I have a big problem with Doctor Who at the moment, one I have gone on record about in my Twitter feed and on my Podcast. I am getting increasingly sick of the constant barrage of single episode stories. For years I have disliked TV shows going in that direction, it is just that I have been able to give Doctor Who a lot more leeway than I would any other show. But this is starting to run out.
I understand the theory behind having weekly shows that you don’t make you feel punished for jumping in partway through. The problem, though, is that this also means yo don’t get rewarded for sticking weekly with a show. Too much TV these days feels like it does not have a real ongoing presence. Doctor Who is really getting to feel like this, now.
I have seen it in other shows where they have an ongoing plot but one of the seasons gets orders to have more standalone content and less “mythology arc”. These often, to me, end up being the weaker seasons.
I know that some people dislike shows where most of the content is ongoing plot but I love it.
I like TV shows where as well as being an ongoing scenario about a setting or characters, the actual plots are divided into arcs. Maybe between three and five episodes in length. Where each story is given room to breathe and grow over multiple weeks. They don’t even need to have major “event” cliffhangers, just a run of a few episodes that are clearly an ongoing narrative,
It doesn’t even need to have really long episodes. Drop down from the 45 minute template to the half-hour show and it can work just as well.
And before people think I am just being nostalgic for “Classic Who”, it really isn’t that at all. I have recently been watching an Anime show called Kokoro Connect. Seventeen half-hour (OK, 25 minute) episodes covering four plot arcs. Two five-partners, a three-parter and a four-parter. Each arc its own plot, yet still part of an ongoing world and characters. Each arc really affecting how the characters interact with each other.
I have got more enjoyment out of that show than I have from nearly anything else I have watched in recent years. The structure of several short multi-part stories appeals perfectly to my narrative preferences.
I guess it just makes it that much more annoying for Doctor Who seeing that the stories used to be structured that way. I have missed it somewhat since DW returned in 2005. Up until now, though, it hasn’t really been a dealbreaker. But after Series Six’s heavily River-focused plot, to drop back to seemingly overly isolated episodes whilst other shows are doing the multi-partners so effectively? I just want a return to that type of storytelling.