The Doctor and the Crow

Something a little different for this post…

As long-term readers will know, I am a big fan of the BBC television series Doctor Who. Unlike other fans out there, I do not differentiate between what they refer to as “Classic Who” and “Nu-Who” – as far as I’m concerned, it’s all one series, which had a bit of a break in transmission between 1987 and 2005.

And long-term readers will also know that that I’m not afraid to express my considered opinion, even if it is variance with the general consensus of the nation.

For example, whilst I did thoroughly enjoy the Black Panther film, unlike other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seemed a little…familiar. Basically, in my opinion, Black Panther is The Lion King with a big dollop of James Bond.

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And now I’ve probably ruined it for everyone…

Anyway, let’s get back to Doctor Who.

Once again, unlike the polarised views of the viewing public, I don’t give a monkey’s that the Doctor is now female. When selecting an actor to portray the Doctor, you choose the best person for the role and gender isn’t an issue. Was there a big outcry when Michelle Gomez was revealed as the Master? Of course not, because she was so bloody good in the role.

Having now watched the first two episodes of the new series with Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and Chris Chibnall as lead writer and showrunner, I feel that I can give a considered opinion on the new series.

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The first episode introducing the new incarnation of the Doctor should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from this version – we knew what sort of Doctor we were getting with Eccleston, Tennant and Smith from the off, as we did with all the previous incarnations. Capaldi took a while to develop fully, so I didn’t immediately warm to him and it appears that Whittaker may follow a similar path…which brings me to my issue with the series so far.

Chris Chibnall is probably best known as the creator and writer of Broadchurch, which has been rightly hailed as a decent bit of television. And he is no stranger to the Whoniverse, having written five episodes of the main series, as well as eight episodes of the Torchwood spin-off.

But, whilst his particular brand of deep characterisation may work well over a complete series such as Broadchurch, it doesn’t fare so well in a series such as Doctor Who. His previous episodes for Doctor Who were the tenth Doctor episode “42”, and the eleventh Doctor episodes “The Hungry Earth”, “Cold Blood”, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” and “The Power of Three.” I think we can safely discount his Torchwood writing credits, as he was responsible for the most godawful episode ever -“Cyberwoman.” Trust me, if you haven’t seen this episode, count yourself very fortunate.

The thing that all these episodes share is that the focus is on the other characters in the episode, rather than “Who” it should be. The order of importance should be: The Doctor, the threat/aliens and then the companions. Chibnall puts the peripheral characters first, followed by the Doctor and the plot of the episode is almost an afterthought.

Given that his last work on Who was back in 2012 with “The Power of Three”, an episode that was all about the Ponds with a particular daft plot and nonsensical ‘villain’, and he’d been doing sterling work on Broadchurch in-between, I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and approached the new series with an open-ish mind. But having watched the first two episodes, they fall into the same category as his previous ones.

In “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” we get introduced to a bunch of characters that we know are going to end up as the Doctor’s travelling companions and don’t actually see the new incarnation of the Doctor until at least ten minutes in. Lots of backstory for these characters, but not much for us to get to know the new Doctor, who initially comes across as a slightly hyperactive Victoria Wood.

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“By ‘eck, did someone say Eccles Cakes?!”

Then we get our ‘villain’ – a knock-off Predator in a rather cool suit, who disappointingly doesn’t turn out to be a multi-eyed bug under the helmet, but an intergalactic blue tooth-fairy. Called ‘Tim Shaw’…

It’s the first episode of the new series and it should have been…bigger. Louder, more dangerous, with a truly memorable villain. This felt like a mid-season episode, a filler, after the grand opening and before the big finale.

Perhaps we’ve just been spoiled over the previous years, but it was like an indoor firework – it promised so much, but the packaging didn’t match the product.

The second episode “The Ghost Monument” was an improvement, but again the characterisation of the tertiary characters seemed more important than cementing in who this Doctor actually is or the video-game like plot of the episode.

It just doesn’t feel like Doctor Who yet, which is not a good thing. Even Class, the teen spin-off that aired on BBC3 and is available on Netflix, felt more like Doctor Who after it’s first episode – and the monsters were a damn sight more imaginative, dangerous and scary than what we’ve seen so far on the new series. If you’ve got Netflix, go and watch it – it’s pretty cool.

So, currently no overly enamoured by “Chibi-Who”, and rumour has it that we shall not be seeing any of the Doctor’s classic foes. This does not bode well.

We shall have to hope it improves.

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11 thoughts on “The Doctor and the Crow

  1. Sorry crow… couldn’t agree with you less… these two episodes have been a welcome breath of fresh air, in a show that has been increasingly dire over the last 5 years. In fact the last season of Moffat was unwatchable, litterally for me. I am a long time Who fan and like yourself dont differentiate between old and nu.

    I found Michelle Gomez utterly unconvincing as the master, and almost pantomime bad, woefully overrated.

    Dr Who has always had many interesting side characters who have verify been in focus, often just for a story, so it is great to see Chibnall bring this back. To be honest Moffat’s run had become barely recognisable as Dr Who, and entirely focussed on his badly written companions… I have felt the last two episodes like a homecoming. For me and a good few of my friends and family a show we’d given up on is saved.

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    • No need to apologise, Mike. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Because Doctor Who has been running for a lemgthy period and has such a wide fanbase, everyone will have their own opinion on what it should be. Just as everyone will have their favourite Doctor (Tom Baker for me). I’m not frothing and refusing to watch, it just doesn’t quite feel like Who yet to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know much about Dr. Who, but I’ve always heard Tom Baker is pretty much “the guy”.

    Much like Eric Roberts as the Master.

    (And that’s how you get banned from Jez’s blog, folks…)

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    • Tom Baker is THE quintessential Doctor, in my opinion, mixing a certain degree of arrogance with a sense of child-like fun, wrapped in an otherworldly nature. Each actor has brought their own interpretation of the character to the show. With Whittaker, we haven’t seen enough to get an idea of what sort of Doctor she will be, but given her previous roles, I’m hopeful.

      Eric Roberts as the quintessential Master? That may get your frothing fan up in arms, but won’t get you banned from here. Go back and watch Roger Delgado as the Master – the first and the best portrayal of that character. I’m letting you off because you claim to not know much about Doctor Who…

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      • I really don’t know much about Doctor Who, but I did watch that one Eric Roberts performance. Even knowing little about the Who mythos, I can recognize when an actor doesn’t fit the role.
        Just some good-natured pin-pulling before I lob the grenade, Jez. Something similar to claiming Rex Smith was the best Daredevil. (If you’re unfamiliar with that performance, don’t go rushing out to search for it.)

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        • I guess that makes Reb Brown the best Captain America then? Oooh, imagine someone puttong together a fake trailer for an Avengers movie using footage from all those live-action Marvel shows of the 70s and 80s…that would be incredibly cheesy, but also kinda cool.

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  3. Not really the right person to weigh in here as I’m one of those “frothers” who hate the new series in all its shapes and forms. I did see about one minute of the new series last week, and in disagreement with your “Victoria Wood” comment I thought “why is she playing it as Jane Horrocks!” this is a strange acting choice in my books, and not one I think suits the Doctor, the little bit I saw of Bradley Walsh he seems to either acting very badly, or is just a bad actor, either way this was enough to convince me that I wouldn’t be going back to give the new series a chance. I do seem to be getting the impression that they are trying to tick all the boxes, appealing to women, PC brigade, disabled people, everything except entertainment value. But as I say I’m a biased pig anyway….Tom Baker forever!!!

    Oh I agree with you about “Black Panther” though, still quite enjoyed it. Not the best, but not the worst.

    Cheers Roger.

    Like

    • Doctor Who, given its long history and massive fan-base, is going to polarise fans who prefer “classic” to “Nu” or vice versa. As I’ve said before to others who have dismissed the series out of hand, the quality of writing and acting is variable. You get absolutely brilliant episodes and acting and you also get ones that make no sense and have terrible acting. I think the new series suffers a bit more because there are so many other sci-fi series out there, so people will make comparisons against those, whereas during the initial run of the series, there wasn’t much else to compare it too.

      I have to admit that I like the more convoluted stories, the ones that make you think and the ones that tie in to continuity from the previous era. So far the new series has brought back quite a few of the old school rogue’s gallery and, for the most part, has made them just a little bit cooler. I’m still holding reservations for the re-design of the Silurians, but am happy waht they did with the Ice Warriors, Zygons, Cybermen and Daleks (although the multi-coloured “iDaleks” were a bit too far, in my opinion.

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  4. Pingback: Corvuscope – A New Place to Visit | Carrion Crow's Buffet

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