On the Cyclical Nature of Doctor Who, or How Y’all Need to Stop Worrying and Love the Show
Oh, fandom. It’s at times like this that I consider starting a Doctor Who fan blog.
The spoiler-tastic events of the last couple of days have made a minor furor, haven’t they? For those of you who don’t know, a rumor just came out about the 50th-anniversary episode of Doctor Who that, if true, is going to leave many fans shocked, confused, and angry. Or it might, anyway - you never know with these things.
Already, we’re hearing the standard cries to boycott the show and have the creators hanged, burned, and fired, in that order.
The only reasonable response to these demands? Sit your ass back DOWN, fandom. You have almost no power and even less perspective. Because the show will survive without you quite well - it always has and it always will. How, you ask? Simple. You’re fanning it wrong.
There are two ways to look at Doctor Who - either as an extremely long-running, ever-evolving piece of storytelling and production craft, OR - as a sequence of five-or-six-year shows that follow one after another, Star Trek style, of which we happen to be witnessing only the latest iteration. The best part? Both interpretations are absolutely valid. They’re both great ways of looking at this varied, multifaceted show. And, similarly, you can be one of two different kinds of fan: either you can love the show as you would a family member - one whom you’ve known for years, whom you have seen grown and change, whom you’ve laughed at and screamed at and just generally adored, even when they frustrate the ever-living shit out of you - or you can love the show as you would a short-term romantic partner - passionately at first , then settling in with their flaws and their quirks, and then, one day, realizing that they’re just not the person you fell in love with, and it’s time to move on.
And that’s OK. Both types of fandom are OK. In the world of Doctor Who, they’re natural and healthy. But here’s the rub: you have to know what sort of fan you are. Because if you’re a short-term lover who thinks they’re ready to go steady, you’ve got another think coming.
Did you know that Doctor Who has been:
- an experimental, semi-educational sci-fi show? (6 years, Doctors 1 and 2)
- an earthbound James Bond-like action series? (5 years, 3rd Doctor)
- a Gothic Horror anthology? (3 years, 4th Doctor)
- a quirky, Douglas Adamsesque comedy in space? (3 years, 4th Doctor, admittedly limited success, though City of Death is a tour de force)
- an attempt at a serious science fiction program? (5 years, Doctors 4, 5 and 6)
- a floundering mess, trying to find its feet after near cancellation and a horrifically reduced episode count? (2 years, Doctors 6 and 7)
- a subversive fantasy with political undertones and a long term mystery? (2 years, 7th Doctor, cancelled the year before the intended payoff)
- SEVERAL long-term series of novels? (14 years, 8 Doctors, three or more publishing houses)
- an American movie of the week? (8th Doctor)
- a quirky, character driven drama? (5 years, Doctors 9 and 10)
- a Tim Burtonesque adventure serial with an attitude towards plot twists and revelations that fits in perfectly in a post-J.K.Rowling, post LOST entertainment landscape? (4th year running, 11th Doctor)
This show has been all of these things and, arguably, more. Every single one of those eras is celebrated by someone and lambasted to this day by somebody else. So tell me, please, WHICH creator “ruined the show forever”?
None of them. They’ve all contributed to a communally-told fiction in the best way they could. In so doing, they have each garnered the show new fans and pissed off old ones. In fact, THAT is the Circle of Life for the Doctor Who fandom:
Start watching the show. Fall in love with the show. Continue watching when a new era begins. Witness change. Realize, this is no longer my Doctor Who. Watch as new fans fall in love with the show. Realize, and that’s as it should be. Watch your kids getting into the show, 10, 15, 20 years later. Grumble about how things were better in your day. And fall in love all over again.
If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine. Russel T Davies gave you a great TV show that lasted five years, 60 episodes. And it ended on January 1st, 2010. You can move along now.
The rest of us? We’ll just sit back and enjoy the show.
This is apparently coming out in 3 days.
In 3 days, I’m going to start to be a total jogging addict, I think
i’ll finally lose weight
OH MY GOD PLEASE BE ON ANDROID PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
Finally some motivation.
Okay I seriously will use this. This is awesome.
A Town Called Mercy v.s. The Doctor’s Daughter
A GREAT EXAMPLE OF MOFFAT’S INCREDIBLE SHOW RUINING SKILLS
… Okay, I don’t defend Moffat’s show-writing abilities much, but:
- This episode was written by Toby Whithouse and directed by Saul Metzstein. Neither of which are Moffat.
- These parallels (or, really, lack-there-of) are purposeful. It’s not discontinuity based on bad writing. It’s showing the dark path the Doctor’s going down. He’s meant to be waving about a gun and throwing the other doctor over the barrier, because he’s losing his sense of morality, patience, everything, really. He’s tired. He’s broken. He’s guilt-ridden and drowning in his own self-hatred, so much so that he genuinely doesn’t know. It’s not bad writing - it’s character development.