“I’m the Doctor. Just accept it.”
I’ve been watching Doctor Who just about my entire life. My Dad watches it, and has seen every episode. My Mum watches it sometimes. And several people at my University watch it.
There are also my Facebook “friends” who’ve liked its page. But Doctor Who‘s being written like it’s a joke. The Doctor has a catchphrase, and its other characters are glorified fan service. Everything wrong with it can be summarised with the phrase “bow-ties are cool”.
But the current state of the series is that it’s actually a vehicle for a writer’s ego, rather than an entertaining adventure story for Saturday night. Remember that time Doctor Who Live: the Afterparty tried a live-link with One Direction? That just about says who this series is being written for. And then there’s the episodes that contribute nothing but an extra episode to the series, rather than trying to be about something.
I’ve loved this series since I began watching. I’d seen a lot of the Classic Series before the New Series started, and when it did, I continued to watch every episode. Until this week. My life’s been defined by it, and it’s one of the primary reasons for me being a writer. It started as a series about acceptance of our own flaws to empower us, but now, it’s refusing to accept the ones it has itself.
Science fiction is a difficult genre to get right, and therefore rewarding when done correctly. In every story, the content is given meaning by the context, like water being held in a glass. And that glass can be filled with many cocktails. But right now, I look at Doctor Who and I see a series that’s changing its own glass every episode because it refuses to commit to whatever it wants to be.
My relationship with Doctor Who‘s become abusive. And until now, I’ve been unable to leave because I still loved it. But Doctor Who’s recent comments and attitude shift has awakened me to the reality of my situation. It’s a series where every different Dalek design is included in the same episode just for the image, rather than the story.
When its at its best, Doctor Who‘s great science fiction. But it’s long past its best. It’s become a vessel for Michelle Gomez to disguise her atrocious excuse for acting behind quirky accents and playing for the audience. And it keeps reusing the same plot points over and over again – Clara Oswald as a Dalek, anyone?
And then there’s the Sontarans being dumbed-down into comic relief. That wasn’t for story terms, it was just, “here’s a funny Sontaran, because he’s… damaged?” Not to mention that he’s one of many characters who KEEP COMING BACK TO LIFE: Rory Williams, Clara Oswald, etc. I no longer have a reason to care any more.
It’s incredible that, to say the sonic screwdriver’s criticised so much, the week it’s replaced with sunglasses makes everyone lose their minds! You know what? I hate both. Any sonic device can be used in exactly the same way; it’s irrelevant that Doctor Who uses sunglasses now if they can still create forcefields because it’s an easy get-out clause.
There’s the psychic paper as well, which has never had any defined rules. And then there’s the TARDIS translation circuits, which takes the fun out of science-fiction; it’s like adding subtitles to a foreign language film. The hieroglyphics on Krop Tor couldn’t be translated because they were “older than the Universe”, even though that never went anywhere as a concept. Which brings me onto Doctor Who‘s worst trait:
Steven Moffat denying that Doctor Who can even have discontinuity. Most of his story-arcs inevitably lead to a continuity reset: The big Bang rebooting the Universe, The Wedding of River Song rearranging time, The Name of the Doctor retconning Doctor Who’s past. Even The day of the Doctor essentially erased eight years’ worth of continuity. It was like reading yet another “Crisis” comic book mini-series.
There are attempts to fix the Classic Series’ mistakes, which were made due to lack of archiving and recording from not expecting it to last that long. But that’s no longer the case. Which is ironic, since recent episodes have been more continuity heavy than ever before. It’s not that I don’t like old episodes, it’s just, I prefer the series move forward with itself and stop relying on its previous popularity.
Which isn’t to say it needs to become a “serious drama” – The Flash is about as light-hearted as you can get, but it knows it wants to be that, and embraces it as a strength. Whereas the way Doctor Who keeps switching in style isn’t because it’s good at those things, like Better Call Saul is, but because it uses comedy as resistance to itself. Like how Matt Smith used hipster clothing and tumb1r. slang to disguise his blunt acting (because I didn’t want to mention Gomez again). You can’t polish a turd, and even if you could, I’d refuse to eat it.
And the tragedy of that is that there are some awesome scenes recently. Doctor Who hijacking Davros’ chair was the same idea as mine! And Doctor Who’s entrance in The Magician’s Apprentice was cool, as well. But they’re ethereal scenes that distract the audience from episodes that don’t work as a whole.
And that’s what Doctor Who‘s turning into. It lives for the moment, without considering where the story might go. The whole point of television is to tell a story over a period of time, not spend it bullshitting around. Anything it turns-up is immediately brushed under the carpet because otherwise it would actually need to be included in the plot. The Big Bang isn’t remembered as a season finale that was an important event for the series, it’s just become the episode where the Eleventh Doctor first wears a fez.
Sorry, but I deserve better than this. I can’t tolerate a series that treats me like a moron or doesn’t even care for itself. It’s depressing to think about the potential being wasted. Sometimes you’re with someone and never contemplate that one day you might not be. On this occasion, I’m breaking up with you.
All things must end. But the moment has been prepared for.