Another series of Doctor Who has ended, and what have we learned? Let’s break it down
Steven Moffat Is A Great Writer With A Terrible Job To Do
I have to be honest, writing Doctor Who sounds like a truly terrible task and one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (well, maybe some of my fellow writers on WordPress who post asinine ‘advice’ as to how to write a book. You know the sort of thing, where they offer writing challenges like “Imagine you live inside a giant decorative concrete pig”. Get stuffed. If you can’t come up with your own ideas you don’t deserve to write at all.). Writing Doctor Who is, I imagine, a bit like being Prometheus, chained to a rock in the sun for all eternity. You have the singular coolest character in contemporary television, a magic vehicle that goes anywhere in the universe, and all the mcGuffins you can shake a stick at, and you have to make a kid-friendly morality tale with an easily-digestible plot and some formulaic bad guys and shoe-horn it into a forty-five minute slot. You can’t do anything truly new because the fans will hate it, even though there’ll be a vocal minority who hate everything you do anyway, and you have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the fifty-year history of the show and pay constant lip-service to it. For a writer, that’s the equivalent of “here’s an invisibility cloak, but you can only use it on Sunday afternoons”. Actually, that’s a great writing challenge. Write a story based on that premise. I’ll pick my favourite next HO WAIT A MINUTE I’VE BECOME A MONSTER.
Steven Moffat Is A Great Writer With A Terrible Job To Do Part II
Witness the general cleverness of the monsters and schemes that Steven Moffat dreams up: from the earlier seasons we had the scary gas-mask zombies of “The Empty Child”, and then later on we had “Blink” and that one set in the shuttle craft with the body-stealing alien. Steven Moffat has created some of the best new monsters (The Vashta Nerada, The Weeping Angels, etc.), and some of the best that we’ve seen since Terry Nation invented The Daleks.
Being The Assistant Must Suck Too
There’s a phrase I’m toying a lot with at the moment, and it’s “something for the dads”. Dads, as we know, have to do a lot of stuff with their kids that sucks. They have to take them to the park, they have to cook them meals, and they have to watch television and movies with them. Meanwhile all the mums are sitting in Business Class airport lounges sipping Creme de Menthe and talking about the fluctuating price of Vanadium because fuck the glass ceiling.
Now writers, some of whom are dads themselves, know that dads have to watch all sorts of crap with their kids, which is why there’s all sorts of sexy presenters on Cbeebies. Even the one with one arm is pretty foxy and we need to admit that and move on because it’s okay to regard disabled people as people, yo. Television and movies are, after all, primarily devoted to maintaining interest, because interest maintains ratings. So writers and producers drop in some totty for the dads to go all quiet over. Hence “something for the dads”. Hence Billy Piper, Freema Agyman, Karen Gillan and Jenna-Louise Coleman (but not Katherine Tate because that would just be weird). That’s also, if you think about it, why this series featured a lesbian lizard in a corset. Even if The Doctor reincarnated as a woman, we’d still have a female assistant, which would allow me to make all sorts of sonic screwdriver jokes and basically do this:
As an assistant, your main role is to act assistant-y, get into trouble, get out of trouble, sometimes act as a mcGuffin, and be something for dads to focus on when things get all sci-fi-ey. In terms of actual career advancement, being the assistant is a death sentence.
Nobody Cares What The Doctor’s Called
This season made a big thing about “the name of the doctor”, which is unfortunate because nobody worth speaking to gives a shit what The Doctor is really called. If you, by any chance, happen to, you’ve missed the point of Doctor Who. “The Doctor” is a persona, a no de guerre, a bit like that thing I said about James Bond a couple of months ago. He’s a guy doing stuff in a box, and it’s not who he is but what he does that matters. He’s the archetype of a selfless good guy to the nth degree, because he’s not anybody in particular, just the saviour of the universe on multiple occasions. It doesn’t matter if his name is Faust or Jesus or Bilbo. He’s just a good samaritan.
The 50th Anniversary Special is Schroedinger’s Cat
With such a wide fan-base, the anniversary special is only going to do it for a certain number of people and those it doesn’t pander to and fawn over are going to feel left-out. I predict that most original Whoovians, ie who remember at least one Tom Baker episode, will be disappointed, while most young kids will find it incomprehensible. It’ll be a Wagnerian epic crammed into an hour and those who aren’t fans will find it incomprehensible, much as if you or I just randomly tuned into Emmerdale-set-in-space one day. I will probably enjoy it immensely.
There Weren’t Enough Daleks This Season
I very much doubt that anybody finds the Daleks really unsettling any more, which is a shame because the tinpot nazis are, if done correctly, really quite eerie – remember the trashed Dalek in 2005’s “Dalek” or the insane Dalek Caan in “The Stolen Earth”? The Dalek Empire doesn’t really do it any more, but rogue Daleks and misfits, which were a mainstay of the Russel T Davis era, had the power to unsettle. Asylum of the Daleks, earlier in the season (years ago, it feels like) pretty much got into the ballpark but, having got there, failed to capitalize on the wealth of material you could get out of insane Daleks. I would like to see insane Daleks battling sane Daleks and winning.