The most complicated one-sided romance continues.
Since 2005 and the return of Doctor Who to TV sets across the globe, there has always been a Christmas Special on Christmas Day. This Christmas will be no different save for one small would-be surprise.
River Song is returning to Doctor Who for the 2015 Christmas Special. As always Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producers loves to buck the system. I understand that this is science fiction and time travel but even they have limits.
A Brief History in the Key of Song:
The Doctor first met River Song in 2008 in the stories “Silence in the Library” and “Forrest of the Dead“. The character, River Song, is a mystery to the Doctor with the 10th having just met her but she knows so much about him. In that first story two-parter, the doctor would watch River die. She would then go on to make another 13 appearances, appearing next in 2010’s 11th doctor story, “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” where it becomes apparent River meets the Doctor out of sequence.
Their timelines are running backwards. As the doctor is meeting her from her death backwards and River is meeting the Doctor all over the place. So as he continues onward, she knows him less and less.
We learn River is the daughter of Amy and Rory, having conceived her while aboard the TARDIS, River would have a certain connection. The Silence abduct Amy to force her to give birth so they can take the child and genetically alter it creating a test tube Time Lord. (A Good Man Goes to War) River is complete with regenerations and one sole mission… to kill the Doctor. Upon completing her task, she gives the doctor her remaining regenerations to save his life. (Let’s Kill Hitler)
River would go on to become a popular yet controversial character. Some fans claiming she would dominate the show and make the doctor take a step backwards as some of the 11th doctor era would become The River Song Show. In the episode right before the 50th Anniversary Special, “The Name of the Doctor“, River would make her believed final appearance as the Doctor hints that River is on her way to the library where she would meet the Doctor for the first time. It was a tear-jerking goodbye and a finale which could me met with esteem from both fans and non-fans of River Song.
So How Does This Work?
No one knows!
River was believed to be on her way to the 51st century and the greatest library in the universe, however this Christmas proves otherwise. Along with the 2015 Christmas Special, an upcoming audio adventure from Big Finish Productions will feature both the 8th Doctor and River Song. How this meeting is going to work its way into the River/Doctor relationship is beyond this Whovian.
The ability to thumb one’s nose at continuity has always been a basis of Doctor Who. Without that mentality we would never have such stories such as “Genesis of the Daleks” or “The Deadly Assassin.” Those two classic stories in particular took known continuity and turned it on it’s side in lieu of being well-received, status quo-changing stories. Steven Moffat has been known for not only changing and thumbing his nose at canon, he’s been known for altering the context of the series as a whole. With such drastic changes as a hidden, forgotten Doctor played by John Hurt first seen in “The Name of the Doctor” and whose story was the focal point of the 50th anniversary Special “The Day of the Doctor” or the drastic change to the character the Master, altering him from a man to a woman. (Dark Water & Death in Heaven)
The difference between Steven Moffat and the producers of old is one small detail. Philip Hinchcliffe was the Producer of Doctor Who in 1972 at the age of 29. He believed that continuity served as a guideline but wasn’t etched in stone. He was always quick to change canon and write a story which went against what was already established as Doctor Who lore. He also lived by one solid writing mantra:
“Continuity is something which a writer should not be a slave to. However, don’t change canon for the sake of it, change it for the use of something extraordinary, change it for a good story.”
This tends to be something Moffat constantly forgets when he gets behind the wheel of the series and starts writing his complex timey wimey plots. The answer to something drastic in a story should not be “timey wimey” it should not be “Time Travel” or “Science Fiction;” that unto itself self is just lame, lazy writing. Even the Doctor Who novels Writer Guidelines specify in bold print that one should not rely on the TARDIS or the nature of Time Travel to solve the problem or save the day. One can only hope the reasons behind River’s now out-of-context appearance is something worthwhile.
Doctor Who will return to BBC One & BBC America on Saturday, September 19th with a 12-episode series, followed by the Christmas Special on Friday, December 25th, Christmas Day.
Doctor Who returns for season nine on Saturday, September 19th. Here’s a look at the season nine trailer: