Doctor Who has a dedicated fan base known for passionately debating when the series lost its footing in terms of quality. The discussions often pinpoint various milestones: some claim it was during Russell T. Davies’ tenure from 2005, others attribute it to David Tennant’s departure, and many suggest that Chris Chibnall’s showrunning stint was the turning point.
One particular episode that stirred concern among Doctor Who aficionados is ‘The Doctor Falls,’ the penultimate story of the 12th Doctor portrayed by Peter Capaldi. This emotionally charged episode, featuring an epic battle against the Cybermen, saw the Doctor confronting his imminent regeneration while facing personal losses, lending it a heartbreaking and poignant atmosphere. For some viewers, this felt like a fitting conclusion to the Doctor’s narrative, making Capaldi’s exit feel like the perfect ending. However, Capaldi’s regeneration into Jodie Whittaker marked a continuation, leading to discontent among certain segments of fans who felt the show had since deviated from its essence.
Reflecting this sentiment, users on r/DoctorWho shared their reservations. TheFartingKing_56 (sigh) expressed a sentiment that post-‘The Doctor Falls,’ the show felt notably different, attributing this to changes in music, writing, characters, and character development. Other users echoed similar sentiments, feeling that Doctor Who lost its original essence and that the series effectively concluded at that point.
The sense of disconnection fans felt post-‘The Doctor Falls’ can be partially attributed to Steven Moffat’s initial intention for the episode to serve as his farewell to the show. ‘The Doctor Falls’ was designed as Moffat’s concluding episode, aiming to encapsulate his era as showrunner. However, Moffat had to adapt his plan due to Christopher Chibnall’s preference to avoid starting his tenure with a Christmas episode. Consequently, Moffat shifted Capaldi’s regeneration to the Christmas special ‘Twice Upon a Time,’ deviating from his original narrative closure in ‘The Doctor Falls.’
Doctor Who has always embraced change as a fundamental aspect of its storytelling, highlighted by the Doctor’s regenerations symbolizing transformation and evolution. This adaptability has allowed the series to evolve over time, mirroring the ethos of embracing change and remembering one’s past selves. Despite concerns raised by fans like TheFartingKing_56 (sigh), Doctor Who’s ability to evolve while retaining its essence remains a testament to its enduring legacy and brilliance.