Doctor Who: Did it suck?

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On Sunday the 7th October at 6:45 pm, a new era of the popular science fiction show ‘Doctor Who’ began, and the fans have come out in full force into a Captain America Civil War type scenario. Some have absolutely loved the new episode, and others less so. 

Jodie Whittaker brings her interpretation of The Doctor in her interesting, if average, debut.

The show, which is now running longer at 50 minutes and on Sundays for the first time in the revived run. So, what does the new Doctor Who have to offer? Well, the best way to break it down is to look at it Clint Eastwood style. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good

For a regeneration story, it wasn’t that bad. Doctor Who tends to be a bit hit and miss for regeneration stories. For every Christmas Invasion or Spearhead from Space, there’s a Castrovalva or a Time and the Rani. Fortunately, this is a case of the former. Despite my scepticism, the story was interesting. And the characters, for the most part, were likeable, if forgettable. Three companions look to be an interesting dynamic

The new theme arrangement is excellent. Kudos to the show’s new composer who has made his mark on the new theme music and the incidental music. The music in general, actually, is a marked improvement from Murray Gold for me. His compositions were too overdramatic for me, while the new composer; Segun Akinola, has a more subdued and atmospheric music that feels like it fits in a sci-fi show. I have no problems with that.

The best thing for me is that, for the first time in a long time, people actually died and it meant something, and that is a good thing. Death meaning death is what I think really raises the stakes, especially as death in Moffatt’s run was just a true love’s first kiss or time lord meddling away.

Finally, the villain design was imposing, cool, and there were some funny moments that got a smile.

The Bad

Besides being likeable, I felt the new characters were forgettable. While it is only the first episode, I can see the dynamic forming, and I feel as if this will develop, but for now, the new characters have little impact on me. As I alluded to, one of the characters died, but the impact was lost because we didn’t know the character. We only have had one episode to develop this character, but still.

Bradley Walsh, in particular, bugs me. He comes across as a bit of a dickhead in the show, and I feel as though he lacks credibility. He has acted before, but if you’re going to have him, at least say he cannot present The Chase anymore. Having Walsh on both sides playing this character and then presenting a game show disturbs the suspension of reality.

And the biggest problem, in the bad category at least, is Doctor Who herself. Jodie’s overacting was too distracting. Its like she was trying too hard to be David Tennant. For me, I prefer The Doctor to be more alien in general, but this is very much a more human doctor. I don’t like that. Its a shame, as Jodie isn’t a bad actor. I would like to know how much of this direction is just her interpretation, or the showrunners.

The Ugly

In this format, I have considered ‘bad’ to mean areas for development or improvement. Things that either you can get used to or will probably change over time. For the ugly, however, these are systematic problems which I really do not like. 

Starting with Ryan, he bugs me. He is a disabled character with dyspraxia. I also have this condition, and I am not a fan of this. For starters, I don’t think his portrayal of the condition is accurate, and I suspect it’s been used to fill a quota than to tell a compelling story. I don’t like that. It reminds me of ‘The A Word’ a show starring Christopher Eccleston, which is about a family with an autistic kid, where the condition was not well covered and it was used to tell a story about horrible characters. I don’t like it. It could be argued further that casting was done to fill diversity quotas, but that really is an argument used for people who want to attack the casting of a woman.

On a technical level, Chris Chibnall is someone I have a large problem with. There is a lot of Chibnall tropes which were apparent in his 4 episodes beforehand. These were apparent in this episode. Pacing was off, the villain’s motivation was not clear to me (hunting? we live in a society where people go to Africa to kill animals, how is this different?). There was an arbitrary use of the sonic screwdriver in the episode, and this is a bad thing. Oh, and there was an arbitrary Chibnall countdown.

Did Doctor Who Suck?

I ranked it a 4/10 on initial viewing, but I will bump it up to 5/10 after a bit of consideration. It didn’t suck, but it was average. Story-wise, it was great. Character-wise, it suffered. This isn’t the doctor I would do this sort of story with. Ultimately, The Woman Who Fell to Earth shows development, and if the issues are fixed in the bad section, I would probably like this new run a lot more. For now, however, it needs development.

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About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

3 comments

Discuss.

  • Agree with you 100%.
    Hit nail on the head.
    Poor writing, uninspired companions. Flaccid villains .
    Villain had teeth embedded in face??
    Even the photograpy was dull.
    Jodie Whitaker has an annoying and hard to follow voice. She appears incompetent and lost.
    Makes Matt Smith look virile.
    Second episode worse than first.
    Do they not have a budget?
    Was hoping for a great Doctor after being unable to watch Capaldi.
    Went from fair (Smith) to poor Capaldi, and now unbearable.
    Will watch a few more episodes before firing up the dvd for Tennant, Eccleston, and Baker.

    • Thank you for your kind words, my friend. I take it you’re American? I’m from the North West of England, so the accent really doesn’t bother me as much. As for Smith and Capaldi, I liked them. I’d suggest, however, you wait until December, when I do a series overview post on Series 11, and I’ll touch on a lot more. Keep reading.

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