Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Bad Back of Beyond

A brief mention for Doctor Who, which has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons: over complicated plots, a growing dislike of Matt Smith, and the realisation that Steven Moffatt writes good creepy standalone episodes, but has struggled to achieve his usual high standards as Show Runner.

I have to say that DW has always been a programme that I always watch but can barely call myself a huge fan of. It is throwaway adolescent TV at best and I've never really got it the way that others have. I haven't watched each episode half a dozen times and have therefore missed plot minutiae and have often found myself slightly puzzled at references to earlier episodes. I suppose I'm one of the people who watches DW and then forgets about it largely for the next week until the next episode it shown.

Last night's episode - Closing Time - was a perfect example of why I'll never become as obsessed with the programme like at least four of my good friends are. It was an enjoyable romp, with at least three laugh out loud moments, but at the end I just felt like I always do at the end of every episode; a little empty, a little bit disappointed and thinking I could do it so much better myself.

This entire series has just not held together very well. If Moffatt was trying to bring a US feel to the series, he's failed miserably. He has turned the Doctor into some kind of cursed demigod who eventually destroys everything he touches (with apologies to Ladytron). His approach to the series has changed the emphasis of the Doctor away from a time travelling cavalier who beats the nastiest things in the universe with logic and without violence, into a bitter village idiot. It's like he feels the more the Doctor regenerates the less 'human' he becomes and that just grates on me.

The series started with Rory, Amy, River and some aged CIA bloke meeting at Silencio Lake, where the Doctor gets zapped by the Impossible Astronaut and dies. We know that the Doctor who died was over 1100 years old and the Doctor in the series was 900 odd; so 200 years passed between the end of the episode where he drops Amy and Rory off to where he teams up with (wanky) James Corden to beat the (crappy) Cybermen. Because of this, just about everybody's theory of the series has been wiped out. It wasn't the imitation Doctor who dies, nor was it someone pretending to be him; it was the real actual Doctor and 200 years of his life has been breezed over in the week between leaving his companions and the day before he's supposed to die. That to me is a bit of a cop-out, plus it also doesn't fit in with previous plots and premises that Moffatt himself set up in RTD's days.

I know that time can now be changed - also a bit of a cop-out really - but this entire series has been one long sigh of disappointment and I really can't see the finale doing enough to make us all put our hands in the air and sing hallelujah. Plus, there have been stills from the Christmas Special - with Matt Smith - so whatever happens next Saturday night, you know everything will end well (or Rory will die again).

I know some friends who have stated quite categorically that their kids have given up on the series; ratings have dropped to just above 5m, which is a 30% drop on three years ago and for all the spectacle the show offers, it lacks in substance.

Moffatt isn't the expected messiah; instead he's just a bit of a naughty boy, who has made DW a bit wibbly wobbly and full of likeable characters (except River Song) in rubbish scenarios. I hate to say this but I didn't complain anywhere near as much when Davies and Tennant were doing the show! You could drive trucks through the plot holes in their series, yet there was something true to DW ethos which is missing now.

Interestingly, I've not seen anyone from the DW community praising this series highly. Neither have they been heavily criticising it, but that might be because they don't want to be labelled as never being happy. I think the end of term review would be: could do better: C+

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