I Have Problems With Doctor Who.
I’m behind with Doctor Who. At first it was just one episode, and I thought well I’ll catch up in no time. Now the episodes are piling up and the season finale is about to air this weekend. And I could just a have a small marathon. God knows I’ve had plenty of Who marathons in the past (some have lasted couple of days!) but I can’t make myself to do it. I watch one episode and I’m all like this was fun! But then I don’t watch the next one and I’ve realized it’s because I don’t want to, because maybe then I’ll realize that the show is not as magical anymore, that I have problems with it. I don’t want to have problems with my favorite show. But I do. And now I’m going to rant about them. Maybe that’ll help.
(I’m only talking about the new Who, Doctor Who since 2005. I have watched some Classic Who but not enough to really have strong opinions about any of it.)
The first thing that I realized is bothering me is story arcs that I think are too long, or the show just focuses on them too much. What I originally loved about the show is the smaller stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things. How the Doctor can bring out the best of people (or the worst in some cases). Just look at the companions!
Rose was a girl who worked in a store and lived with her mum, spent most of her days living the same routine and hanging out with her boyfriend. Then she met the Doctor who showed her just how amazing and brilliant she could be. Now, I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with the life Rose lived before or that you can’t be amazing and brilliant and live an ordinary life. Most of us have ordinary lives, and a lot of us are amazing and brilliant. But Rose didn’t see herself that way, until the Doctor showed her just how awesome she could be.
Then there was Martha, smart, brilliant and ambitious young woman. Special in our human standards, but not special like the companions we’ve seen recently (impossible girls and mothers of half-timelords). But Martha also didn’t always see herself as someone amazing, at least not to in comparison with the Doctor, until the very end when she stated that she is good! Which she is. And now I’m not saying that all the companions Doctor had while Russell T. Davies was running the show were women with no self-esteem, definitely not. Rose was flirty and bold, Martha smart and brave, and Donna, who I will talk about next, was sassy and confident. They were complex characters with strengths and weaknesses, something I feel like Amy and Clara have been lacking.
So, about Donna, just a temp, nothing special Donna, who ended up being the most important person in the universe, is once again someone ordinary. She was unimpressed and ignorant, but then she travelled with the Doctor and she became this amazing, compassionate person. Doctor didn’t change her though, he just showed the good in her heart that had always been there. That’s the magic of the Doctor, he is able to find the good in people (and aliens) and show that to themselves.
Then came Amy, and I do love Amy, and it was a nice change that there was a companion who was tied in with the Doctor stronger than the previous ones. There was a mystery and it was exciting in the same way River was exciting. But in my opinion Amy lacked the complexity the other companions had and that also marked the point when I feel like the show took a turn for the worse. This is probably because of Moffat becoming the showrunner, rather than Amy becoming the new companion.
Now, Russell T. Davies had his flaws, he could be cheesy and just plain silly at times, but he did know how to write amazing, complex characters and also what to do with them. Moffat has his own strong suits, he can write characters, maybe not as well, but still, the bigger problem is that I don’t think he knows what to do with them. Take River for instance, when she was introduced I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about a character or a future plot line in any show before, it seemed simply genius. Then it finally got resolved and it felt a little flat and silly (but silly was Russell’s thing, dammit!). But that’s alright, we still have hope right. If only they would give River more screen time, why couldn’t she be the next companion? (Or who knows, maybe Clara is River…) She’s supposed to be someone who really bonded with the Doctor, I think she needs to have a little more time with him too, and also, we need to see that time she has with him. But now I’m just rambling this is not where this was supposed to go. The point was, Moffat is great with long plots, sometimes at least, well, he is brilliant, near genius when he starts them.
But the problem is, for me, that they are too long, too complex and I forget half of the things I’m supposed to still remember and care about. When in fact I don’t watch Doctor who because of the mysteries and questions, I watch it for the characters. Yes it’s an adventurous sci-fi, but I think it’s more of a character based show that Moffat realizes. Other problem that I have is how he makes everything a mystery. So Amy was a mystery, cool, something different (though not really cause River was the original mystery girl). Now Clara is a mystery, impossible girl, and I frankly don’t even care anymore who or what she is. I feel like Moffat writes the same female character over and over again. Sexy, flirty, sassy, ‘strong’ woman who often outsmarts or outwits the Doctor. I’m saying ‘strong’ because in order for a character to be strong, she/he has to be weak too, and I’ve yet to see the weakness in Moffat’s female characters.
And the final thing, Doctor has slowly become the center of the show, and I don’t mean as in main character, that’s who he is, but as in the center of the show’s universe. The companions are tied in with him before we even meet them, every major problem, plot line, always comes back to the doctor, and every mystery is always essentially about him. The bigger the Doctor becomes, the smaller he seems. He is the center of the universe, and frankly that universe doesn’t seem as infinite as the one where he is in the sidelines. The Doctor has an importance; he is the last of his kind (something Russell T. Davies did that made it possible for Doctor to become the center of the universe, but it wasn’t until Moffat that he actually became just that.) but he is not the most important thing there is, he is not god and I really don’t want him to be.
I do still love the show, but my love might be slowly fading, and I really don’t want that. I at least won’t admit it just yet. I really hope Moffat will get his act together, though I doubt it. The reason why I actually started thinking about this, and ranting it here is because I read that Moffat had said that the season finale will change show forever. And that scares me, I don’t want him to change the show that has worked for decades, I don’t want him to leave too strong of a mark. That’s the thing about him, he is making the show his, and I don’t think he should or even has the right to do that. Every show runner should have their vision, should make the show look like their own, but not alter or change the show so much that it’s impossible to go back, if the next show runner decides that he liked what the show was before. You can leave a mark, but you shouldn’t make it too big, and frankly, I’m afraid that the marks Moffat is about to leave on the show, are mainly just scars.
(and I don’t want to know the name of the Doctor. I don’t want the mystery to disappear. Ranty rant over.)