Sunday, 22 April 2012

Stereotypical Who Bitching Session.

I never used to understand embittered fans. Why endlessly and often brutally criticize you profess to liking beyond a mere geniality? But alas, as some unknown eejits are wont to say, 'every person becomes what they most despise' (or I may have made it up, I don't know), and alas of alases I happen to be rather in the critical mood for Doctor Who, the first thing anyone could genuinely have called me a 'fan' of. And this makes me rather sad. Throughout my childhood, the Doctor and his friends were my friends too. Funny, brave, often mysterious and unknowable, but always willing to fight on the side of the oppressed against the oppressor, the Doctor (in all his incarnations) became a hero of mine. As a genuinely lonely and often bullied child during my early adolescent years, Doctor Who was a genuine comfort to me, and taught me that it was okay to be different (if you wonder where that lesson comes from, take the example of ANY of the Doctors outfits) as sappy as that sounds.
And, joy of joys around this time Doctor Who was resurrected! And he hadn't changed! Yes of course the series had changed with the times. There was a lot more focus on emotional moments for one, but most of the time it worked. Still the Doctor espoused the virtues that I had always known him to. Of course throughout my teenage years Doctor Who sometimes became less of a important thing to me (most committed Whovians probably have a phase like this too) but when I came back to watching the Doctors adventures I always felt like I was welcome, it wasn't as if I had just started watching part 9,875,000 of the worlds most complicated soap opera. And with the ever onwards march of time, Doctors and producers changed too. I was thrilled, like all other fans were when it was announced that Steven Moffat would become head writer and show runner, with a ridiculously long and fabulous writing pedigree in both Who and outside of it, with work such as Jekyll, Coupling, and Press Gang. I was also unexpectedly pleased with the choice of Matt Smith, and I didn't bother writing him off immediately like some others did. And lo and behold, come Series Five of 'NuWho' I was pleasantly surprised. Matt Smith was and is a splendid Doctor,and despite his comparative youth still lends the part a other-worldly ancientness and unknowability. The stories too were generally to a high standard, with the return of the Weeping Angels and Richard Curtis' Van Gogh episode being two highlights for me. My only rankles of complaint though, lay with the companions. Now, the Doctor in pretty much all the series of the revival has been a sexual or attractive object to his companions. For some unknown, poor-writer based reason.  Rose ended up with some form of Doctor-human hybrid/fuck buddy in a alternate universe in possibly one of the most unneeded endings ever. Martha spent most of her series as companion silently lusting after the Doctor in a unrequited passion.(only to end up with Micky Smith in the last David Tennant episode for, again, no reason whatsoever) In fact, the best companion, not just of the revival but of the entire series was Donna. Primarily because she didn't want to get inside the Doctors space-trousers all the time. (do Time-Lords have space trousers? I don't know.) Donna was funny, opinionated, human. With Martha and Rose, while both nicely written and acted, I couldn't really see them as anything else but abstract concept. Donna I could see as an actual person I could meet, mainly because she reacted the way you or I would to such bizarre, alien, fantastic and sometimes scary situations. And I got the feeling the Doctor liked this. Series 4 was a right laugh, the Doctor and Donna, two friends having brilliant and wonderful adventures throughout the universe. No unnecessary romance or the mandatory kiss, (OK there was one between the Doctor and Donna, but this was a chaste one done strictly for comic effect) just two mates having the time of their lives. Around this time, Series 3 and 4 is where I feel the series reached its current zenith. Which is what made the end of Series 4 all the more sad for me, but there you are.
But anyway, as I said an eon ago, my only major rankles with Series Five lay with the companions. Quite simply, I hate them. Amy Pond is nothing but a deeply irritating bundle of stereotypes, with the sexual attraction to the Doctor pushed up to 11. Rory is a grotesquely tedious, stuttering, milquetoast in search of some decent lines to say. Don't get me started on River Song. Doctor Who has simply become, in my sad embittered opinion, episode 9,875,000 of the worlds most complicated soap opera. Crossroads in Space if you will. Deeply uninteresting and often hammy characters dealing with shit you don't really give a toss about, the massive twist being it's all in space. The previous series did deal with the companions families and emotions and development don't get me wrong. And this is most definitely a good thing, it makes them appear more human, as opposed to a talking slab of meat who occasionally asks the Doctor whats wrong. But there is something of a point where you're dealing with a fun adventure Saturday tea-time serial with Daleks and Cybermen and Sontarans, and another where you're dealing with Crossroads in Space. Series Five and Six have most definitely been the latter. And this irritates me so as it detracts all the more from the actually good stories, like Neil Gaiman's slice of genius. (BRING HIM BACK TO WRITE MORE PLEASE) Amy is awful. A bullying, yowling tempest she spends 90% of the time berating and ignoring her apparent husband and 10% of simpering and saying in a tear-enthused voice how much she loves him when the plot calls for it. She is held together by negative female stereotypes. If someone injected some actual emotion or ideals into her lines she'd probably fall apart. As tigerbeatdown puts it in the article, 'I Hate Amy Pond'- "she seems to have been conceived by sticking every terrible romantic comedy ever made into a blender and coming out with a slightly lumpy beige mixture of Stuff Girls Like.  Girls like weddings!  Girls like sex!  Girls sometimes try to have sex with boys who are not their boyfriends! Girls like making pouty faces!  Girls like having babies!  Girls enjoy engaging in banter! " She is responsible for the godawful love triangle of Series Five, which hampered my enjoyment so. "Amy Loves the Doctor!" "Rory Loves Amy!", "Amy Also Loves Rory", "The Doctor Doesn't Want to Have Sex with Anyone! (except maybe the hammy actress from E.R, but we'll leave that til later)." Rory is awful. He seems like a nice chap, of course, but he is not companion material in the same way that Micky was not companion material. Instead of having someone willing to throw themselves into the adventure, we get a mopey-git who spends most of the time either in the TARDIS or getting themselves into trouble due to their own stupidity out of it is not compelling viewing. River Song, I'm afraid to say is awful. When I first saw her in Silence in the Library (another Moffat corker I care to mention) although I didn't particularly like the actress, the idea of a constant companion to the Doctor meeting disjointedly through time was very intriguing. Sadly this turned out in the end to be a cheap rip-off of the Time Travellers Wife, which is an abysmal concept in the first place. River does not really endear herself to me. Mainly because of a string of risque sexual innuendos that leave me rather sad and disappointed in the quality of the writing rather than laughing, the predilection to open violence, which seems to me something that the Doctor would be completely repulsed by rather than attracted to, and most importantly, the fact that she is sexually attracted to the Doctor and (maybe) vice versa. If this doesn't mark me out as a out-of-touch fuddy duddy I don't know what will. I hate the idea of  open romance and the Doctor. I know the Doctor has a family. I know he has a granddaughter, so some form of hanky panky is there somewhere along the line, but the way romance is handled in the new series is just so bad it makes me cringe. What I loved about the Doctor was that he didn't entangle with that romantic guff. He showed his 'humanity'  (or Gallifreyeaness if you will) in other ways, through his deep bonds of friendship. His kindness, his generosity. It wasn't through an awkward snog. And this comforted me, and probably lots of other lonely nerdy teenagers watching at the time too. Dating and kissing and doing all manner of sexy things was touted during our teenage years as the be-all and end-all of existence. It was nice to come across something where it didn't shove it in your face. 
So overall, these companions to me are just bad.  And that we are meant to care and emotionally invest ourselves in such awful, poorly written and generally nasty characters is beyond me. They take up too much of the plots, story arcs and general dramatic competence. They make it, as I have said a million times, just another episode of Crossroads in Space. My slow descent into embitterment is generally not helped to by the general decline in quality of writing for Who from Moffat, which is somewhat mysterious given the excellence of his screenplay for Tintin and his writing for Sherlock. 'Let's Kill Hitler' and the 2011 Christmas Special rank as some of the most tactless, ham-fisted, poorly written, and utterly confusing piles of crud I've seen in my many years of watching Who (if you ask why this is so in confusion, I'm sorry, but there is no hope for you). They may even rival Love and Monsters in the badness stakes, and that is indeed saying something. I mean I have watched Doctor Who a long, long time and yes, of course a lot of the time I have seen some very bad episodes amongst the gold. But never before have I been disappointed in Who, that I can see the glimmers of competence and brilliance but it's hidden beneath an avalanche of cheap and deeply tedious writing techniques. And that makes me rather sad really.