The only certainty about The Halloween Apocalypse is that there won’t be a ‘disappointing’ part 2 of a story where all of the promise goes unfulfilled. Instead, there are at least as many story threads as there are episodes in this all-too-brief series with the prospect of even more to come, if the pre-publicity photos are any indication.
As for the story itself … it looked great, moved quickly and set forward the promise of more to come, heck there was even the faint whiff of The Curse of Fenric about it. But this series may have two unintended impediments in front of it. The first, and most important, is that this kind of storytelling is unique to Doctor Who. Great chunks of television may have moved to this type of heavily serialized format, but its largely uncharted territory (with the possible exceptions of The Daleks Master Plan and The War Games) so whether this can be sustained, and whether the public will go along for the ride, are yet to be determined.
Secondly the announcement the RTD is coming back does undercut the proceedings somewhat, doesn’t it? This isn’t like 2008 when Doctor Who was on an unholy roll and was moving from strength to strength or even 2015 when it was all agreed that Moffat had done his time and needed to move on for both his and the shows stake. RTD coming back has quelled that uncertain, queasy feeling since we know now that we’ll have Doctor Who until 2024 at least. This inadvertently makes Whittaker, Chibnall, et al as something of lame-duck placeholders, and is entirely unfair to them and all of the arduous work put in to making Series 13 happen. This is a meta-observation over and above the usual suspension of disbelief as to whether the Doctor or other beloved characters will survive whatever is happening in the here and now. As fans we’ve been trained over 55 years, ever since the first successful regeneration, to look ahead for what’s next–and the nervousness that wonder that the next change will surely be the last. The shadow of the late 80’s lives with us still, and probably always will.
Three last notes about this new series of particular interest to the Tour. The Sundays night scheduling may be good for getting an audience, but for Tour purposes it is particularly unfriendly and will cause an inevitable delay in getting proper caps up on the site. Secondly it appears that the official BBC site aren’t putting up image galleries for stories anymore, and that’s a shame. These images have always been around elsewhere, but it would be nice to continue seeing them with the ‘official’ sanction as well. Lastly the entwined nature of these ‘Flux’ episodes by necessity means that even photos which have been released for a specific story may not actually go with that story. Even during the season we may be moving images around when it becomes obvious it needs to be elsewhere. Story galleries are always living things and under review to make better the representation within. That’s especially true now.