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Doctor Who: My Five Holiday Wishes for Series 13

The holidays approach, and this young man's thoughts turn to the Doctor Who special, and the season beyond.

What?

Look, 'young' is a relative term. Just... Just let me have this one, OK? It's been a hard year.

Well, clearly the first thing they need to do is write out Harry Sullivan. His character just isn't needed with a younger, more energetic Doctor.

That joke is funny if you're over 40, I swear.

No? Fine. Let's start again.

The holiday season is fast upon us, and the beneficent overlords of Doctor Who have finally provided us with a trailer for the 'Festive Special' which is set to air on New Years Day. I'm assuming if you care at all about Doctor Who then you've already watched it a few thousand times, but on the off chance you haven't, you can find it here.

Without getting into any significant depth regarding the trailer itself, it appears to be a mashup of 'Victory of the Daleks' and 'The Christmas Invasion', which is fine. We'll see on New Years Day, I suppose. What I do want to talk about is the few bits of Series 13 news that came with it and my personal wishes for how I hope the series plays out.

The big bit of news, which we've all known for months as a unsubstantiated rumor, is that Ryan and Graham are both departing in the Festive Special, leaving The Doctor and Yaz on their own. Probably. We'll come back to that. I have some mixed feelings about this. I'm really going to miss Graham. I think Ryan's story has pretty much been told at this point. I wish his dyspraxia hadn't been almost entirely dropped after his first story, but there you have it. Twenty two episodes over two years is a good run for a companion. It's four more stories than Martha got, just for the sake of comparison.

We also learned that Series 13 will only have 8 episodes. This is due to filming restrictions because of COVID-19. This is both incredibly frustrating and incredibly understandable. It's frustrating that the gradual whittling down of the season length jumped from 10 to 8, but on the other hand complaining about it makes you kind of an asshole, since what you're essentially be saying is, 'It would be worth it to me for you to risk dying as long as I get more television I like.' Which is, as the kids say, not a great look.

So, those things being what they're being, here's my holiday wishes for Series 13. Get your lap ready, TV Santa, I'm coming in.

1: Let it just be The Doctor and Yaz, at least for a little while.

One thing just about everybody agrees on about the last two years is that Yaz has been the least well served of the companions. I personally love the dynamic of a larger TARDIS crew (Season 19 of the original series is one of my favorites), but a shift away from that now so that Yaz has a chance to shine in the way that, say, Rose or Ace got to do would be a pleasant change.

Which leads into...

2: Don't bring Captain Jack back. At least not full time. I know a lot of people are rooting for his appearance in the special to be a harbinger of him rejoining the TARDIS crew. To be fair, from what we see in the trailer he and Yaz have a fun dynamic and good chemistry. But Jack had his time in the TARDIS, and that time was 15 years ago. Yeah, unsettling to actually see the number, isn't it?

3: Don't undo the revelations of 'The Timeless Children'.

I see endless diatribes online of people going on and on about how they just have to 'fix' the revelations about the Doctor's past from the end of Series 12. And guess what? They don't. It's new information that seems to go against what we already knew, but there are at least three other examples in the show's history where they made changes bigger than this. And everybody bitched about them as well. And quite honestly, the new revelation makes all sorts of moments from the original series more interesting. Jon Pertwee's consistent confusion about his actual age immediately after the Time Lords mess around with his memory, just for starters.

4: Bring Neil Gaiman back to write an episode.

Look, it's a wish list, not a 'likely' list. I just re-watched 'The Doctor's Wife' yesterday morning, and was reminded of just how great an episode it is. While I'll always be sad that we never got a Neil Gaiman take on Peter Capaldi's Doctor, getting his take on Doctor 13 would be an enormous treat. Just, you know, maybe this time don't ruin things with constant changes and wish list demands for the story. Nobody needs another 'Nightmare in Silver'. Let Neil do Neil.

5: Please Jodie Whitaker, stay at least another season.

With an eight episode season, that brings Jodie's episode count to just 30. That's not nearly a long enough turn at the wheel. Tennant got 47. Smith 44, and Capaldi 40. There's that diminishing season length factoring in. For comparison, Colin Baker got 44, but they were approximately half as long, so if you do the new series episodes at a conversion rate of two original eps equals one new series episode as a statistical average, then Colin Baker got 22 episodes as adjusted for inflation. Sylvester McCoy got 21. This is the math I do in my head when I can't sleep. (See Legends of Tomorrow: Ranked). Jodie deserves more.

So, those are my five Holiday wishes for Doctor Who: Series 13. Hopefully some of them will come true. I'm sure yours are different. Possibly yours are in direct opposition to mine. Let me know in the comments below, and a very happy 'Festive Season' to you all!

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Those are five interesting wishes, Mikey. Fun to read, too. But then again, Mikey is always fun to read. :)

I'm not sure what I want, other than Captain Jack at least once. I did love 'The Doctor's Wife' a lot, so there's that.

sunbunny said...

Anyone want my super bitchy take? No?

Five wishes for a better season:

1. Better writing
2. Jack GONE. The character hasn't aged well, his only schtick is hitting on everyone and everything in his field of vision, and Barrowman should have been me too'ed out of work long ago
3. Better writing
4. At some point it's mentioned or even alluded to that Thirteen is a lesbian with wives scattered throughout history.
5. Better writing

I hate commenting on your DW stuff, Mikey, because you're so sweet and hopeful about the show and I am NOT digging this iteration of the show to put it mildly.

I do hope Jodie goes. I so wanted to enjoy the first female Doctor (I BOUGHT MERCH) but she just hasn't done it for me. She's a phenomenal actress I'm just not getting the magic from Thirteen.

I *AM* excited for what the fallout of the Timeless Child is going to be. I wasn't the fan of the "the Doctor is the specialist snowflake to have ever existed" and "the Master eradicated the Time Lords AGAIN" but I don't want it undone. I want to see what comes next.

To be honest, I'm so harsh on this era because it is capable of so much more. Not to sound like a broken record (I know Mark has heard me say this at least twenty times) but Chibnall has proven he's capable of showrunning with Broadchurch. I can't help but feel that he's been bodysnatched or he's just phoning it in, figuring a "less sophisticated" show doesn't require sophisticated storytelling.

Sorry to be so negative, I really do enjoy your reviews, Mikey.

Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

I started another rewatch of modern Doctor Who right after Jodie's first episode, dropped off soon after Martha's introduction, and have just picked that back up again and finally slogged through Daleks-making-pig/human-slaves-in-NYC and Mark-Gatiss-turning-into-a-creepy-scorpion again (there's a reason most of my previous rewatches of Doctor Who have been just picking out favorite episodes). I wanted the comfort of familiar Doctors and familiar music (still ticked about them replacing Murray Gold), because I didn't like what Chibnall and Jodie had created. And I still don't.

My wishes for series 13 (sorry, I have 6):

1. Better writing. 12 somewhat improved things, but there's still a long way to go. Bring back past writers and hire good TV writers instead of hiring people whose only credits are political op-ed pieces.

2. Chibnall to leave at the end of the series. I thought it was bad enough that he told Jodie to "just be herself" when playing the Doctor (which I'm pretty sure has caused most of the awkwardness with her portrayal instead of her fully stepping into the role), but now it turns out he also just threw in Doctor!Ruth on a whim. He just seems to be throwing in all these crazy ideas with no plan and no connection to decades of Doctor Who history, and then try to fix things with slapstick recons.

3. Jodie to leave at the end of the series. I know she's had less episodes than other modern Doctors (besides Chris), but she got three series and I'm not sure she has new stuff to give us. Besides, it would be fun for series 13 to end with 13 and series 14 to begin with 14.

4. Bring back Sacha Dhawan as the Master. Yes, I know it's too soon, I don't care, he was one of the best parts of series 12 and he needs more screen time. Even if it's just some random episode where they come across him while he's living the 70ish years after being left in WWII.

5. Give Graham and Ryan an amazing send-off, one that perfectly fits them.

6. Don't keep the TARDIS team all-female. Like it or not, half the audience for this show is male. I've had a horrible time getting into Supernatural because the only regular cast is 2/3 guys. If Yaz is the only companion for all 8 episodes, viewership is going to drop, and that's terrible for the future of the show. I'm not saying to bring Jack on (he seems to be best in small doses, though if they are bringing him back now would be the time before he gets much older), but another past character could be fun. I'm fine with 1-2 episodes with just the two of them, but it'll hurt the show in the long run if it's a regular thing.

Mikey Heinrich said...

Billie - You are always too kind :)

Sunbunny - I always welcome your take. Better writing is always welcome on any show, regardless of how you felt about the previous writing. I would adore for #4 to come true. In fact, in seems like the only justifiable reason to do another River Song episode. I'd honestly be interested to watch that.

As to Jack, I totally agree that the character hasn't aged well. Is John Barrowman himself problematic? I don't much follow the behind the scenes stuff of any show, just because I'm not terribly interested in how the sausage is made and it's easier to avoid spoilers by avoiding it. If that's true, it makes me sad. I'm perfectly willing to believe it, but it makes me sad. Jill Sobule has a great song 'Why are all our heroes so imperfect' that I turn to at moments like these.

Katie - All totally valid. Like I said, I don't really follow behind the scenes stuff, but I got the impression that Murray Gold was as keen to move on to other things as anyone - he did give a solid, what, 12 or 13 years?

Historically, 'just play the doctor as yourself' has been the advice given to every Doctor since Pertwee with varying degrees of success. Peter Davison didn't seem to find it helpful at all, Colin Baker recalls it being the first acting note John Nathan Turner gave him. There was never any question of Tom Baker doing anything BUT just being himself, and it made Jon Pertwee's Doctor completely unlike anything anyone would have expected based on Pertwee's entire career up to that point. So, you're mileage may vary, and again - totally valid - but it's 100% certain that Chibnall gave her that advice because that advice has been the core of a million convention panel anecdotes and Chibnall is very much an old school fanboy.

OK, I paid a LOT of attention to behind the scenes stuff when I was young.

I'm in total agreement with you about Sacha Dhawan, both that he was amazing in season 12 and I very much want his return, and that having him destroy the Time Lords AGAIN was a profoundly stupid and eye rolling decision. If you count the books that's the third time the Time Lords have been definitively killed off. Bleh.

As to the all female team, I'm of two minds. Part of me just thinks, 'Girls have been expected to make do with all male casts in television shows for decades, it's well past time the shoe was on the other foot and the dudes can just suck it up and learn that not everything is entirely all about them all the time.'

But your point about viewership is perfectly true as well, and so I guess all we can do is wait and see what happens. Although the BBC doesn't really look at viewership in the same way commercial American stations do.

I really hope they give Graham and Ryan a good send off. Also, please don't kill off Graham. Please don't kill off Graham. Please don't kill off Graham