…or Doctor Whusings, if you will. Alright, don’t.
I watched The Crimson Horror this evening. My favourite episode of the past season, and probably Mark Gatiss’s best yet. I am a fan of Mark Gatiss.
I got the Series 7 boxset this week – on Blu-Ray, no less – and, although I’ve watched all the extras, I decided not to watch the episodes themselves, as I’m currently partaking in a Series Seven rewatch of my own (an episode every weekend in the run up to the anniversary – it’s taken me 12 weeks so far – obviously), hence my reaching The Crimson Horror tonight.
Now, the extras on the boxset that I haven’t gotten round to enjoying yet are the commentaries. I did watch/listen to the first of the four, as Production Designer Michael Pickwoad and Art Director Paul Spriggs talk over The Snowmen. Which is nice enough. A few gaps here and there, pretty informative. But lacking that umph that commentaries with the cast/producers/writers tend to have. Funny stories and anecdotes, a feeling of genuine camaraderie that make the commentaries fun.
I haven’t listened to the commentaries for Mark Gatiss’ episodes Cold War and, of course, The Crimson Horror (both of which feature the writer), or Hide, which features Matt Smith on the commentary track. But commentaries on four episodes on a fifteen episode boxset…well, it may be nice to hear commentaries, and it may be a luxury, and I may just be ungrateful, but – it doesn’t seem much.
Maybe we were spoilt with previous Doctor Who boxsets – the first four series had commentaries on every episode (a total of 55 episodes), with the Specials boxset featuring commentaries on just the two parts of the grand finale of the Tennant/Davies era.
And, though I’d’ve thought it hasn’t a great deal to do with the change in production team, we have got a lot fewer commentaries on the last three series; a total of just fifteen of the 42 episodes feature a commentary track (six commentaries on s5, five on s6 and four on s7). It just seems such a shame. I’m hoping the Eleventh Doctor’s final two episodes feature commentary tracks. Oh, for a The Day of the Doctor talkthrough with David Tennant and Matt Smith. And that’s another thing I often bring up, which no-one has an answer for – how will these last episodes of this Anniversary Year be released? While we know that The Day of the Doctor is due for release just a week after transmission (with details on any extras not particularly forthcoming, save for a short ‘making of’ feature*), the Christmas special will presumably, inkeeping with previous seasonal episodes, be released in January. But what of Series Boxset inclusion? The final two episodes of Matt Smith’s tenure in the TARDIS would seem somewhat incongruous (and perhaps a little focus-shifting) if included in the set of Peter Capaldi’s first full year.
So might we see another, slimmer ‘Specials’ boxset – with added extras? – in the New Year? I would hope so. But then, if we do, I’d like to know one was due before buying the two episodes seperately. I went and bought the single release of The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe earlier this year when it seemed it wouldn’t be included in the s7 box. Now it sits on my shelf, out of place and somewhat redundant. Ho-hum.
So, yeah. What point was I making? Er…well, the number of commentaries is dwindling. I’d like to have commentaries on every episodes again, even if it’s with the, well, less…interesting…production members (Sorry, Michael and Paul, no offence). I would imagine Peter Capaldi, for instance, to be a good Doctor Who episode commentator – he seemed very amenable on the The Thick of It DVDs.
So, to more Whusings (no, it’s not working, is it?).
Steven Moffat. As a showrunner, surprisingly divisive amongst fans. Despite the episodes he wrote under Russell T Davies’ ownership of the showrunner’s chair being amongst the best of their respective seasons, with Blink considered a Classic of the modern era, a lot of fans – though arguably, a vocal minority – think he should step down, citing overly complicated plots and season arcs, an overuse of the Sonic Screwdriver and an over reliance on ‘Timey Wimey’ solutions to things.
I generally disagree, and (PERSONAL OPINION) I think that ‘The Moff’ does a great job. And I’m sure The Day of the Doctor will be outstanding. But the past season was distinctly average, certainly below-par, despite Matt Smith being at the top of his game. If Moffat wants to carry on running this show he very obviously loves, he does need to up his game.
And having cast a great actor in the role of what promises to be a terrific Twelfth Doctor, I do think that perhaps Moffat should step aside after Capaldi’s first series. Make the new Doctor’s relationship with Clara more clearly defined (a feature on the s7 boxset has Moffat confirming that the Eleventh Doctor ‘fancies’ Clara, which I actually found a little disturbing) – a Mentor and his young charge, perhaps, in the vein of the Seventh Doctor and Ace – and then gracefully depart the showrunner’s post. Although I do believe Steven Moffat is as great a writer as the show has ever had, and would very much like him to partake in the writing of future episodes.
But when he does stand down – as he surely will in time anyway, maybe in a year’s time or so, certainly no more than two or three, I would’ve thought – there’s no doubt that Mark Gatiss would fit the showrunner’s chair quite ably. See? Mark Gatiss. I said I liked him earlier on, didn’t I? It’s almost as if I knew what I was going to write about.
If the Twelfth Doctor/Clara relationship did come to mirror that of the Seventh Doctor and Ace, or even, perhaps, that of the Fourth Doctor and Leela, I could see a Gatiss-run Doctor Who series maybe being a return to the gothic feel that those late-seventies, Tom Baker/Philip Hinchcliffe era stories, such as The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
An interesting experiment, too, could be the introduction of more multi-part stories. Where Series Seven consisted of 14 standalone ‘movies’, with two distinct halves and loose arcs (Amy & Rory’s final adventures with the Doctor, then the mystery of Clara, ‘the Impossible Girl’), maybe Gatiss, with a love of 70s Who could restructure the thirteen episode season into, perhaps, a season of two- and even three-part stories, with just a couple of single parters along the way. Although that would run the risk of alienating the casual viewer – hence why Davies and Moffat have chosen not to produce full seasons of multiparters – it would, given strong stories that merited a two week run (unlike, say, The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People which would arguably have struggled to successfully fill a single 45 minute slot), a change in format, doing something that differs from what has been the norm in the revamped (post-2005) series, could be something great, just like the casting of an older Doctor from what modern audiences have hitherto seen could prove to be a masterstroke.
Anyway, that’s enough, for now, of my Doctor Who rambings (or, if you will, Doctor Whamblings…no, forget that). No doubt I’ll think of some more soon. Be sure to tune in!
*ADDITIONAL – since starting to write this post, I’ve found out that the The Day of the Doctor DVD will also feature a mini-episode – or minisode, if you will – entitled The Night of the Doctor (I see what they did there) and starring Matt Smith and David Tennant. Which makes my moaning about a lack of extras and my wondering whether to buy the DVD or wait for a boxset of some kind seem somewhat pointless. Meh.