Doctor Who Gives a Damn

This weekend, Doctor Who returns. Here’s a trailer of what’s in store:

There’s also this “prequel”, which sets off the purpose behind the upcoming half-season and features a surprising twist ending you’ll nev– oh you figured it out.

Obviously it’s hard for me to get excited about any of this anymore. I’m kind of just riding out the clock on Moffat at this point.

There’s no need for me to go into it, but here’s a blog post that just absolutely nails it. It’s pretty much everything I’ve been trying to say. How Steven Moffat ruined Doctor Who

Here are some of the great moments from that:

For better and for worse, Davies was more interested in people than in science fiction. Moffat, on the other hand, is a geek. Let’s clarify these terms. A major disservice done to SF/Fantasy is the way it is frequently confused with its duller brother, Geekery. SF/Fantasy is about the universe, the human race’s responsibilities, morality, life, death, fear, wonder, (proper) science and different ways of seeing things. Geekery is about things which not only don’t exist literally, but have no metaphorical value: bullshit science, people who come back to life after being killed off, different versions of time-travellers bumping into each other in different timelines and CGI “energy” emanating from people when the plot requires it.

In a work of Geekery, the text itself is fetishised: it might not raise any questions, tax the intellect or interest anyone other than fans, but at least geeks can watch it, and discuss who River Song really is, whether Batman and the Joker are mirror opposites of one another, what would happen if the Enterprise’s transporters malfunctioned and what Yoda’s midichlorian count is. It’s a lovely way for nice, often wonderful people to meet, but that’s that’s the sole value.

Its biggest hindrance is the reliance on arc plotting. In the first Russell T Davies series, the words “Bad Wolf” were hidden in several episodes. This wasn’t intrusive, even if it did hamper the end of the series with too much expectation upon one phrase. By the time of Davies’s final full season this had grown out of control. Each episode would contain references to the fact that “all the bees have disappeared”, disappearing planets and something called the “Medusa Cascade”, and in the season finale the lucky viewers were told what these things meant. This “Sesame Street was brought to you today by the letter A” style of television is a serious menace to quality drama, and the art of fiction itself. It’s flourished in America, with shows like Desperate Housewives, Flashforward, Heroes, Lost and 24 teaching viewers to judge tv in terms of how good the thing they think might happen in the next episode will be, rather than how good the episode they just watched was.

Instead we get a lot of adolescent scenes of a vaguely vampish woman with a laser gun shooting people while exchanging cutesy flirtatious banter (her other catchphrase is the truly vile “Hello sweetie!”). Is there a single reason to care about her? What has she done except shoot people, flirt in a way that Moffat seems to think evokes Lauren Bacall but comes across like someone’s drunken aunt at a wedding, and occasionally claim to be an archaeologist? It builds up to the single most disastrous plot twist ever devised: the revelation that River is Amy Pond’s baby daughter grown up. Its meaningless is spectacular: it’s too remote to make any emotional or metaphorical impact, and it doesn’t actually alter this drab character or raise any questions.

His Doctor is so carefully, almost admirably, tailor-made, it could be a brand name. Following the David Tennant model, it’s the same mixture of cute good looks, with a patina of geek chic, vaguely professorish but not so much it would alienate the girls and still with the hint of an action hero beneath the foppish lock of hair (looking at Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock in Moffat’s other “take a tried-and-tested character and do it safely and cutely” show, one wonders if Moffat is growing thousands of these guys in a vat somewhere), the costume with its reassuring resemblance to Tennant’s, the bowtie to remind us that he’s eccentric without rendering him unattractive or unusual.

…and so much more. Go read it.

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