Saturday, 5 May 2012

Rant About Doctor Who

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn!

Not as topical as many of my other posts, but I need to get this off my chest.

I have watched Doctor Who since its 2005 revival. I've gone back and watched many of the older episodes with the puppet monsters and men in cringe-worthy costumes. Generally speaking, I like the series. Since the beginning of 2010, Matt Smith has played the Doctor. He followed on from David Tennant, who was voted the best Doctor ever, so Matt's in a difficult position. I haven't been able to gauge how well Matt's been received by the public in general, but no-one in my family likes him. They still watch the show, but their views fall in line with the general Tennant praise. As another example of my alien taste, mine don't. I have numerous problems with the show during the period of David Tennant being the Doctor, and since I don't hear them anywhere else, I'd like to share them here.

First off, I have no problem's with David Tennant's acting. It's the character, the writing and some of the stories I take issue with, and I'll use my least favourite episode, "Journey's End" (Series 4 Episode 13), to explain why, as all of the issues are present in this episode.

I'll start with the character. What I don't like about the 10th Doctor is that he lords over everyone. He has to hold the moral high-ground at all times, and everyone inexplicably never fails to just let him order them around. He is extremely arrogant, and everything I've just described, as we know from the character's past, also makes him a hypocrite. In "Journey's End", these characteristics are portrayed to a painful extent. Martha, for example, cites the Doctor as a higher authority "way above UNIT". The Doctor banishes his human counterpart to an alternate dimension for blowing up the Dalek Crucible. Nowhere is it more annoying, though, than when "the Doctor's soul is revealed". The sadness which the Doctor portrays is because of the effect that he has on his companions. They start out as ordinary people and, as Davros describes, he "fashions them into weapons". It doesn't sit well with me that there is a character who has killed many different forms of life and committed genocide numerous times, yet when his companions threaten to kill the Daleks, who are on the verge of wiping out all matter in the universe and who are absolutely incapable of empathy, he is brought to despair by his hypocritical moralising.

The hypocritical moralising in this episode is so bad, that a Dalek is guilty of it! Let me just say that again: a Dalek, who as I've said is "absolutely incapable of empathy", decided to betray the Daleks after seeing the destruction and suffering they had caused throughout the universe. This Dalek is shown to be insane throughout this episode and the previous one, but as they are, once again, "absolutely incapable of empathy", this doesn't explain away this enormous betrayal of the essence of what a Dalek is, for the purpose of butchering the plot basis of the entire series. And yes, that is what happens, as this Dalek is said to have guided the Doctor and Donna onto the Crucible so that Donna could stop the Daleks. The entire series, and even certain events in a previous series, depends on the actions of that Dalek.

There's more, although this next example wasn't limited to this particular episode. Jack's teleport device. The Doctor can't just leave it alone, can he? He has to decide for other people whether they can travel in time and space as well.

Enough about the Doctor's character, let's look at the stories. Doctor Who is promoted as a kids' show, but prior to David Tennant becoming the Doctor, it has never felt like 1 to me. I can't quite put my finger on what it is in general that makes it feel like a kids' show during Tennant's reign, but in "Journey's End" there is a clear example. The insane Dalek Caan repeatedly predicts that 1 of the Doctor's companions will die. This never happens. No, it doesn't matter how you try to reconcile this, no companion dies. The "death" is a mere partial loss of memory and identity for Donna. I don't care what type of show it is, if you set up the scene for a death to occur, ANYTHING short of that is a disappointment. There's no excuse: many characters die, and are shown to die without controversy, on the show. There is no reason why an exception should be made for a companion.

Now that I've talked about David Tennant, let's talk about Matt Smith. Personally, I've really liked the last 2 series. 1 of the things my family has criticised about Matt Smith is that he is not believable as a 900+ year old, war-ravaged alien, and Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant were. I find this to be an odd criticism as there are obviously no examples of a 900+ year old, war-ravaged alien to point to for comparison. Matt Smith is the youngest actor to play the Doctor so far, and the youthfulness does come through in his role, but the entire point of the Doctor is that his personality changes with each regeneration. Each incarnation will have a different reaction to their own memories, and Matt Smith's Doctor is under no obligation to treat his memories with the gravitas that previous incarnations might have. Personally, the less serious nature is something I like about the 11th Doctor. While some of the Tennant arrogance remains, the looking down on people generally doesn't, or when it does, it's portrayed as a lot more tongue-in-cheek. My only substantial criticism of the current incarnation of the Doctor is that Steven Moffat hasn't given Matt Smith much opportunity to really act. The youthfulness is more or less all we tend to see. I hope that this will change, as it will affect the perception of Matt Smith's acting abilities.

That's enough of my thoughts, time to open up the flood gates to what you guys think.


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