Once again, a two-part “Doctor Who” story is proving to be far more satisfying than the single-episode stories. Ignoring the principal cast changes, if you were to run “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”, then “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”, and follow those four episodes with the current Dalek epic you’d come away believing that the series is on top form and as good as it always was! The original show undoubtedly had just as much dross, in amongst the good stuff, as does the present reincarnation. It’s perhaps remembered and rewatched selectively. I’m not saying all two-parters, in the modern version, are better than all single-episode tales. On the contrary. Only one out of three of the two-part stories, in each of the first two seasons, are on the right side of successful. But, when a two-parter gets it right it’s more rewarding than when a single episode does. For a start, you’ve the second half to look forward to! They can be less hurried, you can get to know the characters, you can build to that all-important cliff-hanger, and that’s why I’d love to see Russell T Davies adopt the 1985 twenty-second season-structure of five two-parters and a three-parter. The three-episode story wouldn’t necessarily need to be in the middle, as then, but could be placed at the beginning or preferably the end. It would mean there would only be six opening nights, instead of the present ten, and thus a bigger budget afforded each story.
The concluding episode of the present two-parter, entitled “Evolution of the Daleks”, can be seen this Saturday, again beginning at an earlier start time, at 6:45pm on BBC1. For a supposed flagship series, “Doctor Who” is certainly shunted around the schedules! I can remember the days when it was a rare thing for a programme not to start at a regular time. For example, every episode of “Survivors” bar one went out at the same time and there were thirty-eight over three years! This is the third consecutive week the good Doctor has been shifted from his 7pm start time. There is certainly less respect given to the regular viewer these days although I notice “EastEnders” seems to manage a more-consistent billing. Speaking of which, “Totally Doctor Who”, this afternoon, has an earlier start time by an hour. I mention it because you can see the marvellous Miranda Raison, as well as the latest story’s writer Helen Raynor, in this week’s edition at 4pm on BBC1 and I wouldn’t want you to miss it! If you do miss it, there’s another opportunity to see it over on BBC2 on Saturday morning at the usual start time of 10:30am!! I presume there will be more disruption to come from the short-trouser brigade, with the “FA Cup Final” still to play, as well as from that bastion of high culture “The Eurovision Song Contest”!!! C’est la vie.