Dr Who

Chris Chibnall’s Folly

A picture showing the tombstone of Dr Who

What’s Who?

If you don’t know what Doctor Who is, please understand that it was at one time the longest-running sci-fi TV show in the world. A British pop culture phenomenon for 50-odd years, beloved by millions. It was a popular mainstay on Australian TV for decades, and had a significant following in the United States as well.

Classic Who

I watched Doctor Who for the first time when I was about 7 years old in the early 1980s. I used to catch it every afternoon after school – I rarely missed an episode. Some stories had a profound impact on my psyche. I still think about many of them, even today. This was when Tom Baker held sway as the Fourth Doctor, by the way, so for me he was THE Doctor and always will be!

Peter Davison took over as the Fifth Doctor, and I thought he did a pretty decent job.

And then I kind of lost track of things, because the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors all passed me by. I didn’t know the show was actually on during those years. Maybe I just wasn’t watching much TV, and was busy with other stuff. I was away at boarding school for a bit, too, and we didn’t really get much TV time.

Doctor Who dissolved by the end of the 80s, and an attempt at reviving the series in the 90s failed. There was a movie in there somewhere, I think, but no one watched it.

Nu Who!

Fast-forward to 2005, and the re-boot. Along came Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. I loved him, his companions (especially Rose), the storylines, the dialogue, everything. Fantastic! Doctor Who was back! The Doctor was saving the universe from his foes the Daleks, and the old magic was there! Woo hoo!

David Tennant was mostly brilliant as the Tenth Doctor.  The show was top-notch for a long time, but it did feel as if something died with the departure of Donna. When Amy and Rory took over as companions, I liked them at first, but they became increasingly annoying as time went by. I definitely thought the quality of the show improved when they were finally ‘retired.’

Shit! Who?

Matt Smith made a decent Eleventh Doctor, I thought, but things started to go seriously downhill during his run. The writing was growing progressively weaker, and Clara Oswald became less entertaining as a companion and a lot more irritating. In fact, she was beginning to overshadow the Doctor. It felt more like The Clara Show, featuring Doctor Who. I noped out after watching The Caretaker in 2014. I couldn’t stand Clara by then and I really didn’t care for her boyfriend Danny, either. Watching them constantly making googly eyes at each other was nauseating enough, but seeing him casually somersault over a ‘world-destroying’ battle droid was the straw that broke this viewer’s back. Oh, man. It. Was. So. Fucking. Dumb.

Not Who

In 2016 or 2017 I tried to pick up again during Peter Capaldi’s reign as Twelfth Doctor, but for some reason the series seemed to have developed a real hatred of men (including, bizarrely, of the Doctor himself). Male characters were generally depicted as bumbling pathetic losers, contrasted by female characters who were invariably smart, resilient and strong. I couldn’t grasp why this was now a thing. Radical feminists aside, who wants to see that? And with this baffling misandrist agenda came some exceptionally poor writing, casting choices and acting. I couldn’t even make it through the few episodes I tried to watch. They were unbearable, some of the worst TV I’ve ever seen. And not surprisingly, viewer ratings were bad.

It was obvious that Doctor Who was caught in a death spiral.

Bye, Who

Chris Chibnall became the new showrunner, and Jodie Whittaker played the Thirteenth Doctor in 2018. Forget the Doctor’s old foes – the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master and whatnot – masculinity took over as the greatest threat in the universe. Why? I’ve no fucking idea. All I know is that for the next couple of years, the show declared open season on men and took cheap shots at anything and everything identifiable as ‘male.’ As you can imagine, the writing was abysmal. Terrible new characters, dreadful acting, the crappiest storylines. It was all mind-numblingly stupid, just episode after episode of ham-fisted misandrist cringe. The series had become alien, impenetrable, unpalatable. And utterly, utterly pointless.

The Timeless Children was a particularly disgraceful episode, and easily the worst of all time. It wasn’t just a spectacular dumpster fire in terms of storytelling, it held every pre-Whittaker (i.e. inferior male) Doctor in contempt. It was a great big middle finger to men in general, because the overarching message was overwhelmingly masculine bad, feminine good. Even worse, in one fell swoop it obliterated decades of carefully crafted canon. It was the worst kind of retcon, completely undoing a beloved character. It was a giant ‘fuck you’ to long-standing fans of the show. I already suspected that Doctor Who was dead before The Timeless Children went to air, and this only confirmed it. The final nail in his coffin. A show-stopper, only literally.

The show’s ratings with Whittaker as the Doctor were bad. Really, really bad. Who was watching? Legions of core fans had long since turned away. New fans were thin on the ground. Chibnall’s version of Nu Who was like New Coke: no one wanted it, and no one liked it. Unfortunately, we can’t fall back to Classic Coke. The Old Doctor is dead, unless we pretend that Whittaker never happened (and you can throw Capaldi out as well, in my opinion). But what are the chances of this happening? Practically zero.

So there you have it. Doctor Who lies still in his grave, and Chibnall and Whittaker will forever be remembered as the ones who put him there. Thanks, cunts. How does it feel to fuck over a cultural icon?

Farewell Doctor. You were the best and worst.

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Posted by H.R. van Adel in Personal, 0 comments