There’s something missing from the new series of Doctor Who.
It’s not a charismatic new lead. It’s not a diverse team of companions. It’s not a cosy new Tardis interior, or a modern take on the theme tune that pays due reverence to the original. Ok, it is the Daleks – but that’s not what I’m talking about. What’s missing for me, is the classic Doctor Who ‘cold open’.
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You know what I mean. That section before the opening credits that sets up the episode, introducing us to a new threat, mystery or bit of weirdness. And no cold open means no Doctor Who sting – that unmistakable electronic sound that underlines the drama and leads so satisfyingly into the theme tune.
True, you do get to hear it at the end of episodes before the closing credits, and that is good and right, but without the cold open I really feel like we – and in particular a new generation of Doctor Who fans – are missing out on something that is fundamentally, essentially Doctor Who and which would only increase the sense of eerie excitement at the start of every episode.
Five weeks in and there have been some real missed opportunities. Take the latest adventure, the Tsuranga Conundrum. Post opening credits, it begins with the Doctor and the rest of the Tardis team scouring a junk planet for booty when they uncover a deadly sonic mine. Even the sonic screwdriver is not able to stop it from detonating. A worried Doctor apologises to her friends as the mine counts down and then an explosive flash envelopes the screen.
Imagine that playing out before the opening credits, followed immediately by the Doctor Who sting and that incredible theme tune.
Boom! Goosebumps and tingling spines all round.
New showrunner Chris Chibnall has made some fantastic changes to Doctor Who but ditching the cold open is not one of them. After all, why throw away the opportunity to wring an extra thrill out of Doctor Who each week, as we prepare to follow the Doctor on another adventure in space and time.
This article was originally published on 4 November 2018