With Doctor Who spin-off series ‘Class’ nearing the end of its first run, ScreenCritics asks what other potential spin-off’s Doctor Who could do.
The Doctor Who universe is brimming with compelling stories to tell. Being able to go anywhere in time and space, it’s no wonder that the idea of new spin-offs always rears its head into the conversation. With the Whoniverse being so large and expansive, it’s always ripe with new opportunities to explore different perspectives with greater richness. We, of course, watched the BBC enter a mature adult market with ‘Torchwood’ and then the children’s television market with the ‘Sarah Jane Adventures’. This year we saw the launch of the BBC’s third spin-off ‘Class’ (written by author Patrick Ness) to appeal to a Young Adult demographic – attempting to occupy the same space as shows such as ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and ‘Once Upon A Time’. Opinions vary on Class, but what it definitely did do was throw the concept of Doctor Who spin-offs firmly back into the limelight. Naturally, we put forward our top ideas for a new spin-off:
Many enjoyed the character Ashildr, brought to life by Maisie Williams. Being an immortal character it would be criminal not to flesh out her existence in this universe further. Dealing with her loss and confusion as she endures eras of time would be both fascinating and melancholic and we’d peer into a whole world left behind by The Doctor. We’d see just how Ashildr clears up The Doctor’s so-called messes and all the people he leaves, creating a new layer of world-building in the process. Furthermore, the spin-off’s narrative could eventually lead to the present day where she rules over Trap Streets. All the dilemmas, comings and goings and various social dynamics of an alien refugee community could be developed with a genuine richness. A fresh insight into the Whoniverse with a more fantastical take.
The Pasternoster Gang
When Vastra, Jenny and Strax made their first appearance in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ the calls for a spin-off were immediately loud. Since making further appearances in Doctor Who those calls aren’t quite as tangible as they once were, with the Gang now dividing opinion. Many now finding they’ve worn thin. I can see why parts of the Who fandom are now indifferent towards them but I don’t think a crime-fighting, Victorian, inter-species, lesbian couple should be discarded too quickly. It just reads too well on the posters.
There could be two tacks to this – the first being a detective show taking place in the backstreets of Victorian London, using their networks in Scotland Yard to fight both human and alien skulduggery. Also, if this show was created maybe, just maybe, The Doctor wouldn’t visit Victorian London so often. Another idea for the Gang would be to actually send them to space. A planet-hopping scenario where they’d track down various alien bounty hunters and space pirates. This would offer a different, more swashbuckling avenue for the Whoniverse to take.
Like the setting, there’s definitely options in terms of tone. It could go dark and be a gritty, violent crime drama. They do have blasters and swords after all. Since the end of Torchwood there’s been a thirst for darker, more disturbing Sci-Fi to re-emerge and the Pasternoster Gang could very will fill that gap. Alternatively, it could fit very well as a CBBC show. We’ve already seen how goofy the trio can be, particularly Strax whose unique comedic value would suit a younger audience. A silly, slapstick approach would feel right at home on CBBC and a bad-ass LGBT couple could easily become great educational material. It’s fair to say, this rag-tag group of characters offer much potential.
The inner-workings of a secret military organisation, U.N.I.T. would make for a thrilling show if done right. Audiences already have a reasonably firm anchor with U.N.I.T and more recently with Kate Stewart, granddaughter of legendary character, The Brigadier. Not only could you explore how exactly they militarily operate, there could be a focus on the scientific research arm. Introducing new faces to the equation to go alongside Kate and the Osgoods – leading to the development of a tightly-knit team in Torchwood-esque fashion. Venturing into their murky world could uncover a vast array of concepts such as paranoid thrillers involving Zygon infiltration or thought-provoking uses of alien technology from the Black Archive. A variety of political situations could arise involving the state and disclosure of certain information.
River and Captain Jack
A pipe-dream, but both Alex Kingston and John Barrowman would be up for doing it. Both characters hop around time and space and both are extremely popular with a long-lasting impact on the fandom. Seeing two of the most bombastic Doctor Who heroes form an alliance together would be television gold. When would this take place? Well, Captain Jack was adventuring in space after beaming out of Earth at the end of ‘Torchwood: Children of Earth’. He must have been up to something, so why not fill in that blank?