My husband and I recently discovered a Doctor Who meetup in our area.
I’ve been hosting occasional Doctor Who nights at home, but the friend I was hosting them for moved away, and too often it’s ended up being just one or two of us. When the group announced a screening of “Rose” and “Spearhead from Space,” I was excited by the prospect of watching my show with a whole roomful of fellow fans. I was excited by the choice of episodes: new Doctors, new companions, new eras – “Spearhead” was the first color episode – linked by the Autons. I was excited by the location, a local DW-themed bar where I’ve enjoyed nerdery paired with proper fish-and-chips and British beer on many prior occasions.
Unfortunately, the meetup sprang from a group of MST-3K fans, and it showed. The catcalls began with Mickey’s first appearance and grew steadily louder as the drink flowed and the production values went backwards in time. Much of “Spearhead” was impossible to hear. (Fortunately I’d seen it before.) Instead of feeling included, I felt even more outcast: a fan among fans, and still the only one who actually wanted to watch.
I didn’t fit in with the group members I managed to talk to, either. One was an older man who assumed I knew less than him, and who considers Eleven the best Doctor: in other words, an overgrown twelve-year-old. The other was a pleasant enough woman, but her priorities seemed to be shots and Star Trek, with DW as a distant third. Nice people, but not what I was hoping for. Back in November I went to a screening of “Genesis of the Daleks” in an old-style movie theater with a hundred or more people in the audience, many of them in costume. Those people watched with love, and a few unavoidable giggles, and I felt much more at home in that much larger crowd.
Still, I’ll probably go back. Seeing my show on a big screen with a Boddingtons and proper English chips is too much to pass up. I do enjoy meeting other nerds, even if I don’t click with them right away. I’ll just make sure I’ve seen the eps before, so I don’t miss anything when the booze gets too much for my fellow fans.
I’ll also see about planning another DW night at home. A few of my friends should see “Spearhead…” and maybe “Rose” again as well. 🙂
Our new showrunner these days is best known for his creation of Broadchurch and its two spinoffs, the American Gracepoint and the French Malaterra. However, he has a long history with the Doctor Who family, as well as a range of other types of shows. His more conventional fare includes the TV movie United; the series Camelot; and 6 episodes of Law and Order: UK. But of course, we really want to know how he treats our favorite Time Lord and his friends.
- “42”(2007): This is a pretty good horror-style episode with great side characters, marred by appalling melodrama between the Doctor and Martha. I almost left it off my rewatch for that reason, but the rest of it manages to compensate.
- “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood” (2010): A decent two-parter, once you overlook the rehash of “Doctor Who and the Silurians.” Good character stuff; a dark look at the underside of human nature; and another favorite in the form of Nasreen Chaudhry.
- “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” (2012): A weird mix of silly and grim. Tricey and Brian are wonderful, and Amy has a good time too.
- “The Power of Three” (2012): Mostly dull, unless you’re a fan of Amy and Rory’s “ordinary” life. However, there’s lots of Brian, and the first television appearance of Kate Stewart. It’s not her best showing, but still it’s nice to have her.
I haven’t rewatched Torchwood in a long time, so my impressions aren’t as clear. Still, this is as I recall:
- “Day One” (2006): The second episode of the series and Gwen’s first day on the job, this episode sets the tone for the show and establishes a lot of essential character stuff. It’s weird, intriguing, fun in places, but made us wonder what the hell is up with these people.
- “Cyberwoman” (2006): This episode is, as I recall, terrible. Everyone is stupid. The sexualized Cyber-costume doesn’t help.
- “Countrycide” (2006): This episode is scary and gross, and put me off the series originally. I even skipped over it on my second pass at the show. I finally managed to watch it – in daylight – during my great rewatch. It’s classic horror, quite well constructed, but still hard to watch for the non-horror fan.
- “End of Days” (2007): The S1 finale doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend it – particularly coming on the heels of the spectacular “Captain Jack Harkness.” Everyone is pretty much terrible.
- “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” (2008): Not great, but
gay Spike James Marsters as Jack’s old frenemy spices things up. I also enjoyed sassy Ianto.
- “Adrift” (2008): A brutal, pessimistic (mis)handling of the mentally ill. This is one of the episodes flagged by fans comparing Moffat’s treatment of disability to Davies’. It doesn’t score well. (Interesting that Chibnall appears on both sides of the line, with this and the Silurian two-parter.)
- “Fragments” (2008): Cool backstory, not much else.
- “Exit Wounds”(2008): Jack’s personal drama gets more personal. I definitely remember rolling my eyes at this one.
A mixed bag of stories, to say the least. If anything I’d guess we’ll get more horror in Chibnall’s Doctor Who. We might even get some interesting character stuff: Chibnall aligns his audience with both Ambrose and Restac, both Jack Marshall and the community that turns on him, both acceptance and fear of the differently abled. I look forward to seeing what he does with Doctor Who‘s characters, what other writers he puts on his team, what new direction he takes from what we’ve seen in the past.
Regardless of how you feel about him, the departure of the Grand Moff is an event.
I have trouble imagining anyone is truly sad. There may be some emotionally invested young people who find this difficult, but I haven’t seen any of them on Tumblr. Even if you respect him as a writer and a showrunner – another rare breed as far as I can tell – you’d have to admit it’s time. Six seasons is long enough for anyone in Moffat’s position; for a show like Doctor Who, new blood is essential.
As successors go, Chris Chibnall is not a terrible choice. He’ll have three seasons’ experience as head writer and showrunner of Broadchurch by the time the handover takes place. He’s written an assortment of Doctor Who and Torchwood, and a little Life on Mars, though the episodes are a mixed bag. He’s been a fan since childhood – practically a prerequisite these days. And he created Ellie Miller, one of my favorite fictional characters of all time:
Less acceptable is the news that we’ll have to go an entire year with no new Doctor Who. Even Tennant’s year of specials wasn’t so barren. Worse, the delay increases the likelihood of Peter Capaldi’s departure after S10. When he was confirmed for the season, I thought we’d be lucky to get one more year out of him. Now, we’ll get that year, but we won’t get any new episodes.
Of course Capaldi might decide to stay on for S11. He’s having a great time; he isn’t trying to launch a career like Matt Smith or go back to the stage like David Tennant. But of course he’ll want to go out on top, like Tennant did. He won’t want to linger. Even Tom Baker, still the most beloved Doctor, began to grow stale after too long. Capaldi will be careful to avoid that.
I have feared all along that he would depart with Moffat. It’s easy enough to announce one’s exit when everyone else is doing it. It’s harder to pick up where you left off with a new regime in place. A complete changing of the guard, as we had in 2010, is not beyond the realm of possibility. And now we’ve added a year of nothing: a year of sitting around, not shooting, not creating. A year for distractions, for opportunity to knock, for something better to come along.
I’ll miss him terribly when he’s gone.
I do look forward to seeing what Chibnall does with the show. I look forward to a new Christmas special, a new companion, and a new season. I enjoy changes, in spite of the cost.
I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long.