This post does not contain spoilers. Yay! Well, maybe spoilers for series five and six, but they’re old enough that it doesn’t count.
However this is going to be an EPICALLY LONG POST. Sorry. In fact, it’s so long that I’m splitting it into two posts. This, part one, is going to cover the negative side of my opinion. Part two will be more positive.
Following the Doctor Who series seven premiere on Saturday (or series gazillion and three if you include Classic Who), there have been several conflicting opinions on the internet. I’m pretty sure these happen after every single Doctor Who episode ever, but as I’ve only been on Tumblr since the end of last year, it’s not something I’ve experienced in any major way.
The initial reaction to the episode, the Asylum of the Daleks, seemed positive. Then a few people pointing out flaws came along, which was fair enough – the episode did have them. And then the haters came. And an article by Alex Day turned up. It’s a pretty controversial article, not because of its content but because of the supercilious, arrogant way in which it was written, insulting anyone who enjoyed the episode and refusing to acknowledge any good points of the series premiere. You can read that here.
I started thinking, partly prompted by this wonderful post about Doctor Who.
I haven’t been enjoying Doctor Who as much the last series or so as I used to, and I think there are various reasons for this. Although it’s still one of my favourite shows, I don’t watch very many, so it doesn’t have a lot to compete against. I think I’ve slowly been noticing more flaws than positive points about episodes. On the other hand, many episodes are amazing and wonderful and brilliant, and that’s why I won’t give up on Doctor Who.
But why have I started to dislike some aspects of it?
1) The current companions.
Although Rory is hilarious, he dies far too often, and doesn’t (as a general rule) contribute all that much. Amy is irritating. I’ve never liked Amy. She doesn’t save the Doctor and one gets the impression that although he enjoys her company, he’d probably carry on doing what he did without her there. Although I enjoyed River’s first few appearances, even through series five etc, I felt let down by the ‘big reveal’ which was far too obvious.
But the main problem is that the companions are too special. Too brilliant.
Rose Tyler had no qualifications whatsoever and was working in a shop. The Doctor took her to see the stars and she made something of her life, going off to work for Torchwood in the parallel world.
Martha Jones was a medical student who happened to be in the right place at the right time. She put up with the Doctor’s crap and the way he was pining after Rose – even to the point of belittling her, without even thinking, several times over the course of the first couple of episodes. She wasn’t special, but she played her part.
Donna Noble was a temp from Chiswick who didn’t believe she had potential to be anything more than that. And you know what? She still doesn’t. She’ll never reach her potential now because she doesn’t remember that she had any. Even when the entire universe rewrote itself around her, she was still saying, “But I’m nobody. Why me? I’m not important. It’s the Doctor you need.”
The Doctor was only there because of his companions. They saved his life and they saved other lives so many times. Donna stopped the Doctor from letting Caecilius die – but she also stopped him from letting himself die on more than one occasion.
Though I might be wrong, I’m not getting that feeling with Amy and Rory. I feel like they’re along for the ride and they create a nice dynamic but they’re not changing anything. They’re too important, with Amy having a crack in her wall changing her entire life – she was destined to find the Doctor! And River’s this massive temporal anomaly. And yet they don’t do anything to prove they deserve to be that important.
But Donna, she thought she was nobody. And yet for one shining moment, she was the most important woman in the whole universe.
2) The Doctor seems to have lost some of his compassion.
I had a discussion with my Dad once about the various faces of the Doctor and how his personality seems to change. The Ninth Doctor was often angry, violent, and willing to blow things up. He was, in many ways, quite inhuman. But he’d just come out of the Time War – he was scarred and battle-weary and he hadn’t yet learned to trust and love once more. Slowly, Rose changed him, and while I may dislike her as a companion in comparison to someone like Donna, she did a lot for him.
The Tenth Doctor retaliated against this aspect of himself and he was the emotional Doctor. The one who really cared, the one who would give up everything in a single moment of heroism. He was vulnerable, though, and sometimes he cared too much. Towards the end of his time as the Doctor, he again pushed away this aspect of himself and became the Time Lord Victorious. He became darker, and less human.
I think, in part, that was because he didn’t have a companion. He was alone too long. Right at the end, though, he proved that whatever happened he would still give up himself. Because he cared.
The Eleventh Doctor has his moments of compassion, but a lot of the time he seems to be reverting to the angry Doctor, the fighter. The Tenth Doctor ran, but the Eleventh turns and shouts at the monsters. While I enjoyed the Ninth Doctor’s fighting spirit, that to me was bitter and born of his own sufferings. The Eleventh Doctor seems arrogant. The Time Lord Victorious is hanging over him, and his companions haven’t softened that. He turns and shouts because he doesn’t think he needs to run.
He seems alien and inhuman. He’s lived too long and fought too many battles and he just doesn’t seem to care as much any more – about anyone or anything or anywhere. Yes, he saves the world, but it seems to me that he’s doing it because he gets a kick out of slaying beasties, and not because he truly wants to. That’s not a fact, that’s just how I’m reading it. Like Sherlock, the Doctor doesn’t investigate deaths because he cares about the victim and about justice – he’s only concerned with the puzzle itself.
But the Doctor isn’t Sherlock, and never was.
3) The story arcs.
Bad Wolf is how you story arc. Constant little mentions and little things in the background that suddenly come back and KABOOM, everything makes sense.
Vote Saxon. This Saxon guy must have been important because otherwise, why would we care about the politics of the world? Oh, he’s the Master. Okay then.
The bees are disappearing. Now that’s unusual. They keep mentioning that. I wonder what that means. Oh, the whole world has been moved and then placed a second out of sync with the universe – nice.
And then there was River Song. Now, I like her as a character, but this continuous ‘Who is she omg’ got annoying. And the crack in the wall that started series five wasn’t the thing that finished it, even if it appeared throughout the series. Instead, we had the pandorica – an enjoyable finale but not related to that story arc.
The Silence were freaky for a while, but we’re getting sick of the whole memory theme. It is still there.
There are more things I could rant about, but as this post is already pushing 1400 words I think I’m going to leave it. Reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Sounds like she is giving up on Doctor Who. Why is she getting mad at Alex Day?” (Er, because he said anyone who liked Asylum of the Daleks had bad taste, which is just rude. Duh.)
I’m not giving up.
Part Two will explain why not.
PS – Notice that I continually referred to the Doctors as the ‘Tenth’, the ‘Eleventh’, rather than David Tennant or Matt Smith. This isn’t intended to be a reflection on anyone’s acting ability and I am trying my best to keep the Doctor’s personality separate from the nature of the actor who plays him.