..AND IT’S ABOUT TIME!..
Finally! BBC get something ‘right’! All is forgiven. This is GREAT NEWS. Bringing back Russell T Davies to run DOCTOR WHO might very well prove the salvation of both the series and public broadcaster brand, together. I do not say that lightly or as hyperbollix.
This show was always a BIT about reclaiming past glories. Russell’s return is not so much solely about Doctor Who as it is, specifically, somehow recapturing the magic of his era as the boss. Very clever.
Today’s trend IS a kind of reverse engineered nostalgia. Michael Keaton back as Batman but in The Flash movie. Rumours of old Spider-men back to help save the latest iteration from certain doom in his new adventure. Etc. This timing is perfect!
Russell is a magician. He knows what works and what does not. His particular genius is in casting, tonal definition and positioning the show’s format, correctly. As a fan of the Dr Who lore/character, Davies will preserve old favourites in its formula. But as an instinctive producer, it is his vision that moves things forward and generates new appeal. Risk plus safety at once!
He ‘gets’ the zeitgeist, its technological trends and reads the consumer need now driving our entertainment. At the same time, Russell has his own ethos and unique take on classic material, never a slave to corporate politics.
He’s an Oxford graduate: best training ground in the world for creativity. Elite yet egalitarian, at once. Just like The Doctor! Trust me. I know. I was at New College, myself. Literature and lore are pervasive and core to that magical campus.
Davies ‘gets’ male/female chemistry far better than those who succeeded him. Chibnall’s era has been a strangely sexless mess, tonally illiterate from day one. Moffat veered on prurience in drawn out details around sexuality: awful, frankly (great plot-smith /writer; woefully poor show-runner, imho).
Yes, it’s a kids’ show / family audience as primary demographic. But adults have to enjoy it, akin to panto.
You should FANCY the companion /lead actor (or both, whatever works!) and one cannot either overplay /overdo or neglect that vital ingredient.
Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) is a spiky, sexy, flesh and blood female powerhouse. Madame De Pompadour (Sophia Myles) = voluptuous sensuality, incarnate.
And yes, girls, boys and everyone in between fell head over heels with The Doctor as cast and written by Russell.
Davies knows how to ‘do’ message motifs in stories without preaching or losing the escapist charm. Notice he managed to have a nod here or there toward homosexuality, race, class and so on. Yet those never upstaged the FUN!
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman: please also return, btw?) is gay/bi/omni-sexual and they established that in quick bit of dialogue. Then the script returned, rapidly, to the adventure that binds us, rather than focusing on the past inequalities which divided all.
What to expect next?
I think Russell is here to stay now, indefinitely. Same way the BBC toyed with (but alas never got round to at the time) hiring Verity Lambert as a kind of Godmother for a reboot, to the brand back in the 1990s wilderness of the show.
IE: He will be the Kevin Feige /Barbara Broccoli: steering the course of a show he adores whilst ensuring they avoid overkill or neglect (both of which have killed Doctor Who in the past).
Format, tone and cast / main plot arc will be Russell’s main ‘thing’ I suspect, thereby also allowing him to take time off wherever needed and do other things.
Show runner need NOT be the chief writer and indeed, much as I adore Davies’ writing, a sci-fi expert, he was not. Plus he really does not need the relentless stress or career boost / ££ that badly.
So, his team can and indeed MUST recruit far and wide for new, talented and fresh writers. The occasional episode can be given to an old favourite and yes, Russell + Steven Moffat = perfection = GIRL IN FIREPLACE level GREAT.
Logic would dictate a short run of self contained mini series, building toward the 2023 anniversary (60 years!) of Doctor Who. Soft reboot surely an option on the table at this stage. Or at very least, a parallel continuity being deployed, which thankfully, Russell himself set up back in 2008.
RETCON THE TIMELESS CHILDREN ARC! And possibly, ignore anything post Matt Smith. You need not ‘de-canon’ them but avoid needless exposure of less popular material.
Remember: the decline in popularity started under the Moffat/Capaldi axis. Peter’s Doctor started brilliantly, giving us a no nonsense, sharp, Thick of It Timelord with hidden layers of kindness to peel away. Then they made him an aging hipster with a guitar and long hair (fine, btw IF your character had an arc or started that way but this Doctor didn’t) and viewers were left confused. So yes, alas, even Capaldi era stuff is not really an asset here?
Faction Paradox is one way to retcon, fast (in the books, they destroy all continuity = clean slate yet allowing for old motifs to be revisited). And there are countless universe manipulating powers in the back catalogue who might come back in order to move things forward quickly without endless explanation (Fenric, Suktek, Rassilon et al).
Use the meta-crisis Doctor, perhaps? You can then take some low budget, soap operatic, kitchen sink details (Rose and the Doctor: married, babied, mortgaged!). Perhaps Rose has taken up FLOWER ARRANGING, with a reformed RASSILON? (ok, maybe not..but..).
What if their kid IS that ‘timeless child’ and hence reverse engineering her fate as a kind of throwback genetic memory? Maybe she is kidnapped by nefarious beings because she CAN regenerate, even though Meta-Doc cannot? Kid as macguffin /Baby Yoda counterpart. so matching Disney Plus Star Wars/Marvel et al. Just a thought (again).
THAT is where the Jodie Whittaker series plotlines can be neatly put to bed without offending Chibnall fans? And if the daughter of Rose and the Doctor is a person of colour and they never mention that difference, then you convey a truly inclusive message, implicitly yet powerfully.
IE: Segue the everyday life back into cosmic / time travel / save the universe adventure. Merge that with Russell’s earthy, soulful, romantic heart of tonal definition. All via bold, fresh designs and writing. Murray Gold should return on music.
And yes, BRING BACK DAVID TENNANT. Park a money truck outside his home. Promise him any other project he wants (something worthy /political /serial killer drama / woteva) and endless downtime with his adorable wife and family but GET HIM BACK. Even as a transitional placeholder until the anointed successor emerges. MATT SMITH too: just as good, btw. All in time for a CHRSITMAS SPECIAL by 2022?
I AM DELIGHTED AND THRILLED.
I met Russell once. Lovely man. Lovely memory. And this, dear readers is lovely news. Which is why I take full credit: having campaigned for it, relentlessly. 🙂
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, one and all. Must dash. 😉 x