Doctor Who’s Coming Back for Christmas — and Series 10

With Series 10 coming up in 2017, and the Christmas Special 2016 before that, we’re actually back to regular scheduled Who programming (after big international sports events like the Euro ’16 and the Rio Olympics so cruelly robbed us of our aliens of the week and p(l)othole-y plots)!!!

p036xwsgAlthough it has taken me up until now to actually catch up on Series 9 due to Things Happening and me not being too jazzed with Series 8, I’m looking forward to getting my Doctor Who fix in real time again from now on. Sort of binge-watching after the fact is cool, but it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve noticed how it actually changes my reactions to things. Binge-watching, I know I’ll get the next episode (and therefore the big picture) immediately, and it does take some of the urgency and drama out of it when you’re reviewing, especially when you see the Doctor shooting people. (I’m still weird about that. Granted, it’s only been a week since I watched Hell Bent.) To be fair, however, I was watching Face the Raven, and I was so broken up about the Doctor’s face as Clara says goodbye and sad about her death and curious about where the Doctor was being kidnapped to that I just had to keep watching. Because, and this may shock you: I’d seen no spoilers. I did know that Clara was apparently going to die in Face the Raven, but I knew nothing about the finale, I didn’t even know they were bringing Gallifrey back. So, in that, there was that urgency for me. But it also immediately recontextualised Face the Raven for me before I really had time to stew in it, whereas in real time, I’d have just had to contend with being mad about Clara’s death for two weeks, until finding out that the Doctor had a plan in Hell Bent.

Oh look, I’m rambling.

Little tidbits that I read in passing and that I find important/interesting/exciting:

  • Not only is this going to be Steven Moffat’s last season as showrunner, his last episode being the 2017 Christmas Special. He has also said last week that this will likely be the last Doctor Who episode he’ll write, ever.
  • Michelle Gomez will return as Missy, and Matt Lucas will stick around after the 2016 Special, which is way cool!
  • Rona Munro, a Classic Who writer, is returning to pen a story for the upcoming series! She actually wrote the last serial of Classic Who, Survival. Also, Neil Gaiman and Neil Cross have both said that they really want to write for Twelve, so I’m rooting for them to get a gig, but I’m rooting even more for Catherine Tregenna!
  • Speaking of: we need more female writers and directors, please! Rachel Talalay’s work on her episodes was so good, you guys.
  • Moffat has said that they will be doing more single episodes in S10; that the two-parters were a nice experiment, but they wanna give Pearl Mackie’s new companion Bill more stories in different settings and situations to be able to be more flexible and tell us more about her.
  • Bill, by the way, is from our present, not from the 80s.

We won’t meet Bill until the first episode of Series 10, which is a little disappointing, but delayed gratification is a thing, right? And if we’ve waited until now, we can wait until Easter.

Things I wish for for Series 10:

  • Travelling both to the far future as well as the distant past. I wanna see mothballed aristocrats we haven’t met before, and hopeful glimpses into the future where humanity doesn’t tear itself apart. Hey, if Peter Harness could do another Currently Relevant Subject episode, that would be fantastic. Doctor Who isn’t usually really into the thing SciFi does, you know, really connecting with temporary concerns; it’s usually touching on themes like kindness and acceptance in broader strokes, but I think we could really do with something that actually takes a stand right about now. I mean, they sent Nixon rolling in his grave in Series 6, they can do it again, right?
  • Consistent writing for the companion that doesn’t flip-flop like Clara’s did in Series 9; and some politically aware writing, too, and not just throw-away lines. I’m not saying Pearl should be used as the show’s Diversity Mascot, god no. But I’m saying that she’s a young woman of colour who wears her hair naturally a lot, I feel like that should be a thing that’s not forgotten or brushed aside, especially in light of the recent upheaval and the continuing Brexit bullshit. Not every episode has to be on-the-nose on-message about the injustices of the world, but it’s gonna matter the world to a lot of little girls and boys (and variations thereupon) around the world to see Bill in the TARDIS, filling the most important role in the TARDIS opposite the Doctor. The show’s writers would do well to remember that.
  • I’d be delighted if the Doctor’s brush-up against the superhero genre wouldn’t be the only such adventure into neighbouring hills and valleys. Mark Gatiss’ stories usually have a lot of Gothic horror about them, and a lot of the episodes involve a good mystery, but I’d just love more crossover-type things, similar to the way they did it in the Agatha Christie episode, The Unicorn and the Wasp.

ICYMI, this is the first proper promo shot of Pearl Mackie at work in the TARDIS:

So while we have to wait until we meet Bill, last week saw the release of a proper, actual Christmas Special trailer, and the role as fill-in companions that Matt Lucas and Charity Wakefield have in it. I was speculating just last week whether this superhero shtick would be more of an homage, or a spoof, or a sort of drawing out of all the parallels that you could plausibly sketch out between the Doctor and some of DC and Marvel’s heroes in capes and tights. The Ghost definitely has aspects of the Man of Steel about him — the costume, the fact that he flies and is, of course, invincible to bullets… not to mention the honour code that comes with super-human strength. Take him to meet Bruce Wayne, and the Bat’s probably roll his eyes and grunt, “Ugh, another one.” Especially since that sandpaper wit marks the newcomer very obviously as a Little Shit™.

Here’s the trailer, one more time:

And they have a German-accented villain experimenting on brains, too! We have entered superhero territory.

My memory is a little sketchy as to whether previous Christmas Special trailers were usually just showing us one entire scene — launch trailers tend to give us an accumulated view of what the series will have to offer; so personally I was a bit surprised at the lack of explosions and the relatively large amount of exposition there, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway: BRING IT ON!

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