Friday, 15 February 2013

Overview: Doctor Who: Series Two

Written between 26th January and 9th February 2013.

Series One of the revived series is one that I consider to be pretty much flawless, owing to a combination of factors that complement the superb acting of its lead and the writing that enables it. The second series, something of a "difficult second album," had the job of both introducing a brand new Doctor to the public, but also of living up to the insane standards of the previous year. And, probably to the annoyance of many of you, I don't think that it quite succeeded. I will attempt here and now to explain why, without being too pretentious or insulting. (Two counts on which I will probably fail.)
     Firstly, the good bits. Conceptually, a lot of the stories of the season were actually pretty strong. You had the great Impossible Planet two-parter, as well as the well-executed Parallel Earth story earlier on in the series, as well as several strong offerings from others like Moffat and Toby Whithouse. That's gonna sound like I'm only praising the writers from the current series, and that's completely co-incidental. It is a shame that this is where I think that RTD began to slide in my expectations, not due to any abject change in talent but rather because he became too enamoured with his own characters.
     Rose is the centre of this season's problems for me. I'll just spit it out, I'm going to piss off her fans anyway. I don't hate Rose as a character - I think that it was a good idea to bring the show back with a clear audience recognition figure, and Rose provided that in spades as the charming working-class shopgirl who was carried away by the Doctor's adventures at the same time we were. But after the first series, this role seemed to diminish, and either the guest writers didn't know what to do with her or you had the main writers just trying to get her to fit in. Just take a look at the first four episodes to get what I mean: Two RTD episodes, New Earth and Tooth and Claw, in which the Doctor and Rose are all lovey and smug, and then two current writers tell other stories of the Doctor's escapades and Rose fades into the background. Her story had been told, there was nothing else to do with the character, she'd already done the journey from nobody to God and after that there's nothing much you can do.
     The Tenth Doctor is a bit odd in his first season, in that he seems composed primarily of his initial weirdness and doesn't really get a chance for much seriousness of thought. His characterisation seems to change depending on the writer, ranging from a power-mad weirdo in RTD's episodes to a serious, considerate diplomat in the series' two-parters. I think his popularity stems from the overall sense of "awesomeness" that just emanates from the character, which obviously in many cases is subjective. There's just something about the Tenth Doctor that manages to balance attractive youth and incredible experience, to the extent that, for now, his presence is enough to make you more confident about a situation.
     And that's all I can build up the will to say about this season. It's one that will continue to divide fan opinion, but it's almost universally loved by the public, so I don't really feel at liberty to spread more dirt about it. Suffice to say that I don't think it's as perfect as so many of its fangirls would have the world, believe, and while a lot of it is harmless, there are a few episodes that really just abuse the effort that went into getting the show back on the air. Anything I saw about it will probably be uncontrollable rubbish by this point, so feel free to ignore this article and everything I've said. Onto the next series!


P.S. A very Happy Birthday to my friend Joel, who makes cool music here.

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