Monday, September 3, 2012

The Death of Doctor Who Episode Two

Before it all went to Hell...
On our last episode, we chronicled how the NuWho production crew appeared stubbornly determined to make people almost pretend that Doctor Who had no history apart from the one they wanted us to imagine.  That of course meant that all the focus was going to be on what came between 2005 and today, not between 1963 and 1989 with one moment in 1996.

This isn't to say that those of us who keep the Eye of Harmony burning bright can't appreciate the truly great work that came between An Unearthly Child and Survival (or see that some of the Classic Who stories are best left forgotten).   It also doesn't mean we can't see just how good some of the NuWho stories are.

However, as I kept watching the NuWho, I grew disillusioned with what I was watching.  I know that times change and that what worked in Who's heyday doesn't translate for today's shorter-attention span audiences.  Something like The War Games would have been a season/series long today, and even now, watching a story that can run around FOUR HOURS long can be a bit punishing.  

It isn't the program itself that I found harder to enjoy, it was the structure.  Ever since the revival of Doctor Who with Rose, I find that there is insane penchant for making the entire series/season one very long story arc rather than have an adventure followed by another with not much connecting them.  Now, I think that history should be recognized. 

In Who's early days, stories were connected: the cliffhanger or closing of one story led straightaway to the next story.  Certainly I think there was nothing wrong with this, and if NuWho followed this template then I would support it.  However, the main difference between Classic Who and NuWho is that the various seasons/series with perhaps two exceptions (The Key to Time and Trial of a Time Lord seasons), the various stories weren't connected to what happened before. 

For example, the ending of An Unearthly Child led to the beginning of The Daleks, whose end brought us to Inside the Spaceship and then on to Marco Polo.  None of these stories, however, were connected to each other like the NuWho seasons.  Series One had Bad Wolf, Series Five has The Crack in Time, Series Six had...well, to say more...SPOILERS.  On occasion you would revisit something from before (such as The Monster of Peladon being a sequel to The Curse of Peladon), but those are the exceptions.   Even when there were efforts to tie things together in one large overarching story, there was individuality within them.

The Key to Time series had six distinct stories where the only thing tying it all together was the search for the six segments to said Key to Time.  I digress to say that this led to another story arc, the Black Guardian Trilogy (Mawdryn Undead, Terminus, and Enlightenment), where new Companion Turlough was being brainwashed by the Black Guardian to kill the Doctor.

Bet the NuWhovians have NO IDEA who HE is.    

And so, I present the Second Thing That's Killing Doctor Who.

4.) The NuWho Fans

This might be SHOCKING.  THE FANS ARE KILLING THE SHOW?!  C'est impossible!  Blasphemy you might say. However, allow me for a moment to make my case.

Note the picture from a Chicago Who convention.  Note those wearing the costumes.  See something?  Almost all of them without exception are echoing NuWho.  I see many Tenth Doctors, I see many Eleventh Doctors, I think I see some Captain Jacks, but I see only ONE who has a costume referencing the Classic series.  On the far bottom left, I see a long scarf that is from the Fourth Doctor's costume.

I bet at many Who or Comic-Con type conventions, you will see endless Amys and Roses and (horrors, Rivers), Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh Doctors, Captain Jacks.  You would also see people dressed as the Silence, the Weeping Angels, the really clever ones as Cybermen or Daleks or TARDISes/TARDI, but when was the last time you saw someone dressed as Jamie McCrimmon or Peri Brown or even Dr. Grace Holloway?  Seen any Sea Devils lately?

When was the last time a convention featured someone in Romana garb or Zoe's catsuit or Ace's jacket?  It's highly unlikely, because the fans themselves are just as incapable of exploring Doctor Who's past as the production team.  They know there was something called Doctor Who from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but as far as they are concerned, that's a mysterious netherworld that 'can't be as good as something like Love & Monsters or Closing Time'. 

Why bother with Leela, they would say, when we've got River Song?

The stubborn, willful ignorance of NuWhovians is astounding.  In fairness to these people, who do have both Eight Doctor and Brigadier members, it should be pointed out they are British and thus more familiar with Who than Americans who think it started with Rose

I remember watching one of those BBC specials about Doctor Who.  It was probably about the fans or Doctor Who at Comic-Con.  They were asked to name a monster or villain they'd like to see the Doctor fight.  Among the answers were "dinosaurs" and "another Time Lord other than The Master".

It was obvious that these NuWho fans had never heard of Invasion of the Dinosaurs (self-explanatory) or The Time Meddler (the Time Lord known as the Meddling Monk) or either Mark of or Time and The Rani (with the villain in the title).  Of course, with Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, many NuWhovians will finally see the Doctor fight dinosaurs (or see it again, judging from one's perspective), and if the Wild West-themed A Town Called Mercy DOESN'T make reference to the First Doctor story The Gunfighters I may just quit watching Doctor Who altogether (granted, it was a terrible story, but that's not the point: the point is he's been to that setting before.  Pretending it never happened is insulting to long-time fans and a disservice to new fans).

If that weren't bad enough, NuWhovians REFUSE to question anything that Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat put out there.  They behave like Autons (which they SHOULD know, given they were the first monsters of the NuWho after Spearhead From Space and Terror of the Autons), thinking everything is perfect. 

The fact that River Song is a horrid creature whose storyline makes no sense?  No, she's a stroke of genius, with her "Spoilers" and "Hello Sweetie".

The fact that Rory is pathetic, so much so that he's been stripped of his last name?  No, it's all good.

How The Doctor at times becomes a supporting character on his own show?  Irrelevant. 

The fact that sometimes the overarching storyline is completely illogical?  NO, it's all good.

The fans, in particular the NuWhovians, don't question anything about Doctor Who: leaps of logic, rushed stories, even mocking iconic parts of the show that pre-date the fans (such as the whoosing sound the TARDIS makes being the point of a joke soon forgotten) are all gleamed over by the NuWho fans. 

This is my cri de coeur, my lonely fight against this onslaught of people who don't appear bothered by the fact that The Doctor at times was eclipsed by Captain Jack or River Song, who constantly rank NuWho Companions, stories, and monsters higher than what came before simply because they refuse to acknowledge or learn anything about the past.  I do have some allies (in particular the I Hate River Song Club on Facebook), but I feel I'm fighting a losing battle.  Those of us who have seen truly great episodes such as The Caves of Androzani, The Aztecs, The Tomb of the Cybermen, or The Talons of Weng-Chiang are in danger of being squeezed out by those who prefer The Lodger, The Curse of the Black Spot, or anything revolving around River Song.

Which leads me to Episode Three...

Love you guys, and welcome to the party, but seriously...there were a couple of Companions B.R.: Before Rose. 


  1. I dont think new episodes such as A Town Called Mercy need to mention that the Doctor has been in the wild west before, it's kinda pointless.
    I would argue it isnt quite the fans ruining it, okay it's aimed at public demand, but i think the issue lies with the writers who only cater to the new audience. Fair enough some NuWho fans dont like Classic Who, thats their opinion, but the writers should make reference, encourage NuWhovians to look back into the history

  2. You need to attend Gallifrey One. (p.s., I'm the UNIT soldier in the last image.) I like new and old who, I'm not a fan of the NuWhovians.

    1. I would love to attend Gallifrey One (which I confess to not knowing about) if and when time/finances permit.

      I don't hate ALL NuWho. There are some 9/10/11 Doctor stories in my Top 25. I just wonder about 'fans' who claim to celebrate a 50th Anniversary to a show whose first 40 years are either unimportant or irrelevant.

      No self-respecting Doctor Who fan (in my view) can claim that title and NOT know who Romana is. It just isn't done.

  3. And just because I cosplay new UNIT, it doesn't mean I'm not a diehard old Who fan. I grew up on Four. I didn't care for Nine, Ten was okay, and I liked River Song more than Eleven. I just prefer to cosplay UNIT of the new era. Don't lump me in with the new fans because of a choice in cosplay. That's unfair.

    1. Lee, you would be an exception to the rule. Most NuWho fans know little to nothing of DW's great past. You are free to cosplay at anything you like. I don't cosplay because I think I'd look silly holding a plunger all day.

      Then again, you mentioned you know of some pre-Rose Who stories. Many of your brethren do not. Also, I like your costume.

      One last thing. You said you like River Song more than Eleven. The fact that you like River at all makes me sad. :(

      See The Death of Doctor Who Episode 3 and keep an eye out for an upcoming River Song article.

    2. Oh, and one more thing. About that picture of all those cosplayers you were with...exactly HOW many reference a pre-Rose Companion?


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Thank you.