As I stated in my first HubPages article, I was a Whovian in America before it was cool so I know what I'm talking about.
Original Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies is coming back with grand plans.
Full disclosure: The title of this article in no way reflects on my political views. It does, in fact, reflect on what I hope Mr. Davies does when he takes over the show.
In October, I believe it was, 2021, I saw an article on my iPhone confirming that the next showrunner of Doctor Who, taking over from Chris Chibnall, would be the current version of the show's original showrunner, Russell T. Davies. Once I got done nearly choking on my Doritos, I shook my head and said, "Good."
It was a big surprise because I had not been expecting the new showrunner to be anyone who had ran the show before. And I may be in the minority but I had always thought that Davies' successor on the show, whom he handpicked, Steven Moffat, was a better showrunner than him. That does not mean Davies was a bad showrunner by any means, so I definitely trust him to be the man in charge of the show again. Under him, the show was event TV, which by definition it's supposed to be (any show that has lasted almost six decades is as a general rule event TV) and which it has not been since Chris Chibnall took over in 2018.
I'm going to put all my cards on the table right now: Lots of fans like to put all the blame on the show's declining ratings since 2018 on the fact that Chris Chibnall hired the first female to ever play the role of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, and the "wokeness" of several of the scripts. I am here to call that a crock and debunk that. Jodie Whittaker is a great actress. Her Doctor is an energetic, funny, entertaining characterization which kind of resembles a female Matt Smith. She has good chemistry with her co-star Mandip Gil, who plays companion Yasmin Khan, and their scenes together in the most recent episode, Legend of the Sea Devils, in which Yaz confessed she had a crush on the Doctor, were the only interesting thing about the episode to me. The problem with Jodie Whittaker's run is that while Chris Chibnall may be great at writing the drama he'd previously worked with Whittaker on, Broadchurch (and maybe he really is, I don't know) but as a Doctor Who writer, the man is the pits. The fault with Whittaker's run lies solely with him.
Take for example Whittaker's first season. No classic enemies returned. She had three companions at once (always a mistake because it leaves the viewer less time to get to know a new Doctor), Yaz's old school chum Ryan Sinclair and his step-grandfather Graham O'Brien really were not needed. The only decent episode was Rosa, about Rosa Parks, and even that was bogged down by a boring villain. Not to mention Chibnall wrote a season finale which was a one-part story and was about the dullest season finale I had ever seen on the show. Say what you will about Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat when they both were head writers for the show but I don't remember a single season finale under either one of them which didn't actually feel like a season finale. Some of them were better than others in both showrunners' cases but they all actually felt like season finales.
Chibnall's writing in his second season improved but not by a lot. By now he introduced his version of the Doctor's lifelong arch enemy the Master, played by Indian-British actor Sacha Dhawan, who also played the very first director of Doctor Who ever, Waris Hussein, in the 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. Good performance, good movie. Much like Jodie Whittaker, if Dhawan had debuted under a better showrunner, he would no doubt have left a proper legacy as the Master. He is a fine actor and his Master is a nice mix of glee and insanity, not unlike the Master John Simm played alongside David Tennant when RTD had his first run on the show. And then there was the hidden "Fugitive Doctor" incarnation Chibnall sprang on us out of nowhere, played by the delightful Jo Martin.
The Fugitive Doctor, revealed to be the titular character in the fifth episode of Series 12, Fugitive of the Judoon, was a hidden black female incarnation of the Doctor who was hiding out on Earth because a secret Time Lord organization called the Division was after her. On the surface, a hidden incarnation might have been reasonable, after all Steven Moffat introduced the War Doctor, played by the late Sir John Hurt, in 2013 and we didn't know where he came from and Moffat explained him away in the 50th anniversary episode. However, the Fugitive Doctor was apparently an incarnation which existed before any of the lives the Doctor even remembered with her purple blazer, purple vest and Jamaican-like shirt and laser gun and dreadlocks. Her appearance has yet to be resolved on the show but, like Sacha's Master, Jo Martin has been hired to play the Fugitive Doctor by Big Finish Audios and they usually do a good job at fleshing out characters the show has trouble doing that with. And Jo Martin deserves it because even though she's not a typical Doctor, not even just by being a black female but by coming out of nowhere and looking all over the role right off the bat. She has a good look for a Doctor and she has a nice no nonsense attitude for one as well. But at the same time, she's also part of the Chibnall era's problem.
Jo Martin's Doctor was written well for what little screen time she's ever had. But when you write a hidden incarnation of a character that, logically should not even exist, better than you write your main incarnation of said character, that's just plain lazy.
And his third season, which was one big serial, was good but not great. And Jodie's finally settling into the role of the Doctor, I believe. However, the Chibnall era needs to come to a close and for the show to survive, it needs an overhaul something awful to be, as I say, event TV again. And Russell Davies made it event TV once, he can do it again. And by his recent leaked actions, he's off to a good start.
He is currently filming either a Christmas special, commonplace during his original run, or part of the 60th anniversary episodes, and it has been revealed that not only are beloved Tenth Doctor David Tennant and his companion Donna Noble played by Catherine Tate returning but Donna's granddad Wilfred Mott, played by Bernard Cribbins, at 93 no less, is returning as well. Wilfred Mott was about the most lovable grandfather-type character I'd ever seen on TV and I've seen a lot of such characters. But people loved these particular characters and I truly believe Russell will get people excited about them returning (he certainly did in my case!), Not only that but it's also been uncovered that the director of whatever's filming now is none other than Rachel Talalay, who helmed all of Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi's season finales and is the single best director the current version of the show has. Russell is doing what I said he would do in this article's title, I feel it. But there's one particular decision he made that may be a wee bit controversial.
Announced as the new Doctor under his next tenure was a young Scottish-Rwandan man named Ncuti "Shootie" Gatwa, whom I was not familiar with but whom is the first black male to play the Doctor, which I had a hunch would happen when they cast Jodie Whittaker. I've since seen some interviews with him and he's colorful enough that as long as he has decent scripts he'll be a great Doctor. But between this and RTD casting a young black transgender actress as a new girl named "Rose" (who is obviously not Rose Tyler for those people who jumped to conclusions when they saw that), some people think the wokeness of the show they disliked under Chibnall will still prevail instead of just being Doctor Who. Now I'm gonna debunk that theory as well and first state that RTD's first era was woke too.
Russell T. Davies is a gay man who made it so that his first companion on the show, Rose Tyler's, boyfriend was a black kid. He created the multisexual character Captain Jack Harkness. Donna Noble's husband is black. Davies created a show about what it was like to be young and gay in the 80s. He featured Britney Spears music in an episode about the end of the world. Yeah, clearly he's not woke at all, is he?
And as far as those who feel Gatwa was cast by Davies just to succumb to activism (he's an activist already, guys), well I mentioned already I just had to listen to Gatwa talk to determine he'd most likely be a good Doctor so I suspect Davies had the exact same reaction when he auditioned. Perhaps he just cast the person he thought was best-suited for the role, did these people ever think of that?
And maybe I am wrong and Gatwa and RTD's new eras will both suck but right now all I know is Chris Chibnall has one episode left and RTD seems to be taking appropriate steps to get people talking about the show and invested again, which is exactly what he should be doing.
And that's not a bad thing, that's a good thing.