On the one hand, I am extremely happy with Doctor Who tonight. I was looking forward to reviewing every episode this season, and the last two have been very, very good. I’ve been busy so I haven’t had time to sit down, re-watch each one and compose a review.
But on the other hand I’m getting cheesed off. I don’t watch this show for the plot. No one ever does. That’s why space monsters have been increasingly B-plot since the revival in 2005. I watch it for the characters and what they deal with in themselves as a result of travel, mainly the Doctor, but also Clara. And I watch it for the Master, because hello…bananas!
But there hasn’t been a lot to review this year in that department. Every episode asks more and more fascinating questions about who the Doctor is. That’s the meaning of the title, I surmise. It’s also the one question which can never be answered. Therefore, these questions never receive answers. The episode, or two, or the season arc, suddenly forget those questions were ever asked by ripping them away and throwing some alien battle in there all WHOOPS WE’RE OUTTA TIME! And they never ask any new questions about the Doctor. Today’s episode was good. It used an epithet for the Doctor I was just playing with last night. It cast an incredible actor and paired her with a screenwriter and concept that for the first time told us something about the Doctor that the show has not said before. Not out loud. It’s at the absolute latest a Season 8 invention. I’ve been aware of it for years. So innovation is defined as resolving years-old implications about who the Doctor is on screen.
The whole “my gosh it sucks being immortal and knowing everyone I will ever love is going to die but I still gotta save ’em and that wrecks their lives” thing is the natural extension of the Time War. It’s good when it’s a little fresher and it’s played by a younger actor. With the resolution of the Time War and the search for Gallifrey and the Doctor admitting it’s okay to be old, I thought we were going to better places. But nah. His acceptance of age and the gravitas required to become a real story is actually a coded message to himself to be cool, DUDE! Midlife crises are cool now! I like midlife crises! They’re…angsty!
And this, too could be a better story. But it’s not being told. Doctor Who? I fear the writers don’t know. And I’m sorry, but admitting that his question has no answer, that he’s trapped in one kind of story because he wants to be, is never going to do him any good if it’s only told to us by writing choices and the episode structure.
Maisie Williams got robbed. She showed well, but she got robbed. Capaldi is being similarly wasted, and I fear (gender politics is for another blog, but we at Casa Quixote treat our women right) that Tregenna was either heavily edited or chose not to explore her themes fully.
He’s afraid of endings. That’s literally been said on the show. It ruins everyone around him. We get that. Better than you realize, we get that. Can someone tell him he’s a bad man so he can choose a beginning, any beginning, and I don’t punch my nice flat screen TV in?
Again, I enjoyed the episode. I’m getting sick of having nothing else to say about any episode I watch, and refuse to even get started on the Fisher King or we’ll be here all night, so this is all I got. Rawr.
Oh and. From the afterthoughts that could be whole blog entries file — I’m really getting into Rick and Morty now. It does everything I want out of a dark and gritty Doctor Who, including fleshing out its supporting cast and exploring its premises fully. Summer is more developed than River Song is. Beth and Jerry’s marriage has made me feel more — felt more relevant to my own life than any romance plot on Doctor Who ever has. Morty is a more interesting version of Clara’s arc. And Rick…well, Rick is obviously what the Doctor would be like if he were a real guy. Also he’s immortal and his perspective is informed by it and it makes him who he is. I was trying to find a monologue on YouTube that illustrates that, but I can’t find it. The whole show does Doctor Who better than Doctor Who does, pound for pound.
And you know what? That’s a crying shame. I hope the show I love gets better soon.