Sunday, January 27, 2013

Doctor Who is Dead to Me

Hey y'all.  I know, I know, I should have my next Top Ten Top Ten up.  But I have college, and naps are important to my health.  Besides that, I found something else I really wanted to talk about: Doctor Who.  It's all over the bookstore I work at now.  There's scarves, hats, TARDIS cookie jars, salt shakers, LEGO sets, magnetic floaty TARDISes, Dr. Who Yatzee, and tons of T-shirts.  Now, if only all this had come out when the show was doing better.

So, I was watching Dr. Who again the other day.  Quite frankly, I dread it.  On the one hand, I've liked it in the past and I want to keep up with it, but on the other, I just don't want to see them ruin it anymore. 

I'm not the biggest fan of DW, because I've only seen some Tom Baker and the new show.  Still, it's quite painful what happened.  I loved Christopher Eccleston's Doctor, because he was tough, crazy, and when he was mad you felt it.  While at first I liked Tennant, he just turned into a desperately whiny emo kid for the third and fourth season.  I understand he missed Rose, but come on, when you spend every single episode doing that "OMG this thing is so terrible now watch me spill waterfalls out of my face" look, then we have a problem. 

Honestly, the end of his tenure was the absolute worst.  The Dead Planet was just plain stupid.  I didn't mind the Waters of Mars, but they totally wasted his ending rant by making it so close to the end of his time as the Doctor.  He started to flip out, deciding that since he was the last Time Lord, he would get to do whatever he wanted to.  Now THAT'S the Doctor I wanted to watch.  I wanted to see him manipulate the time stream completely by his emotions, losing hold of his inhibitions and just going nuts.  What would a crazy Time Lord look like?  We never got the chance to see.

And his last episode was so stupid.  It was atrocious.  I can't even go into detail about all the unnecessary characters, the Master's stupid condition, the Master's ridiculous plan (the part with Obama was funny, though), and a really unrealistic bit where Tennant rides a crashing spaceship down to earth's surface.  It wasn't even his ship, either.  Smashing other people's ships is just plain rude. 

The worst part of it was, they made the return of the Time Lords look bad, as if they had suddenly become evil.  Now hold on.  A season or so back the Doctor was so lonely for one of his own species that he was willing to spare the Master's life, even though the Master had just ruled the planet for a year and planned to invade other worlds.  What the crap. 

But I was optimistic.  There was going to be a new Doctor and a new writer.  It was going to get better, right?  Wrong.  At that point, I had to apologize to Tennant (symbolically) for ever criticizing him.  As it turns out, Tennant's a real actor.  It became clear the first few episodes that Matt Smith showed up.  Tennant suffered from bad writers, and also bad editors: they edited in way too many of his crying shots.  And I don't want to watch Tennant cry every episode.  If you watch season 2 again, you can actually see him smile.  That's right, you have to go back to his first year on to see him smile.  And it's a great smile. 

I have a "smiling test" for Doctors.  If their smile makes me smile, they win.  Tom Baker, Eccleston, and Tennant all win.  Has Matt Smith smiled even once?  Not cracking an upward side of his mouth, but actually genuinely smiling?  Not that I saw.  Of Matt Smith, I've seen season five and a bit of six.  I don't really want to watch any more. 

The main trouble with Smith is that we don't know who he is.  With the other two new doctors, there were moments early on that described what personality they would have.  Eccleston's moment came when he and Rose were walking down the street together, and revealed a Doctor whose temperment went up and down at a whim, but was overall very emotionally stable.  And he liked to say fantastic a lot.  Tennant's moment came when he was ranting at the blood-control aliens.  It revealed that his Doctor talked a lot about "second chances", wild attitudes, and had deep emotional turmoil going on within him. 

Matt Smith never had this moment.  There's the bit with fish sticks and custard, but all that does is remind people of the South Park joke.  It doesn't give him any personality.  He goes around with only the shallowest personality, like a vage imitation of a Doctor. 

I know why this happened.  It's because Tennant's time got too emo and they wanted to revert back to a more adventurous happy time and sort of discard the past.  This might have worked, except they discarded basically everything about the past.  It doesn't feel like a gathered up history of the Doctor's life.  In fact, it feels very unrelated to the past adventures of Doc, particularly because it's gone to cheap horror.  It got even worse during the sixth season.  I watched The Impossible Astronaut, just to check it out.  Wow, it was lame.  Unbelievably lame.  There were so many horror setpieces!  There was writing on the wall, a dude living by himself going insane, lightning flashing in the windows at night, people disappearing, and monsters who reveal hidden mouths. 

Also, as a side note, I'm sick to heck of aliens having taken over the earth for thousands and thousands of years.  It's not just Dr. Who.  It happens everywhere in fiction.  That's a stupid plot point and horror/sci fi need to stop doing it.  Humans aren't that dumb, and we built the dang pyramids all by our lonesome.  Hush your face, you lonely, demented sci fi nuts.

Anyway, yeah.  I can't really get into season six.  Just to experiment, I went on to look at a couple more episodes.  There was this one where the Doctor encounters this Time Lord trap, where these aliens have been trapping Time Lords and feeding from them and their TARDISes.  The idea was decent, but the problem here was that I totally didn't buy Smith's emotions.  He for some reason seemed to restrain himself, not going much out of his "I'm the Doctor, yay!" sort of attitude that he dwells in every time he's on the screen.  It's like he's trying so hard to fake being the Doctor that he can't show true emotion.

Also, they removed the spirit of the TARDIS and put it in a physical body.  That wouldn't have been too much of a problem, but they made her stupid.  No, like really stupid.  She doesn't seem to understand basic english words, despite the fact that she's around as old as the Doctor and has been hanging out with humans for a long time.  If the TARDIS can translate the languages of the surrounding people groups when the Doctor and his companion go somewhere, then wouldn't she understand every language in existence?  And wouldn't she, by simple observation, have at least a slight idea of how people should behave around others?  I know cultures are different, but there hasn't been a culture on the show where biting people on the ears is acceptable.  Boo.  I mean, crazy is fine, but stupid is not.

What makes this worse is that the TARDIS apparently thinks her name is "Sexy" because that's supposedly what the Doctor calls her in private.  One, there's no way in the world the TARDIS couldn't know what that means.  Two, holy crap.  Why would the Doctor call her that?  Only in the new series has he shown any notion of the Doctor being in any sort of relationship, and can you really imagine that Tom Baker, John Pertwee, or any of the other Doctors calling the TARDIS "sexy"?  I don't even think Eccleston's Doctor would have done that.  Tennant, while he kept getting hit on by just about every female on the show, never reciprocated with immaturity, so I don't think he would have called the TARDIS that either.

The next episode I watched was the worst, and probably explained why Matt Smith isn't the greatest Doctor: it became the Amy Pond show.  She's really stolen the show, and in fact they've given her a little intro where she ran off with the Doctor.  Now please, do we really need to see that every single episode?  I don't need to be reminded of the origins of new DW's worst companion ever.

But anyway, in the episode, Amy accidentally gets trapped in an alien hospital, where they shelter people with a plague by separating them into different time streams.  Amy has to wait and hide for the Doctor, escaping well-meaning robots that will try to inject her with medicine that will kill her because it's not made for humans (seriously, not one living person overseeing all of this madness?  Who repairs the robots?).  Because Amy's time stream is moving faster and the Doctor makes a few incorrect calculations, Rory and the Doctor find not their Amy, but an Amy who has aged 36 years.

Okay, okay, but what the heck?  First of all, has Amy's background of being a kiss-a-gram girl and marrying the most doofus man in the universe really enabled her to survive being hunted by teleporting robots?  She runs into a convenient hiding spot and finds a convenient weakness in the bots, sure, but becoming some sort of hyper survival woman?  Really?  Now, the other companions were helped by hanging out with the Doctor, but he's never turned anyone into a warrior.  Primarily because he isn't one.

Secondly, how the crap does Amy know how to engineer a robot, reprogram an alien computer (from a planet she's never been before, no less), and even make her own dang sonic screwdriver?  Would the Doctor really tell her how to do that?  Can she really just work technology any dang way she wants? 

Thirdly, the combination of warrior/technomage makes Amy really overpowered.  What the crap can't she do?  She's become uninteresting by simply being able to do whatever she wants.  I mean, if she's smart enough to manipulate alien technology she couldn't possibly have seen before, then why can't she build her own "fix the time stream" device?  Clearly the aliens have the technology to manipulate time, so it would be a simple matter of adapting their machines to solve Amy's problems. Surely someone who can build a sonic screwdriver from memory (do you really think that the Doctor let her examine his closely?) can also get out of the super-fast time stream. 

Another problem with this episode is that it refers, once again, to Amy's love for Rory, which is a theme that has been done to death.  We've already seen her struggle with loving Rory despite the fact that she doesn't respect him and has no tangible reason for being married to him.

Honestly, that's one of the dumbest things about seasons 5 and 6.  There is no reason whatsoever for Amy and Rory to be together.  Rory is a complete wimp, and defying all human nature, he never seems to get sick of Amy calling him stupid and being closer to the Doctor than to him.  Any sane man would have abandoned her long before then. 

I don't have to tell guys that if a woman continually calls him stupid, then he shouldn't marry her.  A woman might stay with a guy that calls her stupid, but a man won't.  Men generally don't feel validated by being in a relationship.  Women, however, value relationships so much that every single one of us, other than those with the ability to never marry (a few exist), are vulnerable to dating men that don't treat us right.  I thought I was an exception because I am logical, but it turns out that being a nerd makes me lonlier and thus still vulnerable to the female form of stupidity (the male form of stupidity here is not being able to understand women.  And thinking that dangerous things like driving a motorcycle over burning cars is fun). 

I don't really understand why the writers of the show are trying to make Amy all masculine and overpowered, and Rory so....well, not feminine, but definitely wimpy and unrealistic.  They've both departed so far from reality that it's like watching a show acted out by aliens who are racist against humans. 

One of the really obvious things you are probably thinking of as you read this is that "Wait, why are you saying this?  You're talking about Amy and Rory, not Matt Smith.  Aren't you trying to prove he's a bad doctor?" Well, Amy and Rory are part of my point: they've taken over the show.  They have much more personality than Matt Smith...well, Amy does.  Rory has negative personality.  Seriously, did the writers really think we'd be entertained by Rory acting pathetic?

But anyway, Matt Smith just defies explanation.  Eccleston was task-focused, Tennant was emo, but what the heck is Smith?  Seriously, name one word that sums up his personality.  Other than "boring".  He's not really any fun. 

Alright, a few season five nitpicks before I end this rant.  It's dumb that the sonic screwdriver can suddenly make guns stop working (the episode with the underground aliens), just because the Doctor is smart doesn't mean he's automatically good at soccer (the episode with the creepy second-floor apartment), and having the Doctor running around in naught but a towel is demeaning to the character. 

Honestly, Doctor Who has lost all sense of reality, and all its fun.  I want a self-righteous, emotional yet confident Doctor in the realm of Baker or Eccleston again.  I'll take another Tennant if I have to, as long as they don't emo him up again.  Maybe a Doctor that goes off the edge, or something.

While admittedly the writing is half to blame for the eleventh Doctor's utter failure, Matt Smith shares the blame for not being in control of his character.  Other Doctors have had their say in how they can portray their versions, and a strong actor can infuse personality into bad writing.  But that doesn't stop the writing from being terrible, so until Matt Smith and the current writers are gone, Doctor Who is dead to me.  They got rid of Amy and Rory, so that's a start.

I never bought Matt Smith's love of his kind.

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