Doctor Doctor Who Guide

I am an American fan of Doctor Who. I first watched Tom Baker grin his way through nightmarish situations as a teenager on my local PBS station, back when the U.S. had only three network channels, and PBS was about intelligent alternative (read: British) programming. I loved it. It led me to conventions, to Pertwee and Davidson, to Troughton, Hartnell, Colin Baker and McCoy. Then life came along. College, marriage, a child, divorce, a career... life. And then I discovered that there were novels. The New Adventures from Virgin. The Past Adventures. And the McGann FOX movie. Doctor Who was not forgotten by the fans, or by intelligent writers and filmmakers. For all the flaws of the tv movie, I loved it. The glorious Jules Verne Tardis. The relatively subdued, yet classic costume. The Virgin books. Lungbarrow, Dying Days. The BBC books. Interference, Ancestor cell The audio books! The voices of classic Doctors once again coming through the air. My god, how cool was that?

And then the Scream of the Shalka. A new Doctor. Not what I'd hoped for. A little silly really. Not the fault of the performers, but the story.... just didn't work for me. But there was a new Doctor!

So, this little ramble is building up to this. I got to watch the first four episodes of the new Davies and Eccleston Doctor Who back to back, and while I know that the other episodes remaining in this first season have been filmed, or are in process, I have to say this:

I am concerned. Aliens of London. I suppose this is the episode that really made it clear to me. Rose: introduction to the new series. Not perfect, sure, but full of promise. he End of the World: better, and containing a sense of something that Farscape had in spades and Enterprise completely failed to have: a sense of wonder. Of awe. Of being overwhelmed. The Unquiet Dead: Classic BBC magic. A period piece, looking great, feeling great, and Simon Cowell. Excellent.

But here's what isn't working. While Rose is perhaps the best televised companion, for sheer reaction to what is happening to her and around her (negative reactions especially), Eccleston's Doctor is still uneven. Not bad. Not at all. But kind of one note so far. He smiles, he laughs, and he glares, but it all feels the same. But hey, it's only four episodes in. None of the actors, except Hartnell who created the role, seemed to have things quite in line as they later would in their early episodes. So, hopeful there.

The Tardis. While I am a huge fan of the art of Bryan Hitch, the artist who designed the new Tardis interior, the bicycle pump is ridiculous. For diety's sake. This is a Time Lord. I like the more alien, semi organic feel, but c'mon Mr. Davies. A touch more respect for the most important set/prop/nonspeaking character.

Rose and the Doctor: While I really didn't have the problems some did with McGann's tendency to snog Grace, I did view it as a post regeneration state of affairs, as did the writers who continued the eighth Doctor's story. While I applaud and embrace the fact that Rose is a better and real companion, I watch the new show and think: ok, just get it over with. Russell. The Doctor isn't human. He's NOT HUMAN. The best episodes of any incarnation had moments where this was shining through. And we were jarred by them. Are we tossing out the shocking display of real alien-ness that episodes like Remembrance of the Daleks showed us? Letting Cassandra wither away is hardly in the same range. the morality speech from The Unquiet Dead was great, but the no domestics bit... well, no. And the laying on the floor looking like the two of them just rolled off the console together, well. Hmm. Making the companion more of partner, fine. Making her a romantic partner in even the most minor of senses is appalling. The Doctor is lonely. We all know this. It's part of his character. But not that kind of lonely. He's not human.

Specifically for Aliens of London: ok, got the fact that the farting bit was the bodies of our villains having problems with their disguises. Ok. Amusing the one time. Then bloody annoying. The pig. Great idea, handled well. It was scared. Very much the Doctor. Bravo Chris. The UNIT, and the Doctor has a way with the military bits? Too little, too vague, and quite simply don't make any sense. The Doctor has interacted with UNIT for what? 5 of his incarnations? And he ends up watching the events unfold on the TV? And this is more realistic? Some nutter shows up and calls out a attack plan that anyone could have pulled from a Clancy novel and doesn't get shot by a bunch of soldiers or arrested? More realistic?


There was this thing. It was called the Cartmel Master Plan. It was about reintroducing the sense of mystery and wonder back into the Doctor. It didn't come to pass with the original series, because it was too little, too late. Elements were incorporated into the novels, and we all went oh my god. We do see hints here. The Last of the Time Lords. The Death of Gallifrey. The Time War. These are positives.

Here's what needs to happen, in my oh so humble opinion: Russell and the lads and ladies behind this show need to remember that the audience is smart. The kids are smart. The grownups are smart. Treat us that way. No fart jokes. No companion/Doctor sexual tension. Make the show scary. I keep hearing that this is what we will be seeing. Hiding behind the sofa, right? Scare us. Thrill us. We have a Doctor, a Tardis, and a companion. We have had the X-Files, Ultraviolet, Farscape, Buffy, and the Virgin and BBC books since the series went off the air. It might be a family show, but families are made of adults too. Treat the audience with respect, and see that you remain true to the core of the character. Learn the lessons of Enterprise. Some scary parallels here. Both shows have built in audiences. Both have roots in decades of stories. One is cancelled, because the people who made the show simply failed to treat their audience as if they mattered. I'd hate to see the Doctor go that way.

But as I said, I am concerned...

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