Can it really be more than a decade since Series 1 ended? Coming up to 12 years this summer since the Ninth Doctor breathed his last, his gallant effort to save his companion causing his demise?
Doctor Who Series 1 did a lot of things right. The Ninth Doctor? Tick. A fantastic relevance? Tick. Proper drama? Double tick. And of course: monsters – always a key ingredient in Doctor Who, and that first run saw no shortage of new creations. But which if this batch of beasts should return?
Autons/ Nestene Consciousness
Russell T Davies has since explained that he brought back the race of plastic fantastics as he needed a monster in Rose that could plausibly be dismissed as human, and that once he’d made that decision the Autons fit the bill as well as anything new he could have thought up himself. Plus it neatly echoed the success of Spearhead from Space! There was something of a twist at the episode’s climax with the Doctor voicing his guilt that he ‘couldn’t save’ their world, giving a new slant on the Nestene Consciousness as a race of homeless refugees.
It would perhaps be hard to imagine the BBC, facing a critical government and with no lack of critics in the media, signing off any script featuring troll dolls or faceless policemen, but another appearance would surely be welcomed by long-term fans. Their most recent appearance was a sort of bit-part in The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, which was actually ages ago.
Aliens from Platform One
The episode that was intended to introduce viewers to the weirdness and variety of inter-galactic travel, The End of the World featured a colourful array of blue-skinned beings, living trees, and other assorted visitors who’d come together to witness the planet’s demise. In truth, most of these feel like they belong in another era of the show now. Monsters in the Davies era tended to be of the bold, vivid type (cat nurses, rhino policemen, a great big head…) than the rather darker creations we’ve seen in his successor’s time in charge.
Mind you, a couple cropped up again in The Rings of Akhaten…
A nice idea for a monster that never really had sufficient time to develop much in the way of a back-story, the ghostly Gelth turned out to be a race of gaseous beings whose planet had also fallen victim to the unearthly savagery of the Time War. The fact they turned out to be a deceitful bunch of body-stealers was a somewhat predictable twist, but perhaps there would be mileage in a return visit? To see the Gelth operating in another setting away from the very Earth-bound locations of Series 1? Just remember not to light a match…
Writer of The Unquiet Dead, Mark Gatiss did bring the monsters back to great effect in a previous Doctor Who Storybook – whatever happened to those?! – so he’s sure to have further ideas.
The kids may have loved them but many other viewers weren’t so sure. The Slitheen were victims of a clunky costume design, an awkward mix of real SFX and CGI, and some over-the-top comic acting, and as a result many would surely be unlikely to welcome them back. Arguably they found their natural home in The Sarah Jane Adventures, where the fart gags and OTT realisation of the monsters didn’t tend to jar as much. Similarly, they work well in Titan Comics’ Ninth Doctor comic.
A point in their favour was their motivation as enemies on the make, a race of galactic chancers and profiteers – somehow fitting in the age of the crisis in global finance.
Some of the CGI in the early series may look less than perfect now, but these dinosaur-like creatures who feasted on elements which upset the balance of time were one of the more convincing early efforts. The notion of them sterilising the cause of any imbalance by devouring whatever got in the way was nicely chilling, and they were an effective threat in their one appearance. We never did get to find out why they only ever turned up this one time to sort out temporal disruptions when the Doctor has spent a lifetime going around mucking about with time… but perhaps it was simply because two lots of the Doctor and Rose being there at one time weakened the time stream in a way other adventures.
Or maybe the Time Lords, saved by the Doctor in the 50th anniversary special, stopped them reappearing in numerous cases?
The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe
The realisation of this ceiling-hugging blob may not have been great but the idea was neatly prescient, given what’s happened since with phone-hacking revelations – of which Eccleston was a victim – and ever-more dominant media corporations. The Jagrafess (to give it its shortened name) was more of a plot-serving device than a monster with the potential to return.
Now, if they could get Simon Pegg to come back, that would be another matter…
So what do you think? Do any of these Series 1 monsters deserve a return appearance? Share your thoughts below!
(Adapted from an article originally published on Kasterborous in June 2015.)