Timey Wimey

Doctor Who is Going Back to Basics — and Becoming Cutting Edge

Time is a flat circle.


Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi series, which means the show has gone through quite a few regenerations. From its original run as a low-budget sci-fi serial to its glossy 60th anniversary specials that premiered on Disney+, Doctor Who has morphed and changed with the times. That’s not changed with the new season, which even has had its terminology is updated. While the season is Season 14 in the U.K., in the U.S. it’s referred to as Season 1, since it’s the first season to premiere on Disney+.

But that’s not the only way this new season is different. One of the stars has revealed the scripts look similar to another British sci-fi show — and could change the show from now on.

The new season of Doctor Who brings its characters throughout history, from the 1960s to Regency England.


Millie Gibson, who plays companion Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who Season 14, teased the new episodes in an interview with Doctor Who Magazine. “I feel like this [2024] series in particular is very different to any other series of Doctor Who,” she said. “I think the way Russell [T Davies, showrunner] has written this one… the fans won’t be expecting what happens next.”

According to Gibson, the difference is evident in the scripts. “The first script I read — I thought, this is on a different level. It feels like a Black Mirror episode to me,” she said. “It’s such a different concept to, like, Daleks and stuff. This series is completely different. But there’s still plenty of running from monsters, in a crazy Doctor Who way.”

The comparison to Black Mirror is especially interesting because just in terms of chronology, Doctor Who isn’t taking after Black Mirror, Black Mirror took after Doctor Who. Black Mirror is a sci-fi anthology series inspired by Twilight Zone, with each episode telling a different cautionary tale about technology. While Doctor Who has recently come to rely on lore-heavy character studies of the Doctor since it was rebooted in 2005, the vast majority of its episodes since its 1963 premiere were one-off adventures where the only throughlines were the Doctor and his companions.

The new season of Doctor Who stars Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday.


But Gibson’s statement isn’t completely about the format, it’s also about the content: Doctor Who has a reputation for telling sci-fi stories that are more about grotesque monsters and aliens, but the comparison to Black Mirror suggests it will also do more allegorical stories about technology. Doctor Who’s relationship with sci-fi has always been vague at best, with most of the show being more comparable to science fantasy than hard sci-fi. But the kind of harder sci-fi bent that Black Mirror is known for is not completely new to Doctor Who, as past episodes like “The Idiot’s Lantern,” “Rebel Flesh/The Almost People,” and “Oxygen” all interrogated the dangers of technology.

Black Mirror may deliver pure Twilight-Zone-style anthology chills, but the new season of Doctor Who could find the best of both worlds: some one-off episodes that reflect and exaggerate our world, and some that are sci-fi for sci-fi’s sake.

The new season of Doctor Who premieres May 10, 2024 on Disney+.

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