Monday, July 02, 2007

Doctor Who Series 3: Why it was the least enjoyable so far

Both Rob and Lisa have suggested that this series of Doctor Who was the best so far (new-Who only), and my instant, gut reaction is, roughly: WHAT?! Rob's given an episode by episode justification for this, and while I did start it, I'm now going to be contrary and say that looking at things like this misses the bigger picture.

And so what is that bigger picture that makes this series the worst so far (from a completey un-objective viewpoint, admittedly!!)? The reasons are threefold...
1) Half of it was a bit rubbish
2) The other half featured a Doctor who could pretty much be officially classed as MIA
3) A crappy assistant throughout

Number one, I don't think I really need to explain - we all know that this series got off to a decidedly dodgy start. After Smith and Jones, which I really did enjoy (sparky writing and so much promise from Ms. Jones), we had two poor episodes, two which were the worst new-Who episodes so far, and two which were a relief, but nothing special (I think I was a bit over-complimentary of both Lazarus and 42 at the time - blame the relief). That's six episodes out of 13 which range from really awful to just-above-average. And the fact that they were all lumped together *does* make a difference when you're looking at a series as a whole, because it affected how we judged everything else. By Evolution of the Daleks, I was seriously disillusioned. Doctor Who has never left me feeling disillusioned! I wasn't excited about the next episode, and that's just plain wrong.

Ok, onto the MIA Doctor. Just as the writing picked up massively (all hail Mr. Cornell) the Doctor became a bit-part in his own show. Human Nature/Family of Blood: John Smith. Blink: Doctor-lite. Utopia: The Jack Hartness Show. Sound of Drums: The Master Show. Last of the Time Lords: The Martha Show. The Doctor has ben subdued and underwritten this series, and while RTD would explain that as his grief at losing Rose, it's been totally unsatisfying to watch. I miss the Doctor, dammit! The Doctor who accidently quotes The Lion King, who beats out a samba, who snogs the Madame du Pompadour. As I say, I understand *why* the Doctor was low-key... I just didn't like it, not for a whole series. Maybe Kylie will bring him round.

And the crappy assistant. Yeah, let's do this! Among the Livejournal new-Who fangirls, it's perfectly normal to say 'I miss Rose; Rose was a better assistant', and today I align myself with them. I *do* miss Rose, I *do* think she was a better assistant and, for me, her departure has left a gaping hole in the show. Rose cracked jokes, was fiercely loyal, she looked into the heart of the TARDIS, she was literally the golden girl, she had something of the wolf about her. Rose was an amazing character; given masses to do (handled brilliantly by Piper) and acted as the emotional heart of the series - the very reason why Doctor Who has gained all these new fans. Martha is not a great character. And I've gotta reiterate, Freema is *not* the problem, because we've seen what she can do, and I'll actually look forward to her popping into the next series now. It's just that Martha's story was ill-judged, and hard to support.

Of course, I could do a whole post about what I enjoyed about this series - loved the range that David Tennant showed, the Human Nature/Family of Blood double-bill was gorgeous, and the Master was inspired. But there were overriding problems that mean that I don't look back on this series particularly fondly... and that's a shame.

9 comments:

Marie said...

I agree with you - I so agree with you, to the extent that it's hardly worth me doing my own, because I will just be reitterating everything you said.

Stu-N said...

I don't agree with you, and will be explaining my reasoning!

AnnaWaits said...

I knew you'd be with me! Unfortunately, a bit of googling suggests that it's you and me against the world!

AnnaWaits said...

That was to Marie, clearly :D Stu, look forward to it!

Stu-N said...

It's by no means you and Marie against the world. This last episode seems to have divided the internet like no episode ever before (except for Love & Monsters)! There's a whole lot of vitriol out there.

AnnaWaits said...

But the thing is, I quite enjoyed the last episode! Marie and I differ there, but agree on the series overall, I think.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Lots to empathise with here, and as always, its well expressed.

And maybe your theory of the Dalek story skewing our view of the season as a whole holds some truth. But the thing is I'm not sure where the series could have gone next with an arc that was increasingly the Doctor and Rose in love. Piper was incredible and maybe we have to review S2 in the light of her being on the way to being written out - maybe that was part of the reasoning for making it get very cosy and...

You see my problem is that I will happily rewatch it all again. Even the bits I didn't like as much. Just the same as I will happily rewatch (most) of the old stories, because there was always something that charmed, amused, terrified or was just plain dramatically entertaining.

So maybe I just have a limited critical faculty that keeps blinking. At this rate you'll get me changing my mind...
;)

Dean said...

(again, only seen half the season so far so...)

There's a weird thing I've noticed when it comes to the sort of forum mob-mentality when it comes to discussing TV shows on the internet, and that's that finales are amazingly powerful in skewing popular opinion. People will slag off TV shows all through the season, talking about how it's not what it used to be, but then a finale comes along (preferably with a nice big plot twist) and despite the early episodes being poor, the view of the season as a whole shifts from negative to positive.

Seen it happen twice lately, with both Lost season 3 and Battlestar Galactica season 3. They were both fairly poor seasons but the last few episodes were a bit better and had some major plot revelations that people go back and re-evaluate the entire season due to those eps.

Interestingly this doesn't happen if the season has moments of sheer brilliance in the middle, instead people just go "there's one or two good episodes but it's mostly poor". It's a strange psychological thing but I see it happening all the time...

MediumRob said...

"Doctor Who has never left me feeling disillusioned!"

Tee hee hee. You can now count yourself a seasoned Doctor Who fan. You're not a proper fan until you've been disillusioned by the show at least once. Hey older fans: do you remember which season was the first to disillusion you? Pertwee's last? Tombo's Season 15 (first Graham Williams)? Season 16 (first Douglas Adams)? Season 17 (silly season)? Season 18 (first JNT)? First Davison (19)? That rubbish every monster must be a returning monster season (20)? Maybe you waited until Colin Baker's first (22)? Or Sylvester McCoy's first (24)? Or the TV Movie? All disillusioning in their own way. Ancient fans can probably slag off Troughton's first season if they feel like it.

Welcome to our world. We'll pass out slices of TARDIS cake on the way in to the party.

Actually, the Doctor was pretty much MIA for the whole of Eccleston's era. I can barely remember him now. Is it purely because it was Tennant who was occasionally MIA that it's a problem this series?