Where in the world should the Doctor visit next? And more importantly, when? Chris Swanson is your guide through history....
Throughout the 26 original series seasons, the 1996 movie, and the soon-to-be nine seasons of the new series, the Doctor and his companions have visited many different times and places. They’ve seen England in the 1950s, England in 1913, England during the 1920s, England during the Victorian era, England in 1066, England during World War II…look, the show stays in England a lot, ok?
But throughout all those many years and many countries (including, ok, the American Old West, Pompeii on Volcano Day, Rome in the time of Nero, and other places), there are still many times and places the TARDIS crew has yet to visit; and given that part of the original idea for the show was to teach children about history, visiting some more of it would be a good idea. Here is a list of eight that I hope the writers will consider for future installments of the series.
1. The American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783)
I understand that the English might be less than keen to revisit this war that they lost so dramatically. I love the idea of the Doctor meeting up with and debating people like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I’d especially love to see him call them out on their nonsense about “all men being created equal” while at the same time slavery was still a thing and women weren’t allowed to participate in government. I’d also love to see them offer valid, if incorrect, defenses.
As for a plot, I can easily see something where there is some alien species screwing around (perhaps the Sontarans, who would likely find the guerrilla combat to be interesting), and it’s up to the Doctor to stop them. This must somehow end with the Doctor having to impersonate Paul Revere and ride along shouting, “The redcoats are coming!”
2. The English Civil War (1642 – 1651)
The show has sort of touched on this during the Fifth Doctor’s era. There was an episode called “The Awakening” where there was some weirdness going on with the Roundheads. It was a lot of “timey-wimey” stuff, but it worked out reasonably ok and was a fairly interesting episode. But what I’d like to see is a full-on visit to the era, with the Doctor meeting Cromwell just as the man is rising up to power. A conversation or two with him could perhaps present the man in all his complexity; “warts and all” to coin a phrase.
I have no idea what sort of alien menace there would be, because there would have to be one; God forbid the show should do the first straight historical since the 1980s. But as long as the story climaxes with the execution of Charles I, and/or shows Cromwell’s best intentions starting to go south, I’d be quite happy.
3. Roman England (43 – 409)
Surprisingly, the TV series hasn’t even once visited Roman England. This quite shocks me, because it seems like a no-brainer. Big Finish visited the era with “Queen of the Icini”, putting the Fourth Doctor and Leela up against Boudica, but the TV series never has.
Now obviously since Big Finish did the Boudica story, the TV series would need to do something different, but that’s no problem. Just stage the story during the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, with the Doctor and his companion stuck on different sides. Put the Doctor with the Picts, just to make things interesting.
Again, I’m not quite sure where the sci-fi element would come in here. Perhaps the Picts and the Romans might be facing up against a third enemy; something dark and menacing wandering around in the woods. They form an alliance which lasts exactly long enough to fight that, then go back to fighting each other. That sounds plausible from a story standpoint.
4. The Reign of Alfred the Great (849 – 899)
This is another storyline oversight that surprises me. He’s the only English king known as “The Great” and the series hasn’t once gone back to visit him? Astounding. I’d love to see the Doctor visiting Anglo-Saxon England, and this seems like an ideal person for him to meet while there.
I even have a story idea in mind. It involves the Monk, another renegade Time Lord. This guy is different from the Master, though. He isn’t out for power or anything like that. No, he just kind of goes back into history and screws around “for the lolz”. When we first saw him, he had plans to destroy a Viking invasion fleet with an “atomic bazooka”, just to see what happens.
Have him be back there in the time of Alfred, meddling about. His Monk disguise would work out well here. He could be back there just causing trouble for amusement, or he could be doing something like stealing items from the nearby scriptorium. Really anything would work, and it would be nice to see the character back again, especially given what Big Finish fans know of the last time he and the Doctor met.
5. 1920s Hollywood (1920 – 1929)
Ah, Hollywood in the early part of its glamour days. Cocktail parties, speakeasies, swing music, and glorious monochrome pictures! Sounds like a perfect era for the Doctor to visit, and while he’s done so in the comics and the audios, he’s never done it on TV.
As for who he could meet, well, if it’s set in the early part of the decade, the Doctor and company could run across Roscoe Arbuckle; a hilarious comic actor who was the first major movie star, and then was brought down by false accusations of raping a woman to death. If it’s set later in the 1920s, the Doctor could meet FW Murnau, a great, and largely forgotten, German film director who made some truly revolutionary movies.
No matter who the Doctor meets, or when this story takes place, it has to be a comedy. There’s no rational reason for it not to be. A dark comedy, perhaps, especially if either Arbuckle or Murnau were involved, but a comedy nevertheless. It must also end in a pie fight, and Strax has to somehow be involved, because Strax trying to coordinate pie fight strategies is just too hilarious to not happen.
6. The Court of Nebuchadnezzar (634 BC – 562 BC)
there is so much fun that one could have with this guy and his court!
First, imagine the Doctor and his companion arriving in ancient Babylon
at the time of the construction of the Hanging Gardens. Then imagine the
Doctor dealing with a large number of Jewish refugees, some of whom are
perhaps trying to rebel in a “Babylonian People’s Front” sort of way.
not sure what alien menace we could throw in here, but maybe one isn’t
needed. Maybe this would be better played off as a straight historical,
with the Jews struggling internally and Nebuchadnezzar trying to be a
just and merciful ruler, but not always succeeding. I think it could be
an interesting and thoughtful episode.
7. Timbuktu at its height (circa 1330)
The Doctor hasn’t visited Africa enough, and the white/American/European world in general is insufficiently aware of the African empires that existed back in the day. These were powerful, rich (one king, Mansa Musa I, when traveling on the Hajj, spent so much gold he depressed the local economies for a decade), and really interesting empires, and it’s time for the Doctor to visit one. Timbuktu, the primary city of the Mali Empire, would be the best.
Plus this would be a great chance for Idris Elba to pop up on the show. Yes, I’d like him to play Mansa Musa I. I’m not sure what the plot could be here, but just possibly, given how much gold he has, perhaps a group of raiders show up to try and steal the gold to fight off a Cyberman army. Sure, it would involve bringing back the gold weakness, but if it’s handled right, and/or we get “retro” Cybermen, that could work.
8. The German trenches during World War I (1914 – 1918)
The series has touched on World War I occasionally, but only rarely and always from the British perspective. The latter part is understandable, as the show is, after all, British. But how much more interesting would it be to see the trenches from the German perspective? Imagine as well the Doctor having to deal with being shelled by the English, or experiencing a gas attack.
This is another where I’m not entirely sure what the plot would be, but I kind of like the idea of an alien invasion happening at the front lines, and no one really noticing in all the chaos. Plus, as mentioned, the Doctor on the receiving end of some British nastiness would be interesting. One request, though. Let’s not have young Hitler show up, please?
Where, and when, would you like to see the Doctor visit?
Chris Swanson is a writer and blogger from Phoenix, Arizona. Read more from Chris on his blog, and follow him on Twitter.