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Doctor Who Rumor: Franchise Could Be Getting a Sherlock Makeover


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In If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It news, there’s a rumor coming out of the Whoniverse that Doctor Who may be getting a “Sherlock-style makeover” to fight slumping ratings in the current season.

What that means, according to The Mirror (so take this with a grain of salt), is that the next season of the show might do away with the 13-episode format and do three 90-minute specials instead. The Mirror calls this a “crisis period” for the show, because viewing numbers have “plunged below four million.”

Now, maybe the BBC isn’t used to having this level of worldwide phenomenon on its hands, so they may be panicking now that the Doctor Who honeymoon period is over, but “below four million” is not a crisis. After all, our most successful network shows here in the US – your Scandals, your Modern Familys, etc – have about 3-3.5 million viewers, and that’s including Live +3 streaming numbers.

Doctor Who became a worldwide phenomenon (and obviously there’ve been Whovians worldwide forever, but I’m talking the huge financial hit it’s become) because of a confluence of unique conditions: Doctor Who airing on BBC America, combined with Matt Smith as a brand-new Doctor, combined with Karen Gillan as a brand-new companion. It was fresh, new, and a perfect jumping-on point for new viewers, while giving long-time fans a jolt of new blood. There was also a huge advertising push by BBC America here in the States, which aided in the show getting a wider audience here.

Now, it’s not clear if the 4 Million viewer number is a UK-only figure, or if that’s a worldwide figure. But regardless, the honeymoon is over…and that’s okay. Television is changing, as is the way people enjoy it. It’s not about everyone watching one, galvanizing show anymore. It’s about every show finding, and holding onto, it’s most passionate fans. It’s about finding your niche. Basically, with streaming services, On Demand, and other advantages of the Digital Age, TV is made for geeks. It’s made for people who want to seek out and enjoy the shows they’re most passionate about as often (or as little) as they want. The television industries both here and in the UK need to recognize that and alter their ideas about “success.”

People love Doctor Who, because there’s a new adventure every week. It’s a fun, adventurous sci-fi story with an interesting hero at its center. That’s it. You change the format, you change the dynamic of the show. You change the dynamic of the show, you change what makes it special. You lose those hard-core fans that are keeping you alive. I mean, I love Sherlock – but honestly? Because I know that it’s only 3 episodes, I wait even longer to watch them, because I know I’ll have to wait forever until the next season, so I save them. I wait until they’re on Netflix. There’s no incentive for me to keep current, no matter how much I love the show, because the show isn’t giving me much for very long.

If they think that formula will be a solution for Doctor Who‘s “slumping” numbers, I think they’re mistaken.

I hope this rumor is exactly that – a rumor. But if this is indeed something they’re actually considering…how would all of you feel about that? Do you think a format change like this would negatively affect the show? Would it affect whether or not you watch? Tell us in the comments!

(via Geek Tyrant)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.