OK, don’t get me wrong. I like Dr Who. I like sci-fi. I like good telly. BUT I haven’t seen much Dr Who since it came back with Christopher Eccleston, I saw one or two and then maybe a couple more with David Tennant, but not many. I haven’t seen any since Matt Smith took over. Then last night I thought I’d give it a go. What was all that about? I couldn’t get to grips with it at all. By the time the opening credits rolled (after just one scene) I was confused, by the time Hitler appeared I was baffled and by the time it finished I’d decided that I may never watch Dr Who again.
I know it has continuing plots, I know I can’t just expect storylines developed over many episodes to make perfect sense immediately and I know that there are millions of devoted fans who probably know roughly what it all meant and thoroughly enjoyed it. But where does that leave the casual viewer? How are you supposed to start watching it? One of my favourite TV shows is The Wire, when its creator David Simon was asked about how the casual viewer was supposed to handle his show he replied ‘Fuck the casual viewer’. I completely agree with him. At least, I completely agree with him when it comes to something like The Wire – intelligent, adult-oriented drama. With a Saturday night family show like Dr Who there should certainly be space for clever plots and complex character development but you should be able to dip in. It seems to have become so impossibly convoluted and inescapably self-referential that I just can’t find a foot hold.
The producers seem to be deliberately, wilfully trying to make something aimed at a family audience as complex as Inception.
Old Dr Who used to have storylines made up of 4-6 weekly episodes. You got the most from it if you watched them all but you could also watch the odd episode and still understand it (after all, how hard is it to understand ‘the doctor escapes from unconvincing monster through wobbly set using some kind of ill-thought out prop’?). It seems that now you have to have watched at least the previous two series of the programme not just to understand all the references but to have even the foggiest idea what is bleeding hell is going on. I understand that last night’s episode was the first after a ‘series break’ and we were effectively watching an episode from the middle of the stack but I doubt even the most dedicated fan of the show knew what it was all meant to mean. The producers seem to be deliberately, wilfully trying to make something aimed at a family audience as complex as Inception. Or Inception if you missed the first half hour.
I am in no way advocating a return to the bad production values, bad writing, bad acting or bad baddies of the old Dr Who, but please can we have something that I can watch and enjoy without having to buy box sets of the previous series? Can’t it just make some sort of sense within the 45 minutes it’s on? Can’t they make it penetrable?
I may well be utterly wrong and I’m sure that a torrent of abuse will inevitably fill the comments section but is there anyone out there that agrees with me, that the whole thing is too complex? Is it all just bluff and bluster but an Emperor’s new clothes shroud means that no-one’s brave enough to say so?
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