Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ten Things I Hate About Who. Number Ten: Vulgarity and Silliness

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. 

For this essay, I have added all pictures save the first, which was part of the original essay.

Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to republish them as he posts them, and here is the tenth and final 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 Ten of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who


Okay I admit I've shoehorned two reasons into this the last of my posts, but as one story in particular closely connects both issues, I hope you'll excuse me.

I must confess I've never liked Doctor Who when it gets silly. That's not to say it can't have humour or be fun, but when it crosses the line into puerile frivolity it just doesn't work for me. The Classic series was not exempt from silliness: the Graham Williams era when Tom Baker began to get much more control over things often veered in that direction, and as a 12 year old I was mortified by some of the early McCoy stuff, in particular The Rani dressing up as Mel and Richard Briers doing a pantomime turn as the Chief Caretaker amongst other examples.

The loss of Power of the Daleks from the BBC archives perhaps spares us from some of the 2nd Doctor's more outlandish moments. Would this classic be undermined for instance by a moment not recorded in any telesnap, where the Doctor apparently gets up from a chair and walks off with it still attached to his behind? Generally speaking though, despite going through its camp periods, Classic Who nearly always realised it was a mistake and pulled itself together. The camp/silly periods were but but blips in the show's 26 year history.

Not so for the new series, where silliness seemed to be part of the show's remit from Day 1. No longer something to be embarrassed about or shied away from it has carried all the way through the show's 21st century incarnation. The modern version of Doctor Who to my mind has never had a prolonged period where it has been played straight.

What do I mean by silliness?, Some would argue that Doctor Who by its nature is silly and indeed there is a large subculture of fans who revel in the camp elements of the series. But going back to what I said in one of my previous posts, to suspend my disbelief I have to believe in what is going on and any silliness usually undercuts that. It is a fine line between what is acceptable and what is ridiculous, but can anyone argue that Christopher Eccleston's first episode was not irrevocably tainted by that awful burping bin idea? I remember thinking at the time I hope to God that was a one-off; sadly it wasn't and there were plenty more such moments to come.

Only 4 episodes in I was literally astounded by the two part Slitheen story where depths were plumbed which made all the criticism that had been levelled at stories like The Happiness Patrol seem minor in comparison. After going to great pains to point how that Doctor Who in the 21st century to quote Davies was being approached as full blooded drama, this was Doctor Who as send-up. The baby faced flatulent Slitheen being the sort of thing that would have once cropped up in a Lenny Henry or French and Saunders sketch parodying the show.

The Slithheen bring me neatly to my other point. You could once rely on Doctor Who being a clean cut show for the family, I don't think toilet level humour ever occurred in Classic Who. In short the series was tasteful well-mannered entertainment, the sort of thing the BBC name was once synonomous with. Crude vulgarity was just another bad aspect Russell T Davies brought to the show in his attempt to update the show.

The farting was but the first instance, another episode presented us with a lovely visualisation of frozen vomit; there was then the silly scene of Captain Jack having a laser pistol hidden up his behind which if RTD had gotten his way would have also given us a shot of John Barrowman's bum on prime time BBC1.

The following year brought us jokes about the Doctor's genitilia, rather inappropriate humour about the Royal Family and a tasteless inference of oral sex. To my mind all this stuff cheapens and taints the show and lowers it to the level of an Austin Powers movie.

The Matt Smith Era has seen this level of puerile silliness go into overdrive. We have now been subjected to the supposedly hilarious idea of the Doctor being naked 3 times, once hiding under a dress, then stripping for Comic Relief, and finally that lamentable scene in The Time of the Doctor with all that nonsense about holographic clothes.

It's almost at times as if Moffat is being deliberately iconoclastic. That he is supposedly a fan and has any respect for the integrity of a 50 year old character I find hard to believe.

The silly "Doctor Who?" joke seems to recur numerous times in the new series, particularly in the Moffat era, it as if he's trying to justify the name of the show to himself. The scene in Asylum of the Daleks with the Daleks saying "Doctor Who?" over and over and then the Doctor dancing around the TARDIS repeating it was positively embarrassing to watch.

There's also the sheer childishness of the 11th Doctor's Dr. Doolittle abilities as he chatted to a transgender horse. Of course any chance there is to get a gay or sexual joke in there Moffat and Davies are straight in (no pun intended: RA).

I could go on but it is almost impossible to watch Doctor Who these days without a story being blighted by these things, even some of the better episodes. Even though the new series has had moments of drama, it is to the side of frivolity that the programme inevitably leans. Since 2005 it would be fair to say Doctor Who has been afraid to take itself very seriously.

So that's my 10, I could probably think of another 10 but I'm going to leave it open to anyone else if they want to continue on from where I've left off. I have to say these posts have allowed me to get something off my chest which has been bothering me for a long time and I am heartened to see many of you have been in agreement with me about my misgivings . I am a lifelong fan of Doctor Who that no longer watches the series. It's a strange situation to be in and I feel cheated and robbed in a way.

I strongly believe that between them Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat have perverted a great sci fi icon into something cheap, crass and puerile. I have tried to like the new series, time after time I have tried to make excuses for it and forget the mistakes of the past and give it another chance but every time it lets me down. New Doctor Who leaves me feeling angry and mockingly contemptuous, rather than the comfortable feeling of nostalgia I get from the classic series.

I appreciate the show has to change and evolve. I never wanted a carbon copy of the Classic series. I believe we could have had an updated Doctor Who that was relevant to the 21st century and was actually good. Occasionally I have seen glimpses of this in the new series but it has never been capitalised on or sustained. A good percentage of the changes Davies and Moffat have brought to the show have been to its detriment.

It is now nigh on 10 years since Doctor Who returned and it should have been a cause for celebration. Instead I can only look back on 10 years of disapointment, failed potential and on how I became shut out of a show that had been such a big part of my life. Compared to the achievements of those original first ten years, I honestly feel the show has moved on very little from that first episode in 2005.

It's like the series is stuck in Groundhog Day or as Doctor Who would call it a Chronic Hysteresis and to paraphrase Romana... I dont think it'll ever get out of it.

I remember watching from Rose to The Impossible Planet Parts 1 & 2 (Impossible Planet/Satan Pit) and being like many NuWhovians.  This is the GREATEST Doctor Who episode of ALL TIME!  NO, they've done one BETTER!  My enthusiasm for the show grew and grew.

Then came Love & Monsters, and I was left quite literally speechless, stunned at the freakshow I had seen and worse, growing with a shaking fury the more I thought on it.  I was so appalled at the end of it that I refused to watch Fear Her because the trailer became tainted by mere association with that horror.  I was so enraged and disgusted I quit watching Doctor Who then and there.  For full disclosure I did watch Doomsday Parts 1 & 2 (Army of Ghosts/Doomsday) but only to show my friend Fidel Gomez, Jr. (who may or may not be dead) the Daleks and Cybermen. 

He found the whole thing hilarious.  I found it sad and pointless.

It wasn't until The Eleventh Hour that I came back to Who and give it a second chance, and while I do still watch Doctor Who, it is almost with no sense of pleasure, seeing it as being determined to divorce itself from the first 26 years to concentrate on its first nine.  I am extremely close to saying that, despite the "50th" Anniversary Special and the efforts to make NuWho tie in with Classic Who, the revived Doctor Who has nothing to do with what came between An Unearthly Child and Survival

Mind you, this is coming from the fact that the end of Love & Monsters left me a bit puzzled.  "What kind of love life could they possibly have?" I asked myself at the end.  Put it to my naïvete, but I didn't get the 'love life' bit, at least at first.  When, after some thought (seriously, I had to think about what kind of love life Elton and Linda could be capable of), my reaction was "Eww!" 

Russell T Davies says he's shocked, SHOCKED that anyone would think oral sex was going on in here.

Sure, Davies NEVER meant to suggest oral sex.  No doubt about it.  In fact, I bet Davies is still a virgin who has never gone cruising and that Queer as Folk just sprung from someone else's imagination and has nothing to do with Davies or his past (real or imagined). 

I hate Love & Monsters for many reasons (a bad monster, terrible acting, deliberate mocking of the Doctor Who fanbase, almost cartoonish chase scenes, an almost brutal manner with the characters, nonsensical characters to begin with).  The "not oral sex" joke, which for better or worse went over my head, was the most disgusting thing of a disgusting episode. 

Of course, little did I know that Steven Moffat would manage to outdo Love & Monsters.

Here, Barry and I are in total accord.  What is it with all of Moffat's "Doctor Who?" jokes?  I have nothing against this.  The Classic Era had some fun on occasion with "Doctor Who?", like in The Gunfighters or The Five Doctors.  However, the few times "Doctor Who?" was used in the original was few and far between.  NuWho has an almost pathological obsession with it, and like any joke, it's gotten stale with every passing use. 

To quote the great Morrissey, That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
To quote Frozen, Let It Go.

This is the thing Moffat and the Moffia simply don't get.  You can't take something seriously if the characters can't take it seriously.  Doctor Who is a science-fiction program, not a fantasy program.  The Librarians is a fantasy program, so all sorts of outlandish things can happen because we are not in a 'real' world (for example, Santa Claus appearing).  Doctor Who, for its part, has to be grounded in some sort of reality, otherwise it's just idiotic (for example, Santa Claus appearing). 

Why fans enjoy "Doctor Who?" or the Doctor 'speaking horse', let alone think that the Doctor would come out in favor of same-sex horse marriages, is clever or some sign of genius I genuinely have no idea.

Doctor Who 2.0 is dying.  It is a bad show, too wrapped up in it own faux-mythology to be any good as solid science-fiction.  People may love it, but they also have an affinity for things like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Adam Sandler movies.  Does that make them 'quality' too?  Popularity and quality are not always the same.  It's clear that Steven Moffat, self-delusional 'genius' is at the heart of all Doctor Who's problems.  If he remains stubborn and is allowed to hold on to power, then the brilliant work that has come before, and that includes the revived Doctor Who, will all be shambles, sacrificed at the altar of a raging egomaniac who is surrounded by sycophants and nitwits.



1 comment:

  1. Did you ever get around to watching Gridlock? In which a human woman is married to a cat and gives birth to kittens? Or the absurdity of The End of Time where the Master turns all humans on Earth(except the Doctor's closest friends!) into exact clones of himself?

    Personally I like silliness. If it's appropriate. If during the build-up scenes(which Nu Who can't afford to do) the Doctor makes a silly joke or reference, it's fun. However, the Doctor making unfunny jokes during the climactic, supposed-to-be-tense scenes doesn't work. And turning the whole story into silliness makes it a silly story.

    I don't like vulgarity at all either. It's funny that the Classic Series, which never used vulgarity, seems far more mature than the Nu Series, which uses vulgarity a lot. That's what various people don't realise. Being grown-up doesn't mean swearing and making constant sexual references. Being grown-up means behaving in a mature, appropriate fashion. Most of Nu Who's moments are aimed at little kids who think it's 'funny' or 'bad' or whatever. And then there's Davies' "grown-up" Torchwood which a friend of mine described as "what 12-year-olds think grown-up Sci-Fi is like".

    The conclusion is also very depressing. I love Doctor Who, and have done so for decades. I have loads of DVDs(and old videos), audios, magazines, comics, novels, short stories, guides(official and unofficial), games, toys etc. On the one hand I love Doctor Who, and it's been a major part of my life for a long time. On the other hand I loathe and despise what Davies and especially Moffat have done to Doctor Who. I am disgusted that if one goes to the BBC's page for the character The Master that a big picture of Michelle Gomez dressed like a third-rate Mary Poppins stares back at you. Any Google search for 'Cybermen' brings up the pathetic Iron Man knock offs. That the beloved Brigadier was reduced to a zombie Tony Stark wannabe flying corpse. That I am constantly "informed" by people that 'Cybermen could always fly', that 'Time Lords could always change gender when they regenerate', that 'Doctor Who is just a fantasy programme, why are you taking ti so seriously?', and most of all 'Doctor Who is more popular now than it's ever been before, Doctor Who is better written now than it's ever been before, and that I'm just being deliberately negative and trollish to find ANY fault with it'.

    Who knows? Maybe one day the Whovians, Moffia whatever will move on to something else. And maybe then the real fans who love Doctor Who for what it is, not what Moffat tells us it should be, will get it back. But will anyone want it back by then?


Views are welcome, but I ask that there be no foul language. Any comments with either vulgar words or that are bigoted in any way towards anyone based on sex, race, religion, or any other protected category will not be published. Keep it clean and keep it respectful. Thank you.