The Conundrum of Doctor Who

It’s been my intention for years to watch Doctor Who, ever since the new iteration started and all my friends and the Internet in general got sucked in. It seemed like it would be right up my alley, since I like Star Trek and Merlin and shows of that ilk. Ones where they’re not afraid to occasionally be silly. Ones where the characters care about each other despite their differences.

I should probably note that I had seen Doctor Who before the new series started–I watched the 1996 made for TV movie with Eight (Paul McGann). Admittedly, I think I was 13 at the time, but I remember liking it and being somewhat disappointed that it hadn’t done well enough to be picked up for a TV series.

And, of course, because I am a denizen of the Internet, despite not having watched the show, I am generally aware of what’s happening. (Sometimes I even know what’s happening more than my friends who are caught up with the show, which just amuses me.) So I went in knowing about sonic screwdrivers and daleks and weeping angels and regeneration (and also things associated with the 50th anniversary special which I shall not say in case people do not know and care about spoilers).

About a month ago I finally decided to dive in with the beginning of Nine and…well, I didn’t like it. There were conversations I thought were funny, and I thought the characters were fine, but overall it wasn’t doing much for me, and I was really annoyed about it, because I’d been so excited to watch the show, and I’d heard such good things, and it just wasn’t doing anything for me.

But I stuck through with it, and near the end of the first season there’s an episode where they’re in 1941 England, and they hook up with Captain Jack, and there’s random Merlin actors and that was the first time where I could see what people were talking about. It was a two-part episode, and both the strength of the story and the interplay between the characters were fantastic. And, for the most part, the rest of the season (a standalone episode and another two-parter) kept that up.

And then, of course, I get to the end of the season and Nine regenerates into Ten, and now I feel all off-kilter again. I got to really like Nine, and I feel like I don’t know what to make of Ten yet (I’m…four? episodes into the season). And I feel like the quality of the episodes has gone back downhill, more like the beginning of season/series one than the end.

(Also, we ditched Captain Jack at the end of season one and I really liked him and how he interacted with the other characters. I mean, I know he comes back and there’s Torchwood, but I would have watched him and Nine and Rose forever.)

Part of me wonders if I should just give up here. If I find it so hard to adjust every time they switch out a character, is it worth it to keep watching a show where characters switch every year or two? I mean, aside from the Doctor regenerating, companions come and go. And maybe it just hasn’t hit its stride yet and if I keep going the show will become good enough that that will stop bothering me as much as it does at the moment.

And I’m still a little annoyed that I don’t like it more than I do.

What about you, Squiders? Are you a die-hard Whovian, or can you not get into the show? Who’s your favorite Doctor?

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Marc Wright on 2013/12/19 at 4:52 PM

    I think you should stick with it; the show got consistently better, I feel. In fact, I liked each doctor more than the last, which gives me great hopes for Capaldi.

    I think that letting yourself get hyped about something you haven’t seen is always a bad idea, because it rarely lives up to how you (and/or your friends) built it up in your head. Recently happened to me– I’d never seen “Leverage,” and had been interested. I liked the idea, and several of my friends hyped it up even more for me. Then I got to watch it– and gave it up as horribly repetitive and loaded with bad cliches after four episodes.

    This is why I will not read articles/posts about something I haven’t seen, but want to– and it’s happened to several of my friends, as well.

    Keep going with Ten– give it the rest of the season, maybe? If you can make it to the insanity that is Eleven, I think the change in showrunner that came with the start of Matt Smith’s run might just work for you.

    Reply

    • You’re probably right about the hype, and I should know better by now. Alas.

      I will probably give it until at least the end of the season. After all, Nine grew on me, and maybe Ten will too.

      Reply

  2. Yeah, the show is a little weird under this showrunner. I don’t mind it a lot, but some episodes are a little weird and I generally skip them when I feel like a rewatch binge. Honestly I am not a big fan of Series 2 in general and while Series 3 and 4 have some great episodes, Russell T Davies’ tenure on the show gets kind of tired and overdone by the end, in my opinion.

    However, the show does undergo a signifcant change in style when Matt Smith/Eleven’s era starts. The change in showrunner helps a lot, too–it’s the same writer that wrote the WWII story you liked. The show really starts to feel like a proper, modern scifi show in Series 5, and I’d suggest that of you don’t like Ten after S2 ends, give Matt Smith’s first story (The Eleventh Hour) a shot and see if you prefer that style going forward. 🙂

    Reply

  3. I’ve always found the first four seasons of Doctor Who, under Russell T. Davies, to be a little rough around the edges and not always fulfilling the ways you want or expect them to be. I have a lot of Opinions about this period of the show that I’ll spare you, but suffice to say that I know where you’re coming from. While I digested the first five and a half seasons of the show in about a week first starting out, Series 2 especially is not my favorite, and I rarely revisit it when I feel like rewatching the show. While things definitely improve in Series 3 and 4, I think the show ends up a bit overdone and stuck in a rut as Davies’ tenure comes to an end.

    The start of Matt Smith/Eleven’s era on the show marks an enormous change in style for the series as a whole–both visually and storytelling-wise. The change in showrunner–to Steven Moffat, who wrote that WWII story you liked–certainly helps, and I feel like it’s in this particular era that the show really comes into its own as a modern scifi series. If you’re still not hooked by the end of Series 2, maybe you could give Matt Smith’s first episode (“The Eleventh Hour”) a shot and see if you prefer to go forward from there? Series 5 isn’t as deeply connected to the previous series-es as those are to each other; all you’d really need to watch are Moffat’s episodes from Series 3 and 4: the standalone (and excellent) “Blink”, which introduces the Weeping Angels; and the two-part “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, which introduces River Song, an important character in Eleven’s run.

    And blimey, that got wordy. Sorry.

    Reply

  4. The Missus and I appear to be in the minority when it comes to the ‘New Who’ fandom, but neither of us was impressed with Tennant or Russell T. Davies. I felt most of the episodes during this era to be poorly written, and full of lazy shortcuts. Like the Doctor is suddenly psychic (I know you’ve seen that one) when the plot needs it. As an ‘Old Who’ fan too, I found a lot of the antics and the timey-whimey, “Oh you humans! I just want to hug you and give you a bit wet kiss!” moments truly irritating. And don’t get me started about the whole “But I don’t want to go” send off for Tennant. Blah.

    But.

    But, it does get better. Most of the episodes I did like during the Tennant/RTD regime were written by Stephen Moffat, who takes over as Executive Producer when Matt Smith comes aboard. I really like Smith’s Doctor (almost as much as I like Eccleston’s). The show still has some shortcomings, but I’m willing to put up with them now.

    (Plus, it’s a show for kids – I’m probably holding it to too high a standard.)

    That said, there are people out there who would hunt me down and kill me for speaking a disparaging word about Tennant as the Doctor. He has a HUGE fan base. If he and Benedict Cumberbatch ever star in a show together, the internet will implode.

    Reply

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