I have made no effort to disguise my growing disdain for NuWho. I was concerned I was speaking to an empty theater so to speak, but to quote the Face of Boe, "You are not alone". On one of the Facebook pages I belong to (Classic Doctor Who Fans Who Dislike New Who), I have come across a series of thoughts by Mr. Paul Berry. We in the group were so genuinely impressed by his series that I urged him to publish them.
Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has requested permission to upload them on his YouTube page. I don't know if Mr. Berry has but hope he does. I for my part asked for permission to reprint them on this site.
Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to republish them as he posts them, and here is the fourth of a ten-essay series. It is reprinted as written with the content exactly as it appears. The only alterations made are for any grammatical/spelling errors, spacing for paragraphs, and perhaps a few afterthoughts which will be noted after the photos.
I hope readers enjoy and share them. I also hope readers will debate these matters, for I believe in a healthy debate. However, I find Mr. Berry's comments and thoughts quite well-thought out and worthy of a greater audience.
With that, I present Part Four of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who.
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO
4) SICKLY SENTIMENTALITY
To many, classic Doctor Who may seem emotionally sterile, a stiff upper lip world where falling in love, snogging or any sort of touch feely stuff was mostly glossed over. That is not to say emotion wasn't there, more that it was understated, and those moments when they came, such as Susan's departure in The Dalek Invasion of Earth or the tragic fate of the 2nd Doctor/Jamie and Zoe triumvirate in The War Games packed all the more punch because they were rare. Doctor Who could pull the heartstrings but that wasn't its main prerequisite; it would be there if and when the story required it.
When the show came back in 2005, one of Russell T Davies' aims was to invest the show with more emotion; he was trying to bring in a wider audience as well as give the Companion's journey a greater focus, which meant the series could move further into an area of emotional depth only just beginning to emerge in the McCoy era of the show. Emotion is one of Davies' fortes and I must admit there were a few scenes in that first series that worked: a Dalek committing suicide because it was impure, the heroism of Pete Tyler, Rose's heartbreak after the Doctor sent her back to Earth in Parting of the Ways. It was good honest stuff which added immeasurably to the power of the story. Never one for restraint, Davies soon let this emotion get out of hand and it began to infect every story.
Soon Rose seemed to be moved to tears over the slightest things. Villains such as Margaret Slitheen and Cassandra were dispatched not in the usual off the cuff manner, but in a hugely sentimental fashion. As time went on the Doctor was soon dragged into this state of affairs with the production team finally feeling like they could break that old taboo of the Doctor not having romantic inclinations towards the Companion.
Initially it was done a bit subtly with the Doctor never quite confirming his feelings. He is prevented from saying 'I love you' back to Rose in Doomsday which still lends an air of ambiguity to the situation. With the introduction of Martha however the emotion began to get more and more invasive; the whole season was spent with the Doctor harping on about Rose and getting all dewy eyed at the merest mention of her name. The hugely misconceived idea of Martha having an unrequited infatuation with the Doctor also led to many cringe-worthy scenes of her looking forlorn or misty eyed.
The worst excess of emotion came in the same season with the death of the Master, where we saw the Doctor hysterically blubbing over the corpse of his old enemy. It was another step too far which as I mentioned in my previous post diminished the idea of the Doctor as an alien. I am not saying the Doctor should be emotionally sterile, but more that we should get little hints of these things. Look for instance at McCoy's line in Delta and the Bannermen about 'love not being known for its rationality' and his little faraway look as to how it can be done subtly. It is perhaps fitting that David Tennant is so far the only Doctor to regenerate virtually in tears.
I don't think Steven Moffat has quite the same grip on emotion as RTD but it hasn't stopped him trying. The series continues to be filled with huge doses of misguided and unnecessary sentiment. The interminable Amy and Rory romance brought forth many more examples, as well as the similarly yawn worthy River Song storyline. This season saw the focus being moved onto the Clara and Danny Pink charisma-free pairing. With subtlety thrown out the window we are told pretty much straight away that Danny has killed someone while in service with the army and this is illustrated with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer by having a tear rolling down his cheek at the first mention of it. It then transpires that it was a child he killed and in the most twee nonsensical eulogy the child is returned to life as Danny sacrifices himself.
It's a potentially serious subject matter that is fatally undermined by such sugar coated handling. The only thing to take from this latest season is that Capaldi's Doctor has not been dragged into this emotional free-for-all, and his line about the hugging just hiding your face was the sort of subtlety that has been missing for a while, just a hint that there may be more to the Doctor but nothing more.
The emotional side of the series has now got hugely out of control, it now no longer aids the story but is so overblown and pretentious that it moves the programme towards unintentional comedy. My reaction to the fate of Cyber Danny Pink was not to sympathise but laugh, and Doctor Who to me has never been a comedy.
NEXT TIME: 5) BRINGING STUFF BACK & COCKING IT UP
Well, we have hit the nail on the head. THIS was the essay that convinced me Mr. Berry's thoughts needed to be shared with the world at large. THIS was the essay that motivated me to plead to have them appear on my site and give them the promotion they so desperately need.
I have noted with disdain, even anger, about how often NuWhovians blabber on about how this episode or that episode "made them cry". I haven't finished all of the Tennant Era, but I do know that he commented that the ending of Harry Potter made him cry. Seriously? The ending of Deathly Hallows made him cry? It didn't move me at all, but then I have never been big on Harry Potter myself (sorry Jo. You ain't no C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien...not even close to their league. Call us in 50 years to see if anyone still reads your stuff).
WHY does Doctor Who have to be so emotional? Why do we have to cry at every turn? Is there something in our society that compels us to be weepy at every episode? It isn't as if I'm locked emotionally. Even the Duke, John Wayne, admitted that he cried. Crying is a perfectly normal, rational reaction to pain or loss. However, was there this much crying at Star Trek? At Supernatural? At The X-Files? At Firefly? At Smallville? At Gotham?
This penchant for tears did turn into a joke (Rose Tyler in particular being the weepy woman that turned a Great Companion into a sob sister par excellence). Tennant soon joined in the games, with his weepy "I don't want to go" and big Farewell Tour turning a simple regeneration into the death of Mother Teresa. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I think there were less tears at the Crucifixion than in The End of Time.
In all the time I have seen Doctor Who, I think I can remember crying (or perhaps being emotionally moved to that level) perhaps once, and that is in the following...
I admit the 'yellowface' isn't a good thing, but product of its time. Note that in Planet of the Spiders there is no big bombastic score, no overblown theatrics. Just two actors (Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen, both terribly missed), doing their job and doing it damn well. Despite all the tears NuWhovians have shed (and I agree w/Mr. Berry...Pete Tyler's farewell to his daughter in Father's Day WAS extremely moving), for my money THIS is a true 'crying moment'. I think it's effective because, as Berry wrote, it was rare.
Now it's gotten to a point where Tennant and Smith's Doctors would cry at a kitty video on YouTube. Speaking of crying on YouTube...
Now, leaving aside my longstanding view that it is remarkably narcissistic to videotape oneself reacting to something one is watching, nothing will convince me that these people are rational, let alone intelligent. Yet here they are, PROUD to be weeping and wailing at a simple cast change, a cast change that, if they followed the series since 2005 has occurred three times already and which has been established within the series since 1966! THESE are touted as the 'typical' Doctor Who fan, sobbing uncontrollably because some actor took off a bow tie. A BOW TIE! I don't know why they were in hysterics...they'd already seen Matt Smith naked in The Time of The Doctor. What's so special about him removing his bow tie?
Yes, I KNOW it was SYMBOLIC of HIS Doctor, but even Tom Baker's departure in Logopolis didn't have this amount of lunacy, and he was (and is still) the LONGEST-serving Doctor so far.
The more I think on it, this crying fit in Doctor Who to me shows that Doctor Who from 2005 onwards is really a separate series from the one that came from 1963 to 1989. It may insist it's the same, but given what I've seen, any similarity between Classic Doctor Who and Revived or NuWho is purely coincidental.
For Heaven's Sake STOP CRYING!