Your Humble Blogger is a bit of a Whovian; I wrote a bit about it a couple of years ago. Since then, I have started watching the New Who; I enjoyed the entire David Tennant stretch—more or less, and I should write about that at some point—and have watched the first season of Matt Smith in the role, and am taking a break. I was disappointed in his portrayal, and the choices that the show made around replacing David Tennant. And, since I had watched the whole David Tennant era in six months or so, I wasn’t sure if the problem is in the show, or just that I needed a break. So my Best Reader and I decided to take a break for a while, and then the news came that the Doctor will be regenerating again.
So. Here’s the thing I was saying, last week, before this news came out: it was a problem for me to have three young, manic Doctors in a row. I think that they made a very sensible commercial choice, but another young, manic doctor made the show …the same as it was before the regeneration. I am bored with it.
Now, the show isn’t for me. I am an old Whovian, at heart, and what’s more I am old, or at least middle-aged, and besides that I don’t purchase DVDs or T-Shirts or talking Dalek toys or any of that. When I step into the sort of places that have talking Dalek toys, I am simultaneously pleased and appalled that such things not only exist but are readily available—but I am long past the time when I might have spent my hard-earned money on them. And I really don’t want the show to lose all its ratings, for everyone to go broke and have the show die again; they should make a choice that is a moneymaker, because they are in the money business. And, as far as artistic integrity goes, well, artists are different one to another, so let’s not get our hearts set on everyone’s vision of artistic integrity matching up with YHB’s. And it’s probably worth noting that most people seem to think that the David Tennant years had more of that artistic integrity stuff than my beloved rubber monster heads did, so there’s that, too.
Having said that, I am willing to say that what I would really like is for the new Doctor to be substantially different, physically, from the last three. I don’t mean hairstyle. I mean I would like a Doctor who needs to rely on companions for physical support.
The most obvious way to do this would be to go back to having a middle-aged Doctor, or even an old one (old being relative—Bill Hartnell was in his mid-fifties, but played older), who cannot run long distances, leap to safety over depthless chasms, or spring back from lead-pipe beatings like a cartoon character. A Doctor who has to sit and rest, now and then, and use his brain or other non-physical attributes. A Doctor with a pronounced limp or a club hand or severe myopia or something similar would be difficult (but not, for clever writers, impossible) to square with what we know of Gallifreyan biology, but would be interesting nonetheless. Or, perhaps, a Doctor who is about a meter tall—Warwick Davis isn’t terribly busy these days, is he?
I’m not, actually, thinking of this from a political point of view, although certainly having a Doctor with some physical limitations would be helpful in fighting the stigma there. I’m just interested in it from a story-telling point of view, putting some extra obstacles in the way of the Doctor and his life.
The Doctor of my youth, the Fourth, was (in my memory, anyway) primarily a puzzle-solver. He could fight, and he could run, and he could persuade—but the fun part was watching him figure things out. The stories were puzzles that yielded to solutions, or appeared to yield to solutions only to reveal new puzzles that yielded to new solutions. Why did somebody steal the Mona Lisa? Who is murdering the human crew of the sandminer? Why doesn’t the lighthouse on Fang Rock have its light working? Why are all the coins in the dead man’s pocket minted in the same year? They weren’t all puzzles, and sometimes the puzzle was of the how do we use these parts we found lying around the shed to stop the Bad Guys variety that the Tenth of course used a lot as well. Still, like a lot of the science fiction of the generation before, the setting was designed to present problems solvable by a Scientist! rather than an action hero.
I like that sort of thing. I am not the target audience for New Who, but I like that sort of thing, more than I like the sort of thing with close-ups of actors indicating loneliness and loss with their eyes.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,