Top 10 Problems with Reboot Doctor Who
Doctor Who has been the lynch pin of the BBC empire for decades, rising to new prominence when it came back in rebooted form in 2005. With the ability to write almost any story, Doctor Who has limitless possibilities.
Let me make this clear; I love Doctor Who. Oddly though, it's one of the only shows I can think of where I prefer the reboot over the originals. I know that's a sacrilegious statement but this is my article with my personal opinions so there you go! It's not that I can't watch the originals at all, but they are a product of the time in which they were made. Low-budget and high-imagination doesn't often go together. They rightly hold a place in British culture but this article is about the reboot, which has seen the show elevated to a global phenomenon and one that doesn't appear to be ending soon.
But there are problems with it. Here are my top 10 problems with reboot Doctor Who.
As always, these are in no particular order. Spoilers below.
1. Companions are too clever
This is my current, greatest bugbear with New Who. The earlier companions such as Rose Tyler and Martha Jones managed to avoid this somewhat, but most companions have a habit of pushing the Doctor to one side in his own show. With convoluted back-stories and timey-wimey shenanigans, the show tends to hinge on them and the Doctor trying to solve what and who they are. It's called "Doctor Who", it needs to be about the Doctor. The companion should be there only to allow the audience to relate to the story and I don't think anyone would be flying the TARDIS in a weekend.
2. Companions get used to space and time travel too quickly
Following on from the first companion comment, this is equally tied as my main gripe. The first time this really annoyed me was in the episode with Amy Pond and the giant space whale that housed the United Kingdom on it's back. This is only Smith and Gillan's second episode, with no montages to show that they had any additional adventures together before this, therefore she should still be in awe of everything. However, other than simply being in peril, she takes it all in her stride and as above, solves everything instead of the Doctor. I don't mind the Doctor not having all the answers but this was too soon in Eleven's run to be superseded by a regular human, no matter how gosh-darn pretty she is!
3. Capaldi's Doctor lacks energy and interest in the universe
Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor had an almost childish fascination with everything around him. He was incredibly tactile and showed utter glee at seeing something for the first time. Although there's a deliberateness to how Twelve is written, it's not very entertaining. Let me clear it up first that I think Capaldi is great. His stint in "Torchwood: Children of Earth" is worthy of profound recognition, but the writing for his version of the Doctor is poor when held up to the previous standards. In addition to his overly-miserable persona, he also lacks any great interest in the universe as a whole, seeming very bored of it as if he's seen everything already.
4. Storywriting tries to be clever before it tries to be a good story
On occasion, the story writers for this show seem to want to do something clever but don't really know how. What they seem to do is write a bare-bones story around a single moment which they seem to hope will validate the episode. Usually, it'll be in an uninteresting "bottle episode" and then suddenly they will put River Song in it or "the crack in time" at the very end to try to convince the audience that they saw something worthwhile.
5. The stunning music scores are gone
I don't exaggerate when I say that I think New Who would have failed had it not been for Murray Gold's epic scores. The reworking of the main themes, the Gallifrey tune and Tennant's final bow-out "Vale Decem" are just a few in a massive list of songs that you can easily listen to outside of the show. They gave gravitas and emotion to the episodes and elevated them above the average yardstick. This all started to fade somewhat with the arrival of Matt Smith's Doctor. Ironically, this season may have one of the most memorable riffs of all with "I Am The Doctor" playing consistently throughout all 3 of Smith's seasons, but other than that, there's very little to latch on to. Capaldi's seasons have been worse, with only his main Doctor theme standing out at all, and I feel they know this as it's the only thing they play every time they need a swell.
6. Evolve the enemies
I know it can be said that the Daleks have evolved and the Cybermen all became Iron Man, but they haven't really evolved beyond their main designs. Surely the Daleks must have some more fiendish plans up their... plungers? The Cybermen with their giant databases must be able to come up with something other than "arrive and zap".
Although I don't want the coloured Tonka toy Daleks back, I would like to see a little more variation to show that they are capable of reacting to being beaten by the Doctor, to show that unless the Doctor himself keeps learning, they may one day find a plan that works.
As for the Weeping Angels, they were brilliant. Let's see the glorious return of them but with some new twist or a more filled in back-story (although don't go full Alien: Covenant please!).
7. Stop bringing characters back from the dead
Doctor Who is primarily a family-friendly, mid-evening show. I know that, but I would like to see if have more teeth. If it wants to carry on backing out of the difficult stories, then bring back Torchwood and do the tougher stuff there. So far, nearly every dead or otherwise incapacitated companion has come back. Spoilers, but Rose is alive, Amy and Rory are fine, Clara is flying around the universe in a cafe, Martha got a job with Mickey and Donna had her brain reversed. Even Bill got a deus-ex machina reprieve at the end of Twelve's finale, leaving no emotional impact at all.
You need to give us more to care about and a greater chance to lose it. Having one-episode characters die is not emotionally resonant and is just sloppy and poor writing and at worst, insulting to the audience.
8. Give the TARDIS itself some development
I'm not sure if the TARDIS itself has been the centre of the plot since "The Doctor's Wife" or the episode where Clara went into it and weird flame things happened. The TARDIS is a character in the show even though it feels it should be a prop. They've shown it has a consciousness and made what might be the best episode ever in "The Doctor's Wife", but then proceeded to forget it all and move on. I want to know more about it please! I want it to be alive, to have resistance to doing what it's told and to frankly be a character again.
9. Allow the Doctor to lose now and then
As with point 7, the Doctor has to be able to lose something and I don't just mean for five minutes before someone pulls a plan out of their bottoms and solves everything. He needs to properly lose. As example, the Doctor needs to help a planet which is about to be overrun by Daleks but he can't win and has to watch the planet fall. Imagine the weight of it for him, having to watch from orbit as the planet is decimated. But then, you don't come back three episodes later and undo it. Let him taste pure, unadulterated failure; it will make the victories more sweet.
10. Make the Doctor visually identifiable again
My final gear grind is that the Twelfth Doctor is visually dull. Eccelstone's Ninth Doctor suffered the same issue but both Tennant and Smith could be recognised instantly. Even in silhouette, you could tell Matt Smith's Doctor from Tennants. Now, it's just a black coat, a dull and boring coat that has some red in it. Whoopie. Tom Baker would be bored to tears. The Doctor should be larger than life! Let's please see some sort of fashion faux pas when he returns in 2018.
No honourable mentions this time as I feel that would be too nit-picky and I love the show too much to slap it's chops any more!
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