I cannot tell you how much Doctor Who means to me; how important it is to me; how much of an influence it has been on me and how much my life has been shaped by it. I know that seems very sad/geeky, it’s only TV after all but as I explain here:
Doctor Who is my earliest conscious memory, my earliest sub-conscious memory and one of the reasons my relationship with my partner of almost 20 years was cemented. My 50th Birthday present, was a white gold ring with a personal message from my husband inside that ended with 7:17 as referenced in that post.
Doctor Who is important to me.
You have been responsible for some remarkable TV. “Blink”, for example, is not only is it the best ever Doctor Who episode of either era, but one of the best pieces of TV drama ever. Seriously. When you consider that that “Twin Peaks” pilot episode had occupied that top spot since 1990, you realise how much respect I have for that episode.
But post “The Wedding of River Song”, you seem to have lost your way. You seem to be resting on your laurels. You seem to not really care any more.
This is unforgivable.
For someone capable of such wonder, this season has been lacklustre at best. I’m not saying it hasn’t had its moments because it absolutely has – “The Caretaker”, “Listen”, “Mummy on the Orient Express” to name three, but the ball has been dropped on too many occasions for us not to notice. Too many times an episode has had an absolutely storming opening and has offered something genuinely exciting, genuinely new or an original spin on an established trope, only to have a gut-wrenching facepalm moment kill it stone dead.
It’s almost as if you read the first half of a script and thought “That’ll do. Get on with it” and failed to notice how silly it got in the last half.
Probably the episode I have the biggest problem with is “Kill the Moon” that follows the above plan, – decent start, ludicrous ending – but it also had a very shonky premise. The beginning worked despite the shonky premise. I could go into huge detail about why this episode was so awful, but I’ve done that elsewhere on this blog. I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but had it been set anywhere but Earth, maybe an Earth Colony in the far reaches of the galaxy, a lot of the stupidity would have been excised. A simple edit. A completely changed episode.
I think what upsets me most about the last two seasons is that both have featured the most stunning of casts. Both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi have put in sterling performances. Jenna Coleman has gone from underused cypher to absolutely owning the show. They have done so by proving their acting chops against some seriously awful scripts. Their conviction is has what has made these episodes work. You should be enormously proud of them.
I can’t help but feel though, that Matt Smith, with a decent set of scripts for his last season, would have been remembered as the definitive Doctor. You dropped the ball.
I’m not in the camp whereby I’m demanding your resignation. The sole reason being that I know you are capable of such wonders as “The Girl in The Fireplace”, “Blink”, “Listen”, “The Doctor Dances”, “The Wedding of River Song” and many more. You can be a stunning asset to Doctor Who and I utterly applaud that.
This latest season, though. Capaldi is great: spiky, acerbic, arrogant, alien but curiously absent, as Clara has completely dominated the show. Having the Doctor being a supporting character in his own programme has been a little odd, but it worked in Blink, so why not?
The one thing that made me uncomfortable above all was the constant ‘fan pleasing’ references to previous episodes. It’s pretty much what killed classic Doctor Who, drowning in it’s own mythology while providing little of substance to reference in the next season. Doctor Who was basically inbreeding and we know how that pans out.
You may think that you are being clever, but with half of the visuals, script, and references being from an era prior to the majority of the intended audience, your risk alienating the very audience you are supposed to be entertaining. I worry that diverting attention from the present day stories by including all these references is an indication that something is wrong. That you are lacking ideas or conviction. Smug references do not make for a good story. If as much time was spent on the scripts and script editing as was spent being smug we might have had more decent and more consistent stories. And of course, the one moment where all that referencing should have paid off was fudged. You brought the Brigadier back in the most distasteful manner possible and then utterly wasted it, pissing all over his memory. So much for clever clever. Despite being supposedly ‘fan pleasing’, this fan is not pleased.
Of course, it’s easy for me to sit here and say all this stuff. I’m coming from a position of never having worked in TV. I don’t really understand the limitations, the mechanics or the pressures of making TV. I have worked within many other arts – theatre, radio, fine art, comics, prose, poetry – but not TV. Maybe I understand bit’s of the process by osmosis, but I’ll never have a full understanding and this may counter a lot of my credibility where the above is concerned.
All I really know is that, in my opinion, and really, this is *just* my opinion, Doctor Who has slowly been losing it’s magic in the same way it did when it became a product of John Nathan Turner’s ego.
Having been such a major part of my life, this fills me with almost unbearable sadness and my acid filled reviews of this season have brought me little or no joy.
It’s not even that I’m one of these people who despise change and refuse to accept a new Doctor when the old one passes the mantle. Doctor Who is about change. I love the change. I love the possibilities for renewal that the change brings. Even when Matt Smith left, I was saddened, it’s true, but I was champing at the bit for the next phase in the story of Doctor Who.
I also know this is just telly.
I’m making no demands (how futile would that be?)
I’m not having a queeny fit and saying “I’ll never watch the show again”.
I’m not going to be burning my memorabilia or anything so pointless and knee-jerk reactionary.
I’m still going to be watching the programme.
I’ll still be rooting for it, it will always, always have a special place in my heart.
But Doctor Who is about change.
Please, Mr Moffatt, make that change.
That’s not a veiled “You must leave now”, that’s me asking you to make Doctor Who great again, as I know you can do. If that means taking more care with the writing or the script editing or, yes, letting the show go, I don’t care. I just want to be able to watch it without having that terrible feeling that I’ll be disappointed again.
I doubt you’ll read this, but I needed to get it off my chest anyway.
Don’t make me grow up.
With love and the greatest of respect
Will (aged 50 ½ )