The sixth series of Doctor Who starts on Saturday so, for no other reason but that I did it last year, here are some of my predictions:
Not really any spoilers, but some of my speculations may be spoilers if they turn out to be true.
Unlike previous years, this series is split into two halves. This upcoming first one will comprise seven episodes, ending on a cliffhanger that will be resolved when the show returns for the six-episode second half of the series in the autumn. Between the two halves of the series, Torchwood will return with it’s fourth series (something of a revival) for ten weeks; I’ve not been looking into Torchwood too much so I know next to nothing about what’s happening, except that it’s entirely set in the States and will not feature Ianto Jones, stop whining, fangirls/fanboys! I’m quite excited for the split in the series as it means twice the number of “event” episodes and it will massively reduce the amount of time between two fixes of Who.
I’m anticipating this series a great deal because it will, reportedly, finally answer the questions we’ve been asking since…well, last year. Steven Moffat, in his first capacity as Executive Producer and Head Writer of Doctor Who, went to a great deal of trouble to set up a story arc that should get resolved in this series. I’m pretty certain Moffat will tie up all the loose ends this year because if he keeps dragging it out and setting things up then the more the audience will expect at the eventual pay-off, and the more it will disappoint. If he wraps it up this year and it’s as supremely awesome as he’s indicated, then it’ll be brilliant, if not he might get some angry Who fanboys writing pissy little blog posts…
I get the impression that each episode of this series will be far more continuity heavy than usual, in the past every episode has had some vague allusion to the finale but we only really get something particularly involved with the overall plot every four or five episodes. If we’re going to reach a cliffhanger by episode 7, it’ll need to be pretty snappy; this will mean fewer “filler” episodes, where it’s just a man in a blue box running into famous faces from history and fighting some weird monster, which I slightly lament, but it’ll mean more fan-wank, which I slightly love. Not to mention, from the synopsis, trailers and a few spoilers I’ve read of the first episode, the story arc will be established pretty sharpish.
Something interesting is that the fourth episode of the series is called ‘The Doctor’s Wife’, a title previously assigned to River Song in some future adventure as yet unseen. Evidently, the title doesn’t actually refer to Song and is being linked to a one-shot character in that episode; dressed in a blue, Victorian style garb despite the backdrop indicating a setting in the future on a different planet. My gut feeling is that this is some sort of manifestation of the TARDIS, it’s repeatedly referred to using female pronouns and is the only real constant companion of The Doctor’s to speak of. This may also be bolstered by the glimpse in the trailer of Amy and Rory (I reckon he’s for the chop for real this time, by the way) in the TARDIS console room seen during the Eccleston and Tennant era, as well as some mutterings about seeing more of the TARDIS interior, so that’s my bet. However, the episode in question, which is being penned by writing legend Neil Gaiman, has been referred to as a “gamechanger”, so we’ll see.
As for River Song, a soundbite in the trailer heard her saying, “Today’s the day he finds out who I am.” Moffat is a connasseur of the Red Herring so this could be some out-of-context thing that will make little difference to the story, but I think we will need a lot more detail on River’s identity to be satisfied, if not the entire story. I think it’s one of the strengths of the character that we don’t fully know River’s background, so a grand unveiling seems unlikely, but we’ll certainly get more information.
The previous series was awash with constant references to “Silence”. I took that to be the abstract concept as the result of some universal cataclysm that would rock up at the end of the series, but apparently not. By the looks of it, “The Silence” are some race of alien creatures with a particularly nasty, though as yet undisclosed, means of killing people; how, or even if, they hijacked the TARDIS to cause the explosion that caused the Time Field cracks remains a mystery, but I doubt it. Likely the “Silence will fall” mantra refers to an even bigger game of wordplay that will lead inextricably to one central main villain. For some reason, the finale can’t really seem threatening if it’s directed at an entire race with only anonymous individuals, so a main villain has to come from it somehow. Possibly some “leader” of the Silence but I can’t shake the feeling it’s going to be some baddy we’ve already seen either since the revival or from the classic series, just to keep the continuity-bitches (yo) happy.
So that’s my take. I’ll do a review of the episode when it’s been broadcast, though bear in mind that the opening episode is a two-parter, the former of which is usually a disappointing setup, reserve judgement on the series at least until episode three.
Also, very sad to hear the news of Elisabeth Sladen passing away. Like many people, including Fourth Doctor actor Tom Baker reportedly, I didn’t even know she was suffering from cancer. A tribute program will be broadcast on Saturday immediately after ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ on the CBBC channel.
Update: The cast of Who did an interview for BBC America the other day and when asked who River Song is NOT they said that in Episode 7 (the last episode of this half) we will absolutely find out who she is. Karen Gillan, who plays Amy Pond, also let slip that the character that she is was introduced during the David Tennant era, which narrows it down a LOT. I don’t think it’s a regenerated version of Jenny, The Doctor’s daughter, because of the intimacy implied between River and The Doctor, plus Jenny was always characterised as a child and I think putting her in the body of this fairly mature actress is inhibitive for that purpose. It could be Lady Christina De Souza from Planet of the Dead given there was a throwaway line suggesting she was a Time Lord even though she was apparently human. The only other female character that was significant enough to make the payoff worthwhile is The Woman, from The End of Time, David Tennant’s swansong, whose identity was largely a mystery. It could be some reincarnated form of Astrid Peth, one-shot companion from the 2008 Christmas Special Voyage of the Damned. At the end of that episode, her character dies but is partially restored by The Doctor who, though he cannot give her a corporeal form, allows her restored molecules, her conciousness with it, to float away into space. It annoys me that we still have to wait 7 weeks to find out, possibly more if they fuck about with Eurovision!