The Doctor is in, but the storyline is hard to find
Doctor Who has just finished its most recent series, with what could be classed as “pretty good ratings for the ABC”.
For those in the audience who have been watching the entire run, it was a thrilling conclusion to a story that has been teased out over the course of thirteen episodes. To casual viewers, they’ll be left wondering what the hell Van Gogh, Winston Churchill and a Dalek made of stone are doing in the same story.
Even to those who are regular viewers, trying to figure out everything that happened in this episode is likely to turn you cross-eyed. The Doctor gets himself out of trouble using some logic that seems to be borrowed from Red Dwarf – a future me is going to travel back in time and get me out of this mess. They’ll know how to do that because they already saw themselves doing it when they were me.
Got that? If Doctor Who were a straight out science-fiction show, then this would be a problem. Instead what the Brits present us with is a show with drama, romance, and comedy thrown in as well.
This has been an important year for Doctor Who – it’s the first year of the reign of Stephen Moffatt behind the scenes, a man who has churned out some of the best episodes screened since its return five years ago. It’s been the first appearance of the newest, youngest Doctor so far, the 27 year old Matt Smith (anything you will comment at this point, I’ve heard). All smouldering sexual tension has been dispensed with, and this Doctor seems relatively “up for it”. The Daleks have formed a rainbow coalition by adopting a colour scheme that takes its inspiration from the Teletubbies. For those that have been watching the new series religiously, this is quite a lot to handle all at once.
It’s not too much of a leap of judgement to say that the strain has shown as well. Doctor Who has, at its heart, always been about a terribly clever man saving the world with just his intellect. After forty years, the show simply hasn’t left the formula of coming up with a big problem, and then saving it all with the flick of a switch.
Along the way there might be guest appearances by Kylie Minogue or John Simm… but there’s always a reset button somewhere, waiting to be pushed. The problem the Doctor faces can only be so big.
Saving the universe? Again, you say? If anything, I’m surprised it took this long for the strain to show.
But science-fiction fans are, if nothing, dedicated. Well, dedicated and vocal, against all odds. On the other side of the pond, where a drop in ratings are usually something to worry about, the recent Doctor Who track record has some inspired justification – fallout from a recent election, competition from the FIFA World Cup, a time slot that won’t remain still long enough to for a Dalek to wave it’s stalk at, even the warm weather is to blame.
The ratings, of course, have nothing to do with how hard it has become to keep track of the show’s storyline.
Regardless of what you thought of the final episode, Matt Smith and his TARDIS will be back with a Christmas special and a new series next year. The Doctor has got many years of time travelling fun ahead of him.
How do I know that? A future version of me travelled back in time from the future and told me.
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