Doctor Who Rant: I hated Russell T Davis’ run

D

You read the title, and no, I will not apologise. I cannot stand RTD’s run. Looking back on a lot of it, while it did a lot for Doctor Who, by bringing it into the 21st Century, a lot of it isn’t as good as I remember. And my problem with it is that people GLORIFY it. And they say Moffatt’s run sucks, that he is ruining the show. Are you people mad? Well, let me see if I can explain why it isn’t as good as so many think it is. Just my opinions and my observations.

I cannot state this enough, I hated the RTD era. This will no doubt shock and infuriate some Whovians, But watching the new who and the classic who around the same time, I saw the flaws of each era, namely the big holes in the RTD era. I liked RTD’s run at the time (when I was 9-13 years old), and while I still like a lot of it now, there’s a lot I have a problem with. So my argument is mostly hindsight, after going through the first 4 years of the Moffatt era,  watching classic who, and rewatching the RTD episodes.

I can boil the problems down to four main things, with a lot of side ones too. So I will name a few minor issues:

– The Music- the dramatic choir is horrendously overused, and made my ears bleed.

– Too much Death

-The pacing of the episdoes (though this carried over to the Moffatt era too)

-All the running. I mean, come on. Really? You had to pad the episode out with running, to add ‘excitement’. That really bugged me, and it still does. Now, to the main issues…

-The Modern Cybermen (New Who Cybermen suck)

The first of my four problems, starting with the smallest, is the CGI and special effects.The ugly, horrendous effects bug me, probably more than they should. Yeah, better budget, and crappy effects. Classic who had beautiful, if slightly cheesy, visual effects which looked cheap, but were creepy. Giant CGI blob with teeth isn’t really scary. Yeah, physical effects are expensive, but they add so much. Old episodes used lots of visual effects and make ups, and it worked so well. Even the cheapest effects added so much. Watch Spearhead from Space, the Autons look nasty cheap, but very terrifying. Or the old 60’s Cybermen. THAT is scary. And they understood Cybermen, that they were what were could become. They were a cautionary tale. Now they’re evil robots

But I am getting started. I’m just getting to the first of my major major problems now.The companions. ALL the Companions from 2005-2010 sucked ass. We had strong companions like Leela, Sarah Jane Smith, Nyssa, Tegan, Ace, Turlough, Adric, Ian, Barbara, Susan, and many more in the classic series. What did we get in 2005? Rose. I hate Rose. I resent her. She added nothing to the show, besides being an out of work singer who needed money (But Billie Piper is a great actress, I must admit). She wasn’t a positive role model, she wasn’t proactive, she was a damsel in distress. And she sucked. When she came in 2007, Martha added nothing, she did nothing. Look back on Martha’s run, and she barely did anything. And  then there’s Donna…I liked Donna. Certainly the best of a bad bunch, what did they do? Wiped her memory. She went through all that change, and then she got reset at the end of series 4, and all that development was for nothing.

Then, the two cardinal sins of Who. The first was the romance. The Romance. For a character, who lost his life and his family (until the retcon in 2013; I’ll get to that). The Doctor never, ever, ever, ever, EVER fell in love with his companions, for GOOD REASON. He is an alien, who is practically immortal (with multiple bodies and personalities, which will change him completely, so whenever he changes, you fell in love with a new man or woman). To be with a human who has a limited lifespan would bring unnecessary pain to them both, knowing they can’t be together forever (Watch Highlander, that film explores that concept very well). He gets with a human, and they become separated forever. Unwarranted pain.

Then, the other sin, making him human. I resent RTD for ruining the Doctor, making him too human and too emotional. And that diluted the character. Making him this essentially ‘Angry, Lonely God’ made me less sympathetic to him, and ruined the character completely for me then. That shouldn’t happen. Two moments angered me. First, when the Master was shot and died (the first time around). When he became angry with him for dying, that just made me think ‘Yeah, but HE TRIED TO  KILL YOU’. That pissed me off. And then the regeneration, all that build up, all that drama, the chorus, the single tear, AND THEN HIS LAST LINE ABSOLUTELY KILLED IT FOR ME. ‘I don’t want to go’. That’s what they ended his run on. Why? It killed Tennant’s run for me. It ruined it. It tried to hard to make us feel bad, and it was just unnecessary melodramatics

For me, Moffatt’s run is the best of New Who since New Who started. Despite many small but notable duds, Moffatt has made Doctor Who return to it’s roots, and I love that. It gave The Doctor’s character and back-story mystery again with the 50th Anniversary (I enjoyed that, it gave the tenth doctor some credibility again, and John Hurt as Doctor 8.5 was awesome as heck, feel free to disagree).

The Ponds were good, strong companions, and gave us a male companion we haven’t seen (Yeah, Captain Jack sucked too, and Adam…remember him). Rory was likeable and Memorable, as was Amy Pond. It also made The Doctor Alien; while keeping the emotion. He always did and stuff, but his character more than makes up for that.

It reminded us; well it certainly reminded me, that The Doctor was old, battle scarred, shell shocked, with lots of tragedy in the centuries he’s travelled Time and Space, but he soldiered on. He soldiered on with a smile. You think the childish act sucked and was a stupid thing to do to his Doctor. I read into it differently, I saw the childish act AS an act. An act to return to the pre war innocence, before the time war. It was a coping mechanism, to help him come to terms with the suffering he endured. I loved that. I even cried when he regenerated, all that drama masked with a smile, and a comforting speech, telling me it’s all OK, and things must change from time to time. This is why Matt Smith is one of my favourite Doctors, who is in my Top 3 (Haven’t ranked Capaldi quite yet, probably won’t until after his run is over).

And Capaldi rocks as The Doctor. He is a doctor who would fit in any era. He can be gentlemanly like the third, dramatic like the 10th, intelligent like the first, and be dark like the Seventh, Ninth and War Doctors. He is a well rounded doctor in all aspects. To be fair though. I can’t say the same about Clara, but she had big boots to fill, and I can’t get invested in her backstory. It is so messed up, there is no character there. She’s just a smiling face. And they’ve tried, but it doesn’t seem to work. And Danny Pink..erm I don’t like him. I must admit, companions with the Moffatt era have been turning sour as of late, I must admit, but I can stomach them. The music is still better, the effects are also better too. Though the Cybermen have taken another dive, but the clips from the newest episode (to be broadcasted on Saturday the first of November 2014) gives me some hope.

To close my Argument, I have come to this conclusion. Overall, I think RTD’s era had very big flaws, as does Moffatt’s run. But I like Moffatt’s run so much better. it is a much more rounded series with him at the helm, the problems are more general and less specific, most of the ones stemming from RTD’s era have been fixed, or are less prevalent and less annoying. For me, Moffatt has been providing the right amount of action, drama, and mystery that those who watch Doctor Who know and love.

About the author

Ben

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

3 comments

Discuss.

  • Good post, Ben. Do you not think that the whole Cyberman-Brigadier ending to the series 8 finale was a bit insensitive to the late great Nicholas Courtney?

    What are your thoughts?

    • Well, that ending solidified my theory that Cybermen are evil robots, and not a mirror of humanity’s advancement in science and preservation that Kit Pedlar came up with. The Master was good though. I just wish Clara left.

      If I wrote the sorry, I would have had just the Cybermen or The Master as the villain. The master creates an army of zombies, like some are skeletons, some are less decayed. Or the Cybermen offering a way to cheat death, going back to the original idea of the Cybermen being self preservers, who conquer planets not because they’re evil, but a lost in translation objective to stay alive and keep your family alive.

  • I completely agree with your stance on the Cyberman’s involvement. I think that Moffat’s decision was made as a time saving technique. After all, you save a lot of time by not having to involve a backstory to a character because that context has already been established, right?

    Although I do acknowledge that your “zombie” idea could have been just as relevant had we not been in such a tight time frame.

    (This is Mark Lee by the way, loving the blog mate!)

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