Friday, 3 February 2017

Why Who Plays Who? Doesn't Matter

So Peter Capaldi has thrown in the towel, been fired, resigned (delete as applicable) and will regenerate at the end of series.  The search for the 11th doctor will inevitably consume the nation (if you listen to the pundits), but not this little corner of geekdom. 

To be honest, I don't care.

I have every faith that whichever actor gets the job, be they young, old, black, white, male or female, dog or cat, they will do a bang up job.  IMHO it is not the actor which makes a great Doctor, rather it tends to be the other way around.  The role maketh the actor.

What concerns me more is that the BBC gives whoever takes on the mantle the proper tools for the job.

Falling Ratings?

Some of the gutterpress have accused the BBC of ditching Capaldi, claiming he is unpopular and that ratings have suffered.  I disagree. 

Nu Who By The Numbers

Looking at the ratings of each Doctor across their time in office, their relative popularity doesn't hint at anything terribly wrong with Capaldi's stewardship of the TARDIS.

In fact he has racked up a creditable episode count over his 855 days and still has season 10 yet to air.

Dr Who Stats
However, the big fat elephant in the room is the increase in "Days Without Who".

Put simply there has been too much time between seasons/episodes.

In a Newsweek interview back in March 2016, Capaldi himself criticised the BBC's "erratic scheduling".  Helmsman Stephen Moffat also moves on at the end of the year which signals a sea change at the BBC.  Perhaps they are scaling back on expensive shows such as Who and replacing them with cheap as chips reality TV which they can regurgitate out at pennies on the dollar.  Who knows?

What I know is that I'm fed up with mid season breaks and long hiatuses.

No More Love interests... Please

Whilst I enjoyed the Rose, Amy and Clara characters I found their on/off relationships with the Doctor nauseating.

Can we not go back to the condescending alien superiority of old Who?.  It's not a feminist backlash, I don't care if the companion is male or female.  Let's face it everyone is a complete idiot compared to the Doctor's supragenius mind.  One of my favourite male companions was Harry Sullivan who on many levels was a complete berk, but he knew his place, acting as both a plot device or a plot explainer whenever the story needed it.

My favourite female Doctor / Companion relationship was that of the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson).  The Doctor's frequent frustration and anger at her savage common sense, naivete and independent nature were a joy to behold.  She held her own on many occasions and even reversed the damsel in distress trope a few times saving the Doctor from his own curiosity.

How Do You Fix Who?

I don't want to sound like an old fogey, but the golden years of Who had a plot template and it's one which I have used in my own storytelling.  It goes like this:

1.  Episode begins with a short segment to show the episodes location and shows two factions violently trying to co-exist with each other.  The two antagonistic factions have been in impasse for many years / decades / centuries / millenia.

2.  The TARDIS crashlands in a new location and is somehow trapped or disabled (removing its use as a powerful Deus Ex Machina from the plot solution).  The Doctor and companion narrowly escape with their lives and must now use their wits and ingenuity to survive.

3.  The Doctor and Companion are soon seperated, one each to each faction.  The story of each faction emerges (as told from their perspective) through their interactions with the Doctor and the companion respectively.

4.  An Attack is launched by one faction against the other.  There is much running around and confusion during which the Doctor and companion are reunited and seperated again.  They swap sides and, armed with the facts about the other faction, a true picture emerges of which faction is Good and which is Evil.

5.  The Doctor and companion are finally reunited and the Doctor saves the day by either resolving their differences, helping one side defeat the other or fails to save the Evil faction from their own demise.  


Let's hope that the BBC take the opportunity to go back to basics and give us some good old fashioned scarey thought provoking tense sci-fi like they used to be able to make.

Oh and if Toby Jones or Rory Kinnear get the job I will be a happy man. 


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