We really liked that new Doctor Who trailer. It’s basically that line from Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy about excitement, adventure and really wild things in visual form.
We are excited for this new season too.
In fact we are EXCITED.
And maybe a little worried. Here’s why.
Peter Capaldi is leaving. Every Doctor does and we applaud him for hitting three seasons out of the park. But, this regeneration has a lot of extra pressure on it. There’s the fundamental need many people, us included, feel for the Doctor to not be a white dude next time. There’s the fact Capaldi is leaving to make room for new show runner Chris Chibnall’s replacement Doctor. There’s the constant fear that the show will be cancelled a second time, a fear now entering its triumphant tenth year. Most of all, there’s the sense we always get at this time so perfectly summed up by the Tenth Doctor’s final words. ‘I don’t want to go’. Or perhaps, ‘I don’t want him to go,’
But he will. And the really interesting thing about that trailer is it implies he may be going sooner than we think.
Ofifcial word is Capaldi is leaving in the Christmas special. Honestly, this disappoints us a little. Who has been over fond in the past of angsty or mawkish Christmas specials and another one which boils down to ‘Hey everyone? Opened your presents? LET’S TALK ABOUT DEATH!’ isn’t what we’d like to see. But we’ll give it a shot, regardless.
And besides, riddle us this, Batreaders. If he’s regenerating in the Christmas special, then why do we see this in the trailer for the new series?
We have four theories. Some good, some bad. Potentially all wrong. Here we go.
1. Surprise! New Doctor!
It has all been a very clever lie and the Doctor regenerates at the end of the first episode. We then have a split narrative between his retroactive adventures with Bill in the past and the new Doctor trying to come to terms with his new life in the present. A present which judging by that trailer probably includes Missy in the TARDIS and things being, well, a bit on fire.
This is…kind of plausible? We see maybe six episodes worth of stories in the trailer so it’s entirely possible there’s a few that are being kept under wraps. Alternately it could be the UK equivalent of a mid-season finale. Surprise! New Doctor! Old Companion! On ramp for the new regime!
2. Framing Narrative
What if the season opens with him dying, the TARDIS in ruins and a wide variety of ‘WHAT?’ Moments and things that lead to the regeneration triggering and…
We flash back to him meeting Bill and see the puzzle pieces of his eventual regeneration fall into place. Sort of like what the The Thing prequel did or like Moffat had sketched out for an extra year with Tennant.
This would actually be really fun. It sets up tension for the regeneration, tries something the show has either never done before or never done quite like this and gives every single one of 12’s final actions meaning and significance.
3. Gallifrey Team Up!
The Doctor is in uncharted regeneration territory (Hence, time to not be a white guy) and as a result the next regeneration is probably going to be fairly traumatic. What if the next incarnation is introduced early, either as a different character or as themselves, to help shepherd him through it? Kind of like the 4th/5th handover just with much less falling off radio telescopes.
This could be great fun. It allows them to do a multi-Doctor story (And Moffat’s on the way out so it’s not like he’s got anything to lose), lets the hand over happen gently and gives Capaldi the send off he richly deserves. Plus there’s a nice emotional element to it. 12’s had a hell of a run, he deserves a final curtain that’s supportive instead of the usual lonely moment of transition.
4. Fake Out
The Stolen Earth fakeout again.
Please not this.
Or at the very least do it in such a way that it sets up the ticking clock for the season. The Doctor does something in the first episode he absolutely knows WILL kill him and spends the season cramming as much other stuff in as he can. Sort of like 10’s victory lap just with added poignancy (And let’s face it this show has a sweet tooth for poignancy) and narrative cohesion.
So, we’d be happy with three of those which is a pretty good average. Of course we could be wrong across the board but it’s going to be fun finding out. And not long now either! Woooo!
Doctor Who returns 15 April. He regenerates, we suspect, not long after