Early signs seem to indicate that the upcoming Doctor Who season 12 will return to more familiar ground, and perhaps even feeling more like past eras under showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat. When previous Doctor Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat opted to depart the BBC's iconic science fiction series almost simultaneously, a period of great change was inevitable for Doctor Who. Moffat was replaced by Chris Chibnall, who in turn cast Jodie Whittaker as the first actress to helm the TARDIS in the show's 50 year-plus history. This alone was enough change for some fans to cope with, but Chibnall opted to make his mark upon Doctor Who with a debut season that stood distinctly apart from the show's past.
In addition to the new cast of characters, Chibnall's Doctor Who employed brand new filming techniques, adopted a different visual style and featured music from Segun Akinola for the first time. In terms of story, Chibnall intentionally avoided utilizing any established villains, instead introducing a whole new crop of alien troublemakers, and quite unlike the showrunners who preceded him, structured his debut season into standalone episodes, with very little in the way of overarching plotlines. While some fans appreciated the fresh approach (and it could even be argued that new viewers were drawn in as a result given the ratings increase) others felt alienated by the all-new Doctor Who. Come the season's conclusion, the storylines were generating more controversy online than the Doctor's gender, which was swiftly rendered a non-issue thanks to Jodie Whittaker's widely-praised performance.
Whether in response to that criticism or because Chibnall believes his second season can afford to be less boldly unique, there is a feeling that Doctor Who season 12 will revert to a more familiar format and more closely resemble the Davies and Moffat years. For a start, there are going to be more returning villains from Doctor Who canon, and this process began with the dramatic return of the Daleks during the 2019 New Year's Day special. With its rusty, hastily-constructed lone Dalek, the special felt like a rebirth for the infamous exterminators and was one of the best-received episodes of Whittaker's tenure thus far.
Continuing that pattern, the BBC has confirmed that Doctor Who season 12 will see the return of the Judoon. These Davies-era baddies featured during David Tennant's time in the TARDIS and were an intergalactic mercenary police force that the Doctor had a certain distaste for. The Judoon have featured in minor roles sporadically since their debut and the BBC's marketing department were keen to hype up their impending return, clearly aware that some viewers were frustrated by a lack of recognizable villains last season. Chibnall's decision to give Doctor Who's biggest baddies a rest during season 11 was perhaps a wise one, as some had certainly suffered from overuse, but with season 12 not set to air until 2020, viewers can likely expect the return of more familiar enemies than just the Judoon.
Doctor Who season 12 is also certain to feature more long term story arcs than last year's run. The Moffat era, in particular, was sometimes guilty of getting far too bogged down in complex, season-spanning storylines and therefore it's easy to understand Chris Chibnall stripping the show back to its core components in season 11. However, a single long-running plot thread was introduced in Whittaker's second episode: the Timeless Child. Much to fans annoyance, this mystery wasn't picked up on again for the remainder of the season, nor in the New Year's special. Assuming Chibnall plans to avoid the issues that hampered Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor, where certain plot points were triggered and then abandoned for entire seasons, the Timeless Child arc is something Doctor Who season 12 is destined to delve into with far more conviction, offering a deeper level of storytelling than was present last season and resembling something more akin to the Davies and Moffat eras.
Doctor Who season 12 is expected to premiere in early 2020 on the BBC.