Thursday, 15 June 2017

What if I hate Doctor Who next year?

As we go on, I think its sensible to at least consider the idea. Now, we know nearly nothing about Chris Chibnall's Doctor Who. All we have are rumours, speculative statements and Mirror articles (but I repeat myself). We have essentially nothing to go on here. For my part, judging on Chibnall's precious work for the series, it could go either way.

His episodes have been an even split for me. On the one hand he wrote Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and was basically chief writer on the one season of Torchwood I actually like (according to RTD in The Writer's Tale, anyway) while on the other, well, none of this other Doctor Who episodes really grabbed me and I admit I've never been much drawn to his other work (I just don't watch much television, so it's nothing personal).

So, in as unbiased a fashion as possible: what if I don't like this version of the series?

You see, there isn't really an era of the show I actively dislike. There are personal bugbears, obviously, I'm a fan it would be bizarre if I didn't have a list as long as my arm of things I dislike but they're all ultimately annoyances peppering eras I generally enjoy.

I mean, I'm not fond of the Pertwee era's confused politics or the “fan pleasing” mythos obsession of seasons 20 to 22 but those factors aren't all or nothing deal breakers, you know? I love The Green Death which is a scriptwriting tug of war between left and right wing politics and The Mark Of The Rani which is almost a shopping list of where the middle JNT era went wrong.

If I had to pick an era of the show I actively disliked all I can think of is John Wiles' producership and I wouldn't blame anyone for accusing me of cheating. Even if we count the stories he comissioned and left for his successor to complete it only rounds out to half a dozen stories but, well...

His era was horribly reactionary towards women, POC and youth culture. He had a story in which mute brown-skinned aliens with Beatles haircuts turn into egomanical dictators who practice white slavery just because they gained voices in an era where the British Empire was granting its African colonies independence. He fired the series' female lead for daring to pick holes in a script that actually was hastily rewritten and just kind of crap then proceeded to introduce no less than three potential successors to the role over two stories and fridging the lot of them before settling on Dodo, the blandest non-character imaginable. Hell, I can barely even call it fridging since the amount of manpain caused by the deaths of Katarina, Sara and Anne doesn't last much more than a scene or so before being forgotten. Oh, and Wiles just plain doesn't like the idea of the Doctor winning for some reason.

But even here, even with all this, I have to grudgingly admit that The Myth Makers and The Massacre are really good. Yes, their endings are rushed as hell but they're both really good stories up to that point and with The Massacre you can literally just count that ending as a seperate “short trip” barely related to the preceding three and three quarter episodes.

So, I've never been in this position before and I worry that, frankly, it'll send me full Moffat Hate. I mean, I have a lot of issues with Moffat's Doctor Who but then I have issues with the show as produced by JNT, Hinchcliffe, Lloyd and basically everyone who has ever made this show.

The thing is, though, I see the hatedom that has grown up around Moffat as a person through Doctor Who and Sherlock and being so (their word) hateful and (my word) shit at criticism as some of these people scares me.

I get a lot of pleasure out of good meta analysis of Doctor Who (I just received my second Black Archive book in the post: The Evil of the Daleks, yay!). I even have pretty regular lunches with a friend called Tom where one of our main topics is discussing Doctor Who. I have another friend who, again, I talk to about Doctor Who and is very, very critical of the Moffat era but he's actually capable of articulating eloquent and sensible critique (the man is massively engaged with political philosophy and, that makes it very interesting to hear his opinions on the show).

It may sound trite, even hysterical, to say I fear the withering of my critical skills more than the idea that my favourite show will go through a rough patch. I just don't like the idea of all that comes with the “hatedom” idea.

So I propose this to myself: the TV series is already the smallest share of the Doctor Who I consume. There are multiple audio dramas released every month; I have decades of half-finished and untouched original novels on my shelves; AO3, and A Teaspoon And An Open Mind are right there with thousands upon thousands of original stories available for free; my DVDs are not going to dissolve under the influence of Chibnall being mediocre (though my copy of Robots of Death is starting to stutter from repeated use). So, if the worst comes to the worst that's where I'll be: catching up on novels and audios, enjoying the creative side of fandom.

I will NOT under any circumstances:

  • be writing screeds personally directed at Chris Chibnall on this blog or anywhere.
  • be writing screeds directed at people who continue to enjoy the series (I hate people who do that).
  • write any criticism of any episode I haven't at least seen relevant clips of.
  • ever use the phrase “remember when the series was good?”
  • watch the show just to suffer.

That last point, I feel, is the crux of the matter. I see no reason to put myself through an experience I will hate just to rant angrily about it. There's enough of that in the world. Oh, there are subjects I can do that with and sometimes there is catharsis in doing it but I'm not dedicated enough to my own suffering to waste nine to ten hours of my life on it.

(Anyone reading this with knowledge of my taste in women is, at this point, invited to shut the hell up).

So, I'm nailing my trousers to the mast on this one and saying I'm going to do what I have always said I would do if this or anything I enjoy ever stopped being fun. I'm just going to stop watching. I'll keep an eye and if a friend or writer whose opinion I trust says there's something interesting to see down the line I'll check it out.

To be frank, I have the skin and blood clotting of a redhead, a job with baker's hours and every day I have to see Theresa May (the prime minister, not the pornstar) and Donald Trump leering at me out of the newspapers. I've got enough suffering to be getting on with, to be frank.

Rant concludes. Peace. 

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