It would be a massive fib If I were to tell you that resting Doctor Who for a year was a bad choice.
Now, before you scroll down to the comments section and start writing dark things about my mother, bear with me, because there’s method to my madness.
Doctor Who is the brightest, funniest, scariest, craziest, boldest & most innovative show that has ever graced television screens. You can’t deny it, it’s just the best. You can keep your Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Simpsons, and The Office comments to yourself. Although to be fair, they are all marvellous television shows. But they all pale in comparison to the mighty Doctor and his mad adventures through time and space. Doctor Who was breaking the mould in television & entertainment terms before most television legends were in their inception stages. But why therefore, do you ask, through tear filled eyes with a soft sob in your voice, clinging to your Trial of a Time Lord VHS tin box set, is it possibly a good choice?
Because it makes the world miss the Doctor.
Far too many TV shows go on and on and on until they’re stopped forever, rattling out the same scenario week after week, month after month, and year after year. Ultimately programmes that start out with something interesting to say lose themselves towards their later years (ahem-Simpsons, Family Guy, Supernatural, EastEnders). And whilst Doctor Who did experience that in its infancy (26 years is nothing to this show – it’ll go on forever y’hear? FOREVER!) it was back on the small screens in 1993, 1996, and 1999 before fully relaunching in 2005. That’s not even including the wealth of books, audios, webcasts and comics that were released while the Doctor went off and fought the Time War between 1996 -2005 (shut up: that’s exactly why there was no new Doctor Who on screen in those years; he went off to fight a bigger war).
Resting the Doctor for a bit allows his character to regain momentum for audiences old and new, it’s what will keep Gallifrey’s most infamous child running for forever and a day. It’s what will give future actors, writers, directors, producers, and even vision mixers ample time to make a show of quality, depth and, most importantly, swagger.
Take 2015 for example, that was a year of indulgence for me. Series 9 came with all sorts of expectations. So used to the Doctor being back regularly was I, that nothing could quite match my levels of expectation. It wasn’t enough that there was new Doctor Who on the TV, I wanted more. I had got so used to the Doctor and Clara that their scenarios needed to be bigger and better each week. The character development had reached an impasse.
2017 is much, much different.
There’s a palpable excitement in the air. Bill is coming and she looks wonderful. Nardole is lined up to under promise and overdeliver. There’s Emojibots, Frost fairs, Poirot, an epic 3 parter, JOHN SIMM AS THE MASTER, Missy, a glorious sequel to Mark Gatiss’ excellent Cold War, JOHN SIMM AS THE MASTER, the Mondasian Cybermen finally returning, a secret mission for the Doctor, and did I mention JOHN SIMM AS THE MASTER? Moreover, it looks like we’ll get a Twelfth Doctor that’s thrown off the trappings of grumpy, angry, and obstreperous (not from lack of food), and is finally a man who is exactly sure of who he is – simply the Doctor.
And all it’s taken to get this level of excitement pumping is a year off and two new characters. I’m always ecstatic for new episodes of Doctor Who but at the same time I thoroughly believe that a little rest occasionally completely does the show the world of good. It even fits into the narrative when pre-planned (think of the Time War or the Doctor’s final years with River and how long he was off our screens whilst he said goodbye to her).
I’ve missed the Doctor in the last year but from what I’ve seen so far, absence has wonderfully made the heart grow fonder.
Here’s to new beginnings and bold endings. 2017 is going to start a new golden age for Doctor Who all over again and my expectation levels have already been hit.
Doctor Who returns this Saturday April 15th with The Pilot on BBC One at 7:20 pm.