Okay, let’s talk Doctor Who

The holiday came early for Whovians with the announcement of the recovery of two previously-lost episodes, one from Hartnell’s “Galaxy 4” (previously a completely lost story) and one from Troughton’s “The Underwater Menace” (which was only mostly lost).

And then… well…

Is it just me, or are the annual holiday episodes turning into something to be endured rather than enjoyed? Granted, Moff hasn’t given us anything as stomach-churningly buttock-clenchingly piss poor as “The Next Doctor”, but I feel compelled to qualify that with a “…yet.”

Last year’s “A Christmas Carol” and even moreso this year’s “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” are plumbing unpleasantly maudlin and mawkish depths.

Actually, “A Christmas Carol” would’ve been okay if it hadn’t had flying sharks — the story wasn’t too bad, and the premise (the one-day-a-year visits) and payoff (confronting old Sardick with his younger, still-innocent self) worked, but the flying shark just made it ridiculous. It wasn’t quite painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa, but it was that kind of awkward fit.

This year’s special completely lost me at the get-go, with the Doctor’s escape from an exploding spaceship, about which more will not be said in the interest of maintaining spoiler-safe commentary. But suffice to say that after that, my taste for the whole episode was completely ruined — it would have taken something special to get my attention back, and something special was not delivered.

Meanwhile, listening to Tom Baker reading ‘The Pyramids of Mars’ on BBC Radio 4 online reminds me of what Doctor Who is all about. The mistake the new series is making is overemphasizing the relationship between the Doctor and his Companions, to the detriment of the premise of the entire series. Certainly that relationship is important, and the companions’ roles have progressed well past the Brigadier’s comment to the Third Doctor that they’re there to “pass you your test tubes and remind you how brilliant you are”, but that’s not what built the show. Doctor Who is science fiction first and foremost, not soap opera. And if they want to make it a SF soap opera (or, to be fairer, SF with a strong emphasis on character development and relationships), they need to take a few pages from Straczynski and Whedon, not from Coronation Street.


3 comments so far

  1. Sally on

    And over the holidays, one Dr Who married a previous Dr Who’s daughter!

  2. Maureen on

    Yes, yes, yes. The Doctor now spends half his time as a cartoon character of a god, and the rest of the time it’s all about the Companions.

    Or at least so I presume, seeing as how I’ve skipped so many seasons now. Every so often I poke my head back in, and then they push me back out. Sigh.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      The holiday specials are the worst offenders. I don’t mind a companion-heavy episode, and Moff has been trying to get away from the adulatory extravaganzas RTD was infamous for, but yeah. The classic Doctor was always a very “human” (so to speak) character and the modern Doctor is more of a flashy superhero.

      It being Moff, I’m always cautiously optimistic about what’s to come next, but I’m wondering if all his good ideas are Holmes ideas now, instead of Who ideas.

      I’m hoping that he needed these two years to clear away the clutter RTD left behind and we can get on with some serious Doctoring now. We’ll see. There are rumors of a script by Stephen Fry, and I would love to see Gaiman write another one, and I would spontaneously self-combust for joy if Straczynski were to get a crack at one.

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