Before this most recent season of Doctor Who, one of the biggest questions being bounced around the sci-fi community was “Will Peter Capaldi’s edgier Doctor do the franchise well?” With Season 8 and the annual Christmas special now officially over with, Capaldi’s popularity is now certified, and Doctor Who has officially had its highest-rated season ever…here in America. Over in the U.K., however, the series took a ratings dip and has fans so riled up, it’s reportedly getting some retooling before Season 9.
Throughout the season, Doctor Who and current showrunner Steven Moffatt have been criticized by Brit viewers for the show’s newly adult-oriented approach, airing in its latest time slot ever. Longtime fans railed against Moffatt leaving monster-filled all-age adventures in the rear view and focusing on more complicated fare. Capaldi’s twelfth incarnation has pulled in lower averages than the Doctors – Matt Smith, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston – before him, drawing between 6 and 7 million throughout the twelve-episode run. To combat this slump, here’s what a BBC source told the Mirror’s Sunday People.
There will be some tweaks. We are obviously keen for it to appeal to the whole family.”
Here in the U.S., though, BBC America reports via press release that Season 8 averaged 2.035 million viewers taking Live+3 into account, which is higher than any other past season. Last Christmas, in particular, brought in over 2.6 million Live+3 viewers. Is that a representation of the Who brand growing domestically, or is it because we’re a country that just can’t stop eating up gritty storytelling? Are these audiences just made up of The Thick of It fans who theorize that Malcolm Tucker and the Doctor are the same person? Is that just me?
The series has more of a cult following here, rather than being programming that brings families together, an outlook shown in the ratings themselves, which obviously don’t match up to the ones that Doctor Who gets in the U.K. But it’s a big deal for the U.S. network, which has yet to see more than a million people tune in to a first airing of the critical darling Orphan Black. That's a damned shame.
Before now, the biggest piece of mini-controversy going into Season 9 was whether or not current companion Clara would be returning to Twelve’s side. Their partnership was another area of criticism from fans across the pond who don’t think they have any chemistry together. (That thought is shared with many over here, too.) Perhaps a bright change in tone would make Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman easier for everyone to handle.
Doctor Who will begin production this month on Season 9, which will presumably air during Summer 2015.