Doctor Who is one of the most beloved and influential science fiction series of all time. The fingerprints of the British show, which began in the 1960s, have been preserved on some of the most popular titles of the modern era. Today, “Loki” and “Legends of Tomorrow” are just two striking examples of series that he clearly influenced.
Despite the impact it has had on science fiction, “Doctor Who” is in some movement (pun intended), and this is clearly a transitional time for the series. After a re-launch in 2005 starring Christopher Exelston (for a short time), the show became extremely popular again. Perhaps the peak of his worldwide success came in the era of Matt Smith. Since then, the role has been played by Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whitaker, the latter retired at the end of this year, and Nkuti Gatwa was supposed to replace her. Ultimately, this feels like a whole new era for Doctor Who, and for good reason, given the fans’ dissatisfaction with the script in later episodes. As Russell T Davies returns as showrunner (previously directing the Excelston and David Tennant eras), Doctor Who should pay attention to David Tennant’s “Journey’s End” arc, which ended with his revival.
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The bad script of recent seasons has left Doctor Who in such a state that a kind of reboot is necessary if the show is to continue. It is reported that a few years ago, the BBC was very concerned about the decline in popularity, citing, in particular, the lowest ratings of viewers in this century and often bad reviews to boot. This does not put the blame on Jodie Whitaker, as the first female Doctor brought a freshness and youthful excitement that is really interesting to watch. Unfortunately, however, Whitaker had to navigate the show through several boring and often plot holes, heavy storylines from the current (and outgoing) showrunner.
On paper, Chris Chibnall’s arrival as head writer made a lot of sense. The fact that he had previously written scripts for episodes of the show and that he had created Broadchurch, an internationally acclaimed murder mystery, meant that Chibnall seemed like the perfect candidate to develop the series. After all, the writing of the series was already steadily declining during the reign of Steven Moffat, who was the head writer of the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi era. After an incredibly bright start with Matt Smith, his career as a Doctor began to decline, and this decline continued during the time of Peter Capaldi. Capaldi, in particular, was somewhat lost in the lead role due to a bad script, which was a real shame considering the huge potential he had. Chibnall was supposed to be the writer who would come and stabilize the ship, but the decline continued and accelerated, hence the need for this new era.
Bringing Russell T. Davis back into the ranks seems like a smart move, but he has to be careful not to repeat some of the mistakes of his predecessors. Generally speaking, his previous job as showrunner was the most popular in the new iteration of the show, especially with David Tennant in the role. Tennant added something really unique with his bright, energetic performance, but tried never to overdo it. Much of the writing in the Tennant era was also excellent, which is further confirmed by the fact that some of the best aspects of Matt Smith’s time came when the series used the style and storylines of what had gone before with the previous Doctor.
However, Davis has a huge job to do to restore the series after many viewers jumped ship over the past few years. The best way he can choose is to draw inspiration from Tennant’s last arch, where the Master wreaked havoc before the Doctor regenerated. This arch was almost perfect because it portrayed the Doctor as a wise but young time lord with whom the audience felt a great connection. If Dr. Nkuti Gatwa’s version can have the same emotional impact on viewers, it will mean that this new era will almost certainly be successful.
The stakes were also incredibly high in these last episodes, which is somewhat natural, given that viewers knew this was the last time Tennant played this role. However, Jodie Whitaker has only one episode left in the role of the Doctor, and yet the stakes seem almost zero. At the moment, her latest exit seems more like a formality or the last hurdle to overcome before moving on to this new era. Again, this is not Whitaker’s fault, and although the text was below the baseboard, it seems unfair to put the blame on anyone alone. Whoever or whatever is the problem in the series, drawing inspiration from the latest episodes of the Tennant era would be a great basis for a new run.