Doctor Who season 12 premiere will be the series’ biggest episode ever

Doctor Who _ Season 12 - Photo Credit: BBCAmerica
Doctor Who _ Season 12 - Photo Credit: BBCAmerica /

After a year away, Doctor Who season 12 will begin on New Year’s Day, And according to showrunner Chris Chibnall it’s going to be the series’ biggest episode yet.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, but Doctor Who fans have been waiting a while for Jodie Whittaker’s second season in the TARDIS.

We last saw the Thirteenth Doctor nearly a year ago, in the 2019 New Year’s Day special entitled “Resolution.” And before that, we’d already been without Team TARDIS for several months, since Whittaker’s inaugural season ended back in October of 2018.

At this point, most Whovians would take a pretty bland episode, just to have the series back on our screens. We don’t need much. We’re desperate. Everyone’s going to get mediocre brunch in London? Cool. We’d watch. (Or at least, I would. I’m not proud.)

But, apparently, we won’t have to.

According to a Deadline interview showrunner Chris Chibnall, the season 12 premiere will be Doctor Who’s biggest and most ambitious” episode ever. Which, given that this is a show that finally took us back to Gallifrey finally and trapped the Doctor and his friends on the edge of a black hole on a ship full of people turning themselves into Mondasian Cybermen in the past couple of seasons.

So, you know, adjust your expectations accordingly.

Season 12 will kick off with a two-part episode entitled “Spyfall,” which will air over two nights on New Year’s Day and the following Sunday. It will mark the first multi-part episode of the Chibnall era, and feature guest spots from British icons like Stephen Fry and Lenny Henry. But, apparently Chibnall means something more substantial.

"“Episode one is probably the biggest episode of Doctor Who we’ve done, or has been done, I would imagine,” Chibnall told Deadline. “Physically, there’s a lot of stunts, there’s a lot of locations, it’s a globe-trotting action thriller,” he said. “But you don’t want to lose sight of character and intimacy and emotion. You can’t do everything at 11.”"

Chibnall went on to agree that the rise of big-budget fantasy dramas like Game of Thrones has led bigger and better things from “institutions” like Doctor Who.  Hence, the idea that the show is going to go bigger and bolder to some degree in its upcoming episode, in terms of production values.

"Doctor Who has a thing that those shows don’t have, which is that we go somewhere new every week. So every week, we’re in a new world, we’re in new locations, we’ve got new guest actors, got a new guest cast, got new monsters, we’ve got a new threat, got a new story. So the incredible thing is Doctor Who has already structured itself like that. Our responsibility is to make sure the production standards are up to scratch.”"

And apparently “Spyfall” will not be the only episode in season 12 that plays around with narrative structure in ways that the previous season did not.

Season 11 had very straightforward standalone stories, ostensibly meant to help acclimate fans to the new Doctor and the type of show Chibnall wanted to make. (Which turned out to be quite different from previous showrunner Steven Moffat’s version.)

It sounds as though this year we can expect  to see more multi-part episodes and some sort of ongoing arc – or “thread,'” as he refers to it – though Chibnall wouldn’t tell Deadline much in the way of details. Shocking, I know.

As per usual, we’ll have to wait and see.

Next. The trailer for Doctor Who season 12 promises new adventures and a few old enemies. dark

Doctor Who will return on New Year’s Day on BBC America.