Monday, March 12, 2007

For fuck's sake, Who Fandom...

I would just like to make the next announcement.

The next person I meet who gives a rant as to how shithouse series two is and how it's gone to the dogs, I will murder in cold blood.

Don't say you were warned.

Now, that wholy remarkable book, The Completely Useless Encyclopedia, notes that fandom is a curious beast and that every fan decides that the current output of the show is crap, not half as good as it was x years ago. Despite the fact they said the exact same thing x years ago, when the show was crap and not half as good as it was y years ago, before they were born or even watching. Now, the reissue of TCUE rips the shit out of series two on many occasions but this is forgivable as a) they did the exact same thing to every other era and b) the book was specifically about them ripping the shit out of new stuff.

However, the number of "official" intellectual fans who are banging on about how Doctor Who is doomed bugs me. Especially as they were all screaming that this was the best TV one year earlier. Mike Morris - MIKE MORRIS! My guru, the bloke who's tossed around ideas inspire me to create story arcs! The guy who was impressed by my analysis of Planet of Fire! Who, unless he's reviewed a story, I refuse to comment on! A guy whose opinion I respect - has given two rants about the second series and Christmas special, and as for Kaldor "Subtext, you moron, SUBTEXT" City...

I'd just like to sum up the general criticism.

1) The new stuff is crap.
See my comment on this being part of being a fan.

2) David Tennant isn't half as good as I was expecting.
Bollocks. He just isn't what you were expecting, which is entirely different. Everyone points to shows where he plays gritty serious characters and goes, "Ah! THAT'S how he should play it!" Steven Moffat famously decided Tennant had the right stuff when he played Carlisle in Blackpool... a character who, on paper, was just like the Ninth Doctor as played by Christopher Eccleston. Is it any wonder he plays it differently, rather than aiming for redoing his Cassanova or Carlisle or Fergus the Looney?

The fact is, David Tennant's Doctor is frankly, better for the show. There. I said it. Put the gun down, bitch, I ain't finished. Chris Eccleston was ... let's just say it... fantastic. The Ninth Doctor was brilliant. He shoulda stayed longer. Etc. But the fact is the Ninth Doctor couldn't last. An untrustworthy, morally-bankrupt character who can barely stay sane WITH a beautiful blonde teenager isn't going to work in the long run, and this is supposed to be a children's HERO!

Imagine Eccleston in Attack of the Graske. It wouldn't work. You wouldn't risk stepping aboard the TARDIS with him at the helm! You saw what happened to the last two, both abandoned without a second thought and given lots of crap in the meantime! The Ninth Doctor could screw up, get you killed, give up... arguably, that makes him the more interesting character, but, remember this sport's fans. Doctor Who is for kids. The ideal role model is not and never will be a bloke who wanders round threatening people with big fucking guns EVEN if he was never going to use it. The show itself said this guy wasn't up to it. That's why Rose was there, to make him better, to get us back/forward to David Tennant. It was the story of how the Doctor found his groove.

The Tenth Doctor is called smug, irritating, etc. But remember, the fictional character of the Doctor is having one of the best times of his ENTIRE life. He is happy! He's travelling with his best friend, having so much fun, who cares about what caused that hole in time or what "torch wood" means! And he pays for that. Like the fifth Doctor, the Tenth's confidence in himself was shattered when he lost his friend. Forever. And on top of that, he immediately started to devolve back to the harsher character before he met her - which is exactly what Rose BEGGED him not to!

Now the Doctor is trying to get on WITHOUT the massive blonde with the cute teeth... or visa versa. Now he's on the look out for repeated memes, trying not to let himself go ape shit and brutally abort spider babies. He's evolving as a character. Which is what the Ninth Doctor did. The only difference is, this one has more time to do it with.

He's the first Doctor since McCoy to have that chance as a given.

3) God damn it, Rose is a smug bitch!
Now, there IS some evidence to this and unsurprisingly it comes from the worse script in Series Two - The Idiot Lantern. Where, after losing a mother, a father and her boyfriend, who she only realized seconds before saying goodbye how rude she'd been to, how cruelly she'd treated him... and she's over it. Totally.

Would it have been so difficult to shove in a few lines? Have the trip to see Elvis a desperate attempt by the Doctor to make Rose smile again? Have the last scene with the toast also have Rose saying she'll not dwell in misery because Mickey would hate that?

Of course, this isn't ENTIRELY Gattis' fault. RTD grunted, "People move on" in justification and Gattis maybe thought TIL was set years after Rise of the Cybermen. Hell, TIL was, in the original running order, right after The Runaway Bride, which saw Rose... getting over Mickey. Yeah, she was pissed off when Mickey joined but look at all the reasons:

a) now Mickey will be in danger every time the TARDIS lands
b) it's not like Adam or Jack ended up happy
c) she thinks she'll have to live with "No, it's RICKY!" arguments
d) the Doctor asked her opinion as an afterthought
e) she won't be able to flirt with the Doctor any more...

And then she pulls herself together and gives Mickey the tour of the fifty-first century, getting a new hairdo, a tight T-shirt, and wrapping her arms around him every chance she gets!

The fact is, Rose is not so bad out of context. The trouble is we see her in The Christmas Invasion (were her confidence vanishes completely); New Earth (where she's possessed by a bitch); Tooth and Claw (where she is SUPPOSED to be smug); School Reunion (when she is SUPPOSED to be a bitch); The Girl in the Fireplace (where she is SUPPOSED to be a bitch); and Rise of the Cybermen (where she is SUPPOSED to be a bitch).

Imagine if Love and Monsters had been shown instead of TIL. When we see Rose as a hurt girl determined to protect her mother at any costs, and forgives Elton when she learns he's lost both the girl he loves and his mother. It makes sense.

If Rose WAS such a bitch, then I remind you of:
- wishing Cassandra luck
- calming down Flora
- inviting Sarah Jane aboard
- urging Tommy to reconcile with his father
- pulling together the team of SB6
- forgiving Elton
- trying to get Sec to exterminate her to save Mickey's life
- realizing that the Doctor won't cope without her.

She was willing to abandon everything she cared about for the man she loved. To sacrifice her life to stop evil. To risk brain damage to save a hospital full of hypocritical cats.

4) Torchwood is a crap arc
Indeed it is. Explaining what the word means on its second appearance is not good. Exploring the beginning of it in its third is dumb.

But the thing is, Bad Wolf was a mystery. Torchwood isn't. The Doctor's total ignorance of the organisation is a statement in itself! It's like the first episode of Destiny of the Daleks - we all know who's going to be behind the strange radioactive drilling, just as we know who's behind British Alien Defence. The Doctor doesn't. We can see him walking to his doom and, like in Earthshock, the niave cheer makes the crushing defeat all the worse.

However, all the signs are the Saxon arc will be better. Hopefully, the Doctor will actually try to find out who he is, much like Angel going on the offensive the moment he twigs that Wolfram and Heart are getting mixed up in his business. The fact the seeds have been sown in two different shows also says something.

Bad Wolf asked us "what is that?" Torchwood asked us "when will they come after the Doctor?"

5) Crap continuity
Yep. But look at the evidence! Read the pitch document for series one - everything makes sense, it all fits together neatly and the episodes happen the same way as we ultimately saw them. If RTD had stuck to his original outline, series two would have gone:

New Earth
The Girl in the Fireplace
School Reunion
Rise of the Cybermen
The Age of Steel
The Runaway Bride
The Impossible Planet
The Satan Pit
The Idiot's Lantern
Love and Monsters
Fear Her
Army of Ghosts
Tooth and Claw - the Christmas special where the ending would be a twist, the Doctor creating the very organization that just wrecked his life!

So the message to RTD is - first guess is the best.

Thankfully, Martha's intro suggests there will be a rigid order to Series Three.

6) It's childish now
No, you're just not being distracted by Slitheen flatulence and burping bins and vomit ice cubes.

7) It shows the total decline of western values that RTD is now doing 'play it safe'
Name one show that decides to tamper with a winning formula. Go on. Is 24 going to abandon the real time element? Supernatural forget the ghosts? The Bill focus on the plight of the Natterjack Toad?

This all reeks of the people who rubbished Season 17, then JNT and went back.

8) The music is too loud
Then fuck off. I don't want to talk to you no more you empty headed animal.

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