On the future of Doctor Who

Posted by CB Droege

Steven Moffat has confirmed that the structure of Doctor Who will evolve for the upcoming season.

Meaning, there will be no more multi-part episodes. Of course, multi-part episodes have been a staple of Doctor Who since the begining of the original show, decades ago - with plots extending through two, three, or four episodes.

However, Moffat told Doctor Who Magazine  multi-part episodes seem to pull the fewest viewers. The two biggest episodes last season were the season premier and Let’s Kill Hitler, the second episode back after the mid-season break. 

If you recall my review of the mid-season cliff-hanger, a two part episode which left audiences hanging for months, it was the worst part of the entire season. The story wasn’t epic enough to grant it two episodes, and was to wide in scope to fit into less than four. This made for two episodes which were both poorly paced, with some bits passing too fast, and other bits drawing out in ways that modern audiences simply aren’t used to anymore.

Moffat also pointed out that conventional wisdom dictates shooting multi-part episodes helps save money, as the studio is essentially filming one longer episode with the same sets and session, rather than shooting separate stories.

This assumption is actually false, he’s discovered.

"I was looking at the facts and stats and it’s not true that the two-parters save us money," he said. "We’ve assumed it for years. They don’t save us money at all. Not a penny. So what’s the point in them? The viewing figures always go down. The [Audience Appreciation Index] goes down, even if the second episode is the better one. The press coverage goes down. The trailers are a bit boring."

He goes on to explain that if each episode stands alone, they can make more of a spectacle of it, and tell more great stories which are more differentiated. "I want to be able to say, every week, we’ve got a big standalone blockbuster, and then a trailer that makes it look like nothing compared to what’s going to happen next week! That’s the form for next year."

He says it’s not impossible that some two-part episodes might get made, but only if they occur naturally, as two separate plots within the same continuity, rather than making a plan in advance to make a certain number of two-parters.

Personally, I think this is a good move, and shows that Moffat cares about what the fans want to see. If the fans are not enjoying the double episodes as much, and they don’t save money for the show, good riddance.

The Doctor Who holiday special will air onDecember 25, 2011, but the next season doesn’t start until late 2012.