Why don’t you make like a tree, and split?

29th August 2010 • Blog Post by Seb Patrick •


The split transmission is the result of a request from Steven Moffat to write a new Doctor Who story arc which involves a big plot twist in the middle of the series. By splitting the series Moffat plans to give viewers one of the most exciting Doctor Who cliffhangers and plot twists ever, leaving them waiting, on the edge of their seats, until the autumn to find out what happens.

Massive plot twist, eh? Unannounced regeneration, perhaps? I FUCKING WELL HOPE NOT.

Seb Patrick once met Paul McGann, who immediately pretended to be Mark McGann. He writes for Den of Geek, BBC America, Film4 and the official Red Dwarf website, among others. He owns over thirty toy Daleks and wishes the Dapol factory tour was still open.


20 Responses

  1. VS

    A move that I’m sure will annoy some but makes absolute perfect sense to me. It makes it far easier to keep up publicity for the show as well as the interest of the more casual viewers to have 2 shorter series.

  2. Hendiadys

    Autumn seems like a better airing time for Who anyway. Perhaps this is a good way to test audience figures in an Autumn slot, and getting people used to the idea before shifting it out of Summer altogether in 2012.

    I like the idea of a mid-season cliffhanger, with a decent gap before the resolution. Let’s hope Smith is staying on for a good time yet. The very fact we can be uncertain does make it exciting though; there’s definitely something at stake now which was missing at the end of RTD’s time.

  3. Hendiadys

    Not sure what I think of the concept of “more event episodes” though. In some ways I wish we could just move on from the very necessity, but I guess this strategy could be seen as Moffat breaking the RTD mould little by little, rather than being afraid to challenge it.

    Great thread title, by the way.

  4. Andy M

    I really don’t want more event episodes, I would like more of the well-written ones instead.

  5. Steven Moffat has also commented on the prevalence of certain major recurring villain(s) in the next series. ‘Tis good news!

    Also, a new adventure game episode was released a few days ago. Haven’t tried it yet.

  6. Hendiadys

    I really don’t want more event episodes, I would like more of the well-written ones instead.

    I think there’s always going to be a question mark over what an “event episode” is, though. For me, the Dalek episode in series 5 was an “event episode”, because all the interesting detective thriller stuff was abandoned after fifteen minutes to make way for some kind of Superman guff. The series finale was only an “event” because the rest of the series kept pointing to it, with so many references to the “cracks” feeling contrived and awkward.

    There’s a real chance that despite there being “two openings and two finales”, or however Moffat put it, there will actually be less of a sense of “event” in the RTD sense. There will be less of an prolonged build-up to a single, pompous finale (hooray) and at the mid point (let’s say, for the sake of argument, taking the place of the lumpen Silurian effort this year, even though that wasn’t episodes 7 and 8) we’ll feel that something is actually at stake (hooray). If Moffat is writing these episodes, then I suspect they’ll be crafted well, and the chances are he’ll feel free to dispense with other “events” like spitfires in space which served only to liven things up between the opening and the finale.

    In the end, it’s very possible that doing this will create room for more of the non-event episodes we want. Plus, half of the series will be in Autumn. Possibly freeing Moffat, tonally, from the “summer blockbuster” notion of “event episodes”. We’ll see anyway, but I’m quite positive about all this.

  7. Hendiadys

    That sun with sunglasses was supposed to be an eight followed by a closing parenthesis.

  8. Andy M

    There will be less of an prolonged build-up to a single, pompous finale (hooray) and at the mid point we’ll feel that something is actually at stake (hooray)

    Interesting way of looking at it. This is exactly what I was hoping Tennant’s swansong year would be: in the end it wasn’t the poor quality of those episodes that was disappointing, it was the wasted opportunity to play with the format in a way the show hadn’t since Pertwee’s first season. Maybe the Moff can do it properly but the crack arc wasn’t good enough for me to get too excited.

  9. Hendiadys

    Plot twist: Suddenly, the cast of Doctor Who are catapulted to the beginning of the twenty first century, where they discover that they are characters in a popular science fiction series for kids!! Ending with the lines (after the series split/ mega cliffhanger): “And you know what they’d do if you told them?” “They’d hide behind the sofa!” “Yes, but only because people find The League of Gentlemen scary, LOL!” “LOL!”

    *awaits five pounds*

  10. Andy M

    As long as there’s a scene spoofing Bladerunner, I’m sold.

  11. My money says this is 90% practical, production thinking and very little to do with storytelling.

    There may well be a cliffhanger of awesomeness, but I’m betting it went “last series had trouble -> production would benefit from a break in broadcast -> well, if we’re breaking, we’d better have a great story to do it with.”

    I’ve no doubt that Moffat can make the best of production necessity, write scrips that thrive on limitations. But I seriously doubt the pause is mostly about letting a twist have lasting impact. Who schedules for that?

  12. Ridley

    Hello and congratulations. Your television programme has been specially selected in our Wednesday draw and you have definately won a major surprise. Perhaps even our star surprise of a MASSIVE placht.

  13. I think Moffat sat down with the Beeb and had a big old talk about the drop-off in viewing figures at the end of series five. Yes, 6 million is still perfectly good for a Saturday night drama and, yes, lots of people watch it on iPlayer now instead and it shouldn’t really matter but to a lot of people and, crucially, that includes the media, overnights are all-important. By moving the series away from summer and the long, warm, nights I expect Moffat is hoping to show that the drop-off was nothing to do with his showrunning. It’s a pragmatic way of keeping the show on track and keeping the Beeb’s faith in it (because, in an age of austerity and a Beeb-hostile coalition in power at Westminster the corporation is going to be nervous about expensive productions).

  14. You’re all ignoring the obvious question: Does the massive mid-season plot twist involve River Song?

    My money says it does.

  15. Hendiadys

    News on this:


    Episodes and five and six – the cliffhanger to the first half of the series, presumably – won’t be written by Moffat, but rather by the guy who penned Fear Her. I really hope they know what they’re doing!

  16. The series is 7 episodes long so there’ll be another episode ofter Matthew Graham’s episodes. That’ll probably be written by the Moff.

    Was rumoured back in February:

    Hopefully it’s a REALLY good idea.

  17. Hendiadys

    He wants to have monsters, he says, because he got the cheap episode last time. I don’t know anything and am just going to assume they know what they’re doing. I’m mostly just glad that the main cliffhanger episode looks still to be in the hands of Moffat.

  18. Reboot

    Wait, that means there’s two 2-parters in S6a (1/2 and 5/6). Does that mean that S6b will only have one (the finale), or that S6 overall will only have nine stories instead of ten?

  19. > Wait, that means there’s two 2-parters in S6a (1/2 and 5/6). Does that mean that S6b will only have one (the finale), or that S6 overall will only have nine stories instead of ten?

    It’s possible that there is a two parter split over the season break (i.e. it concludes at the start of series 6b). After watching Sherlock I’m sure that’s the sort of evil cliffhanger that the Moff would enjoy writing.

  20. I think the stated reason for the split is that the Moff wants to do exactly that.

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