For Fun and Profit


At this point, I’m basically counting down the seasons until Steven Moffat leaves Doctor Who. His ego, from what I hear, is ridiculously inflated. He is convinced that he is the greatest writer in the history of TV and that everything he touches is brilliant. Of course, the last couple seasons of Who have been almost pure fanwankery. That seems to have worked in Moffat’s favor, as the show has gone from popular but still cultish series to full-blown international phenomenon in the last couple years. But I have no shame in being “that guy” and saying that what passes for Who these days is watered down, lazy bullshit. Nothing is consistent. The rules of the universe are rewritten on a whim (Did we say the Weeping Angels couldn’t move when people were looking at them? Screw it, let’s have one take out Rory) and at this point, the show spends so much time revisiting its classic moments and playing up the Doctor’s legendary status that it all just feels so fucking phony. Nothing is at stake. We know the Doctor will triumph. Sure, somebody might die, but they’ll just bring that person back whenever it’s convenient. So really, nobody dies.

I don’t think any of the first ten Doctors would have said that they hate endings. I don’t think any of them would have refused to throw Kahler-Jex back to The Gunslinger in “A Town Called Mercy” because, “If we do that, we’re no better than he is.” Really? He’s a war criminal. The way I see it, you’re just letting the people he’s wronged decide for themselves what his punishment should be. I fail to see how that takes you down to his level. I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that there is nothing beneath the surface. If you don’t watch Who, you might at least be able to understand that.

There is a lot more to say about this, but I’m going to take it easy for now. Believe it or not, even I can get tired of ranting about all of the shit that pisses me off, even when it comes to my nerdy obsessions. The nice thing about fandom is that since Doctor Who has become such a huge cultural touchstone, it’s not that difficult to just focus on the stuff that I like. I’ll continue to watch the show, because even though I don’t much like the direction it’s taking, there are still some good one liners and a couple episodes I’ve enjoyed (“Cold War”, “The Doctor’s Wife”, you get the idea). It’s just that I haven’t learned that much. In a rare interview last winter, Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson said, “You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic.” I think that’s what’s happened to Doctor Who (and, for that matter, Sherlock). It’s gotten hermetic. Fiction allows you to make up your own rules, but think carefully before you break or rewrite them. Don’t do it just to bring a popular character back. People get over-familiar. Sometimes you have to move on.

I’ve been starting to think that the reason I moved back to California was to get out of my father’s shadow. He can be a real bully sometimes, and looking back, it seems that I have made far too many decisions in my lifetime simply because I am scared of his disapproval. Saturday, he flew to Arizona to visit my mother. I had work that morning. He could have taken a cab to the airport, but decided to take the car most of the way, leave it at a train station for me to get after work, then take a short train ride to the airport. A cab would have been expensive, but this made things inconvenient for me, as it meant that I had to get up at 5 am to catch a bus to work. (The trains don’t run as early on weekends.) If my father had let me take the car like he has done before on weekends, that would have been great. But no, he couldn’t bear to leave his precious car behind and spring for a cab. We went out for a steak dinner on his birthday. That dinner cost more than a cab ride.

I feel that my social life is stalling out. That needs to change. I’ve never hung out with anyone I work with, and since I don’t drink coffee and don’t live nearby, I don’t exactly drop in when I’m not working just for the hell of it. I don’t make friends easily, and people I appreciate tend to move on before I’m ready to let go. This is one of those rare cases where I find myself wishing things would stop changing rather than changing faster.

I’m running out of things to say, so let me conclude by saying that I have a long-running problem with not being able to focus on one thing at once. My mind is disorganized. I’ll try too hard to focus on things, ending up splitting my attention between a bunch of things at once because I can’t see anything through to completion. I’ll read four or five books at once, have a bunch of tabs open on my web browser, and be in the middle of several different TV shows at any given moment. This is not unusual. But it’s also tiring. I’ve been working my way through season five of Deep Space Nine for over six months now. I’d like to finish the series this year so that I can move onto Voyager or even (ugh) Enterprise. I’d like to finish Harry Potter, too, as I already know how it ends and am listening to the audiobook just to get it over with.

I don’t have much use for deadlines, but I sometimes feel like I’m approaching a deadline that I don’t even know about. It’s a vaguely dreadful feeling that the other shoe is about to drop. I can’t spend all my time looking for it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not coming.


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