It’s been far too long since Doctor Who has been on our TV screens, and now we finally have our first look at the upcoming season 13 (or series 13 if you want to be British about it) of the beloved sci-fi series. BBC released the Doctor Who season 13 trailer during the show’s [email protected] panel, in which stars Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, and John Bishop were joined by showrunner Chris Chibnall to tease an ambitious new approach to the show’s storytelling structure, and a recurring guest star newly arrived from Westeros.
Doctor Who Season 13 Trailer
Six months have passed since Doctor Who was last on TV, and many more will probably pass before we finally get to see season 13. But at least we have this very brief teaser trailer to hold us over.
As far as teaser trailers go, it’s pretty standard: there are a lot of shots of the characters looking surprised or scared, with the extreme close-ups of Jodie Whittaker’s face that the current era of Doctor Who really seems to love. But there are a few things to be excited for: the potential increase in slapstick comedy courtesy of new companion Dan, and a new recurring guest star with a cool leather jacket and a Killmonger-style hairdo played by Game of Thrones‘ Jacob Anderson.
Anderson, best known for playing Grey Worm in HBO’s flagship fantasy series, will play a character known as Vinder, who Chibnall teased “makes you root for him, and he breaks your heart… he’s got the whole range.”
A Season-Long Story
However, the most intriguing hook for season 13 didn’t come out of the teaser trailer, but from the [email protected] panel, in which Chibnall revealed the season will be a fully serialized, single story. “It’s definitely the most ambitious thing we’ve done since we’ve been on the series,” Chibnall said, teasing a season-long mystery and cliffhangers at the end of every episode.
Now this is interesting. The charm of Doctor Who has long been its adventure-of-the-week structure, allowing viewers to tune in with any episode without a need to keep up with a story. The 2005 revival changed it up a little bit with vague season-long arcs, but mostly adhered to that episodic structure. Not since 1986’s Trial of a Time Lord has Doctor Who attempted a season-long single story, though the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood did try its hand at serialized story-telling with its third and fourth seasons.
But the recent success of Marvel’s Loki has (needlessly) raised the question of how Doctor Who can survive in the age of Disney+ and streaming. To be honest, I find that question silly — of course episodic TV like Doctor Who can, and should, thrive even as streaming services move to turning TV into “8 hour movies.” But a serialized season 13 might actually work out for Doctor Who, playing to Chibnall’s strengths as a plot-driven writer whose serialized crime drama Broadchurch is precisely what got him the showrunning gig. I’m down to see where this serialized format goes, if they keep it around for just one season.
No premiere date has yet been announced for Doctor Who season 13, though we know it will debut sometime in 2021.
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