On Doctor Who at 60 Years, Disney Plus’ Desire to Restart the Numbering System and Beyond

As much as I’d love to see Doctor Who last forever, it’s living on borrowed time.

Doctor Who at 60 YearsAs much as I love BBC’s Doctor Who, to distinguish between their time and what Disney Branded Television announced may well be troubling for anyone maintaining online episode guides. According to Dark Horizons‘ report over last weekend, the season count is being reset! And honestly, after catching David Tennant’s return and departure in the three anniversary specials, that’ll be the end for me.

Although I sense this announcement is more of a method to make the “acquisition of broadcast rights” more distinguished, there may be other reasons for the change. It’s about how their handling can be recognised in the eyes of many. What they’re doing is no less confusing than how LEGO Ninjago‘s seasons are represented. Series One to Ten are known as Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu (also known as the WILFilm years) and eleven on up is simply Ninjago (aka Wildbrain). The latest, which is sixteen, is Ninjago: Dragons Rising (also handled by this new studio). If there’s a rename to the British series because Disney wants to, I’m going to be furious!

When the two broadcasters made a deal to deliver Doctor Who to a worldwide audience rather than stay “in the country,” I’m sure the house of the mouse had some requirements. Although reports say the BBC has creative control, I suspect not every detail in the contract got revealed a year ago. I’m sure many coins from Disney’s golden vaults will get offered to influence how Doctor Who will now look!

I remained mum because I didn’t want to offer a knee-jerk reaction. More information was needed. Despite how well received Jodie Whittaker’s acting was, the ratings weren’t all that spectacular. Also, not all the stories were great. Only one recurring character from this era stood out for me.

The 11 Doctors

After the reveal that a proto-time lord that would become the First Doctor exists, I had to wonder how this woman would fit in. When considering everything that’s known about how it all started, I’m sure fans were asking that too. She would have to become some younger version of the First, have a family, and eventually after having some row with the high council, decide to steal a time machine and have his/her granddaughter in tow!

When concerning her skin colour, that may be why Ncuti Gatwa got cast. He’s an ethnic actor who will soon lead the series. The choice to bring him in may well be a result of the story arc regarding the Fugitive Doctor (played by Jo Martin, who is also of African descent) coming full circle in a very twisted way.

Just why this version exists was never fully explained when she made her first appearance during “Fugitive of the Judoon.” Her subsequent reappearances in other episodes, like “Once, Upon Time” are merely teasers to a person who is very confident in her abilities to mediate a situation. And honestly, I’d rather want to know more about this mysterious pre-Doctor era figure as official episodes than a Big Finish Audio Drama.

The Fugitive Doctor

That would make for a better hook. That is, let’s tie up those loose ends from the past stories rather than develop with new content. I’m hoping that’s Russell T Davies‘ plan, since he’s returning as the showrunner and head writer. Hopefully, that fob watch locked away in the TARDIS vaults will make a return; it’s important for the Fugitive Doctor if she’s to regain her memories in order to become the First Incarnation, have a family and so on–which will eventually lead into those adventures that started it all.

Also, the fact David Tennant is back as the “Fourteenth Doctor” suggests he’s an intern regeneration too, and that may figure into the new series plan. As much as I’d love to see Doctor Who last forever, it’s living on borrowed time. I never liked the idea of giving him a new set of regenerations. It should’ve ended with Calpadi since it’s tough for any later episodes to follow up on what those stories did. The standouts include “The Husbands of River Song,” “The Monk’s Trilogy,” “World Enough Time,” and “The Doctor Falls.”

The Doctor's Meditation feat. Peter Capaldi and Bor's Chalice

And by announcing a numerical restart, is this division of the Disney company simply not wanting to celebrate the 60 years with their partner? They’re not offering those episodes on their streaming service right away. It’ll happen, but nobody knows when.

In theory, it should be offered at the same time as the premiere of the newest season when that finally airs. That way, newcomers can enjoy all 60 years of Doctor Who! If they’re going to release them on waves, I’m going to scream! I’d rather turn to my VHS collection to view the older episodes rather than wait for some streaming service to offer them up in waves. In Canada, I’m thankful we have a BBC channel so I can enjoy all classic Who all the time.

Doctor Who Anniversary Trailer

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: