In My Opinion: Doctor Who

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Geoff Harris

These are dark days. Not because of political upheaval. No biblical retribution. No, it’s worse. I find myself agreeing with the Internet.

<cold shudder>

It’s true. I am on the other side of the fence and, unlike most times, not alone. What could possibly cause such an Earth-shattering event to occur?

The current season of Doctor Who.

Yeah.

A television show.

I feel so dirty. So unclean. Tainted.

However, I am keeping a calm head unlike my newfound soul mates. I haven’t ranted on YouTube or written hate-spewing blogs on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. This is the closest you’ll find. Why am I sharing now and adding to the sea of mediocrity? I am a fan. I have a right to express myself, albeit in an intelligent and (hopefully) thought-provoking way.

In my youth, there were Star Wars people and Star Trek people.  They would argue and debate incessantly over which was better. When asked what side I held allegiance, my answer was always…Doctor Who. It had aliens. It had moral/ethical messages. It had wonder and excitement. Most of all, it was weird and spoke to me on a level the others did not. Star Wars is great until you find yourself picking apart plot holes or arguing the merits of Imperial Life versus if the Rebels are terrorists. (It’s basically two sides of the same religion fighting over which is more relevant. I doubt Lucas did that on purpose but who can say?) Star Trek is great as long as you don’t get into a pissing contest over which part of the franchise you prefer. No real fights, per say, but a lot of passive-aggressive clique-forming happens. Doctor Who was singular. Yes, people quarrel over which regeneration but all in all Whovians were pretty untied. Then came the reboot.

All shows eventually reach that vanishing point where it either reinvents itself or falls apart. Doctor Who was no different. In the late Eighties, the BBC started cutting back on the budget and enforcing more influence over the look and feel of scripts. The show began a painful slide into mindless crap. Hey, I’m sorry, but the Colin Baker run was a fucking joke and Sylvester McCoy himself has said he wasn’t all that pleased with the downturn in the writing. The BBC touched the butterflies wings and it began to fall. I will refrain from the FOX/BBC attempt to reboot the show and move to the new run. Seeing Doctor Who come back, strong, with money for special effects and outstanding writing, made me very happy. It was in many ways a new show but the elements of the old were still there. Cardboard sets were replaced by actual sound stages. The Doctor himself was a more developed character. The show had regenerated into a fresher take on an old song. So, you may ask, where’s the problem?

History is repeating itself. The BBC has once again begun to monkey with the show. I will strongly note here that I have ZERO problem with a female Doctor. Gender isn’t an issue for me. Regeneration is a tricky business and offers all manner of potential material for a show which often has a strong moral center. The problem, and the cause of my uncomfortable alignment with the raving masses, is once again the powers that be have stuck their heads in the room and what could have, fucking SHOULD HAVE, been an awesome and amazing take on a character has turned into a stew of watered down pabulum. This season is so sugary, diabetics can’t watch it without going into comas. Gone is the edgy left of center and in its place are what can only be considered leftover scripts for the Sarah Jane Adventures, which in itself suffered from being drained of any flavor in favor of more politically correct “safe” material. I’ve seen baby poo with more substance. Look, I get it. These days people are getting “triggered” or having their “shells” threatened by intruding thoughts. Instead of holding course and letting a new show runner express himself, you chain him down and force a more PC approach in order to reach a broader audience. God forgive a female Doctor have the swagger and confidence of the boys. Nope. we get a powered down more cheery semi-hipster Doctor. If they didn’t constantly make references to the Doctor’s new gender, I honestly wouldn’t even have noticed the change. I have noticed a throwback to the fifth Doctor’s run in how the companions are portrayed as almost singular characters as opposed to glorified hitchhikers. It’s always been a custom, when the writing works, to see the Doctor through the eyes of those around him (now her) as a reflective lens. We see how alien the character is by relating to how the companions react. Sarah Jane, before getting her own show, was a great example of a mirror to the often chaotic Time Lord. These current companions have their moments but I have yet to see a real confrontation between them and the Doctor, ala Donna Noble.

I know I will be held as an equivalent crybaby Browncoat for saying this, but STOP FUCKING WITH THE DAMN SHOW!!! If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it!!! The BBC needs to realize that the bad ratings are because of their mucking with the substance of the show. Yes, the prior season wasn’t a massive success. It happens. I have watched again and again how some executive gets a bug up his ass over half a point dip and all Hell breaks loose.

Okay, calming down. Reality check. There are probably dozens of reasons behind why the BBC is doing what it’s doing. I am just another faceless net-nerd with an internet connection and a passable high school vocabulary. What do I know about the cutthroat world of ratings and quality control. I’ll still watch the show. I’ll still rant about it. They own my soul.

FYI, I still watched Sarah Jane Adventures despite it being two-dimensional mental popcorn. She will always be in my heart as one of my favorite characters. And yes, I cried like a teenage girl the first time I saw the “School Reunion” episode. Sue me for not being perfect like you.

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