I love Doctor Who. I consider myself a huge fan of the show, knowing more than a casual watcher, collecting, wearing and spending a ridiculous amount of money on merchandise and still singing along to that iconic theme tune each time the title sequence starts. That is why it pained me even more than usual when the latest season failed to live up to the previous instalments and began to show signs of fatigue.
For any series that has been running nine seasons (not counting the previous, classic series) the wear will always begin to show. The stories are beginning to become repetitive and although the monsters are creative, the actual plans or threats don’t seem to inspire as they once did. Worse of all, when we get a “classic” villain, it doesn’t bring the same level of excitement, as both The Daleks and Cybermen find themselves over-used to the point of nullifying their impact.
It meant that the episodes that made-up season nine were crafted in overly complicated ways. Some of the more simple ideas were twisted to become more complex than was necessary and in episodes such as Sleep No More, the unique, creative innovation was lost amongst the more nonsensical plot elements.
I don’t ever want to see Doctor Who cancelled, I believe that it has a lot to offer and should always feature as a part of the BBC drama line-up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a yearly season though. This Christmas saw both the excitement and ratings wane for Doctor Who where once it would have been the tentpole for Christmas Day entertainment for the BBC.
It is time The Doctor took a break. The biggest episodes that Doctor Who had recently were the “events.” The 50th Anniversary special and the Christmas Day special that followed were huge, both for ratings but also in the creative quality of the stories. Before that, the other events episodes were the 2009 “specials” which featured David Tennant’s Doctor regenerating. It wasn’t just because of the change in personnel: these events were huge winners because they were the only chance to see The Doctor after a well-timed “break.”
If anymore proof is needed, take a look at this year’s New Year’s special on the BBC: Sherlock. Sherlock has always been sparse anyway, only offering three episodes at a time but this year will be a huge ratings and hopefully creative winner because it will be the first time in two years that we get to see the Detective. A break is as good as a change and it may be time that Doctor Who took advantage of that fact.
A break won’t just offer increased enthusiasm for the series either. Only having one or two specials or even taking a full years break from the airwaves should reboot the creative juices in head writer Steven Moffat. This year’s Christmas special demonstrated that Moffat still has the required writing skills but he may benefit from stepping away from the Time Lord and his Blue Box to reboot some of those ideas and deliver episodes that resembled his first in charge of the series.
It would also mean that we could get excited about seeing enemies like The Daleks, Cybermen, The Master/Mistress or any other of the over-used villains because they would have had a clear break from our screens.
Overall, I don’t ever want to see Doctor Who cancelled but a break from our screens seems in order. Familiarity seems to have numbed the enthusiasm for the series and also began to create a creative block for the show as a whole. A break would fire-up interest and enthusiasm, give Steven Moffat a chance to reboot his creative ideas and also add some menace to over-used villains such as The Daleks.