Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thoughts on The Doctor

With all the hubbub around Doctor Who recently I feel a bit left out. I like the new Who stuff well enough, but not well enough to have kept up to date. I have not yet watched the first full Matt Smith episode which puts me about three years behind! So what did I do yesterday when given the opportunity to watch some of the show? I pulled out The Trial of a Time Lord DVDs and am now watching my second favorite Doctor run through his final season! I bet I'm the only Colin Baker fan willing to pipe up at this late date but I really loved his take on the character and, even with one harsh bump in the road, I consider Trial of a Time Lord to be brilliant.

I don't want to sound like an old man telling kids to get off my lawn but......the new Who show is a little too repetitive for me. The reason I have had trouble getting through each season so far is that I get tired of every damn thing happening in freakin' contemporary London! Only occasionally do the stories take place on an alien world, a spacecraft or even in a dank underground hole from which the Doctor and his companions must escape. I much prefer the cheap sets and high imagination of the older stories because they required a larger buy-in from me as an audience member. If you were willing to meet the show halfway you were rewarded with thrills and excitement unavailable anyplace else.

And maybe that's the problem. Maybe the world of television science fiction entertainment has moved beyond the kind of "we're all in this together" kind of group involvement through the basic love of the genre. Maybe the show has to spend more time concerned with its flashy visuals or the modern audience will laugh and turn away, but I fear I will always find the older tales more fun, more filled with the sense of wonder that I want and expect out of science fiction TV. The new Who stuff is much more interested in dazzling you with its beauty rather than engaging you intellectually. It's more interested in pushing emotional buttons than making you think. That is a shame because the best science fiction- Hell - the best storytelling - can do both things. The new show is just not very appealing to me because I want the story be more important than the visuals and the characters to be more interesting than the question of 'Who will fall in love with who'.

I can enjoy the new Doctor Who series but it will never be one of my favorite shows until its focus becomes something it will never be again. So, I'll eventually catch up with Matt Smith and the latest Doctor but for now Colin Baker's run will continue to make me smile.


Stephen D. Sullivan said...

You really, really need to catch up with the Matt Smith/Stephen Moffat Doctor Whos -- many of which, I think, invalidate your criticism of the new series.

This tenure shows a love of interesting SF ideas -- especially all aspects of time travel -- and interesting locations, too.

Try it. You'll like it.

Rod Barnett said...

If what you say is true then I will certainly have to check Smith's tenure sooner rather than later. i'd love to have my disappointment with the show turned on its head. And its all just sitting there waiting for on NetFlix!