I am unhappy with Doctor Who

September 23, 2011

Spoilers here.

I’m catching up on the current season, made it up to “The Girl Who Waited,” and I have to say, I’m frustrated.  I fell behind about halfway through the first half of the season, and when it came time to catch up, I found I couldn’t remember a damned thing about what had happened.  There was this thing in America, the Doctor gets shot by someone in a spacesuit, Amy got lost in a place with a girl, might be pregnant, blah blah.  I didn’t remember because I didn’t care.  It was all mushy.

Then I started getting some very worrying spoilers, so I made sure to catch up.  And all I can think is, WTF?

“Let’s Kill Hitler” frustrated me to the point where I was yelling at my friend to tell me whether or not we’d ever seen Mels before because I thought we must have and I just couldn’t remember (see above), and he refused to tell me because it was a spoiler.  Well, the spoiler came, and again I’m like WTF?  Because really, he could have just said, “No, we have never seen Mels before, and this episode spent ten minutes retconning her into existence so we could have another exciting plot twist.”  I was so. . .angry that I had gotten angry over this.

I’m going to just come out and say it:  I do not like Matt Smith’s Doctor.  Sure, he’s cute and has lots of funny.  (“Fezzes are cool!”)  But there’s nothing there.  He’s vague and mushy, and just doesn’t have a range of expression.  He’s got slapstick, and that’s about it.  Eccelston’s Doctor had this crazy fun joie de vivre with an underlying darkness that made him utterly distinct.  Tennant’s Doctor was borderline evil, in a really delicious way. (Or, according to this lovely alignment chart, actual Chaotic Evil.)  He’d go off these rants about his power, his identity, what he’s sacrificed, what he’s willing to sacrifice, and he’d be terrifying.  Then he’d turn around and save a puppy.  Smith’s Doctor is just there.  I’d get into the TARDIS with the ninth and tenth Doctors.  I don’t think I would with this one.

Then there’s Amy Pond.  Amy Amy Amy.  Gah.  This says everything about Amy.  Like Matt Smith’s Doctor, there’s nothing there.  She’s cute, that’s it.

I do love Rory, though.  Poor, long suffering Rory.

And let’s talk about this storyline.  River Song is a splendid character and has been since the moment we met her. I went back and rewatched “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” again, though I avoided doing so for awhile because those are really scary episodes.  (Oh, and I haven’t been scared this season, at all…)  River is even more brilliant in these than I remember, and seeds really are planted that come to fruition as late as “A Good Man Goes to War.”  But here, River is a scintillating, vaguely criminal, chaotic, intelligent, and completely normal human being.

I think I liked her much better as a completely normal, if brilliant, human being who has this marvelous reverse-cross-time relationship with the Doctor.  That was so much more interesting.  And now, what?  She’s part Time Lord, and she regenerates, except oh, she doesn’t, we took that away from her because that would be too complicated, moving on.  This isn’t interesting to me.

And you know what my problem with “The Girl Who Waited” is?  They didn’t have the balls to make Amy look actually older.  Or maybe even cast a sixty year old to play old Amy.  A woman with crows feet and graying hair.  A sixty year old woman who would kiss Rory, and whom Rory would kiss back.  Instead of that, what we should have had, what the story called for, we had kind-of-puffy-tired-looking Amy.  They didn’t even put a thread of gray in her hair, after the very hard thirty-six years she’s had.  This is rank cheating.  And just proved to me that Amy’s entire purpose in this show is to be cute.

I keep watching, waiting for the flashes of brilliance we had in episodes like “Blink,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” and “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.”  It could still happen.

15 Responses to “I am unhappy with Doctor Who”

  1. Sean Eric Fagan Says:

    I liked the episodes… as stand-alone episodes. They had problems fitting into the rest of the arc. (In one episode’s case, it was because they swapped it from the first half to the last half, for some reason.)

    I very much want to hope that there is a reason ~60yo Amy looked like she was only ~45. Other than the ones you listed. There’s also the fact that, in the episode, she’s shown to be about as intelligent as the Doctor.

    Matt Smith’s Doctor is… energetic. Youthful, in a lot of ways. But I also keep looking at Smith’s face and thinking he looks like an unfinished golem.

  2. Cathyn McKenna Says:

    Right there with you. I dislike Matt Smith, think Amy’s cute, but no Rose Tyler, and Rory’s alright. But the whole show with the 11th Doctor is just…meh. Like someone turned the volume down.

    I think the two big mistakes they made were to replace the Doctor and Companion at the same time, breaking continuity pretty hard, and letting Russell T. Davies leave the show. To do both at the same time was folly indeed.

    When D9 became D10, Rose Tyler was there to connect them. When Rose left (augh! the anguish! the tears!), D10 was there to grieve for her. When Donna left and went unreplaced, and then D10 left, we almost stopped watching, because while the Doctor is the Doctor, he really is never the same, and we had no connection to D11, and no connection to the Companion. Only curiosity led us to start watching the new season, and we’re still waiting for it to get good and/or compelling. There is no credible Bad Wolf this time.

    Russell T. Davies had a serious Dalek addiction, which got bothersome. Doctor vanquishes the Daleks for-once-and-for-friggin-all, and two episodes later they’re back. Lather, rinse, repeat. But even for all that, the episodes produced under his guidance were far better than those coming out now.

    And again in total agreement, “Blink” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” were pretty much the two best episodes of the entire RTD era. I loathe what they’ve done with the Weeping Angles since then, but damn were they cool!

  3. Cathyn McKenna Says:

    ARRRGH! BLOODY HELL!

    Weeping ANGELS!! WEEPING ANGELS!! NOT WEEPING ANGLES!!!

  4. carriev Says:

    Oh, that pissed me off exceedingly. Take your scariest monster and completely change the rules of how they work…

    But now I want to see the episode with the very sad protractors…

  5. Stephen H. Segal Says:

    I like Matt Smith’s performance as the Doctor a lot, but I agree with every word of that Tiger Beatdown piece about Amy. I was so hoping from the first two episodes of Season 5 that they’d actually stick to their guns and write her as the totally unpredictable companion who does random crazy shit based on flashes of intuitive genius — sort of a TARDIS-fueled Phoebe Buffay. But it turned out they either couldn’t write that, or didn’t want to.

  6. Tina Chaney Says:

    Matt Smith’s Doctor is so very “meh”, but, considering how the continuity, the scary, and the logic (time-wobbly, deus ex machina logic at times, but still, logic) got sucked out of the show when RTD left and Steven Moffat took over, can we really blame the actor for this mess? I saw an interview from BBC before the start of CE’s Doctor Who season (it’s an extra on the DVD set) and he said that one of the reasons that he was drawn to the project was because this version had done away from the sexism and the women were wonderful, fully-fleshed out characters (that’s not a quote as much as me trying to remember exactly how he put it and failing). My point is that you certainly couldn’t say that about this version of Doctor Who. With Moffat’s version of Doctor Who, the women exist to be adorable and/or sexy and rescued. It’s frustrating.

    It’s frustrating to watch a show that you loved become this mess of episodes that not only don’t fit within the established canon, they don’t maintain the continuity of the episode (“The Curse of the Black Spot” for example). It’s frustrating to watch a Doctor who is flat and only capable of projecting two emotions – slapstick and “serious” (no expression at all). It’s frustrating to see the women become nothing more than plot devices to be rescued. And the relationships? Really? Would anyone, even someone as obsessive as Rory, put up with the barrage of insults and self-centeredness that he gets from Amy? It’s ridiculous.

  7. LadySilverRose*Wolf Says:

    I intentionally skipped “The Girl Who Waited”, as the trailers here in the UK made it look bor-yawn-ing! However, I did watch the following episode, “The God Complex”, which was… reasonable.

    Personally, I’ve never liked Amy, but I think Rory has come into his own this series.

  8. mystichawker Says:

    Ironically we were just having a very similar conversation after catching several David Tenant reruns on BBCA this week. I can’t say for sure how much of the changes are Matt Smith, and how much are Steven Moffit. This season has been just a little too much in the way of mediocre I keep wanting them to wrap up all the odd convoluted stuff and go back to at least a few episodes of laid back fun. I’d even settle for a few more similar to Curse of the Black Spot.
    A.M. Burns


  9. Eh, every showrunner on Doctor Who has been someone’s scapegoat creator, whether justified or not, since the beginning — it’s simply inevitable with a show that’s existed since 1963.

    Moffat isn’t the first showrunner to make controversial decisions for the show (just look at his predecessor Russell T. Davies, or especially John Nathan-Turner before him), nor will he be the last. It’s a testament to Doctor Who‘s strengths, however, that the show will probably go on. :/

  10. carriev Says:

    That’s part of what’s confused me.. Moffat has written some of the best episodes of the new incarnation of the show. He’s not a bad writer. His seasons were supposed to be all that and more. Is the problem unreasonable expectations?

  11. Lionus Says:

    There is probably nothing better than signing onto a long-running story/TV series.

    For a writer the “world” is already there, the characters mostly established, and an audience that has already “bought in”. But then there is the problem of writers’ egos wanting to display their writer’s talents by “improving” that familiar world, livening up the known characters (also known as “making them more 3-dimensional”, or trying to attract a new age demographic to the audience.

    New actors, signing onto a successful series (via a friendship behind the scenes with a producer/director/sponsor) … well either they in turn want to display their own particular talents or simply are out of their depth with the series genre.

    If only writers and actors were judged in the same way as individual sentences in a novel were — according to what they actually added to the telling of the story and not according to how individuality clever they were in their own right.

  12. Doruk Says:

    I am sorry but I have to disagree with some of the opinions against Amy here. I find her relationship with the Doctor far more fun than Rose and Martha’s, which were largely defined by their pining for him (I know Amy tried to sleep with the Doctor too, but at least she took charge). As a result Amy appears to me the least-sexist among these three. Never much liked Donna, her character development out of the shrieking harpy came a bit too little, too late for me (but hey, at least she wasn’t all about how wonderfully dreamy the Doctor was either :P).

  13. Adam. Says:

    OK, when I saw this link //This says everything about Amy//, I have to say I was half expecting just a picture of Amy in the police outfit from her first appearance. I suspect that says things about both the “Amy” character and me…

    If I recall the “Doctor Who Confidential” associated with this episode (don’t know if they broadcast them in the US), then apparently they were going to go with an older actress for Old-Amy but Karen Gillan wanted to do it herself.

  14. Robert Says:

    I have enjoyed the new season but they have tied the story arc in so many knots that it is impossible to watch single episodes.

    I give the creators props for doing something very edgy but the re-watchability of single episodes suffers. New/returning viewers are turned off because of all the tie-ins. It is more like a sci-fi soap now.

  15. Matt Says:

    Matt Smith – horrid as cited. Lackluster in “the Doctor’s Wife”. Some of the best written episodes ever, left to a muppet – and not a very good one either. This last season “rings of akhaten” – there is speech that is supposed to echo with all the things amazing and horrible the doctor has seen. I shivered imagining what Eccelston or Tennant would have done with it. Instead it is delivered like it’s a joke. The Cybermen episode “Nightmare in Silver”- emotionless cybermen’s master computer chortles and grimaces, capering around like Glad he’s leaving at last. Rory was interesting – the reluctant companion. Amy was a poor plot device over and over. The companions seem to be losing focus as we have gone along with the revived Who.


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