Doctor Who moves its regular Christmas Special to New Year's Day, and then heads off on a break until 2020.
As I noted in my finale recap, Doctor Who is a show that changes with the era, not just regarding characters and storylines, but in format, echoing the trends of the TV landscape of the time. Back when the show started, the idea of families gathering 'round the telly at Christmas was not yet a beloved UK tradition. By the time the show returned in 2006, on the other hand, the idea of a family show like Doctor Who not airing at Christmas seemed impossible. Even during periods when the show took the year off, there was always an episode for Christmas.
This is why there was such an outcry earlier this fall when rumors first surfaced that showrunner Chris Chibnall and company were thinking of skipping it. But, to be honest, doing so is the right choice. First of all, the season's late start means the show just ended, and putting extra space between season 11 proper and the holiday special will help makes them feel less like one long season with only a couple weeks off.
But more importantly, Steven Moffat, the series' previous showrunner, didn't just do Christmas episodes. He did "Christmas Themed Specials," to the point where he basically beat the idea into the ground. If Chibnall had done a Christmas episode that wasn't holiday themed, fans would have complained.
By moving the special to New Year's Day, Chibnall is free to allow his episode to avoid Christmas and its assorted trappings entirely. And from the looks of the trailer, this is a story that has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday. Entitled "Resolution," the synopsis is as follows:
As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history. Will the Doctor, Ryan (Tosin Cole), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) be able to overcome this threat to Planet Earth?
Here's the trailer:
The Doctor's Greatest Foe? Could it be Daleks? Fans won't find out until the episode airs.
But even if there are no evil pepperpots, the newest installment does have a brand new Doctor scarf, the pattern for which is being worked out by the good people of Ravelry for your crafting pleasure. Click this link to sign up on the mailing list for your free copy once it's available.
The New Year's Day special airs on BBC America at 8 p.m., ET. It will be the only episode of Doctor Who aired in 2019. Season 12, once again starring Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor will begin filming later in the year. No word yet if all three companions will be back, but fans hope so. The next season is planned to air sometime in 2020.