A Word About The New Doctor (Who, That Is)

05/11/2010 1:25 PM |


For those of you completely out of touch with the BBC: Doctor Who recently changed bodies, as he tends to every few years. Instead of looking like David Tennant, he now looks like Matt Smith (right). When the news was first announced, I was skeptical on purely aesthetic grounds—too primatial—but I was willing to keep an open mind. Smith got off to a rough start, though, essentially doing a David Tennant impression, which only double underlined (a bad idea!) that he was not David Tennant. But he’s shaping up to be a fine Doctor in his own right, I suppose. That is, it’s not Smith’s fault that the show has become so disappointing.

There had been high hopes around this season among my British-TV-loving friends: Tennant was unfortunately out, but Steven Moffat was in as show runner, and he had written some of the Russel T. Davies years’ strongest episodes, like “Blink” and “Silence in the Library”. Mythology introduced in both of those episodes surfaced in this weekend’s “The Time of Angels” and, well, was expanded on to the point of ruination. Doctor Who is getting dumber.

Davies once told the Guardian that he never rewrote a word of Moffat’s scripts, but you couldn’t tell from the way the new season’s jokes have been more juvenile, its plot points more spelled out: like, vague intimations were made in “Silence in the Library” that Prof. Song was the Doctor’s future wife; in “Time of Angels,” they did everything but make her wear a sign that indicated such. (Also: notice that, now, the Stone Angels can “talk” to the Doctor? Grooooan.) Either Davies used to edit the hell out of Moffat’s scripts and he was being Britishly polite in his Guardian interview, or Moffat’s bowing to pressure from the network.

The problem with Doctor Who this season has been its rebranding: it seems now like a show for 15-year-olds—and kinda dumb ones, at that. Even though the Doctor looks younger now than he did last season, the character should actually be a little older—and, say, not putting up with the whiny and sarcastic self-importance of his cute young companion. He could do better: he has done so many times in the past! Doctor Who is starting a feel a lot more like The Young Doctor Who Chronicles than a continuation of the same old series.

19 Comment

  • I don’t get all the complaints about Moffat “dumbing down” Doctor Who. Did you really watch the show for the last five years? Did you see horrible episodes like “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Last of the Time Lords”? Did the soap-opera-fication of DW under Russell Davies conceal all the show’s gaping narrative holes from you?

  • If Moffat were dumbing down DW, it would be right for this author, because this review is D-U-M-B. Moffat has restored DW to its former glory, with very smart scripts and overall showrunning. The RTD era sucked, and Tennant was especially bad as the Doctor. Smith is a major improvement. Go watch Lost or some other twaddle like that.

  • whoever wrote this article, you obviously aren’t a proper fan. the show always changes in tone and character but that doesn’t mean it is a different show. this dr who is different, i wouldn’t say better or worse. and as for it being a show for 15 year olds, if you knew anything about dr who you would know that originally it was actually aimed quite a bit younger than that. dr who is a show for children, that is fun and smart enough for parents to enjoy as well. if you can’t deal with it, stop watching. there was no need to add this article to the ever mounting pile of crap the media produces nowadays.

  • well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but unfortunately for this critic it helps if you have a strong basis for your arguement!

    I found a lot I didn’t like about RTD’s era, but I would never dispute the huge popularity it gained. Many of the current viewers brought into the program during this time are sure to be in the 15 year old age bracket, so why on earth WOULDN’T a new producer seek to retain that audience?

    I have a Daughter too young to remember the regeneration to Tennant very well, but she’s had no problem in accepting Smith in the role; so much so that the last episode she watched she stated she prefered him (given the huge fights she had been having with her younger brother who LOVED Smith from the outset this is no small achievement!).

    Being 35 I find it hard not to draw comparisons to how I felt about my first regeneration: Tom Baker to Peter Davison. given the levels of popularity both Baker and Tennant enjoyed in their time, I think Smith’s first episodes are very strong when held up against Davisons.

    And where’s the criticism of the new Daleks?

    If this critic doesn’t like Smith or Moffatt He’s in for a bit of a shock when he sees THEM!

  • I’m sorry but Doctor Who is NOT dumb and you’re the dumb one calling it that. I suppose the only time Matt Smith’s Doctor was like David Tennant’s was during the first episode Eleventh Hour because he had only just regenerated. Now he is his own Doctor and is great at it. If you can’t see that then you’re a total idiot who deserves to be locked away with other like minded idiots!

    And if you think that Doctor Who is so rubbish then why are you watching it? Are you calling all Doctor Who fans dumb now because they do? If it is dumb then why is there are big demand for it in America?

    Why don’t you go and truly watch the series and then make a comment because its obvious to me you don’t know what you’re talking about!!!! Leave the reviews to proper fans!!!!

  • “Leave the reviews to proper fans!!!!”

    An important message for all you dumb-ass critics.

  • I guess I’m the one person who’s going to agree with you. I’ve been increasingly disappointed with the lack of chemistry between Smith and Gillan, with the wildly easy solutions the Doctor finds to every problem (there’s a deadly weather machine? Well… turn it OFF! Done! Amy’s got an angel in her eye? Well… CLOSE YOUR EYES!) The Angels have now become stupid (if you close your eyes and walk, they’ll think you have your eyes open? REALLY? Remember when you couldn’t, like, blink, because they’d be on you as soon as your eyes shut?

    Though I did like a lot of what RTD did, and am not a basher, I was looking forward to SM’s showrunner era. I’m hoping it gets better. I am most saddened by what they did to River Song in her second ep, when she became nothing more than a hero-worshipper there for the Doctor to yell at… and I’m hoping they turn her around as well.

    I’ll keep watching, but with less excitement, I’m afraid.

  • I agree with Kitty but also with the other ‘posters’.

    There have been some really lame solutions to problems faced by the Doctor – an outer-space fight scene with a fighter plane blasting the laser weapon just like in Star Wars? What is that about!

    However it is a new series with a new Doctor and a new production team so we have to give them a chance – I almost stopped watching after the Dalek episode (and I’m a life-long fan, but I gave it another chance and was glad I did.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it is a bit of a concern when people read reviews, as they may be put off watching the show and that would be a real shame.
    Because the viewing figure is what keeps shows alive these days and I’d hate to ever see the last of the Doctor!

  • Finally a review of the new series I completely agree with.

  • Amy Pond is WHINY? Are you watching the same series that I am? Amy is the least whiny companion of all the new ones (since the restart) in my opinion.

  • I’ve been watching the show since I was a young child. It is a show for all ages & is for the most part family friendly. RTD did some great things but then also did some ridiculous things *I do believe in Time Lords I do, I do*. I love Moffat’s stories, even if they have changed a bit since previous seasons. So far the worst episode was Victory of the Daleks, which he didn’t write.

    I have been a fan of the show since I was 4 years old. I loved Tom Baker, I loved David Tennant & I am enjoying Matt Smith now that he is coming into his own.

  • I LOVE the comments here! “You don’t agree with me, therefore you’re not a Proper Fan(TM)!” Such malarky. Anyhow, I can’t agree with this review more and it’s why I stopped watching. And FYI am a fan of both classic Doctor Who and its conception as brought by RTD.

  • best Dr Who vid ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qPjvRzHm_g
    “I still havent got over Rose going, she and the doctor had a very cool little thing going on…”

  • I couldn’t agree more with this article. I have been a fan for a long time, but I just can’t stomach this new regeneration. The show has always been campy and fun…now it is just dumb. I stopped watching after the 2nd episode.

  • I agree with the article, except for the bit about Amy being whiny…that’s the last thing she is. The series has diminished and lost its style, panache, pizzazz and humour, and is becoming dull and mediocre. SM wrote some brilliant story lines in the past, but it’s almost as if he has been told to pull back and create characters that are less vociferous and extraordinary and to make them more average and mundane. scifi anorak

  • “vague intimations were made in “Silence in the Library” that Prof. Song was the Doctor’s future wife; in “Time of Angels,” they did everything but make her wear a sign that indicated such” —

    I guess we’ve been watching different shows, then. Because the main point of the recent River Song appearance that I saw was to *undermine* the assumption that she’s his wife, and to suggest that she might be something more sinister instead.

  • To WilliamTell; You must have meant to type “Christopher Eccleston” instead of “Tennant” when referring to an especially bad job of playing The Doctor. I’ve been watching since the Tom Baker episodes and David was one of, and possibily, the best Doctor (so far).

  • This Doctor Who is disappointing. I have watched the show since Tom Baker and the current episodes start out with potential then fall flat. Amy seems to know to much to quickly. They need to slow down the stories a bit, give them mystery so you can be pulled in more. I am not finding a loyalty to this new Doctor Who.

  • I agree with your views pretty much in entirety. I am doubly dissapointed because Steven Moffat is such a wonderful writer with great ideas, but somehow he’s falling flat now that he’s in charge of things. I think Matt Smith is doing the best he can with the material he’s been handed – there are moments in Season 5 when he hits that Tennant level of emotional pull behind a facade of strength and quirkiness. Amy Pond I do like – I like how forward and curious she is – like a child – but I think she’s being underused and regulated to the role of plot device and pretty face. I liked Rory, but the way the shows are written it’s hard to really care about the characters, because I feel like there is not enough time put into the relationships between them all. Tennant’s Doctor would do something as simple as instinctively grab Rose’s hand – there seems to be little in the way of ‘moments’ that show the Doctor and his new Companion(s?) getting closer at all. Right now I’m a few episodes away from the end of Season 5, and unfortunately most of what I’ve seen is forgettable. It’s a shame really, because there was a lot of potential for good stories that just seemed to go astray in the script. Also extremely annoyed that Amy could ‘trick’ the Weeping Angels into believing she could see them…that made no sense. And I liked the idea of River Song when she was first introduced in Silence in the Library, but she didn’t come off very interesting in this Season. I’m just hoping that the Christmas Special pulls it together and Season 6 can bring us back to some strong storylines and more subtle, finessed writing.