Doctor Who is a show of continual reinvention and change. Still, there’s a formula, but even so, showrunner Steven Moffat says there are big shifts in store for the BBC’s 50-year-old adventure show. Casting Peter Capaldi as the title character, an actor who will definitely be a different kind of Time Lord from Matt Smith’s human cartoon, is a step in this direction, as is hiring Kill List director Ben Wheatley to helm the first two episodes of the new season. Recently, Moffat sat down to discuss the impending changes.
Talking at the Hay Festival of Literature and Art, Moffat attempted to explain why it was time for the show to go in a different direction, and lays out the reasoning for the decisions. He says:
Can you imagine if we’d cast another handsome yet quirky young man with entertaining hair? It would sort of just have exposed the formula. And we’d have found someone great, people would have liked him, but the show would have become that little bit more ordinary… We’ve got a part that can be played by anyone, from a 20 year old to a 70 year old — John Hurt was in his seventies when he played it — you’ve got to use that flexibility, not ignore it.
Though Doctor Who has been reborn a dozen times now over the last five decades, and there is a method to the proverbial madness, but there comes a time when the formula becomes repetitive. Eventually reinvention becomes a rut. Moffat says:
One of the hardest things ever to do, is to notice when your clever new idea is now your very old idea. We haven’t made much of a change to Doctor Who since it came back in 2005. It’s been the same show. It has maybe amped some things up and lowered some things, but it is basically the same. I just feel it needs to be a bit more different now, it just needs to be surprising again. We’ve got the hang of this, we need to change it. The rhythm has to alter, which it has.
It isn’t just the addition of Capaldi to the fray that is indicative of these changes. Recent specials “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor” did what they needed to do and wrapped up most of the loose ends that were dangling at the end of Matt Smith’s time on the throne. At the same time, they also provided him with a new end game, which is to find his long lost home world of Gallifrey.
Season eight of Doctor Who is scheduled to kick off this August, though the exact date is still up in the air. Though if you can’t wait until then to get your Time Lord fix, you’ll have the opportunity soon, and on the big screen to boot. BBC and Fathom Events have teamed up to bring the Doctor to the movie theaters for a two-night event.
On June 16, select theaters will revisit David Tennant’s turn in the role with a special theatrical cut of “Doctor Who: Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel.” Trapped on a parallel Earth, Rose discovers that her father is still alive, but there are more sinister forces at work. These episodes feature the first appearance of the Cybermen in the rebooted series. The next night, on June 17, the same ticket will get you into see the premiere of the feature length documentary Wings 3D, narrated by Tennant.