Doctor Who has had a number of spinoffs, but have any of them truly captured the spirit of their big sister?
Sonic the Hedgehog has dipped his toe into a handful of media once he became more than just a video game mascot. One example would be the comic series; when Archie Comics held the license to make comics based on him, they ended up breaking the world record for longest lasting American comic series to not be rebooted. Unfortunately, it got rebooted later on, thanks to the Sonic fandom’s version of Ian Levine, Ken Penders. I mention the Sonic Comics, not necessarily to find a way to bring two of my special interests together, though that is a fun bonus. I would like to bring your attention to a specific spinoff titled Sonic Universe. As the comic would go on, the main series would focus on the core cast, while Sonic Universe wouldn’t have any one character to focus on. Rather, every 4 issues would be a self contained story focusing on any of the many different characters that were created for the world of Mobius. This was a way to further expand on the lore, show us new adventures with characters we might have been introduced to that weren’t part of the main Freedom Fighters team, and to tie up loose ends. The point I’m trying to make is that I think something like that should be done with Doctor Who.
One of the things fans took issue with in Season 11 was Chibnall’s decision to only feature new antagonists for the Doctor to face off against. I can see the idea behind the decision, and if that’s something he wants to try again in the future, I think that having a spinoff like this would be a good way to cater to people who are more interested in the mythos while the show can focus on bringing in new fans. Previous attempts made at a Doctor Who spinoff were admirable, but none of them had a chance to last nearly as long as the main show. The reason for that is every spinoff had a main cast to focus on. The best example to point to for this would be the Sarah Jane Adventures, which was cut short with the unfortunate passing of Elizabeth Sladen. With Doctor Who, companions come and go and the Doctor regenerates, so the cast can always change. With this potential spinoff (Doctor Who Universe? Maybe a bit generic, but it works for this purpose) the same idea can apply. There won’t have to be a main cast, and you can put focus on any of the menagerie of unique and interesting characters we’ve been introduced to over the last 57 years.
There are also a lot of plots that didn’t really go anywhere throughout the show. Just thinking in terms of Modern Who, you have Clara and Me flying off in a TARDIS at the end of Hell Bent to do…nothing, so far. Furthermore, although it was expanded upon in other media, viewers of the TV show still haven’t seen anything of Jenny, the Doctor’s daughter. Then there’s what fans are calling the “Ruth” Doctor or Renegade Doctor, introduced in Season 12, who I personally think was done a grave disservice by having her introduced as essentially a prop for the 13th Doctor’s arc, rather than being introduced with stories where she gets to be the lead. When was the last time we’ve heard from the Paternoster Gang? And that’s not even mentioning the treasure trove of ideas to expand upon in Classic Who, Big Finish’s line up, or even the comics and novels. The BBC doesn’t even have to throw that much money at it, I’m confident that something wonderful could be made if I got a handful of actors and a chance to rummage around their storage area. If they don’t want to put a lot of effort into it, the show could branch out and give more fans a chance to make stuff to put on the show. I’ve written other articles about entire season’s worth of content made by passionate fans who want to fill in the gaps of the stories we get to watch. Just imagine what they could make if they were given a semi-decent budget.
There were a few ideas I had in particular. Firstly, Bernice Summerfield. She has been in every form of media Doctor Who has taken except for the TV show (unless you count Sci Fi Sea Cruise Productions or Season 26B’s animated adaptation of Lost in the Dark Dimension). The hardcore fans clearly love her, and I’m sure new fans will, too, and you already have the definitive Summerfield with Lisa Bowerman. Next, Susan: are you going to look me in the eye and tell me that you’re content with her being dumped off at the tail end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth? Even if they don’t want to bring back Carole Ann Ford, what’s to stop her from regenerating? Also, Iris Wildthyme would be a great character to show if you want to go for a lighter tone. Now, with everything I’ve laid out so far, I’m going to assume you’re thinking that my idea is to have this series be live action. Now, some episodes certainly can be, but all of them? I think this format will allow a little bit more experimentation. Namely, animation: Doctor Who is no stranger to animation, though most attempts to do so are either meant to reconstruct missing episodes, or they look like it’s trying to be a reconstruction. Why not have an animated episode that actually takes advantage of the fact that it’s animated? This would be an excellent way to introduce someone like Frobisher to a wider audience, you could include visuals that even the highest budgets couldn’t achieve in live action, and just imagine something like this taking place in the Land of Fiction.
If the BBC wants to keep trying to make stuff like Class work, then that’s fine. I can’t tell them what to do. But the universe that this franchise presents us has so much untapped potential, and the fact that they still haven’t jumped on something like this yet blows my mind. As much as they like to think it is, Doctor Who is not untouchable. That is the mindset that led the show to be put on hiatus and then cancelled in the 80s, and it’s the mindset that’s going to get the show cancelled again if they’re not careful. This would be a great way to promote further interest in the show, introduce a relatively easy idea to execute, and most importantly, it’s an opportunity to make good stories.
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