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Why Does Doctor Who Only Go Back In Time?

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New rumors are suggesting that many old faces will be appearing in David Tennant's Doctor Who finale. Ironically for a time traveler, it's beginning to look like the show has become stuck in the past.

MSN Entertainment David Tennant's final episode as the Tardis-travelin' Time Lord will see a return not only of companions Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman and Catherine Tate but also John Simm's The Master, while Den of Geek are chiming in with the rumor that Jessica Hynes - who played the Doctor's love interest in season three's "Human Nature" two-parter - will also be making a reappearance in the final two-part story that closes both Tennant's and showrunner Russell T. Davies' tenure on the show.

Is it wrong of me to feel kind of depressed by this news? I love a huge guest-star-filled extravaganza as much as the next fanboy - but the sad fact is, we've already had one of those with season four's "This Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" two-parter, which confused bringing back as many characters as possible with having an actual story... a trick that you can only really get away with once. Especially when that story ends with pretty definitive ends for both Rose Tyler and Donna Noble, making me wonder just how they're going to return for these new episodes without undoing those stories (And in Rose's case, undoing it again; how is anyone supposed to care about what happens to her now, if she's managed to come back from final farewells twice?).


But there's something about these returns that crystalizes one of the problems with the Davies Era; a tendency to repeat itself. We didn't need a Dalek storyline every season, especially considering the quality of some of those storylines, and the number of times they were "permanently" defeated, only to return the next year, just as the series never failed to return to characters and situations from years gone by (Whether the original series' Sontarans, the Master or the Cybermen or more recent creations like the Ood, the Face of Boe or even the farting Slitheen) whenever some audience success seems to be available from doing so. For all that Davies managed to give the show (and he gave a lot, not least of all giving the show a new life that no-one else had managed for years), there was always some strange feeling of comfortable nostalgia about the whole thing almost always.

Perhaps that's as it should be; Doctor Who is, after all, a family-orientated show aimed as much at children as adults, so perhaps being comforting and familiar comes with that territory. Surely, if nothing else, then seeing Donna and Martha and Rose again will bring cheers and gasps of disbelief from the kids, and that's what the show should really be aiming at. It's just that... At its best, Doctor Who is about wonder and discovery and adventure, and none of those things can be found by constantly going back to what you know, especially when you've already done just that very thing. Here's hoping that Steven Moffat brings the new in more than just new lead actors and set when he takes over, and the show stops going in reverse all the time.