Doctor Who season 13 is just around the corner, but fans have some other exciting news to focus on in the meantime. Current executive producer Chris Chibnall is set to depart in 2022 and will be succeeded by former showrunner Russell T. Davies.
It has been announced that Davies will return for the 60th anniversary in 2023 and will continue for seasons beyond this. The news is particularly exciting as it was Davies who originally resurrected Doctor Who, and his era is beloved by the fandom.
When Davies was last in charge of the show, he created somewhat of a shared universe. Alongside the main show, the spinoffs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures were also airing at the same time.
Since then, any attempts at a spinoff have been short-lived, such as the ill-fated Class, which has made the Whoniverse feel a lot smaller and more contained. In the season 4 finale of Doctor Who, the main show collided with its two spinoffs in an epic and rewarding crossover. With Davies back at the helm, more spinoffs may be on the horizon, which will help to create a larger scale for the show.
Although the companions’ home lives have been touched on in the Moffat and Chibnall eras, they have received minimal focus. Something which makes Davies’ companions so relatable and easy to identify with is meeting their families and exploring the lives they’re leaving behind.
Characters such as Rose’s mum Jackie and Donna’s grandfather Wilf are some of the best supporting characters on Doctor Who, so this aspect of the show has been sorely missed in recent years. Rose, Martha and Donna’s families were intertwined, for better or worse, with the Doctor’s dangerous lifestyle. When Davies introduces the next new companion, many fans will be hoping to meet their family and explore their home life just like before.
While Moffat and Chibnall have reintroduced classic monsters like the Daleks and Cybermen, other connections to classic Who have been sparse. In Davies’ original era, there were often mentions to the classic era, and it was clear that, although it had become vastly different, it was the same show.
In season 2, Davies reintroduced classic companions Sarah Jane and K-9, and the former became a huge part of his era. Sarah Jane’s return to the show provided a clear link between new Who and classic Who, referencing many old stories while also showing this Doctor was still the same man. That being said, there are plenty of other classic companions that could also reunite with the Doctor in the same way that Sarah-Jane did.
While Davies is likely to take the show in a new direction, he created some of the show’s best characters when he was last in charge. While many of these popular characters stories’ have come to a natural end, some could easily be revisited.
One of the Doctor Who characters fans want to see again is Martha Jones, who willingly walked away from the TARDIS and went on to work for both UNIT and Torchwood. As Martha is probably still living on present-day Earth, it would be easy to bring back her character and explore how her life has changed and whether she regrets the decision she made previously. Also, due to the sudden endings of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, characters from these spinoffs such as Gwen Cooper and Luke Smith could also return.
Moffat’s tenure is known for elaborate and sometimes convoluted story arcs while Chibnall has opted to either ignore this narrative device (season 11) or use it to the change the history of the show (season 12). Davies used story arcs consistently throughout his run, and they usually included a recurring phrase like “Bad Wolf.”
These arcs were brillainity paid off in the finales and were referred to throughout the rest of the era. Davies always had the right balance when using a story arc without it becoming overly complex. Many fans will be hopeful for more of these engaging arcs once he returns to the helm.
Back in season 2, Davies introduced the concept of the Doctor-lite episode with the main focus being taken away from the titular character. Although the first attempt was controversial with “Love and Monsters,” this style of episode went on to be a staple of the era.
“Blink” is one of the all-time scariest Doctor Who episodes from the entire franchise, and “Turn Left” is an outstanding showcase of Donna. In season 4, the concept was turned on its head, leaving the Doctor on his own and surprisingly vulnerable. As these experimental episodes were some of the best, it would be great for Davies to use the concept again when he returns.
In more recent years, the marketing and publicity for Doctor Who is much less prominent. While the show is a British institution and is highly popular, marketing is still needed to bring in new audiences and to excite existing fans.
Although it’s understandable for a show’s popularity to dwindle after so many years on air, the original Davies era had an impressive marketing campaign behind it. Before the seasons began, specially filmed teasers and episode trailers aired and billboards and posters were everywhere. Davies’ next era is bound to feature a similar marketing campaign which is sure to attract new audiences and build up excitement within the Doctor Who fandom.
Doctor Who has always been a show that has discussed current and topical issues, but some eras handle this style of storytelling better than others. Season 12 features an episode about climate change that quickly became one of the most controversial episodes in the show’s history. Davies’ era didn’t shy away from social or political issues either, with the season 3 finale and the season 4 episode “Turn Left” featuring some clear social commentary.
That said, these themes were always undertones to a much larger sci-fi story, and the show didn’t attempt to lecture or preach to its audience. When Davies makes his anticipated return, stories containing social commentary will definitely be present but will more likely reflect society rather than trying to educate the audience.
Each new era of Doctor Who introduces exciting and terrifying new monsters. However, it is undeniable that most of the memorable new monsters are from the Davies era. This era introduces fans to the Ood, the Judoon and one of the most terrifying monsters from Doctor Who, the Weeping Angels (although they were actually created by the following showrunner, Moffat).
So many iconic monsters were created last time Davise was in charge, and this is bound to continue the second time around. Many fans will be hoping for interesting new aliens that can rival his previous creations.
Several writers contributed multiple stories during Davies’ original tenure and some even continued into the Moffat era. However, Chibnall’s era of the show mostly includes new writers who bring a new vision to the franchise.
With Davies being such a household name, his return is likely to entice past writers from the first two eras back to the show. Previous writers such as Neil Gaiman and Toby Whithouse are among those whom fans would love to see back. Maintaining a consistency with the writing team even across different eras allows for greater continuity between seasons.
Read more: screenrant.com