Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In Moff We Trust, All Others Pay Credits

Major Doctor Who Series 5 spoilers ahead, read on at your own risk.

A day or two ago, this picture hit the Internet:

Finally, we got to see what Doctor #11 and his new companion, Amy Pond, look like. I must say, I like the look. The old man get-up is a nice contrast to the fact that Smith is the youngest Doctor to date. I'm thinking that the costume implies some interesting things about the character.

And I was going to write a blog post about how excited this is making me for Series 5, which was to lead into a discussion of which writers I would like to see contribute to the new season.

Then the fandom reacted.

The loudest--if not the biggest--contingent declared that not only is this a terrible way to dress the Eleventh Doctor, not only is this the worst outfit the Doctor had ever worn (I beg to differ), not only does this not bode well for Series 5 in general, but that THIS WILL MEAN THE END OF DOCTOR WHO!!!!!!!!!!!

No, seriously. I read one LiveJournaler who insists that this will drive viewers away in such large numbers that the BBC will have no choice but to cancel the show. (And how many years did the show remain on the air with abysmal ratings in the past?)

I find such lack of faith in Steven Moffat disturbing. Is this not the man who has written six of the best episodes during the last four seasons? Hasn't he proven himself, with "Time Crash" for Children in Need and the spoof "The Curse of Fatal Death" for Comic Relief (U.K.), a big enough Doctor Who fan? Did he not win three (going on four, possibly) Hugo Awards? Is he not a competent, nay, brilliant television writer? Did Jekyll not scare the crap out of you? Did Coupling not make you wet your pants with laughter? There is very little that I can say for sure about season five, except that it will be different than anything we've seen on Doctor Who before. And it will be amazing. Moffat is not going to ruin the show, either with the stories themselves or with executive decisions--including the casting and costuming of the Doctor and his companion.

Now, I know every fandom has its members who declare any and every little change to be horrible and THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!!!, but what really gets under my skin with this controversy is the faction of the fandom I suspect it's coming from. The usual suspects in this case would be the old-skool fans. After all, whenever there is the slightest hint of romance, be it with Grace, Charley, Rose, Mme. de Pompadour, Rose, Joan Redfern, River Song, Rose, or Rose, they are usually the first to declare that the Doctor is supposed to be asexual, sexual tension does not make for good television, and could we please stop it with the snogging now? (Though they don't seem as adverse to a little Doctor/Master slash. Hmm...) But, on the other hand, these kinds of fans have seen it all before and should be used to change. (They are also the kinds of fan who have two of every action figure--one to leave in the package and one to play with.) I mean, if they stuck with the show through the John Nathan-Turner years, a silly little thing like a drab jacket isn't going to scare them away. I suspect that everyone who says they like the outfit because it's a nod to Patrick Troughton fits in this category.

That leaves the new Who fans--my generation, in other words. Sure, a few of us are Tennant fan girls who will be changing the channel the moment the Doctor starts to get all glowy, but most of us have weathered a regeneration before. What we haven't experienced is a change of production, and hence some of us may be getting a tad too worked up over the whole thing. I blame this on fandom laziness, which, in general, is an unwillingness to investigate the history of whatever it is one loves*. In the specific case of Doctor Who, the lazy fan regards the old series--from "An Unearthly Child" through the latest Big Finish release--as back-story for the new series, which one can just look up on Wikipedia. I don't mean to sound too judgemental about this. A lot of people I respect--my mother and The Park Bench included--love new Who but aren't really all that impressed by the classic series.

So here's some advice to all of you freaking out. Watch both "Pyramids of Mars" and "City of Death." Though both are from Tom Baker's era, they have different production teams, and way different tones. And yet, in their own ways, they are both excellent. Trust me, you'll feel much more confident about the changes to come.

Unless, of course, they reveal that the Doctor is not only half-human on his mother's side, but his fathers (yes, two of them) are also, due to an amusing timey-wimey mix-up, the Frankenstein-esque Morbius monster and Captain Jack Harkness. Then the world really is coming to an end.

EDIT: (I might be willing to forgive if they were all watching Lesbian Spank Inferno at the time.)

*Least I be accused of not admitting to my own hypocrisy, I must admit that, among other things, I have never read nor probably ever will read The Silmarillion.


  1. I met Steven Moffat at the Screenwriter's Festival in Cheltenham in the summer of 2006. Made a completely idiotic fangirl of myself. Then 6 months later I met his wife, Sue Vertue, who's a well-known producer in the UK, and spent a day with her on the set of the made-for-tv film she was producing.

    ...then I moved back to the US and it's been one big steaming pile of failure ever since. Mostly.


  2. So are you trying to imply that Steven Moffat's influence on Doctor Who will be similarly failurific? (Just kidding--I know that it hasn't ALL been bad since you've been back.)

    I didn't know that you met Sue Vertue, but I remember having to console you for thinking you made a complete idiot of yourself in front of Steven Moffat. I'm sure that, as a lifelong Doctor Who fan, he's had a few moments like that himself. And anyway, he's worked with David Tennant so I'm sure he's used to it.