Doctor Who show runner Stephen Moffat has teased the upcoming tenth season "begins the show again." The time (or, if you prefer, the timey wimey) is almost here. After about a year and a half since the last episode of Doctor Who’s ninth season, the wait for season ten is nearly over. The start of a new season of the long running British sci-fi series is always an exciting moment for fans, but this season feels like an especially huge milestone for Whovians everywhere. Eras are ending, a new one beginning, and anything feels possible.
Season ten marks the end of Stephen Moffat’s (Sherlock) tenure as show runner for Doctor Who, as well as the beginning of the end of Peter Capaldi’s (In the Loop) portrayal of The Doctor. It also marks the beginning of a new human companion for the Time Lord, with Pearl Mackie (Doctors) joining the series as Bill. With so much change in the air, some fans have wondered how the next season will unfold. Bracing for change is never easy, but in the case of Doctor Who the solution seems to be to go back to the beginning.
In a new featurette for the new series, Moffat promises a new beginning for the series, stating that the series will be taken back to its roots as it prepares for the big changes on the horizon. While short on plot specifics, season ten is sold as a kind of reboot, wiping the slate clean and taking a back to basics approach to the mythology of Doctor Who. According to Moffat,
“It is Doctor Who at, in a way, its most storybook simple…Series ten sort of begins the show again. The first episode is called, quite mischievously, ‘The Pilot.’ It introduces everything you need to know about Doctor Who and tips you into the universe. It takes our characters, The Doctor and Nardole, whom we already know, and Bill who we’re about to meet, and just throws them at the universe. They’re just flung into that universe and told to deal with it. To become heroes because they hit those moments where you have no alternative. Being a hero is about the time you need to be a hero.”
That’s likely to be good news for some fans, many of whom have complained about the convoluted approach to arcs since Moffat took over the series from Russell T. Davies (Torchwood) back in season 5. Moffat has always taken a bold, epic stance on the possibility of Doctor Who, which led both to some of the most memorable moments of the rebooted series, as well as some of the most baffling. That’s made it somewhat harder for new fans to jump on the TARDIS, with the expectation being that you need a working knowledge of the series in order to understand what was going on. According to new star Mackie, that won’t be a problem this time.
“Series ten is also a great place to start if you’ve never watched Doctor Who as well, because Bill’s so new to the world…you kind of see everything through her eyes.”
Accessibility has always been something of a problem for Doctor Who, and it’s even harder now that the series isn’t streaming on Netflix. Offering a new season that isn’t steeped in mythology is a great way to bring more fans on board, while also offering old fans more of the magic that first made them fall in love with the series.
This also gives Moffat the chance to go out on a high note. As his tenure went on, the complexity of his stories became more of an issue. Many fans wavered as season 9 went on, wondering if Moffat had lost his touch. A simpler, more basic approach to the series allows for the opportunity to win back a few hearts and minds while wrapping up his tenure memorably.
It also allows for an easier transition for both new show runner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch) and whomever replaces Capaldi, who is expected to regenerate into a new Doctor at the end of this season or in this year’s Christmas special. Keeping things simple means that Chibnall won’t have any lingering threads to contend with as he transitions into his position, and allows him to keep all his possibilities open.
As the new era looms on the horizon, it sounds like Doctor Who is going to do its best at reminding everybody why it’s the longest running sci-fi series of all time, taking us back into the world of time and space by giving us everything we’ve always loved about the show. While Moffat’s impending departure might be somewhat bittersweet, what better way to go out than by having the most possible fun. A simple Doctor Who is often the most fun, and it’ll be interesting to see what directions Moffat takes the series as his time comes to end.
Doctor Who returns to BBC America on April 15, 2017.