The BBC has revealed that the Doctor Who series in 2009 will be a “gap year”. What this means is that there will not be the usual run of episodes. Instead, three specials will air, each written by Russell Davies.
I don’t know if this will mean three extended length episodes or just one-hour specials. Some of the new series stories extend to two or three episodes, so one could create three specials that would nearly equal a season of Doctor Who, but with more flexibility that a longer length format would provide.
In the past seasons in the classic series, story lengths ran from 2 to 10 episodes in length. In some cases, extra episodes did not amount to much as far as resulting in a better story. I recently viewed “Ambassadors of Death”, a 7-episode Pertwee era story which was different from the usual “alien menace” science fiction stories. After the point where the Doctor receives information that the mysterious “radioactive” aliens are ambassadors and their officials demand their return, it seems to me that this situation should have resolved itself quickly. Instead, the story continued on as if all the effort to get the Doctor into space and back again had pretty much no effect on the outcome at the end. They gained the means to control the alien ambassadors, but I found it odd that the Doctor did not use his contact to take command (as is often the pattern in Doctor Who) and issue the aliens’ demands. This particular Doctor was very forceful
Does having a flexble length help a television series? Is there a length that is just right? Is it better to put all into a few episodes rather than put out a lot, but many turn out to be not so good?
What do you think?