Doctor Who Season 12 REVIEW
Doctor Who Season 12 REVIEW
Director: Jamie Magnus Stone, Lee Haven Jones, Nida Manzoor and Emma Sullivan.
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill
Doctor Who was once a must-see experience despite tinfoil budgets but the latest season is lame, writes PAT PILCHER.
As a kid I loved Doctor Who. It was fun and even – dare I say it – terrifying in parts. So, you can imagine my glee in 2005, when the BBC announced they were resurrecting the series.
The minds of many a die-hard sci-fi fan were fizzing with anticipation. Imagine the plots that could be crafted and enhanced using decent special effects instead of the cheap and nasty stuff of the ’60s and ’70s!
The first few episodes of the 2005 reboot were promising. The producers built a sense of mystery around the Doctor, who was played by a capable Christopher Eccleston. Cleverly, the producers wove in themes from the original series, which helped draw in older fans as well as kids.
Unfortunately, from such a promising start the series went downhill rapidly. As Doctors came and went, the stories became increasingly silly, often bordering on fever-dream-like incoherence. While this was fine for younger viewers, older fans wanted more detail, ingenious plots and stories that were less reliant on made-up alien technology to save the day.
The controversy that sprung up around the announcement that a woman was to pilot the Tardis might have divided fandom, but the furore also brought the show to a broader audience. Controversy aside, Jodie Whittaker stepped into Peter Capaldi’s shoes and is still doing a very capable job. (It wasn’t that hard to improve on Capaldi, whose one-dimensional shouty Doctor made him the worst doctor to date).
So, while the Daleks are still menacing and Cybermen chilling, storytelling remains the show’s Achilles heel. It seems to consist of reused plots with cosmetic tweaks to keep the kiddies happy. Most seem to involve the following:
The Doctor arrives on planet/spacecraft/London in the Tardis. The Doctor engages in light banter with his/her companion. Crisis starts, more light banter with companion. Doctor gets shouty and runs around while waving his/her sonic screwdriver around. Timey whimey stuff and more light banter. The crisis is magically averted.
While this might be a satisfying formula for a few episodes, it gets monotonous and predictable very quickly. Making matters worse, much of what happens in each episode seems to lack coherence, with time travel, the sonic screwdriver or another alien tech magically used to fix things, often with little to no explanation that makes any sense at all.
The lack of depth to the show is also a mystery. When Russell T Davies rebooted Doctor Who back in 2005, he could have had the pick of screenplay writers, choosing from the incredibly deep and talented pool that the BBC seems to have in abundance. Yet it appears that the writers selected by Chibnall had little to no TV experience and this continues to show to this very day. For fans, it must be particularly galling given the sheer depth of existing mythology that writers have access to with the show, which has accumulated a steady volume of storied history since its first run back in 1963.
So, what is needed to improve Doctor Who? I’d argue it needs a harder, darker, and grittier edge. A delicate balancing act would also be required to make sure it continues to resonate with kiddy fans. I’d also like to see the show pick up on, and use previous themes and events to build a sense of continuity. Hell, even a backwards written story arc like that used by Babylon 5 could add something. It isn’t as if the BBC has much to lose by trying.