After Steven Moffat was in charge of Doctor Who for about a year, things started to get a little hinky in the episode volume department. Seasons started getting split into two halves, we'd stretch out months and months without a single episode, and when episodes finally did return, we'd only get a few. The Tennant/Davies era suffered a similar drought during the year that the 10th Doctor regenerated.
A lot of this is just par for the BBC course. While those of us used to TV coming out of the States are accustomed to seasons running more in the 22-episode range, the BBC tends to have its shows run a good deal shorter.
But Doctor Who isn't just a British institution -- it's a worldwide phenomenon. The result: Expectation is high. More episodes, more special effects, more explosions, more fun, more, more, more. And then some more after that.
So, what's an executive producer to do? According to Steven Moffat, the answer lies in web content. When asked if we'd see more prequels and webisodes like Pond Life and Night of the Doctor, he seemed optimistic.
We’ll certainly do some more. We’ll do more prequels and stuff. I’ve been in to talk to the channel controller of iPlayer and say ‘We need proper money for it’, and they’re very keen. And we don’t call them prequels, we don’t call them minisodes, we just call them Doctor Who. That’s all they are. As I say, why not do an episode that’s ten minutes? Or an episode that’s half an hour? It depends what it suits.
Moffat is a convert to digital content, confessing that, when he was first given money for minisodes and the like, he'd say, "Right, what crew do we already have, what actors do we already have, what set do we already have? So we’d spend no money on it at all, whack it out in a day, pump the money into the episode and off you go."
But later, Moffat realized that Pond Life had audience of "over six millions" and realized, "That’s a TV show! That’s just a TV show, and a lot of our audience make no distinction between that and the TV show. Same with The Night of the Doctor. What I think is quite exciting about all that stuff is you’re allowed to do a six-minute episode."
And Moffat went a great deal further, arguing that regeneration sequences, in some ways, work better as short digital episodes. And he sees digital content as the future entirely, saying:
I actually think ‘The Night of the Doctor’ is one of the best ones we’ve done, and I don’t think it would be improved by being 45 minutes long. What more storytelling do we need? Arguably always the problem with the regeneration show is everybody’s just waiting for the bit when he dies and regenerates – so why don’t we just do that bit? You don’t feel that you’re short-selling it at all. So there’s going to be more of that, up until the point when all television is like that. And it will be. All television will be downloadable content. It’s coming.
And Moffat is probably right. Fewer and fewer people check in for appointment television these days. Sure, the occasional live-tweet event might bring the boys and girls to the proverbial yard, but that's still got a huge online component.
So someday Doctor Who may be just a thing we download. But in the meantime it looks like we'll be getting a whole lot more webisodes during those season hiatuses.
(via Doctor Who TV)