Executive producer/lead writer Steven Moffat told the new issue of SFX magazine that DOCTOR WHO’s 50th anniversary story, “The Day of the Doctor,” is going to change the direction of the series forever.
Moffat told the magazine:
“We’ve got to set the Doctor off in a brand new direction. It’s chapter two of his life. Now something happens to him that changes the way he thinks and the way he will adventure from now on. You can celebrate an anniversary in many ways – I think the most productive one within the narrative is to say “This is where the story really starts. This is where he finds his mission, he finds his destiny.”
Now, how many times have we heard that promise from a TV producer, and sure, things change for an episode or two, but sooner or later the status quo is resurrected. Add to that the maxim “Moffat lies,” and we get a boast that should be taken with a grain of salt.
However, what he is saying resonates with me and it really would be in the best interests of the show going forward to shake things up. The history of DOCTOR WHO has been one of continuing change — from the faces of the Doctor to his exile on Earth to his ever-rotating cast of companions, nothing ever really stays the same. Except the police box exterior of the TARDIS.
Moffat goes on to say:
“We’ve got to set the Doctor off in a brand new direction. It’s chapter two of his life. Now something happens to him that changes the way he thinks and the way he will adventure from now on. You can celebrate an anniversary in many ways – I think the most productive one within the narrative is to say, ‘This is where the story really starts. This is where he finds his mission, he finds his destiny.’
“We’re not fibbing – this one is going to change the course of the series. And it’s very rare in Doctor Who that the story happens to the Doctor. It happens to people around him, and he helps out – he’s the hero figure who rides in and saves everybody from the story of the week. He is not the story of the week. In this, he is the story of the week. This is the day of the Doctor. This is his most important day. His most important moment. This is the one he’ll remember, whereas I often think the Doctor wanders back to his TARDIS and forgets all about [other adventures].”
The only real trepidation about a major change I feel is, I would hate for Moffat to invalidate any of what has gone before just to facilitate his new ideas. We see this constantly in the world of comic books: a new writer comes on and says, “That’s not what really happened — here’s the way it really was…” and changes established story elements tossing the old stuff in the trash and substituting his own ideas. To me, it shows a lack of respect for the creators who came before. That’s why I hope Moffat will not be renumbering the Doctors by inserting John Hurt’s Doctor before Christopher Eccleston’s incarnation. At least respect the integrity of the Doctor’s identity. Change about anything else, but don’t add a new persona.
I desperately hope that Hurt turns out to be playing the Valeyard — it’s the only explanation that works, and that adds to the canon while respecting the past.