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 seventh 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 Seven of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who.
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO
7) REWRITING THE MYTH
Doctor Who as a series has been a constantly evolving thing. As Robert Holmes once said, it has created its own myth. It is difficult to imagine in hindsight how the Hartnell era seemed at the time, back when there was no regeneration, no Time Lords. Over the years bits and pieces were bolted onto the story and became part of the Who myth. We can't imagine the series now without them. That is not to say the myth shouldn't continue to evolve. Andrew Cartmel attempted to add his bit in the late eighties by suggesting all we thought we knew about the Doctor may not strictly be true.
The Russell T Davies era brought us the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey, two elements which helped define the Doctor's character for the 21st century. The problem I have is where changes have been introduced into the mythology that do not embellish it, but in some way spoil or pervert it or create unnecessary baggage for future production teams to contend with.
One key element which has become seriously undermined in my mind is regeneration. Okay it has never been explained how exactly it works and that is a good thing, but there seemed to be an unwritten rule book of what could and couldn't be done.
One assumption would be that the Doctor can't regenerate into the same incarnation, else why not do this all the time, unless you're seriously fed up of your last incarnation. Yet for the sake of a cliffhanger Russell T Davies did this same thing bunging in some unconvincing explanation involving a hand in a jar.
Regeneration also seems to have become more and more of a pyrotechnics display. As if the Tennant regeneration wasn't bad enough with the TARDIS nearly blasted apart, we had the 11th taking out a whole Dalek fleet. If the previous Doctor's had regenerated in this fashion I dread to think of the collateral damage.
Series 6 brought forth the revelation that you don't have to be a Time Lord to regenerate. River Song apparently possessed the ability as she was conceived on the TARDIS, a rather slight and unconvincing explanation which cheapened the very idea of regeneration. It now seems to be the suggestion that anyone could have this ability if the circumstances are right. River then goes onto bestow her remaining regenerations on the Doctor by means of a kiss.
Under Moffat, regeneration has come to seem slight and inconsequential, not a mythical and momentous part of the show's mythology. Look at his complete disregard for the 12 regenerations rule. Okay before we start, I agree no one is going to stop a popular series because the Doctor has run out of his allotted regenerations, a plot point first introduced in 1976. It was written into the series at a time when such a proposition was so ridiculously far off as to be not worth worrying about. Robert Holmes however was still smart enough to provided a get out clause.
The 12 regenerations/13 bodies concept provided a new key piece of mythology that we didn't know before: that the Doctor is not immortal. It became so ingrained in the mythology that it has frequently been a talking point, hence people's concern over the brevity of McGann and Eccleston's tenures. We always knew they were going to find a way around it, but it deserved to be done with occasion and reverence. The Doctor surviving the end of his regeneration cycle should have been a pivotal moment in the history of the series, an iconic moment which contributed something new to the myth. What we did get was laughable, a bit of fairy dust. It made an idea which had been a key part of the Who myth for 30 odd years seem inconsequential.
My two cents worth on the idea, and I appreciate this is pure fan fiction, is that Time Lords of the past could regenerate infinitely, however due to problems with immortality in Gallifrey's past a lock was engineered into Time Lord biology limiting an individual to 13 lives. My idea would be for the Doctor somehow to get into some epic situation where his DNA has to be unlocked to save the universe or something. This is horrifying to the Doctor as he knows it will make him immortal, something he wants to avoid at all costs. He makes the sacrifice however and in the process of his regeneration the 13 limitation is removed, he is now the Time Lord Immortal.
I am not saying they should use this idea. I am sure some people may have better ones, but it treats the idea of regeneration with reverence while introducing an element of tragedy. It also means the issue is resolved once and for all and doesn't have to be addressed again. All Moffat has done is create the same issue Robert Holmes did, which will eventually have to be dealt with again if the show is still around in another 12 Doctor's time.
Moffat has also lumbered Doctor Who as a brand with an unnecessary problem, basically he has screwed the numbering of the Doctors up to such an extent that it will now always be a point of debate as to which is which. Almost everyone can agree that it used to be simple Hartnell through Smith were Doctor's 1-11 (okay lets forget Morbius Doctors and the Shalka Doctor).
Now all the Doctor's from Eccleston onwards are in contention and depending on how pedantic you want to be, can be up to 2 incarnations ahead of their official numbering. Peter Capaldi is in the unenviable position where he is simultaneously the 12th, 13th, 14th and 1st Doctors. All this was of caused by the introduction of the War Doctor and the sudden decision to make Matt Smith's Doctor the final incarnation. The question is, was it worth it for the sake of 2 episodes to completely screw up what used to be a simple system?
I know the official line is that the War Doctor isn't considered to be the Doctor and Peter Capaldi is the 12th proper Doctor. They can say it all they like, but any talk of the subject will now bound to have an annoying interjection of 'Well, actually he isn't Doctor Number X at all. He's actually the Doctor number so and so'. It's now hopelessly muddied for no readily good reason other than to get a good guest star and to rather unsuccessfully make Matt Smith's regeneration outbig all the others.
This latest season also brought the first transgender regeneration. This albatross has hung over the series since Tom Baker first joked about it at the presscall announcing his departure. The rights and wrongs of the idea have sparked many a debate. Theoretically, Doctor Who's mythology could adjust to incorporate the idea; my idea would be that transgender regenerations could be flaws in the process hence explaining why Time Lord's mainly retain the same sex. The question should be if the series needs the idea of transgender regeneration, does it bring anything useful to the myth or the franchise.
Personally I think it is a divisive idea which opens a whole can of worms. Firstly the Doctor is and always has been a man. Changing the character's gender would change the whole dynamic of the show. It also introduces a lot of awkward questions and possible innuendo. Its dramatic potential seems undermined by the comedic overtones of the idea.
Heaven forbid if Moffat did do it, he'd probably end up with the Doctor fancying one of his previous incarnations.
I would say in all honesty it is an idea that would have been best stayed away from. There are some interesting aspects to it, but I would say has more negatives than positives. I think it would divide the audience possibly fatally. This isn't sexism. I just dont think a majority of the audience would accept a character who has been a male for 30 years suddenly becoming female. As a male for instance I wouldn't want to see The Rani or Romana suddenly become men. It would be nice to think Moffat thought all this through when deciding to change the Master's gender, but I doubt he did. He decided to make the Master a woman just because he could. Even despite the fact that it was possibly the worst character to do it with, since he had such a gender specific name. Missy sounds weak and silly, The Mistress again raises innuendo.
All this tampering is typical of the new show. It's fan fiction gone mad: Daleks v. Cybermen, origin stories, Doctor getting a daughter, Doctor getting married, TARDIS becoming a person. There's probably a very good reason none of this was attempted in 26 years of the original show: because it didnt need to be. The stories were strong enough not to need these attention grabbing gimmicks.
Since the 50th anniversary Moffat has become obsessed with putting his stamp not just on the present and future of the show but also on the past. Deciding to show the Doctor's flight from Gallifrey, again just because he could and having the gall to suggest that Clara was responsible for the Doctor choosing the TARDIS is just one example. A key and mysterious piece of the Doctor Who mythology rendered banal and with the inclusion of the two badly acted technicians, making ancient Gallifrey seem as otherworldly as an episode of Eastenders.
Not content with doing it once, Moffat was at it again this year, showing the Doctor as a child and having the audacity to imply that Clara was in effect responsible for the entire history of the series. It seems like pure arrogance on Moffat's part to think his own creation is worthy of such a role in the series pantheon, as well as undermining the character of the Doctor by almost making him of secondary importance in his own show. The past of Who has now irrevocably been tainted by this meddling. The only way I personally cope with this state of affairs is to pretend none of it ever happened. The damage is such that to restore the show and its mythology to any kind of credibility, a major retcon may be needed that somehow erases much of this unnecessary baggage Moffat has foisted on the show. Horror of horrors: a complete reboot may be needed that gets rid of all 50 years of Who history, Classic series and all just so Doctor Who is not lumbered with all these horrible encumbrances.
NEXT TIME: 8) UNLIKEABLE COMPANIONS & CLICHED CHARACTERS WITH SILLY NAMES
I have heard from NuWhovians that "The War Doctor" does not count because he doesn't call himself, "The Doctor". Hence we go from Eighth to War to Ninth. Already, this is flat-out rubbish. How do we basically 'skip' a number?
We also get into the thorny issue of whether The Tenth Doctor regenerated...into himself. How was THIS possible? Was there anything in Canon that allowed for such a possibility? I'm at a disadvantage because I didn't see Journey's End Parts 1 & 2 (The Stolen Earth/Journey's End), but one doesn't regenerate into oneself.
I know Steven Moffat has this antagonism towards the numbering system, feeling that it isn't necessary because the Doctor never referred to himself as "The X Doctor" but this is splitting hairs. HE didn't need to refer to himself as anything because HE knew who HE was. Moffat's stubbornness on the issue though is what caused all this commotion to begin with.
If Eccleston refused to do The Day of the Doctor, fine, his choice. What was really so wrong with using McGann? Whatever has been said about the television movie, most agree he was one of the best parts of the episode and have been complimentary about his Doctor. He's established a long connection thanks to the audiobooks (which I don't count as Canon, but that's irrelevant at the moment). It would also be a nice way to tie Classic to NuWho.
Moffat, however, simply could not abide any real connection to anything pre-Moffat. Therefore, he used McGann in The Night of The Doctor minisode just to bring in the interloper John Hurt's "War" Doctor and give a rationale to how Hurt was introduced as "The Doctor" in The Name of The Doctor.
I have long argued that The "War" Doctor has no guarantees that he regenerated into Eccleston's Doctor. Maybe he regenerated into other things. Who is to know?
Not content with making a bad situation worse, Steven Moffat decided to make things beyond repairable in The Time of The Doctor by making the formerly Eleventh Doctor the Thirteenth and Final Doctor. Now we have the bizarre situation where with a stroke of his pen Steven Moffat invalidated all of The Trial of a Time Lord by making the Valeyard a non-entity. Some NuWhovians have attempted to paper over this by saying that the Master said the Valeyard would appear between his Twelfth and FINAL regeneration, and because he didn't give a specific number the Valeyard may still come.
This is playing with semantics, plain and simple. When The Trial of a Time Lord aired, it was established that Time Lords had twelve regenerations. Therefore, when the Valeyard appeared, it would be natural to think he would appear between his twelfth and thirteenth regeneration, putting him between Tennant and Smith (though where exactly is a subject of needless debate thanks to one man's raging ego). IF we go by how The Time of The Doctor put it, the Valeyard should have appeared already (since the "War" Doctor was the Ninth and Tennant regenerated twice, making Smith the Thirteenth and Final regeneration). If one looks at things dispassionately, if it weren't for magical Time Lord fairy-dust coming to save the day, the Doctor would have been kaput, and therefore we would have had no Valeyard.
Moffat I think knew even he couldn't get away with leaving out the Valeyard without SOMEONE commenting on it, so he had the fairy dust to bail him out and say, "Well, with all these shiny new regenerations to play with, the Valeyard can come later". I reject all this because this is playing with Canon needlessly...or rewriting the myth.
All this could have been avoided as I said. This problem was of Moffat's own creation, and he is responsible for taking something simple and making a hopeless jumble out of it.
Fortunately, he's got useful idiots like Kyle Anderson, Chris Hardwick, and all those at The Whorist to bail him out. From Anderson's review for The Time of The Doctor, "It was classy, exactly as classy as the Eleventh Doctor (but the Thirteenth Form) always was." That sentence doesn't make any sense...the Eleventh Doctor but the Thirteenth Form?
What kind of idiot believes this?
Doctor Who is now not even a shell of its former self. It's a piece of garbage, brought down by one man long feted as some giant of television. Blink, regardless of how good it is, is no excuse for what Steven Moffat has done to Doctor Who.