Tomorrow night, Doctor Who starts again on British screens for what will be its seventh season since the 2005 reboot, and the last to feature Amy Pond and Rory Williams (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill respectively). We here at zConnection have seen the first three episodes already, and while we’re not allowed to say much yet, it’s become obvious that Steven Moffat is directing this series in a wholly different direction from the last. For one, there’s his new-found obsession with “movie posters”, whereby he asked writers pitching episodes to think about them in the context of a blockbuster film poster – and it certainly shows in the episodes themselves.
For one, there’s the fact that Asylum of the Daleks is basically the closest that Doctor Who has come to horror since Blink five years ago. It’s followed by Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, which ventures into B-movie territory, then comes to the firmly Western-styled A Town Called Mercy. That’s as far as we’ve seen, but it seems that the trend will continue with The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan. What does this focus on “movie posters” mean, though? Well, Moffat doesn’t seem to be a big fan of sequels: we’re getting no two-parters in this half, and he’s straying away from a big season arc, apparently in an effort to shake off season six’s resemblance to season five.
It’s no secret that Steven Moffat approaches season arcs in a distinctly different manner from Russell T. Davies, who chose to go for subtle hints that verged on a viral marketing campaign or alternate reality game in terms of engagement (Vote Saxon, anyone?). Moffat’s fifth and six seasons of the show raised questions in the very first episode and answered them in the last, almost overshadowing the entire season with them. With this seventh season, though, he may finally have struck the perfect balance between self-containment and a wide story arc: there’s a very good question raised in the very first episode, but it’s ultimately set aside for a good while.
Of course, we’re talking about Doctor Who, a show with an adoring fanbase that does hang onto every small detail and guess about the future episodes’ content weeks in advance. I’ve read speculation online about The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan written by people who haven’t even seen the first three episodes, and I’m inclined to find their theories just as plausible. I have no doubt that there will be theories backed with obscure evidence for the weeks to come, but that won’t retract from anyone’s enjoyment of the show; it really is blockbuster followed by blockbuster, and I’ve high hopes for the rest of the season.