I haven’t posted here for a month. That was not my intention. I just had a lot going on in the real world. But the new series of Doctor Who, and the thirteenth Doctor, arrive in under eighteen hours. Like any good Doctor Who fan, I’m both excited and apprehensive. The hope of enjoying a new series of top-notch Who combined with the fear that it will somehow disappoint.
Unfortunately I don’t rate Chris Chibnall’s previous scripts that highly. I don’t hate any of them (although I used to), but The Power of Three is the only one that really grabs my attention. And I disliked the first two episodes of Torchwood so much that I never came back. But Chibnall has kept such a tight lid on advanced publicity, it’s hard to guess what the new series will be like. Nor is it easy to find a “Chibnall style” in his previous work. In fact, looking at Chibnall’s scripts, 42 is a mash-up of The Empty Child and Planet of Evil, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood is based on Doctor Who and the Silurians, or more accurately the novelisation and The Power of Three comes across as a homage to Russell T Davies’ era. Only Dinosaurs on a Spaceship seems distinctive, but that also doesn’t seem like the style he would pursue for a whole series. Of course, his other writing, for more adult programmes, would suggest another style entirely.
These days I can find something to like in most Doctor Who, even in episodes that made me rigid with boredom or half-dead of embarrassment years ago. I really like the fact that, in our era of DVDs and downloads, I can jump from a Hartnell historical to a political Pertwee to a Gothic horror early Tom, then to a palate cleanser comedy Tom before a Davies character drama. Sticking with the same style for several years on TV can seem a bit repetitive. Boring, even.
All of which should make me sound really worried about the new series, especially as the female Doctor has its own risks which no previous regeneration since Hartnell into Troughton has had. But, somehow – and despite being a natural pessimist – I feel more positive about the coming episodes than I have done for years. The trailer clips showed a natural understanding of the rhythm of a Doctor Who scene on the part of both writer and actors. And I’m glad that this is, apparently, to be continuity-lite, partly in the hope that will attract new viewers, but also because I like continuity-lite eras. (Did you know that only four of the thirty-six previous seasons of Doctor Who have no old monsters or villains at all? And two of those (seven and thirteen) have UNIT, while season sixteen has a Time Lord companion, leaving season one as (inevitably) the only season not requiring knowledge of episodes before the first one of that season.)
So, nervous, but excited…