Clara leaving the Doctor to start her new job as a teacher (when the Doctor is surprised that she is qualified, she reveals that in between adventures she’s been getting her degree).
There! That’s one “adjustment” that really has a lot of others in it.
And that’s it! The Eleventh Doctor’s era is now perfect. What fun will we have with the Twelfth?