Doctor Who Series 10 Will Be “One-Parters Mostly”

Steven Moffat has revealed that Series 10 of Doctor Who will consist mostly of one-part tales, with a few two-parters added in for good measure.

In the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine (the 500th edition, which comes with a rather wonderful additional magazine featuring every single DWM cover), the showrunner says:

“We’re going back to more singles. Two-parters worked brilliantly last year, but somehow, with the new companion, you want the simpler version of the show. By last year, the Doctor and Clara had been there for so long, it was a complicated relationship by then, so we needed the bigger stories. Next year we will have some two-parters, but it will be back to one-parters mostly.”

This will be met with mixed reception; many felt Series 9’s two-parters worked perfectly for a show that arguably relies on cliffhangers. If we look back, every story of that run of episodes was either a two-parter, or linked (The Girl Who Died led into The Woman Who Lived, just as Face the Raven led into Heaven Sent/Hell Bent), with the exception of Sleep No More – which itself was planned as a two-part story, and a sequel does exist in Mark Gatiss’ mind.

Personally, I welcome the return of one-parters. I’m not a huge fan of two-parters… or at least, I don’t enjoy it every week. I thought Series 9 suffered from that, with only Under the Lake/ Before the Flood properly filling those two episode durations. I think my issue is, if you don’t like a storyline, you have to suffer it for even longer than usual. “Suffer” is, perhaps, a little harsh, but I’m sure you get my point.

Some would argue that multi-part tales give the characters time to expand. I think that’s nonsense, but there we are. Characters can evolve as much in 40-odd minutes as they can in 80-odd. Characterisation is down to the talents of writers and actors; we should be able to extract enough information from tiny gestures as big. I never questioned the motivations of Gwyneth in The Unquiet Dead, or Alec Palmer in Hide.

Nonetheless, I think many will agree that the structures of Series 1 – 5 were about perfect, with a strong ensemble of tales to cater for hardcore fans and casual viewers. I loved Series 6 and 7 but that’s arguably where the format was changed too much.

Mix it up! That’s the key to longevity.

  • TimeChaser

    As long as they can tell the tale without cramming too much, single episodes can work. It’s when you try to cram so much into 45 minutes that it would benefit more from an extended length that you get problems.

    Let’s look at Neil Gaiman’s two episodes. I think everyone will admit that The Doctor’s Wife is pretty darn perfect. It does its job very well in its allotted time. But where Nightmare in Silver falls down in many ways is a feeling of incompleteness, that it has more ideas that were not explore adequately enough in just the single episode.

  • Dr. Moo

    Last year’s format of four two-part stories (Magician/Witch, Lake/Flood, Invasion/Inversion, Heaven/Hell) and four one-part stories (Died, Lived, Sleep, Raven) worked well I thought. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
    However with the introduction of the new companion it would make sense to take a simpler approach. While I generally prefer two-part stories because they’re more fleshed out and better paced it seems like a sensible idea. We get more stories this way and that’s a good thing.

  • bar

    grumpy old sod alert: I liked the original format – one ep led into another regardless of number of eps in any particular adventure. You got a cliffhanger every week, even at the end of a story. one set of problems/monsters/whatever may have had three or four, or six or seven weeks’ worth of material, but the year rolled on seamlessly.

    • TimeChaser

      I’m with you, bar.

      I prefer the old serial format as well. Each format has it’s merit and it’s flaws, though, like the old serials suffering from padding in many cases. While the new series could often benefit from extended length, the classics could sometimes benefit from being cut down just a bit.

  • Edward Delingford

    I thought last year worked really well. It felt very organic and set up Clara’s journey from apprentice to master, allowing for some great charscter development in episodes like Girl/Woman. Single stories with a loose arc work well too. All comes down to the writers ultimately. Steven Moffat has brought some terrific writing talent on board during his tenure and I am very excited to find out about the mystery writers for series 10 whom Moffat reckons will blow our minds.

  • John McJ

    I like 2-parters better. If this makes it easier to bring in *grits teeth* Billie *argh* then it’ll be fine.

    • bar

      Keep referring to her as AsBill if it helps 😉

      • Dr. Moo

        Where did that asBill running gag come from? I genuinely have no idea!

        • Mark North

          “Bill” is actually one of Billie Piper’s nicknames used by her close friends and relatives…

        • bar

          the failure to put a gap in the credits to that trailer:

          • Dr. Moo

            I didn’t notice that before… how did that not get fixed?!

  • FrancoPabloDiablo

    I don’t think character development has much to do with 2-parters. I think it is more to do with story. Is there enough plot to deserve and merit it? The format of series 1 – 5 seemed to work perfectly and I’d like to see that format return. And as for the argument that if you don’t like a storyline you have to suffer it for two weeks then the exact opposite can be applied – if you really like a storyline you can enjoy it for two weeks. As for Mark Gatiss’ ideas for a sequel to Sleep No More, I wonder if that will ever happen given the negativity it received (both critically and by a lot of fandom and represented in it’s low AI figure). I personally quite enjoyed it and actually think that The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived were the low points of series 9.