This weekend brings us to the end of the Jodi Whittaker / Chris Chibnall era (herein 'WhittaChibs').
This was, arguably, DOCTOR WHO's most divisive and problematic era ev-ah.
Whereas the late-stage Seasons/Series of the show's original 1963-1989 run were often seen as clunky, silly, and sometimes uninvested - that run as a whole still managed to generate not only memorable and iconic moments, but a number of discussion worthy stories ('discussion worthy' in a good way).
During WhittaChibs, however, the opposite was often at play: many of its key storylines convoluted the show's mythology, most were generally flat, unremarkable, or indistinctive, and a great number of them were energetically unengaging.
At the beginning of Whittaker's run, the greatest concern and controversy facing the show in the eyes of many fans was 'the casting of a female Doctor.' It's a bit sad, and rather telling, that so much public and media concern about the gender of the lead was expended while overlooking a far more fundamental matter:' what if the show simply fails to work, no matter who is cast in it?' A consideration only a few dared to ponder at the time, but a point of conversation which quickly rose to the forefront of many discussions of WhittaChibs. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here regarding how fandom regards, or doesn't regard, beloved properties. Perhaps that lesson won't be fully understood until the proverbial dust has settled and retrospect has set in.
WhittaChibs did bring around a few gems:
** Sacha Dhawan's casting as 'the Master' was inspired, charismatic, and he easily upstaged everyone around him. He was wasted as a Master, and should've been a Doctor.
** Jo Martin as 'Fugitive Doctor' was equally charismatic and iconic, even if the presence of her character was confusing and disruptive. Paradoxically, Martin's charisma suggested potential for a 'female Doctor' which was largely unmet by Whittaker herself.
** John Bishop's 'Dan Lewis' ranks high among the show's 'best ever' companions. So much so that his quality and gravity sometimes felt at odds with the comparatively slight and tatty proceedings around him. It's a reasonably safe bet incoming show runner Russell T. Davies won't be recalling too many elements of Chris Chibnall's often bewildering run. But if he does, I hope it's through a revisitation of Dan/Bishop.
** Flux represented the kind of ambitious, bold, unhinged 'big swings' contemporary DOCTOR WHO should be taking, and was often sleeker, bolder, and more enjoyable than a majority of WhittaChibs. It ultimately spun apart under the weight of Chibnall's predictable inability to stick a landing, and was often not supported by its budget. But it was at least inching toward the kind of 'outside of the box' and interesting storytelling which might have, in greater quantities, better justified the existence of WhittaChib.
** Eve of the Daleks was one of the few WhittaChibs episodes that, for want of a better descriptor, felt like DOCTOR WHO. It was not remarkable, per se, but it was fun, solid, a little classy, and ingeniously utilized a restrictive setting to wild and imaginative results. More like this one might've swayed the opinions of many who were drifting from the show.
The state of DOCTOR WHO is a bit messy at the moment, and we stand at the precipice of great transition. We're on the way to a 'new Doctor' - Ncuti Gatwa - but it's not clear if he'll even appear in The Power of the Doctor, this weekend's 'regeneration special.' Gatwa is certainly a possibility, but it's also feasible Whittaker may not regenerate directly into him, detouring back to David Tennant, who is returning to the show in a fashion and capacity that has yet to be explained. It's conceivable regeneration itself may take on some new dimension we've yet to intuit. The only indicators we've had thus far is that this regeneration will be different from others, and that some element of it will evoke Reichenbach Falls. Both of which are rather interesting teases. Kind of telling and symbolic that the WhittaChib Era is at its most compelling when its on its way out.
With Russell T. Davies returning as showrunner, the insertion of both a previous and new Doctor into the mix, BBC's diminished input into the show and Bad Wolf/Sony's increased authority, whatever happens next on DW will be fascinating to behold - no matter what the end result. Geeklectica forums will continue as always, beginning in a few weeks with a standing 'Road to RTD2' forum which will ultimately give way to episode specific forums for the new Davies Era.
The rules are now as they have always been, and will continue to be:
We warmly invite and encourage an open discourse and free exchange of ideas, but will enforce a strict zero tolerance policy regarding trolling, disrespect, or hate speak of any kind.
MORE TO COME SOON!!!