Doctor Who thing of the day: Is the new show too unfaithful to classic Doctor Who?
Michael Copestake at Shadowlocked laments the drama and the emotion that has been lost in the reboot of Doctor Who. A few tastes from his long and intriguing essay:
Two words. Farting. Aliens. I know, it’s crude and unfair to start with such a low blow right away, but I do so with a reason. The farting aliens of Aliens of London were reflective of the concerns of the production team about whether or not they could make the relaunch of Doctor Who a success. Russell T. Davies is on record as stating that it was their belief that they could pull in the adult audience, if simply out of curiosity or nostalgia.
The real question for them was: Would it pull in the kids? This was why in Rose you never actually saw the hapless cannon-fodder characters get blasted by the Autons, this is why you had the farting aliens and so on. Old Who style violence and horror was out and gross out humour was in.
What about bad faux moralistic posturing? The Doctor is clearly a highly developed moral individual who sides with the oppressed against dictators, mad scientists, warmongers, rapacious capitalists, and destroyers. But this necessarily involves a degree of practicality – you have to break eggs to make an omelette – and though not one to resort continuously to the use of force, the Doctor has, historically, been practical enough to use force when a situation requires it. The flip-side is that the Doctor has frequently been on the receiving end of violence and coercion. Both of these are almost complete taboos for the New Series yet are also, in a weird way, two of its central occupations.
On the one hand the Doctor becomes an absolute pacifist, reduced to moral posturing that does not even make sense (I can save you Daleks of Manhattan! I can save you Davros! I can save you Howard from the Halifax!) and the Doctor’s enemies are not allowed, for the most part, to lay a finger on him, or him on they (perhaps seeing the Doctor get knocked on the head is deemed too disturbing for children). This takes root early on with Nine happily admitting in his final story that he is so principled he would allow everyone on Earth to be exterminated rather than to destroy the Daleks, and Ten’s exaggerated sniffiness about guns and relentless, actually very selfish, grieving for the dead Master in Last of the Time Lords. In a more general form we get the mostly deathless universe of Steven Moffat. The Moffat-verse, like the opposite of Logan’s Run, like the opposite of a Swiss clinic. Everyone lives. That syringe is actually full of MORE LIFE!
There’s much much more, some of it having to to do the new show’s relentless pace, its reliance on comedy even when it’s inappropriate, its constant need (in the most recent series) to be blockbustery, and more. I encourage you to read the whole thing and then come back here to discuss this question: Is the new show too unfaithful to classic Doctor Who?
(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)
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