Never Gonna Give You Up… [Part One]

Never Gonna Give You Up… [Part One]

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.

27 thoughts on “Never Gonna Give You Up… [Part One]

  1. I concur on most of these points, though admittedly I quite liked Amy Pond’s crack in the wall . . . until all the episodes became centred around her, and it became The Amy Pond Show with one perilous thing after another happening to her.

    I kinda like the animalistic change in the Doctor though. It’s to be expected – he might be sick and tired of running from the aliens, and now his dark past is rising up to meet him. It’s not like they’ve whipped it out of nowhere, after all. We’ve had dark Doctors in the past . . . and maybe it’s all a setup for the next season? Because we all know what sort of horrible things happen when the Doctor gets angry.

    For the rest, I think I concur, mostly. Disappointed Alex Day was so judgemental though. Ah well, such is life. Looking foward to Part Two! :D

    1. I started out enjoying the crack arc, but it didn’t seem to have the same sort of conclusion the others had. Then again, the fourth series was my first complete series and I suspect I am thus biased towards liking it.

      1. Fair enough – to each their own. I’ve got a friend who hated The End of Time, and the Tenth Doctor, but he still loves the new Who. Just goes to show how diverse we are.

        1. Interesting – though I’ve come across a few Ten-haters, they’re few and far between. For many people, he is their favourite, but some felt he ‘overacted’. I think that’s to do with the ’emotional Doctor’ versus the ‘angry Doctor’, and as you say, it’s to do with taste.

          1. Yeah – this guy just doesn’t think he lives up to the hype, is all, so not a big hater. He loves Eleven, though, so I still permit him into my presence xD

          2. Will do – can only do the second one this term as the first one is my brother’s birthday. Just need the people at school to send me the blinking calendar WITHOUT getting the dates wrong xD

  2. I just wanted to say that I agree with you on most of the points you brought up. My enjoyment of Doctor Who has drastically been reduced with the introduction of the Eleventh Doctor. It took really long time for me to even like him, or think of him as the Doctor. It wasn’t until The God Complex that I really enjoyed his character. Since then, I found myself often being disappointed by whom he is developing into: part child, part Time Lord Victorious. The most notable problem that I have is the writing of the characters, and the plot by the main writers of the show ( namely Moffat ). In my opinion he has the tendency to throw everything he can at the wall, and see what sticks. I often find myself frustrated by his approach to revealing these arks; he shocks audience but ultimately it rangs hollow. The River Song ark was more interesting in The Silence in the Library, but ever since then I have lost the appreciation for her character. Simply put, I do not like her, and she annoys me. Amy as well. I handled Amy alright, up until the God Complex. I was severely disappointed by her in that episode because she showed me she really didn’t understand the Doctor at all. Rory is a comedic relief at times, serves purpose when he needs to, and the rest of the time he is the wallflower. But anyways, I wanted to say thank you for posting something like this, because I am honestly sick of the fans who jump on you the moment someone posts something even slightly negative about the show. The debate about this show is highly discouraged by the large number of fans. So, thanks!

    1. No, thank YOU for reading and commenting!
      Personally, I have no problem with people criticising a show if they do it in a mature way that shows they’ve actually watched it and thought about it – but that rarely happens. And I get irritated and Tumblr doesn’t seem to be the place to explain my own opinions as I write too much and it annoys people ;-)
      But as I said, there are some aspects of the Eleventh’s time on the show that I’ve enjoyed and I’ll be posting about those, hopefully tomorrow or at least soon.

      1. Hahaha, I do agree that the Eleventh Doctor has his moments, and certain parts are really good. I still watch it and can still enjoy it immensely at times, It keeps me coming back, and keeps me engaged enough to have well…. discussions and lovely debates. Glad I found you even without Tumblr! Although, Alex Day’s review is something I kind of liked. I really didn’t find the review offensive. He was very abrupt about it and very matter of fact, very opinionated at times, but I did agree with him on many points presented. I can admit that sometimes I like certain television shows despite their at times poor qualities. I can recognize it, and still want to watch it. That’s how I felt about AotD, Objectively to me that wasn’t a good episode, it did have moments, but overall it fell flat. I didn’t feel like he said that “If you like it, you’re an idiot/stupid/have poor taste and such”. I took it as “you have different standard of what I would consider a good television”. Anyways, looking forward to the second part. We all have them!

        1. I think one of the reasons Alex Day’s article irritated so many people was because he seemed to be abandoning the show solely on the basis of one episode – even if he’d had issues before, he hadn’t mentioned them. For someone who has made at least part of his living from Chameleon Circuit, who capitalise on Doctor Who’s success, this seemed a bit rich!

  3. Oh my god. I couldn’t agree more!! I have always disliked Amy and I’m sooo excited for her departure! And I’m wondering what you thought of Oswin? Because she is supposed to be the new companion. How Moffat is going to do that? I have no idea. And I’ve always considered the Eleventh to be a combination of the ninth and the tenth. You deffinetly brought up some great points, and I’m relieved there’s another person out there who’d have a deep conversation about DW with ones parents. Another great post!:)

    1. With my dad, yes, though I’m infinitely more knowledgeable and able to quote thanks to wasting my life on Tumblr. Mum doesn’t watch DW.
      I enjoyed Oswin’s character, though I had a few peeves about some of her dialogue and how she was shown. I also have a few theories on how she will become the next companion, but I’m keeping those in my head. I’m also trying to keep this thread relatively spoiler free ;-)

  4. Completely and totally agree with you. During the first four series, I literally could not wait to watch the next episode, devouring one after the other and losing a lot of sleep in the process. But with the advent of the Eleventh Doctor and the reign of Moffat, I’ve lost that voracious desire, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Both Nine and Ten had flaws. Really deep, fascinating flaws which you’ve captured beautifully. But no matter what, I always felt they tried to do the right thing. Even when Ten was Hamleting with his Time Lord Victorious stuff, it was because he ultimately wanted to save Adelaide, believed maybe the future could be even better if she was alive.

    With Eleven, I don’t feel he’s ever truly interested in helping the people and races he encounters, merely extricating himself from the situation and moving on so he can continue building this great reputation for himself. The Oncoming Storm, indeed. Also, he’s plain rude. As you said, inhuman, in a way the previous Doctors never were. Maybe something was lost in Ten’s tragic death, a death for just one insignificant old man. Can you see Eleven making the same sacrifice–not for the universe, but for Wilfe? Not sure I can.

    With the companions, I felt the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s companions always had something to teach him. Rose was an embodiment of curiosity and adventure which matched the Doctor’s childlike spirit; Martha (for all her faults) was a physical creature, keeping the Doctor tethered to this world when he wanted drift off after Rose; and Donna was a stabilizing force of compassion and humanity. Amy and Rory? They’re there. They’re cute. But what lessons do they have? To wait? To be patient and steadfast? Okay, but a Time Lord is nothing if not patient, so not sure how critical that is.

    Great post; look forward to seeing part two as I try to muscle through Series 6.

      1. Nonsense, you did all the hard work, I just got to build on your words. And as I watched “The Impossible Astronaut” last night, I saw how completely right you were about Sherlock. Eleven is so, so like Sherlock, trying to unravel mysteries because they’re mysteries, not because it helps people. Dead on.

  5. THANK YOU for the bit about story arcs. Russell T. Davies was brilliant at keeping things consistent and relevant, while Moffat’s MO seems to be mentioning a thing in the first few episodes and then completely ignoring it until the season finale (when everything’s so confusing anyway that you’re not even paying attention to the major arc). It bothers me so much.
    As for the characters, I’ve noticed that Amy and Rory don’t really get involved with the traveling. Previous companions were always making friends and exploring where they visited, but the Ponds keep to themselves and just wait for the Doctor to do stuff.
    Don’t even get me started on River Song.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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