So just in case this post gets found by some hardcore nerd-ragers, I will come right out and say that I am a recent Dr. Who fan. I’ve only ever seen the new series. Well, actually that’s not exactly true; when I was a kid, I think I ran across one or two of the old episodes when I was staying up way past my bedtime, Saturday Night Live was over and I didn’t like whatever show (especially Baywatch) NBC played after it to fill the slot. I remember that there was a companion named Peri. I remember a Doctor with a really long scarf and the most immense Jew-fro I’ve ever seen. I remember something about robots (which, now that I’ve watched the new series, I figure were probably Cyber Men, but maybe not) and I think Peri might have been frozen in a block of ice at some point. It’s all pretty sketchy. The hardcore fans will probably scoff, claiming that I’ve some newb with no right to comment on the series without seeing any of the old episodes. And maybe they’re right. But I don’t care; my memories start with the new series, and that’s where I draw my interest in Dr. Who from.
I just finished watching Season 7, the newest episodes on Netflix, so I thought I’d do another installment of my “Thin Line” posts (if you missed the post about Nebraska, you can find it HERE). Here I’m going to share my thoughts and feelings about the things I’ve loved and hated about 7 seasons of Dr. Who. To say that there are spoilers in this post should go without saying. If, like River Song, you hate spoilers then I suggest you quit reading, immediately binge watch all 7 seasons, and then come back. If you can handle a little knowledge and snarky commentary, then read on my geek brothers and sisters. Read on.
Love: Christopher Eccleston, the 9th Doctor
You’ll never forget your first Doctor. He was dark but snarky. I loved the tone that he set; unfortunately he was only around for the first season before being replaced by David Tenant. He’s goofy looking but sexy at the same time, like that neighbor down the street who you’d totally bang if you had the chance but you still think looks sort of like a muppet. Even though most of the big emotional scenes between Rose and the Doctor happened during the Tenant run, I still though Rose had the best chemistry with Eccleston. Ahh, the memories.
Love: The Daleks
They are uber-creepy (sorry, I don’t know how to make that umlaut thing happen on my keyboard) with their rasping metallic voices. Even when I don’t particularly love what’s happening in the story (like every time they open up to show the weird purplish snot creature that lives inside – really?!) there is something unnerving about them. I think part of it has to do with their design. It’s design is so odd and yet successful that it makes them seem much more alien than other villains like the Cyber Men (more on them below!). I also loved the Dalek asylum at the beginning of season 7; creatures who are so filled with hatred and destruction, and yet they won’t actually bring themselves to kill those among their numbers who are “crazy” or imperfect. And it’s the first time we meet Clara, though we don’t know it yet (more on her later too!).
Hate: The Cyber Men
Relentless robot killing machines that constantly upgrade themselves to fight you even harder. I don’t mean to start nerd turf war here, but they sound a lot like the Sentinels from the X-men comics, and the fact that they are supposed to be so absolutely unstoppably makes it that much harder to take when the Doctor always manages to swoop in and, well, stop them. It just feels a little tired to me – robots are going to kill us, beware the AI, etc. Yawnsville. Plus, as I noted before, they don’t really feel like aliens because they just look like a robot out of some 60s sci fi show…which they were. Nerd props to the show for maintaining the classic look (as opposed to updating them like the reimagined Battlestar Galatica did with the Cylons), but they need something more than just another upgrade to make them really scary.
Love: Donna Noble
Absolutely, bar none my favorite companion. I was so glad they didn’t rehash the tired old “I’m in love with the Doctor” thing with her. She wasn’t in love with the Doctor, at least no romantically, but their bond was intense and special. A beautiful friendship without all of the stupid “sexual tension” crap people feel like they need to throw in. Men and women can just be friends without banging their private parts together. And the end of her run on the show had me sobbing! That’s right – I showed actual human emotions! It was beautiful and tragic and just made your heart break, to see her revert back to how she had been before she knew the Doctor, with no memories of everything she had seen and done, all of the lives she had helped save. Ugh, I still get chills…
I want to find whoever came up with that stupid robot dog thing and punch them right in the taint. Right. In. The. Taint.
Love: Rose Tyler
She’s sassy and maybe just a bit low rent; how can you not love a girl like that? Just like I love my first Doctor, I also love my first companion. Billie Piper had a great mix of naïve charm, sex appeal, wit, and stubbornness to make Rose a really likeable character. The show is about the Doctor, but I’m usually much more interested in the companions, and even though she’s just a simple shopgirl with a doltish boyfriend and an abrasive but compassionate mother, I was much more interested in where her story was going than in the Doctor’s. Their sort-of final sort-of goodbye at the end of her run was another episode of waterworks (even though it got partially negated by the fact that she was able to connect with the Doctor in a later season).
Hate: “Hey, did you hear about our spinoff, Torchwood?”
I get it: you’ve got a spinoff show, and you want to pull in your core audience. But during season two, I swear that the writers had some character referencing Torchwood about every fifteen fucking seconds. I heard it so often during that season, sometimes I got confused about which show I was actually watching. We know, there’s a spinoff. Can we please get back to the story now?
Hate: Martha Jones
So, I don’t want to hate Martha Jones; when they first introduced her, I was excited to see a beautiful woman of color as the companion. But that became her one unique feature; it wasn’t long before it became clear that this character was just a rehash of Rose Tyler, except upper class, smarter, and black. The whole unrequited-love-of-the-Doctor story has been done (Can you hear me, Sarah Jane?!) and they didn’t really give Martha anything unique to carry her forward. Hardcore nerds will watch the show just for the Doctor, regardless of the story or the supporting cast; for converts like me, you need to make the ensemble, and especially the companions, as interesting and provocative as the Doctor, if not more so. Martha Jones, unfortunately, just couldn’t deliver.
Love: Apparently David Tennant has a huge…
Dick. What, did you think I was making some clever wordplay there? Nope. This time I’m the queen of the single entendre. Billie Piper apparently said in an interview that a friend of hers slept with the 10th Doctor and said he’s packing more than just some quirky acting chops. She started jokingly referring to him on set as “David Ten Inch.” There are pictures floating around the net that don’t look too promising, but perhaps he’s a grow-er and not a show-er. Besides, it’s probably bigger when it’s inside… (Here’s a link to a post that carried the story: HERE)
Hate: Amy Pond
The girl who waited. And let me tell you, I kept waiting, too – for her character to get more interesting! She was sort of snarky like Rose and she had a few good moments, but I never really gave a damn about her at all. The whole teaser thing where they made you believe that Amy was confessing her love for the Doctor and then she’s really talking about Rory – how many times are you going to try to pull that and expect us to go along with it?! I’m not a goldfish; my memory does span back farther than 10 seconds. The little plastic castle is NOT a surprise…
The only thing that finally redeemed Amy Pond for me in the end was…
Love: Rory Williams
This could have easily been another hate entry. When was first introduced, he was such a useless character. His ineptitude was the worst we had seen since Mickey, Rose’s dopey-eyed ex-flame. He seemed to be there for slapstick purposes only, and to provide a foil against the ever-resourceful Doctor. But then he became the Centurion. His devotion to Amy Pond across thousands of years thawed my cold dead heart, and made him a much more interesting character. Suddenly I could understand the bond between Amy and Rory; I could see why she would love him. During Amy and Rory’s last episode, I actually got emotional. I wanted them to be reunited. I wanted them to be together. And mostly I just wanted Amy to go away. But I was glad that their ending wasn’t the tragic ending they’d given Donna; they were separated from the Doctor, but at least they got to live out their lives together.
Love/Hate: The Weeping Angels
The first episode featuring them was scary as hell. After that, it sort of went downhill until the 1930s episode where even the Statue of Liberty was an angel. Really? Is there ever going to actually be a moment where someone, somewhere isn’t looking at the Statue of Liberty? Maybe not on her typical perch, but by the time she’s creeping up on an apartment building in lower Manhattan, she’s probably attracted a little attention. What redeemed it for me was the ending it gave to Amy and Rory’s timeline: bittersweet, but absolutely appropriate. Amy has to make a final, gut-wrenching choice between Rory and the Doctor, and proves that for all the word games the writers had played over the last couple of seasons, it was always, always Rory. That it was the last of the angels to tear them from the Doctor but also reunite them in the past was poetic and perfectly done…even though it’s not clear how the angel actually did it, considering the Doctor and River Song were both staring right at Amy, and by extension the angel, when it happened. But that’s my English major brain wanting to pick it apart. I’d rather just appreciate the exquisite sadness of it.
I’m sure there’s probably already more to her story (I have just watched the 7 seasons available on Netflix), but I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of this impossible girl. I loved the way they crafted her story and placed her into multiple timelines, and her first appearance as the starship commander who was turned into a Dalek was very poignant, and a perfect introduction. I also love that there is much more affection between her and the Doctor and there seems to be a budding relationship; I hope it doesn’t get bogged down in the usual unrequited “will they or won’t they” bullshit that played out with Rose and Martha and even a little bit with Amy Pond. We still haven’t met the young River Song, so perhaps a love triangle is brewing?
So there you have it, for what it’s worth: my thoughts on what I’ve loved and hated about the 7 seasons of the new Dr. Who. Being a glamorous diva, I do like to show off my geek street cred from time to time. It’s not all rhinestones and Urban Decay; sometimes it’s Time Lords and Cylons and spandex-clad superheroes. Who says geek and glam can’t live together in harmony?