June 22nd, 2008

Nearing The End Of Season 4

I love Dr Who, but...

I'm glad that RTD's regime is drawing to an end. I think we need a change of direction- not because I hate what he's done (I don't) but because we know what he's got in his locker now and the tropes are becoming over-familiar. 

The thing I'm most weary of is the doomsday scenario. I've lost count of the number of times the Doctor has saved the earth from total destruction over the past four years. Now he's confronting not just the end of the world but the end of the Universe. And it's going to involve Daleks. Ho hum.

The bigger the story, the sillier the resolution.  An overwhelming threat, all hope lost- and then the day is saved by the power of love or faith or something like that- these final twists are almost always (a) trite and (b) incomprehensible.  Last season's finale involved turning the clocks back to cancel out the horrors of a whole year. It was beyond stupid.  It wouldn't be so bad if RTD didn't seem to take these episodes so seriously. Last night's warm-up for the latest Armageddon, Turn Left, with its dystopian future of atomic holocaust and concentration camps- was exceptionally grim and po-faced. This, we were told on Dr Who Confidential, is what life would be like in a Doctorless universe. Well- ahem- that's the universe we already live in, dontchaknow? 

Under RTD's leadership the show has developed into a compensation fantasy for the Death of God- with the Doctor as an embarrassingly personal Jesus.  He suffers, he dies; he rises again (repeatedly),  he saves us, he dispenses judgement; people are always telling us how wonderful he is. The show in its earlier incarnations was never as religiose as this. If David Tennant weren't such a fun performer- and didn't now have such a reliably earth-bound companion in Catherine Tate-  the character he plays would be insufferable. 

Stephen Moffat is up next. He's always been the best writer in the pack- with a taste, not for apocalypse, but for elegant, intimate spookery. Odds are he'll give us smaller stories and a smaller Doctor. Here's hoping.