“Yeah, I don’t have a problem with the things I like becoming more popular, I have a problem with the things I like becoming more like the things that are popular.” –Some anonymous internet commmenter
Craig Ferguson said something about the enduring popularity of Doctor Who that helps to explain it: “It’s all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” At its core, Doctor Who maintains the belief that love and friendship can win out even in the most desperate of circumstances. Russell T. Davies, the first showrunner for the reboot, was criticized both for his over-reliance on broad humor and his melodramatic tendencies. It’s an odd combo. Under his guidance, Who tended to be either too dark or too goofy. Occasionally, he hit the sweet spot, and while I have issues with what he did to the show, I think there he showed a little bit more consistency than he gets credit for. One thing people forget about Who is that even though it has matured a lot over the years, it’s still basically a kids’ show—or at least, a kid-friendly one. So good on RTD for at least not doing some sort of Christopher Nolanesque gritty reboot.
Now let’s talk about Steven Moffat. He’s been running the show for the last couple seasons. I don’t like him very much. He is probably a more talented writer than RTD, but he doesn’t get the show the way Davies did. It’s not supposed to be a time travel show; it’s an adventure show that features time travel. There’s a difference. It used to be that time travel paradoxes were the exception rather than the rule, but Moffat has never met a time travel paradox he didn’t like. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: Doctor Who has gotten watered down. It’s far more mainstream than it used to be, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I have problems with some of the changes that have been made along the way.
It’s hard to pin down any one thing that explains my growing distaste for Doctor Who fandom. I mean, I should be happy that more people are getting into it, shouldn’t I? And it’s not like I was into it before it was popular, because I didn’t start watching until late 2009/early 2010, which is not so very long ago. I could argue that since I stared with the original series rather than the new one, my fandom is somehow purer, but that’s pure horseshit. It’s not about Classic Who vs. NuWho anyway. There is stuff I like about the new series, and since the show reinvents itself every time they bring in a new Doctor or showrunner, both series have had their fair share of ups and downs. There aren’t two series, just one that had a sixteen year break in the middle. Even so, there are trends that have creeped in over the years that bug me. Who gives a shit about Rose’s quasi-romance with the Doctor? I mean, I know there are people who do, but I hate them, so they don’t count. Some found Donna shrill, but she was the only NuWho companion who talked back. And who didn’t have romantic feelings. I miss the days when the Doctor-companion relationships were platonic. Not every story needs a romance to be complete.
I don’t like to be “that guy”. I refuse to go around telling my fellow Whovians that they don’t get what Doctor Who is really about, but I do. So I’ll just explain why I like what I like and hope somebody listens. Eccleston is only NuWho Doctor I really like. He’s uncannily convincing as an alien. I respect David Tennant, but found that there was something phony about his acting. He played the Doctor like he had a checklist of traits that the character should possess, and as long as he hit those points, he’d be fine. It doesn’t work that way. Tennant was an obsessed fanboy from an early age, citing Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, as his main inspiration for getting into acting. (He’s also married to Davison’s daughter. Talk about obsessed…) But I just don’t like Matt Smith. He’s surprisingly believable as a 900 year-old, but most of the time, all he does is talk about how clever he is. Remember when Eccleston told the Dalek to “just die”? That was intense. I do feel that Smith brings a certain gravitas to the role (like when he tells the Silurian not to try any of that “last of my kind” bullshit on him, thank you very much), but his performance (like most of Steven Moffat’s tenure) just feels soulless to me.
I don’t get along with one of my coworkers. If that seems out of nowhere, it’s because I’ve run out of things to say about Doctor Who and this is my blog, so fuck you. He has the same job as me (retail associate), but treats me like a subordinate. I suppose me he means well (he’s awfully friendly when he’s not being a dick), but he snaps at me every time I make a mistake, and sometimes even when I don’t. The shift leader will tell me to do something, I’ll leave the register to do it, and he’ll chastise me for leaving the register. Um…who made you shift leader, dude? Some days, he’ll come in even though he doesn’t work that day and sit around chatting with customers and the other employees and criticizing me every time I do something differently than he would. It’s got to stop, and I’m starting to talk back, just a little. I hope he’ll get the message. I don’t like drama and I don’t like confrontation, so as far as I’m concerned, if he could show just a little bit more restraint when it comes to “helping” the people who are newer to the job, we’ll be fine. Because I am not apologizing for a single word that I have just written.
So yeah, uh, the 50th anniversary special airs today. Enjoy your coffee.