Saturday, 23 January 2016

News: Steven Moffat to regenerate into Chris Chibnall

Chris Chibnall will be showrunner by 2018.
Image from hypable
Yesterday was the home of a slew of news about the future of Doctor Who, with the main wonderful fact being that Steven Moffat, after producing his seventh season as showrunner in 2017, will be standing down from the position. His replacement will be Chris Chibnall, a man who on this blog has always had very mixed press - sometimes a powerful dramatic writer, but when writing for Doctor Who his scripts tend to be disappointments. The same news article in Radio Times later specified that there won't be any new Doctor Who on our screens until Christmas this year, which is disappointing even if it makes some sense.

Chris Chibnall is the writer of amazing ITV Drama Broadchurch and its short-lived American remake Gracepoint, the UK version of Law and Order, as well as some good episodes of Life On Mars, and a crappy Starz version of Merlin called Camelot retold for an adult audience. In terms of Doctor Who, Chibnall was the showrunner for the first two seasons of Torchwood, which are in my opinion the best of that show's run, producing great episodes like Countrycide, End of Days, and the heart-wrenching Adrift. On the parent program, however, he wrote less inspiring stuff - 42, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship and The Power of Three.

Chibnall's first three stories fell into the trap of trying to mass-produce an ensemble cast that we cared about, with his ability to do so decreasing with every attempt, from the genuinely likable crew of the space station in 42 to the caricature-laden pastiches that filled the screen in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. He also got a lot of focus in the "September Season", essentially writing Amy and Rory's arc over that period and writing prequel and sequel shorts which attempted to show them living a life of domesticity. He had some very strong concepts and usually managed to execute them well, but overall his ability with characters was sub-par. His work also, like Moffat's, occasionally contains a few sexist undertones, although thankfully with far more fewer frequency and less sheer revelry.

I'm not entirely sure where the show is going to go, so I'm not being optimistic or pessimistic either way. Chibnall would not have been my first choice; if you remember, the first thing I wrote about Doctor Who on this website was "Chris Chibnall is a bastard." (Something I later redacted, as it's fairly libelous.) I can go on all day about how a female showrunner would have been progressive and great, or we could have Toby Whithouse, whose episodes I love, but I think that's a bit pointless right now. All I can say is that I'm glad Moffat is finally leaving the reigns, and allowing NuWho to extremely belatedly leave its second era.


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