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First of all, I have to get something up-to-the-minute off my chest. It's not really spoilery as such, but it does relate to a forthcoming episode,so it gets its own separate cut:


There. I've said my piece about that.

Now then...

For those of you who might not know, I've been watching Doctor Who since the beginning, all the way back in '63. And I've always loved the show (and still do!). I've loved it through all the bad Classic Era writing and the 50p BBC-budget wobbly scenery and the one-location-fits-all BBC Quarry; through the endless cavalcade of lame-arse companions (most of them) played by inept ham actors (nearly all of them); through the risible alien//monster costumes and what-were-they-thinking wardrobe choices***; through the walloping plot holes; even through the facepalm panto awfulness of the Nathan-Turner era, when the series descended to a level that made Teletubbies look like good writing.

And I've loved ALL the faces and personae of the Doctor (the idea of 'favourite Doctor' or '___ is my Doctor' never made sense to me...never, right up until a few weeks ago when Matt!Doc! became my own personal favourite Doctor of all time...not that I love all the others any less). I was sad when the series finally died back in the '80s, even though it was a relief to be shot of the way JN-T had smeggified it. So when I heard, early this century, that the Doctor was coming back as a full-production show, I was very excited.

And my excitement was justified. It was so very, very justified.

I sat there in jawdropped awe as the Doctor, with his new wild-eyed jug-eared face and gut-twisting intensity, burst into our lives. I goggled at the believable-looking sets and the almost-Hollywood-level SFX. I cheered at the arrival of 21st-century edginess, realistic emotions, and best of all, a companion who was neither simpering-screaming-girlie or lumbering-brick-thick-dweeb. And I fell in love all over again, and have been glued to the screen every season since.

Now here we are, more than five years later, on the third Doctor-face and second chief writer of this century - and I'm still loving it. But I've come to a conclusion: NewWho hit the ground running, but the Eccleston season was the acme, the peak, the highest achievable point, and everything's been going downhill ever since.

Understand me: I'm not dissing Tennant, who's a fine actor and a great Doctor, and I'm certainly not dissing Matt!Doc!, who IMTAO encapsulates every facet of the Doctor as we've ever seen him and is laying out an exquisite line of Old, Old Soul with An Almost Creepily Young and Subtly Alien Face. And of course there have been a good number of stunning post-Eccleston episodes - The Girl in the Fireplace, The Impossible Planet, Blink, and Silence in the Library, to name but a few. And there has never been an episode without at least some redeeming features - even stinkers like Love and Monsters, Rise of the Cybermen, Voyage of the Damned, War and Monst-, erm, sorry, Victory of the Daleks, or for that matter the whole purulent Tennant Goes Byebye story arc of last year. But the Eccleston season remains out in front by parsecs. By whole galaxies, even. It was edgy and dark, yet at the same time filled with life-affirming joy and hard-held optimism. It was personal and emotional and above all involving. It was, at long last, DOCTOR WHO FOR GROWN-UPS. And not before time, since despite what Auntie Beeb tries to claim, Doctor Who has never been a children's series, not really.

Doctor Who for grown-ups. I want that back!

And so to the latest two-parter, and the whole CrackInTheUniverse and so...which universe is this, then? trail of breadcrumbs.





Right. So the Moff killed him off (at least for the moment). That's the first canonical companion death in NewWho, and you know what? - it didn't ring true for me. Usually I can lose myself in the fairytaleness of an episode while I'm watching it, but when Ridiculously Scenery-chewing Lizard Woman shot him I didn't feel shocked...I just felt like it was a cheapshot plot point. FFS, he was actually developing as a character, instead of being Mickey the Idiot 2.0; if the writers had given us more of a chance to know him as the more competent, more proactive person he was starting to become, his death would have had so much more meaning and weight. As it stands now, my reaction was nothing more than 'meh' - and FWIW when watching the previous episode I thought the whole 'why are you gallivanting around in dangerous places wearing the ring, here, let me put it back in the TARDIS' scene felt very contrived and unrealistic. I'm hoping that they at least redeem themselves by remembering that the ring is still there, and that it has some further significance, maybe as a focal point for bringing him back into the world, or at least bringing back her memory of him. Discuss?

As for the two-parter itself, I was left mildly unsatisfied last week - at the time I said 'it was too straightforward, like a Classic Era Who story with a 21st century budget but no subtext and no layering' - and even more so by the concluding episode...for which I said 'that was ever so Pertwee, wasn't it?' and my Dearly Beloved replied, 'Nah, the Pertwee stories were never that naive and dumbed-down!'

(I'm also a bit puzzled by the Meera Syal phenomenon. A number of people have been going 'MEERA SYAL! She is SO AWESOME! And so AWESOME IN THESE EPISODES squee squee squee!' Erm, is there something I'm missing? I've only seen her in Who, as a mumsily attractive middle-aged woman who didn't do anything amazing, and in Q.I., where she was a mumsily attractive middle-aged woman who didn't do anything amazing. Plz to elucidate, folks?)

And there you have it. Lovely production values in NewWho, potentially interesting CrackInTheUniverse arc in Matt!Doc! season, Tennant's tenure was mostly huge fun, most of the c21 companions have rocked HARD, but I'm disappointed in the IMTAO ever-increasing childishness and panto-ness of the episodes. Team Who could have continued at the level of dark/edgy/intense that they gave us with Nine. Instead, it feels like Doctor Who is becoming a...well, a kiddies' show.


*** Apart from Sarah Jane, whose outfits were always TDF-cute even when they were daft :-)



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2010 10:11 am (UTC)
Did you mean to post this to a different comm...?
May. 31st, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
Say what? As I've always known Cosmics - is its original form at Yahoogroups and since the listmamas, all of whom I know well, moved it over to LJ - it's been a forum for discussing SF telly/films/books/etc. Often with the emphasis on women in the genre, but certainly not always!

(In fact, this post was occasioned by one of listmama cosmic_llin's LJ posts, and I said I'd post here instead of in her blog, so others could join in...)

Edited at 2010-05-31 10:27 am (UTC)
May. 31st, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
Fair enough.
May. 31st, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
Sorry for any confusion!

Yeah, this is primarily a comm for women who like SF&F to discuss women in SF&F. Since we started that's always been our main focus, but - and this is probably partially a hangover from the different posting style on Yahoogroups - it does occasionally get a bit tangent-y!
May. 31st, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
Well, there's been naff-all discussion of anything here for a long time. We may not be discussing women in this post, but at least we're discussing...um...discussing :P Very meta... :D
Jun. 1st, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
LOL... yeah, I'm not sure whether the format really doesn't work for LJ or if we just need to give it more time to get going...
Jun. 6th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
More time and more input from us core folk :D
May. 31st, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
As far as the Rory stuff goes, I'm convinced that there must be more going on than we're seeing. It does seem like they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of setting him up, only to have him die and have Amy not even remember him. How does that further the story? I think it didn't ring true because it isn't meant to, and there's going to be more to it than this.

As to the kiddies show thing, I think Moff has made an effort this season to feature kids in the episodes - I read somewhere that he was happy to have a family featuring in this two-parter because that's how so many people watch the show - but I'm not sure that necessarily makes it a kids' show. I think Who is one of those shows that can appeal to people from different generations for different reasons. Naturally there's got to be something there for the kids, because who else will buy the toys?

...oh, that's right, grown-up women like me. Never mind. ;)

I think I'm going to wait until the end of the season before I decide what my opinion is on this, because I feel like it's definitely going somewhere and should be appreciated as a whole season, so we don't really know yet what Moff's plan is and how edgy VS childish it will be. And, much as I love Eccleston, I don't think his season can claim the high ground with regards to non-childishness, considering it gave us the Slitheen...

it was too straightforward, like a Classic Era Who story with a 21st century budget but no subtext and no layering

I am with you on this one though, for my money they could have done a lot more with the ideas they had.
May. 31st, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
I think it didn't ring true because it isn't meant to, and there's going to be more to it than this.

I really hope so! In fairness to the Moff (is he a Grand Moff, one wonders...), the CrackInTheUniverse thing has been developing, or at least showing up regularly, all through the current episodes, so maybe the off-ness about Rory will lead somewhere. OTOH Team Who are certainly taking their time about explaining some of the off-ness from way back at the start of D11 - the anachronistic dates on all the car licence plates and Rory's hospital ID badge in episode 1, the fact that Amy didn't recognise the Daleks in episode 3 - and in terms of the average non-obsessive viewer remembering such (presumably significant) details over a course of weeks, that's sort-of asking a lot...

I read somewhere that he was happy to have a family featuring in this two-parter because that's how so many people watch the show - but I'm not sure that necessarily makes it a kids' show.

Erm, no, it doesn't - any more than, say, Salem's Lot having a child hero/protagonist*** does! Though now that you've mentioned the family, ooooh I wanted to smack Ambrose into the middle of next century! Here's the Doctor constantly sounding off about how magnificent and full of potential the human race is, and there she was being a perfect example of all the worst xenophobia, needlessly paranoid suspicion, closed-mindedness and vengefulness the human race sooo excels at :-(

Naturally there's got to be something there for the kids, because who else will buy the toys? ...oh, that's right, grown-up women like me. Never mind. ;)

Lessee...I've got the TARDIS you gave me (see icon), the larger TARDIS that Big Mad Adrian gave me, the three-foot-high inflatable Dalek (also from BMA), the six-inch Jack Harkness (was that from you?) and the awesome Fully Articulated Cyberman (definitely from you!) 'guarding' said TARDIS, the painfully cute and rather well done pottery Dalek that Himself's not-quite-a-GF made for him in Year 10... :D

And, much as I love Eccleston, I don't think his season can claim the high ground with regards to non-childishness, considering it gave us the Slitheen...

I didn't have much of a problem with the Slitheen when they first showed up - yes, they were rather lowbrow slapstick as aliens, but they did have genuine menace - or for that matter with Margaret the Mayor in Boom Town. But I do find their repeated appearances in SJA wearying. Mind you, SJA is a kiddies' show! (Though I love it anyway because...well...SARAH JANE! And Rani! And Clyde! And Luke is sweet and also kind of hot...)

I know there's a lot of YMMV in all this, but I really would prefer a return to the feel of D9 (or the harder-edged D10 stories, such as The Impossible Planet). I'm sticking with my 'it's getting more childish' opinion because the current season seems more rife with what Sir Pterry calls makeitupasyougoalongium...

*** Heh, as soon as I typed 'hero/protagonist' I thought of Hiro Protagonist from Snow Crash and started wishing once again that someone - the right someone! - would get around to making a film of the book, because Y.T. is one badass Cosmic Cheerleader and she soooo deserves to be brought to life on teh big screen!

Edited at 2010-05-31 10:26 pm (UTC)
Jun. 1st, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yeah, Ambrose was infuriating. But the trouble is that it is realistic - as a people we're really quite obnoxious and almost certainly not ready to peacefully coexist with lizard people.

I see what you mean about the makeitupasyougoalongium, it has been particularly noticeable this season. I guess for me it's never really mattered that much anyway because I'm in it more for the adventure than the logic. I figure if I'm going to suspend my disbelief anyway, I may as well really suspend it.

I don't know. Yeah. YMMV!
Jun. 6th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
So...what did you think of the latest episode? We both thought it was odd but rather lovely. A bit disappointing that CrackInTheUniverse didn't show up in his post-TARDIS paintings though...
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )