As science fiction formats go, Doctor Who seems the most open to a diversity of writerly sensibilities. Though the post-2005 Who seasons contain loose story arcs, the show is still largely made up of self-contained stories that simply drop this mad man in a box into a fantastic scenario. The original Star Trek had a similar planet-of-the-week format, which allowed for a number of science fiction writers to adapt their stories to Trek’s format.
Contemporary Who fans have grown accustomed to seeing a group of familiar scribes: Toby Whithouse, Mark Gatiss, Chris Chibnall, and so on, however, this season featured a one-off episode from immensely popular author Neil Gaiman! This seemed to work infosar as it was nice to hear a slightly different voice on the show. What if even more new voices were allowed in the TARDIS? Here are five writers who might deliver unique and memorable Doctor Who adventures.
Sure, he’s a complete hack with a tendency for weaving pseudo-history into a globetrotting conspiracy, but Dan Brown does know how to write an exciting plot. (And it’s not like Doctor Who goes out of its way to avoid hand-wavey science. Plus, the line between pseudo-history and science fiction history is pretty fine.)
If Brown’s more thriller-esque techniques were reigned in by the more family-friendly vibe of Doctor Who, he might actually produce something singular and unique. Maybe Dan Brown could be the writer to depict the “true story of Easter.” The 10th Doctor did mention he was there! Or what about Joan of Arc? Hell- what if the Doctor had to fight against the masons? With this in mind, the Three Families action from Miracle Day certainly had a Dan Brown thing going for it. Perhaps the Torchwood team could stand to gain a new member in the form of Dr. Robert Langdon.
Moffat famously made a name for himself in the industry with the creation and writing of the comedy show Coupling. Though some of Coupling comes across a bit dated now (mostly owing to the fact that all the worst elements were re-appropriated in Friends) it has undeniably compelling plots and snappy dialogue. If this is an important criterion for television writing, then Tina Fey makes Moffat look like he’s standing still. A quirky comedy plot that involves space or time travel? Tina Fey would likely excel. Her episode wouldn’t even have to involve space or time travel too much, as the more “mundane” episodes of Doctor Who, like “The Lodger” and “Blink” are often some of the best. Tina Fey’s hypothetical Doctor Who episode could easily involve an everyday struggle spinning out of control, a hallmark of both 30 Rock and Doctor Who. As a bonus, it could also star Tina Fey in a guest role! A Liz Lemon style character would also probably totally accept the existence of the Doctor and the TARDIS without batting an eye.
As Russell T. Davies has attested, the success of 2005 Who owes a lot to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. More than any of his creations, Buffy made SFF into something other than a nerdy boys club, and melded domestic drama with a fantastical premise to an extent that viewers had rarely seen before.
Contemporary Doctor Who has learned a lot from the Buffy approach to storytelling and Whedon would excel in this environment. He’d likely deliver an episode that provided a sense of real danger, and you wouldn’t be sure that the Doctor would wrap everything up, or that someone important wouldn’t die. Hell, he might even be able to do something new and interesting with a classic enemy like the Daleks or the Cybermen. As long as Whedon resisted the urge to have really, really sexy girls kicking ass in the style of Buffy and River Tam (as aped by Jenny in “The Doctor’s Daughter”) everything would likely be great.
Comic book visionary Warren Ellis might seem a little too racy for Doctor Who (although that’s kind of like saying water might be a little too wet) but just imagine the setting of something like Transmetropolitan in a Doctor Who episode! Ellis is no stranger to exploring the weirder edges of science: living nanoclouds, alternate steampunk realities, a gun that fires a baby universe at its target, space shuttles given the name Awesome as an official designation… And the man loves space exploration unabashedly. (Check out his highly touching graphic novel Orbiter for proof.) The speculative ethical questions Warren Ellis brings to the table are highly original and would propel Who into an interesting area where the science fiction started to become complex social commentary. Not to mention, a story from Warren Ellis will move fast, have great dialogue, and likely be darkly funny. (The odds of someone threatening to do something violent to or with someone’s butt are fairly high, as well.)
Though not really in the spotlight post-Star Trek, writer/director Nicholas Meyer still has some pretty legitimate writing chops. In 2003 he adapted the screenplay for The Human Stain based on the Philip Roth novel of the same name. Then in 2008 he adapted another Roth novel, Elegy. Both films are fantastic and full of wonderful, gripping scenes that convey complex human drama. And though Doctor Who has drama, some of it does occasionally degenerate into melodrama. Meyer famously re-wrote the script for The Wrath of Khan, which resulted in one of the most introspective Star Trek film of the bunch. Meyer’s Who episode wouldn’t be about the science fiction concept necessarily, but more about how the people were affected by the fantastic. He’s also done time travel before: directed the 1976 film Time After Time. Finally, Meyer is a Sherlock Holmes aficionado, responsible for three wonderful Holmes pastiches. Moffat loves Holmes. Meyer loves Holmes. The Doctor meets Holmes in a Meyer/Moffat joint? Pefection.
We came up with a ton more names that we’d like to see behind the wheel of Doctor Who, but we’re curious as to what everyone else thinks. Who comes to mind for a guest writer on Who?