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Russell T. Davies is back at the helm of Doctor Who: 5 things that could mean for next season & beyond
After Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall announced he would step down in 2022, speculation was rife as to who would be taking his place and effectively guiding the series into its next incarnation — especially since the show's current star and Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, will be leaving with him, bringing her tenure to a close as well and giving the series a blank slate.
It's since been announced that none other than former NuWho showrunner Russell T. Davies will be filling that key role, returning to a position he'd originally held from 2005 - 2010, when he not only helped reboot the entire franchise following a previous failed attempt but also went on to cement its place as a mainstay of British popular culture with the help of Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant's Ninth and Tenth Doctors.
Since then, two more Doctors (and one more showrunner) has come and gone, with the series having climbed to new heights, and undergone a few big changes to its central mythos — most notably the fact that Time Lords can regenerate into different genders and races. But that just means that Davies is now in a prime position to push the beloved science fiction classic even further into the future.
Here are 5 major things he brings to the table that fans should be looking for.
Strong season-long storylines
Davies' showrunner successors, Stephen Moffat and Chris Chibnall, have both tried to craft overarching storylines over the course of a season, with varying degrees of success. But one of the hallmarks of Davies' time at the helm was his ability to guide his writing team towards building satisfying endings that paid off both season-long arcs, as well as shorter two-parters. Better still, he had an incredible ability to work in references and callbacks to the "Classic" era of Doctor Who, allowing newer viewers to learn about the show's wider mythos and history, while also quickly coming to care for it in the context of these newer storylines and characters — a tricky feat when a show is more than 50 years old.
The possiblity of more Torchwood
Torchwood launched during Davies' time as showrunner, which means it could possibly make a comeback — especially off the surprise of Jack Harkness' brief reappearance last season. And while this is a bit of a wishlist stretch, it is worth noting that the cases Torchwood covered were not only more complex and much darker than Doctor Who's standard family-friendly fare, but the inclusion of the organisation itself allowed the world of the series to open up as we saw that there were all kinds of alien threats out there, and that humans didn't always rely on a TARDIS-travelling Time Lord to help save them.
Humanity's greatest villain: itself
Doctor Who is at its strongest when it's highlighting the best of humankind and what makes us so special and great — and Davies' era was particularly notable for its focus on the humanity of all the characters. But for every episode that celebrates that just this once, "Everybody Lives" in the face of death, there's a standalone episode that also highlights that humans can be their own biggest enemy and that the Doctor may not be able to save us from that.
More standalone focus on the companions
Davies' tenure wasn't afraid of featuring episodes light on the Doctor's presence — as can be seen in the now-iconic "Blink" and even "Left Turn" — which would only serve to make the new stage of the show even stronger, as recent seasons from both Moffat and Chibnall have sometimes been hesitant to stray too far from the Doctor's presence. Focusing on the Doctor's companions allows us to get to know them more, while featuring side characters lets us learn more about the wider Who-world and what's happening while the Doctor is away. After all, life still carries on for everyone else. (Usually.)
More main LGBTQIA characters
The television landscape looks very different than it did back in 2005, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA representation on the screen, with great strides having been made in the last decade. Still, besides Jack Harkness and Season 10's companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie), there haven't been very many queer characters front and center in the TARDIS, but Davies' return could do a lot to change that going forward, especially seeing how vocal Davies is in support of representation being reflected on screen.