Sunday 29 October 2017

Doctor Who: the show that dies again and again

Recommendation algorithms are a trip, aren't they? Take YouTube, a website I spend hours on every week listening to podcasts, watching movie reviews and subscribing to mainly liberal arts sort of channels. I watch Keith Olbermann's Resistance videos, Moviebob's various series, a bunch of wargaming series, let's plays and the two Extra Credits channels.

Somehow this has led YouTube in the past to recommend me videos by white supremacists, doomsday preppers, Alex Jones (you know, the right wing commentator who claimed he lost custody of his child but we all know that was just a child actor. I know, I was shocked when I found out, too), and now, a video entitled “The Day Doctor Who Died”. The thumbnail had Capaldi's angry eyebrows from the 50th anniversary special on it.

Doctor Who dies a lot.

I don't even mean that maliciously. Okay, yes, we've all seen hysterical blog posts and videos and forum threads with that very sentiment time and time again since the day Russel T. Davies was announced as showrunner. Hell, there's a very famous review of The Deadly Assassin from 1977 that ends with the author's overwrought cry of “What happened to the magic of Doctor Who?” I'm not talking about that, that's the predictable act of fandom, especially in this day and age.

What I'm talking about is this: Doctor Who dies a lot. Its not a bug, its a feature.

Doctor Who kills its own premise on a regular basis. The original lead actor had to leave because of heart problems and not only did they recast the lead with a completely different actor but in Troughton's first story they almost completely rebooted the Daleks and in his second they completely dumped the pure historical model of stories. Three years later the budget of the series was through the roof and the production team decided to just drop the entire time travel aspect of the show.

Doctor Who without time travel! And its one of the most beloved eras of the show.

Now, I'm not going to begrudge anyone resenting that their favourite era of a show they like has ended. I'm just, twelve years later, more than a little ground down by the internet belief that “different” equals “the show has died and what is being broadcast is a pathetic sham that doesn't deserve the name”.

Its just... different.

I hated Enterprise. It didn't mean Star Trek had died. It didn't mean nothing good would ever come from the franchise again, it didn't even mean that Enterprise had no greater meaning. I know people who loved Enterprise and good on them, it was a show that meant something to them and that's great.

So here we get to where the argument usually winds up. I don't think people who like Enterprise are bad fans or bad people. I don't think anyone deserves “internet hate” for liking the show (or for making the show, let's not forget that disgusting aspect of the modern internet). Its just a show I don't enjoy and you know what that meant? More time for me to enjoy things that I enjoy. I gave up after the first season and so that was three more year of not dedicating about twenty hours a year to a series I wasn't enjoying.

And, the thing is, that was the time I was saving and putting towards other things just by not watching. Not only do people waste their time “hate watching” series they give up on in order to write bad meta and complain about the SJW agenda of women and people of colour existing at a higher than one in five ratio to white men. There are people who dedicate endless hours not only to experiencing art that makes them angry on purpose but making themselves feel worse by reliving it again and again.

I've said it before but this is a psychology I worry about falling into. If I don't like the next season of Doctor Who then my plan is just to give up, wait for someone I vaguely respect to tell me its got better before trying it again. In the meantime? I'll be enjoying things I like or trying new stuff. I have a backlog of box sets and a massive stack of books.

So I'll just be enjoying myself and let other people do the heavy lifting on the declaration of Doctor Who's death. 

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