If there’s one thing Doctor Who fans love to argue about, it’s when the show stopped being ‘good’. Some will claim it was in 2005 when Russell T. Davies took over; many say Tennant’s departure killed the series, while others believe it was Chris Chibnall’s time as showrunner that put the final nail in the Doctor’s coffin.
The latest episode that’s got Doctor Who fans worried is ‘The Doctor Falls’, the 12th Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) penultimate story. An epic in every sense of the word this the episode saw the Doctor, along with his companion and The Master, battle the Cybermen while desperately trying to fight off a looming regeneration.
It’s a heartbreaking episode (and arguably cemented the show in my heart as one of the best sci-fi series ever made) that sees the 12th Doctor lose almost everything he cares about (he gets to keep the TARDIS) and honestly, it felt like the perfect ending to the Doctor’s story. Except, of course, it wasn’t the end. Capaldi’s Doctor regenerated into Jodie Whitaker, and the story continued. But that’s exactly the problem for these concerned fans; they feel the show’s never been the same since.
On r/DoctorWho , TheFartingKing_56 (sigh) explained: “I don’t know why, maybe it’s bias (even though I only watched it for the first time 2 years ago), but somehow everything that came after [The Doctor Falls](besides maybe the Christmas special) just felt so different. Even now, for me personally, these specials feel nothing like the old Tennant era.”
“I think it was a change in music, change in writing, change in characters (and character developments, since Missy got fucked over) that all happened too quickly and too condensed,” they continued. “While I used to think Doctor Who could theoretically last forever, and it probably could, it’s just… strayed too far from the original themes.”
TheFartingKing_56 (sigh) wasn’t alone in his concern that Doctor Who had changed. Karlcabaniya writes, “Yes, something changed at that point. I don’t know exactly what, but it feels like a different show”, while Apneax3n0n adds, “Doctor Who ended there.”
It’s easy to understand what TheFartingKing_56 (sigh) means. ‘The Doctor Falls’ definitely feels like a series finale of sorts rather than a simple regeneration, but that’s because it was designed to be a series finale. Yes, originally, ‘The Doctor Falls’ was meant to be Moffat’s last episode and mark an end to his time as showrunner, so he wrote it as a love letter to his era in charge.
There was just one problem with this plan. Moffat’s successor, Christopher Chibnall, didn’t want to start his episode at Christmas. “There was one big glitch, which was Christmas,” Moffat told Digital Spy. “I was going to leave at the end of series 10 – I had my finale planned and what I wanted to do with it. I had a good notion of that.
“Then I learned at a drinks event somewhere that Chris didn’t want to start with a Christmas, so at that point, they were going to skip Christmas. There’d be no Christmas special, and we would’ve lost that slot… So I said, probably four glasses of red wine in, ‘I’ll do Christmas!’ and then had to persuade Peter [Capaldi] that’s how we were leaving.”
So Moffat ended up bumping Capaldi’s regeneration to the Christmas special ‘Twice Upon a Time,’ despite ‘The Doctor Falls’ sort of being his big send-off. As a quick aside, it’s worth noting that change has always been an important part of Doctor Who’s history. The concept of regeneration has more than just the Doctor to survive the impossible; it’s let the entire property evolve over time, changing the genre from an attempt at educational programming to a sci-fi show to a bold, adventurous romp.
As the 11th Doctor said, “We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s OK, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” This applies to more than just the Doctor. It’s a philosophy that defines the entire series ethos, and we are sorry, TheFartingKing_56 (sigh), we think that’s brilliant.
If you love the sound of the TARDIS engines as much as we do, check out our ‘Star Beast’ review to find out what we thought of the 14th Doctor’s first adventure. We’ve also got a ‘Star Beast’ ending explained (in case you got a little lost), and a few theories on who Beep the Meep’s boss is.
That’s not all though; we’ve also got a guide ranking all the new Doctor Who companions and when you can watch the next Doctor Who special. We also listed the 10 best David Tennant Doctor Who episodes. If you’re bored of the adventures in space and time, why not check out our list of the best TV series ever made?