Goodbye Amy Pond, Welcome Back Doctor Who?

October 23, 2012 2:00 pm

Since its reboot in 2005, Doctor Who’s become a global phenomenon that led to multiple spin-offs, such as Torchwood or Sarah Jane’s Adventures, and it might deserve some credit for the rising popularity of all things British in the hard-to-crack America. Thanks to the inspired new rendering of the favoured British classic, (and not to forget, the longest running sci-fi series in the world) not only new generations of children, but the whole world was exposed to this national treasure. One way or the other, Russell T Davies, alongside Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston, rolled the ball that would grow and expand with David Tennant, to explode worldwide with Matt Smith.

Photograph: BBC

When Stephen Moffat, (Davies’ star writer who was not without credit for the show’s success) was announced as his successor, there was nothing but an excited buzz all round. It was an appropriate award for Moffat’s brilliant turns in The Human Child, Silence in the Library and Blink. However, from the very first episode as head writer, Moffat has been stumbling. First of all, the Doctor Who brand had undergone a major makeover; its modern remix of the classic melody, the wormhole’s added dangers in the form of lightning bolts finished off with a silver, shiny logo more reminiscent of Batman than the celebrated Time Lord. Granted, Moffat couldn’t have had much influence over the decision to practically strip the Doctor of everything that made him unique and loved and turn him into a caricature of himself, and it reeks of an executive decision for a product launch. Why else would Moffat be rewriting all of the famous enemies, making them “new-and-improved” in the first few episodes, such as the Daleks and their new look or the Weeping Angels and their new powers. And don’t even get me started on the new screwdriver that looks more like a praying mantis, while the inside of the refurbished TARDIS is cluttered with unseemly kitsch seriously undermining the Doctor’s image.

The new storylines do nothing to ameliorate this deterioration and this is what astounds me with every new episode. I distinctly remember the first one that turned me into a fan of Doctor Who. It was one Saturday before noon that I was flicking through the channels, when I decided to leave on Doctor Who. The episode was Moffat’s The Human Child and I, a grown person of over twenty years of age, in broad daylight had to turn off my TV because I found it too realistic to watch. I was both petrified and amazed. And I wanted more. I remember absorbing episode by episode and I remember particularly moving moments such as losing the ninth Doctor, losing Rose behind that godawful wall, beautiful, inspiring Martha, the breathtaking invasion of the Daleks and finally (and unforgivably), the horrible and inexcusable way in which the tenth Doctor disregarded Donna’s final wish.

When I think of the past two seasons and the one currently airing, the only emotions that stay behind are irritability and disappointment. Fish fingers and custard, bowties are cool, the universe is going to disappear, Amy’s going to die, the Doctor is going to die, blah blah! It all feels too forced. It pains me to say that Matt Smith can act, but I know he can. I’ve witnessed it myself. One should look no further than Party Animals or Christopher and His Kind to find genuine affection for this guy. It saddens me that he should generate no sympathy whatsoever as the character that I love to begin with. But it’s understandable. Smith’s Doctor hasn’t been still for two seconds for one to be able to focus on him. It’s David Tennant to the tenth. All blabber nonstop. We know what pulled in viewers with Dave, so let’s in typical Hollywood fashion make it bigger and it will be better, right? Wrong. Ranging from treating Van Gogh’s depression, through freeing Star Whales, fighting off Dream Lords and Hitler playing matchmakers and pirates, or duping all of the Doctor’s enemies at once; the Doctor and Amy (who, by the way, got to grips frighteningly fast for an orphan kissogram) took it all in their unlikely stride. Lost in the inconsequential noise, Amy Pond’s red hair and short skirts and Rory’s general existence was the soul of the show.

The general feel and focus of the Moffat’s series is so dissimilar to the former ones that at times it seems as if the new team had lost the copyright to Doctor Who, and were forced to find a way to redefine what was familiar and loved. The end result often proved to be disappointing. Hopefully, there will be a significant change of pace with the new assistant joining the show and perhaps we will get the chance to slow down and come to grips with this gangly, bowtied creature from another planet. Perhaps we will be given a moment to feel and not just to hear what’s going on in his chaotic life. In any case, one thing is certain – Moffat’s is without a doubt: a brand new Doctor.

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