The BBC jerked fandom’s chain earlier today with cryptic tweets about a “big announcement.” Fans jumped in to guess, with conjectures ranging from the omnirumor* come true to the return of K-9. In the end, hopes were generally dashed by a press release for a new spinoff headed by Moffat, Minchin, and fellow white guy Patrick Ness**.
On the plus side, it’s more Doctor Who, more Whoniverse, more opportunities for the man himself – or his friends – to put in an appearance. The Sarah Jane Adventures was hugely popular, and would likely still be on the air if its star were alive and well; the BBC has probably been slavering for a chance to get that audience back. Ness is a highly acclaimed writer for young people. This could be good, and it could be just the thing for a certain segment of the Doctor Who audience.
Then again, more white guys make stuff. Yawn.
SJA was interesting because of its older female lead and its diverse young cast. Now, none of the stars of Class have been announced, so we could still be pleasantly surprised. Nor do we know anything about the stories it will tell. SJA, like much of Davies’ Doctor Who, featured no female writers and only a single director. It had room for improvement. Moffat has certainly demonstrated a capacity for diverse hiring, when pushed; I’ll be curious to see what happens here.
The setting for the new series is Coal Hill School, whose teachers have included Barbara Wright, Ian Chesterton, Danny Pink, and most recently Clara Oswald. Courtney Woods is currently its most famous student – after Susan Foreman, of course. Ace has also paid the school a visit, to defend it from Dalek incursion. Could the new series bring us the return of Courtney, Ian, or even Susan herself? The kids of SJA, grown up to become parents or teachers? Could it feature past companions stepping in to fill the gap the Doctor leaves behind?
Could we finally see an in-universe acknowledgement of Elisabeth Sladen’s passing, as we did with the Brigadier?
The show has potential. Certainly more television of this type isn’t a bad thing. And in truth, nothing short of a few dozen found episodes could have gratified fans’ desires. There was no way that teasing the announcement like that wasn’t going to lead to disappointment.
* “Omnirumor” refers to the assortment of ongoing rumors regarding the return of many or all missing serials, particularly ‘Marco Polo’ and lately the third episode of ‘Web of Fear.’
** Patrick Ness contributed a Five/Nyssa story to the Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories 50th Anniversary collection. Not bad, but not my favorite either.