Doctor Who’s new distribution deal with Disney+ could allow for a slate of spinoff shows when it launches on the streaming platform in 2023. Showrunner Russell T. Davies and the BBC have been keen to affirm that the Walt Disney Corporation are distribution partners and don’t creatively own the franchise like they do Star Wars. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if the increased global visibility of Doctor Who on the streaming platform led to Disney seeking more from the show’s extensive fictional universe, in the form of spinoffs.
Prior to returning as showrunner, Russell T. Davies had previously spoken about his desire for Doctor Who to enter the current cultural landscape of shared universes and spinoff shows. Depending on how successful Doctor Who proves to be on Disney+, viewers could see The Mandalorian-style spinoffs for Doctor Who. Davies’ previous statements suggest a substantial upgrade to the two spinoffs he oversaw during his original era, and here’s what those spinoffs could be.
The Eighth Doctor In The Time War
From the moment Doctor Who’s return was first announced in 2003, fans were clamoring for Paul McGann to return with it. The actor has long been seen to have had a raw deal, being an incredible Doctor in a failed pilot for a UK and American co-production. Paul McGann has played the Doctor since 2001 in a series of audio dramas for Big Finish, which were canonized by Steven Moffat in 2013’s surprise McGann-fronted mini-episode, The Night of the Doctor. Despite this, there’s a large section of Doctor Who fandom who want to see Paul McGann return on-screen, and a solo series on Disney+ could be the ideal way to achieve this.
The most obvious way to do this would be by exploring what the Eighth Doctor was up to during the Time War. Steven Moffat confirmed that the Eighth Doctor wasn’t fighting in the war, and was instead working on its outskirts, helping those innocent civilizations impacted by it. It’s a strong concept for a spinoff show that would be able to skirt around the established events of the Time War without damaging Doctor Who canon. The only issue is that Big Finish has already started exploring this period in the Eighth Doctor’s life and while Disney wasn’t that protective of Star Wars’ expanded media, Russell T. Davies is a lot more protective of the good work that Big Finish does, potentially nixing a Time War series.
The Adventures Of River Song
The Doctor’s wife, Professor River Song is a perfect character to front a Doctor Who spinoff, as her different take on morality would brilliantly subvert the parent show. River has had an extensive career in expanded media, but many of those stories revolve around her relationship with the Doctor. A Disney+ show should dispense with this, and commit to the idea of a morally dubious, time-traveling archeologist and trained assassin. The appeal of a River Song show would be in seeing what she got up to when the Doctor wasn’t around to disapprove, allowing for a fresh and interesting take on the standard Doctor Who formula.
The Five(ish) Doctors: The Sitcom
One of the highlights of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary was the comedy short film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot written and directed by Fifth Doctor Peter Davison. It felt like a pilot for a great sitcom about the strange life of a Doctor Who actor, the convention circuit, and interactions with fans all providing extensive material for comedy. The fact that Davison’s son-in-law is the most popular Doctor ever, David Tennant would provide excellent comedic conflict for the show too. Doctor Who has much more of a sense of humor about itself than Star Wars or Marvel and a sharp Curb Your Enthusiasm-style sitcom about jobbing former Doctor actors would be the perfect way for the show’s spinoff efforts to stand out from the crowd.
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