“Doctor Who” is dead. Ratings haven’t been this low since the moribund 1980s. Fan interest is zilch, with little engagement on social media. The show just finished its 13th series, and the few who watched could only yawn. The doctor is on life support thanks to the BBC’s incessant diversity mandates, executive producer Chris Chibnall retcons, and the lazy pomposity of the first female doctor, Jodie Whittaker.
But there is hope. A familiar stranger bearing the initials R.T.D. has arisen in the distance, and his company, Bad Wolf, are just the heroes that might make “Doctor Who” go through another successful regeneration.
For those unaware, “Doctor Who” is the almost 60-year-old British sci-fi-adventure TV series, which revolves around the time-traveling alien, The Doctor, and his companions’ adventures. What makes the show different is that every few years a new actor plays the titular character. The show’s first run (1963 to 1989) petered out after its popularity waned and the BBC felt it unprofitable.
It would then take almost 20 years until writer Russell T. Davies, creator of “Queer as Folk” of all people, revived the series in 2005, featuring a weathered Christopher Eccleston as the doctor. A year later, David Tennant took up the role, and the show for the next decade became the most popular program in the United Kingdom and beloved around the globe.
However, in 2017, the BBC got tired of executive producer Steven Moffat, despite his critically successful run with the 12th iteration of the doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. While popular, his series never saw the kind of attention it received while Tennant was in the role. The BBC, infatuated with the cop-drama “Broadchurch,” gave its creator Chris Chibnall complete creative control of the series. Chibnall agreed on the condition that Broadchurch actress Whittaker become the first female doctor.
Media Fawning at Female Doctor
At the news of the casting, the news media swarmed like starving piranhas against the Doctor Who-loving plebs. With hundreds of social justice-themed headlines falling anywhere from the effusive (USA Today’s “Why it matters that a woman is the new ‘Doctor Who’”) to braggadocio (Salon: Sexist ‘Doctor Who’ haters don’t just deserve our scorn, they need it”). Even the dictionary company Merriam-Webster got in on the action.
The BBC, now firmly under the control of their all-powerful diversity and inclusions group, like much in the nerd world lately, was firmly on board to replace its fan base with a younger, more progressive demographic.
Chibnall’s tenure with “Doctor Who” is a travesty. Objectively, ratings-wise this “Who” is a stinker. Except for the pilot episode – due to booming novelty views – the ratings are in the toilet. The series consistently secures some of the worst-rated and unwatched episodes of all time. Some get fewer views then re-runs of “The Antiques Roadshow.”
Stylistically, woke “Who” is a shadow of its former self; most of the old writers from the previous series got replaced with first-time diversity hires. The result is that there are no engaging episodes to speak of, no characters to hold onto, and never any stakes to make a viewer give a damn.
Chibnall’s show is consistently awful. An uninspiring and generic production, yet an indignant one, with snide digs towards men in almost every episode. Storylines abound where the heroes are good, diverse people, and the villains are homophobic white males, usually coded as Christian. Christmas specials are out. But there’s a Donald Trump stand-in, a man having a baby, and plenty of lectures about privilege and the historical evils of British colonialism and capitalism.
Whittaker’s impotent portrayal of the doctor is like a handful of Ambien. No surprise she bragged about not having seen the show prior to taking on the role nor since. During series 12, the BBC was forced to apologize, when at the conclusion of an episode about mental illness, Whittaker brushed off the confession of her companion’s cancer diagnosis by responding that she was “too socially awkward” to deal with it.
Death of the Doctor
The death nail came in the series 12 finale, “The Timeless Children.” In it, we learn that the doctor was never a Timelord, the time-traveling, regenerating species from which he belongs. Instead, the doctor was never a humble timelord, but a sort of infinite progenitor space-messiah.
“Doctor Who” is built upon the charisma and connection the audience makes with the show’s eponymous hero. Before Whittaker, the doctor has been played by 13 different actors, each remarkable in their acting ability and depth. However, those legends were white men. So, in Timeless Children, we learn that those doctors were not the originals, nor important. Instead, the doctor was a black woman all along, deprived of her true identity by an abusive patriarchy.
With one swift strike, almost 60 years of continuity, profits, and fan affection shriveled up to nothing.
Former Revamper to the Rescue
Now no one is watching; Chibnall and Whittaker are both out. “Doctor Who” is broke and in danger of another cancellation. Until recently, if you asked me how “Who” could be saved, I would have told you we needed a miracle. Providence provides.
The BBC, now saddled with an unprofitable property, has sold full creative control to a little Welsh production company named Bad Wolf and the old hand himself, Russell T. Davies, the man that created and ran the show’s successful 2005 revival.
This is a big freakin’ deal.
Bad Wolf is led by Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, former BBC executives that worked with Davies on “Doctor Who” and its spin-off shows. Even the company’s name is a reference to Davies’ run on “Who.” The Cardiff-based company has repeatedly proven itself by competently adapting several big intellectual properties, as they did with HBO’s “His Dark Materials.” The studio’s part owner is Sony, which, as we see with the new Spiderman films, can respectfully adapt IPs while partnering with another company.
As for Davies, he was born for this. Before the revival, he was a prolific writer for Who book and audio projects. Davies is a humongous Whovian, packaged with enough grace and discipline that he could rein in the eccentric Steven Moffat. In the past, he protected the franchise like a mother grizzly. Now he can do it again.
How to Rescue ‘Who’
For “Who” to be rescued, Bad Wolf will have to gather their strength for the media tempests to come. They will have to make the difficult decision of undoing and jettisoning every ounce of the Chibnall era, every single scrap of canon, lore, and continuity that took place from 2017 to 2022. That means that Whittaker’s 13th doctor, all her hatred, and the Timeless Child must be wholly expunged, lest the infection returns.
To paraphrase the fictional character Adrian Monk, for this project to work, they must gather up all the garbage, burn it, scorch the earth, gather the ashes, and then burn it down again.
One can only imagine the hysteria from social and news media to follow. But for their sacrifice, they will have the undying affections of Whovians for decades to come.
I hope Davies will have the courage of his convictions to follow through. As for Chibnall and the wokesters that tried to destroy the franchise forever, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.