Where we come in:
NB: At the time of writing, I am assuming this is how the current run of the show will end, bases upon what’s happened or been hinted at so far. Of course only time will tell whether this is my reading, or whether I’ve actually rewritten it without knowing it.
First, some retro-continuity is revealed. To defeat the Daleks in the Time War the Doctor has to enlist the Time Lords, but then it comes to be that his only chance to kill the Daleks off means wiping out the Time Lords as well. Traumatised by slaughtering his own species, he suppresses this memory in his mind. He also leaves himself unable to do anything similar again, inserting a kind of mental circuit-breaker in his thought processes. (This is why he is unable to set off the bomb he himself assembled in ’Parting Of the Ways’ claiming “coward every time.”)
But this conditioning starts to break down, and the Doctor becomes more megalomaniac about his powers over time. Perhaps partly as a result of this, this suppressed memory reawakens. (Perhaps he is also forced into a similar position again.) This time the Doctor responds more radically, both regenerating and developing fully fledged amnesia.
The new series – the opening:
A hallucinogenic montage scene of lights and starfields. This gradually morphs into something more violent - an aural fever dream of explosions, voices and cries from previous shows, Daleks chanting “exterminate” etc. (No actual clips, but snatches of dialogue over near abstract visuals.) A voice arrives much more loudly over the top of it, shouting repeatedly “Doctor Doctor!”
A man suddenly sits bolt upright. He’s in pajamas on an old metal-frame bed, in a small and spartan-looking room. A woman is shouting “Doctor, Doctor!” down the phone, finally realises the connection is lost and crossly slams the phone down. She looks around and is astonished to see him awake. Figuring he awoke to the word “Doctor” she calls him that. For his part, he remembers nothing.
She explains she is called Isobel, that they are on a remote Scottish island. He was found on the shore and she has spent several weeks caring for him. (She doubles as the island Nurse, but as it lacks a single hospital bed she has had to do this at home,) She had been trying to get through to the GP on the mainland, the lines are normally bad but seem significantly worse whenever she tries to call him. But, she adds brightly, she got a call through to the Police who are coming from the mainland to interview him, in a day or two. They might be able to tell you something.
She shows him what was in his pockets, a Tardis key, a sonic screwdriver (neither of which he recognises) and a plane ticket to Thailand. She remarks on the co-incidence, as she was shortly to travel to Thailand herself. He shows her the ticket back, commenting it’s just a blank piece of paper. Concerned, she immediately checks his eyes for damage. (Of course it’s psychic paper.)
Character of Isobel
Isobel is Scottish but not native to the island, her hippy traveller parents settled there after a long time roving – a clapped-out camper van still stands beside her house. Despite growing up with stories of all their adventures, she’s never even been to the mainland very often and is now excited about her trip to Thailand. Exotic-looking posters of Thailand adorn her otherwise simply functional home. She’s level-headed and practical, as much Matron as Nurse. (A running gag is how many different jobs she does on the island.) She’s also something of a rallyer, good at getting people to do what she wants. But she is also frustrated at this ordering side of herself and would like more chaos in her life. She comes to see in the Doctor the freely associative wild card she needs to play.
Character of the New New Doctor
This Doctor is a mystery to everyone, including himself. He constantly says things which surprise even himself. He’s not talkative, charismatic or tricksterish like the Ninth, he’s more spectral and spaced out, forever on the borderline between breakdown and revelation, always saying something between gibberish and insight – a figure like Syd Barratt, David Bowie in Man Who Fell to Earth, or perhaps Fiver in Watership Down. People are always underestimating him, including himself. But when in danger his old survival reflexes come back.
Given his condition, his dependence upon Isobel is greater than with any previous companion (except perhaps with the First Doctor and Susan). He’s continually forgetful and impractical, which tries her patience. (She continually complains at him that she gave up Thailand for this.) Yet one moment he’s burning the dinner, the next demonstrating some flash of genius.
Like in The Avengers the gender roles become reversed, when what’s required is fisticuffs then it’s left to Isobel (who turns out to be a keep-fit freak).
Continuing the set-up...
The Police arrive, taciturn and robotic, something which stands out against the island’s face-to-face society. They take one look at the Doctor and announce he’s immediately to be taken back to the mainland. Isobel protests, he’s still so weak, and finally insistant. At this they forcefully shove her back. Then when they’re about to put him on the boat they find she’s rallied other islanders to his defence (though some are clearly more fearful than her at the prospect of this). They use a piercing siren device to incapacitate everyone, clearly some kind of alien technology.
Isobel (somehow) rescues the Doctor and escapes the Police. Fearing a manhunt on the island will now ensue, they take a small boat to the mainland, landing on a remote beach.
She searches for ‘The Doctor’ in an internet cafe in a nearby town and discovers all the Who lore. She rushes back to explain to the Doctor he is part of “it all” He’s at first confused by this explanation (“all of what?”), then dismissive of the whole idea (“you can’t believe what you read on the internet”), but to her it seems to explain much.
The series formula
From that point, they’re forced to go on the run. Authority figures are always after them, and it becomes there is someone who wants the Doctor who is both powerful and clearly knows who the Doctor is – the only person within the series who knows this. With the Doctor not even knowing what the Tardis is, all these adventures happen in Britain. It would be something of a cross between the Pertwee Era, (dare I say it) Torchwood, The X-Files and The Fugitive. Like The Fugitive, their constantly having to move on will propel into fresh adventures all the time. (The otherwise inexplicable Sonic Screwdriver turns out to beep when in the vicinity of alien technology, like a geiger counter of alien-ness, drawing them into story situations.)
The theme would be modern paranoia and technofear – the conspiracy theories that all new technology is actually alien etc. Technology would always be a step ahead of what you suspected, governments and authorities just fronts for shadowy institutions never up to any good. Unlike the different-alien-invasion-every-week of the Pertwee era, alien influence would be more indirect – more akin to Quatermass.
Despite this throughline, each adventure would itself be standalone and comprehensible in isolation. (If always expounding upon the theme given above.) However, moments would allude to the throughline. For example, they could come across an old Police Box in a museum. This triggers a memory in the Doctor, who even tries his key in it. It doesn’t fit, and Isobel chides him for wasting time. Or alien dialogue would be incomprehensible, then switch into English when the Doctor entered the room.
With them travelling everywhere by normal means, the feel and pace of the show would be correspondingly slower-paced, much less frenetic. They would steep in situations rather than just charge through them. There could be scenes of trying to get an emergency shelter put up hiding out in the rain etc. The whole thing would be more ‘grounded’, the viewer should feel the earth beneath their boots. There’d be no magic maguffin solutions to problems, but instead a renewed emphasis on teamwork, on their winning the day by forging friendships and alliances with the people they run into. Isobel is but the first of these occurrences.
Similarly, music and sound effects would be less invasive, and ‘spacey’ only when accompanying something alien.
A green energy company is promising to solve the earth’s energy problems with an inexhaustible and nonpolluting supply of energy – if for a price. This secret source turns out to be from a UFO they have discovered and are tapping it’s power source, but without understanding it – once the whole power source is switched on it will surge, and blow up everything in a wide vicinity. The aliens have all died upon impact, so do not actively participate in the story, but the initially altruisitic become possessed by the power (in both senses) this will give him. The power source is triggered by thought power, so the company chief must put on a (somewhat symbolic) crown-like device to use it.
Advantages to this approach:
Advantages of this new direction would be the firewalls it would create against some of the problems of the old series recurring:
i) The ‘Lonely God’ stuff is now literally written out of the memory of the show. Added to which, the New Doctor is much humbler and unsure of himself.
ii) A whole house of get-out-of-jail-free cards had been stockpiled, dampening development of any dramatic tension, which would now be knocked down. These are toys the show has behaved so badly with up till now that they need confiscating. So now no-one now knows where the Tardis is, the Doctor has his sonic screwdriver and psychic paper but no knowledge of how to use them – they are clues not devices.
iii) While the previous series didn’t suffer overly from continuity obsession, this format would insist that anything referred to from a previous series, even the most recent ones, would need explaining – making for a better jumping-on point. At the same time, with for example the Police Box scene above, the old viewer would recognise the Tardis but nothing within the show would expect the viewer to do so. To the new viewer, it would merely add to the mystery – a mystery which would be fully explained later.