Exterminate! Exterminate! Why it’s time for Doctor Who to die | Doctor Who
TThree series are the usual tenure for an actor playing Doctor Who, so rumors are rife that Jodie Whittaker is about to step down. Michaela Coel, Olly Alexander and Richard Ayoade are among those approached for the role. But what if, instead of a new doctor, the show actually needs something a doctor could prescribe for an exhausted patient – a rest.
The current broadcast started in 2005, and even with a format as flexible as Doctor Who, there aren’t many TV series that can support 13 series in 16 years. (Call the Midwife is probably the BBC’s best attempt in the last decade.) Soap operas can handle it, but soap opera storylines typically don’t revolve around events as cataclysmic as the destruction of the universe. .
The entire television landscape has changed since the return of Doctor Who. This 2005 series was not even filmed in HD and the iPlayer was still a few years away. The current iteration of the show is clashing with the giants of Netflix and Disney +.
It’s not just the budgets and production values of shows like The Mandalorian or Loki that overshadow Doctor Who, it’s storytelling. Something like WandaVision looks in a different league. And, even taking Covid into account, with just eight episodes expected in the new delayed season, the BBC’s production pace is freezing compared to its streaming rivals. Just as’ 70s Doctor Who looked cheap and wobbly next to blockbusters like Star Wars, the series is now suffering compared to Marvel TV shows.
There is also a growing problem with the structure of the story. When Russell T Davies relaunched the show, it was made very clear in his speech to BBC executives that it wasn’t just a TV about a 900-year-old Time Lord that could change his face – he they were two friends traveling in time and space. have adventures and right the wrongs.
There are now 16 years of new lore, plus all the 60s, 70s and 80s stories that fans have to think of every time there is a new story. Failure to stick to the continuity of a throwaway line from a script 10 years ago will send legions of fans into a frenzy, taking to their social media and YouTube channels to shout about “lazy writing.” Sometimes it feels like the show is buried under the weight of its own continuity.
A gender swap of the role garnered initially high attention and ratings, but audiences have since stabilized at about the same level as under Whittaker’s predecessor, Peter Capaldi. The decision to pick a woman as the Doctor also meant the franchise has become a pawn in culture wars, further aggravating relationships in the fandom and making the social media posts of the show’s creators and stars toxic to Browse.
The series finals have also gotten bigger and bigger over the years. But how many times can the Daleks be destroyed and then come back, the Master / Missy be dead and then reappear with a new face, or Earth be invaded but hardly anyone recognizes aliens even there yet?
Yet when showrunner Chris Chibnall tried to turn the temperature down slightly with his first series finale, which only featured a lesser-known returning villain threatening to destroy Earth, he was widely characterized as low-stakes. It’s as if, over the past 16 years, the volume of story arcs has gradually grown to a Spinal Tap-esque 11, and now it can’t be turned down.
As someone who loved Tom Baker as a Doctor in the ’70s, I found the 2005 revival success wonderful to watch. But while Doctor Who looks better than ever – the footage of Cybermen walking in their battle cruiser late last season alone was worth the price of admission – everything around him is tired.
The ability to travel anywhere in time and space makes Doctor Who a series that could potentially tell a million different and brilliant stories, and Chibnall’s innovation from “The Timeless Child,” which means that there are potentially dozens of guest star Doctors we’ve never met before, opens it up to go in new directions.
But it doesn’t feel like he’s close to telling a million brilliant stories. It feels like we’re telling an increasingly self-centered meta-story about his own run, accompanied by a very vocal online fandom who isn’t quite sure what he wants, but knows he doesn’t want it. .
Maybe the BBC needs to try something other than keep going. Pause. A feature film. A co-production agreement. An anthology series featuring familiar characters from the Whoniverse who are not the Doctor. Quite another thing than slowly grinding two other series formatted as if it were still in 2005.
I have long resigned myself to the fact that I will never see all the Doctor Who stories, not only because some episodes from the 60s have been erased, but because they will make Doctor Who stories in books, comics. , audio and, yes, television, long after I died.
At some point the television will be run by people who have grown up with the excitement of seeing Christopher Eccleston for the first time grab Billie Piper’s hand and tell her to “Run! In 2005, who remember David Tennant and Matt Smith and hid behind the Weeping Angels couch when they were kids. But, maybe, in order for them to think reviving Doctor Who would be a brilliant idea, they first have to get another rest.