Monday, September 21, 2015

The Crudeness of (New) Doctor Who

 The Crudeness of (New) Doctor Who

Will the Doctor ever play the recorder again?

***Spoiler Alert!*** 
(If you've not seen the first episode yet, you might want to read this later. Just sayin'!)

Last week, I wrote about The Charm of Doctor Who, comparing and contrasting the Doctor’s various personas in the classic series. This week I thought I’d give a short review on the new series' latest episode, The Magician’s Apprentice.

First off, I’m not very clear on the title. The Doctor seemed to have a helper in Bors, but is he really an “apprentice” and is the Doctor a “magician” or just wearing a red lined magician’s jacket? Is Clara to become an “apprentice”? There’s no real hint of that being the case yet, and of course, it’s “to be continued” so we’re forced to watch the next episode to find out. At least we can see that Clara is over her dead boyfriend, Danny, and has moved on with her teaching career while moonlighting for U.N.I.T. on the side. (One wonders whatever happened to Martha Jones and Mickey Smith—aren’t they still working for U.N.I.T.? Perhaps they’d be better agents to contact in these type of situations?)

Second thing, the “charming” element of the show seems to have gone for good, replaced by crudeness and lewd behavior. Of course, I'm referring to the scene where Missy (still wearing the Mary Poppins’ outfit) makes an off-color adult remark about the TARDIS and then strokes the Dalek’s “ball” in his “crotch area”. Uh, yeah… That’s pretty much killed any family-friendly rating for the entire series in my opinion, but it’s perhaps what the current show runner wants. After all, if your target audience is seventh grade boys, then why not litter the show with middle school boys’ locker room humor? Heck, you don’t even need to think about pleasing the female viewers or more mature adults in the audience, do you? (And those pesky seven and eight year olds—who said you could stay up late and watch, Doctor Who, huh? Mom, Grandma—get those little ones in bed!)

The best elements of the episode (disconnected as they are) were the fact that Peter Capaldi plays a mean guitar and the opening five minutes with the young boy Davros standing in a battlefield. The Davros-as-a-young-boy scene harkened back to the Tom Baker era when the Fourth Doctor pondered, “Should you kill a race knowing that one day they could become mass murderers?” The Fourth Doctor didn’t commit genocide that day, and you do wonder if that decision ever plagued him later. But after the first five minutes, the big yellow tank (however did the Doctor transport it there?) and the guitar playing (the Doctor gave up tooting the recorder, huh?) took over, and then came the crude comments of the psychopathic Missy on the Dalek's home world which sullied the whole story concept.

Dear ol' Crazy Sue White...

I mean, was the character of Missy even necessary for this story? (No explanations given on why she’s still alive or how the Doctor knows how to contact her to give her his last will and testament.) Couldn’t more emphasis be put on the Doctor and his “decision” with the boy Davros and how he might make right his decision not to commit genocide against the Daleks previously? The Magician’s Apprentice held the kernel of a great story idea, but instead we get stuck with a foul-mouthed middle aged woman dressed as Mary Poppins burning up the screen. Why are women of a “certain age” (I being one of them) to be portrayed as homicidal lunatics with lewd behaviors and horrible taste in clothing? (I don’t own any Edwardian-era purple traveling suits myself. None of my friends do, either.)

Oh, well, at least Clara was shown to be level-headed and not riddled with angst about lying to her soldier boyfriend this time out. She’s a lot less irritating than last year—so far. But why do we need to be stuck with Michelle Gomez’s repetition of her crazy hospital administrator Sue White from Green Wing? Surely she’s got more acting chops than just playing crazy and crude psychopaths?

We’re lucky, however. We get Retro TV,  and this week Retro TV is broadcasting the classic series Jon Pertwee adventure Inferno. Companion Liz Shaw and the scientist Petra Williams are both written as strong, intelligent and independent females who help the Doctor solve the mystery of why it’s so dangerous to frack our planet. (Okay, they’re drilling into the Earth’s crust and not fracking, but it’s similar!) The Third Doctor even time-warps into an alternate reality and meets up with an evil Sergeant Benton and a scarred-face Brigadier in a pirate’s eye patch. Exciting sci-fi adventure with no crude commentary allowed. As long as we have these older episodes available, the charm of Doctor Who lives on.

What do you find "charming" about Doctor Who? Do you find it in the classic series or the newer series? Leave your comments in the comment box below. Thanks!


A J said...

As a lifelong Whovian I never thought I'd see the day when I'd greet a new series with a 'Meh...' reaction, yet I did. I do not regard Moffatt as being a safe pair of hands for the venerable series. He's too focused on Sherlock.

Rosemary Hahn said...

BBCA is also airing classic Who from 9 am to 11 am Central time.

Cynthianna said...

Good to know! For those who have time in the mornings and BBCA on their cable, watch some classic Doctor Who if you can and compare and contrast the old and new series. Thanks, Rosemary, for the info. :)

Yeah, I know what you mean, AJ. After watching the classic series all over again on Retro TV this past year, you don't really get too excited by the Moffat version. I did write a piece about how I felt he should focus on Sherlock (if that's his "favorite child"), but perhaps the lure of making more money producing two shows is too great for him to ignore.

Tommy said...

I think The Magicians Apprentice is Davros...
I think what Moffat is trying to suggest is that the boy learns his malice and antipathy from the Doctor, but since the genuinely good plot with The Doctor and Davros was completely overshadowed by all the needless frippery with Missy and Clara, it probably got lost somewhere between Missy tickling a Daleks balls, and Clara telling her class she'd snogged Jane Austen without ONE WORD from the kids... not even a "What' you on about Miss?"
Kate Stewart is now a Grade A bona fide moron... typical Moffat motif... make everyone in the room suddenly stupid so that any rational idea sounds "Clever"... that's why The head of UNIT... a strategic military defence organisation... needs Saint Oswald to explain that planes can be used as bombs cos Kate hadn't thought of that...
The head of UNIT didn't look at all those planes and think of a potential "9/11" across the world!
(But if you watch... its how he makes Sherlock so clever... as Sherlock, Clara or The Doctor walk into a room... everyone else gets lobotomised...)

Cynthianna said...

I think you made the connection I couldn't, Tommy: Davros is the "Magician's Apprentice" and not someone else in the episode. So, the Doctor has become a "magician" (a performer who does tricks through slight of hand) rather than a venerable Time Lord who works hard and uses his vast knowledge of time and space and science to solve problems... I think you've hit the nail on the head about how "clever" the Doctor sounds next to all the other characters who act lobotomized by comparison, too.

It is sad that you can't employ stronger scriptwriters and series editors who could point out the story's weaknesses and help tweak them so they'd work on a more intelligent level. And yes, thousands of frozen airplanes made me think about 9/11 as well. Did Moffat really want to bring up those frightening memories? I guess the crude, lewd behaviors of Missy were suppose to make us forget those real-life horrors. Instead, it just had me scratching my head and wondering, "Why has Doctor Who sunk so low that adult humor of a sexual nature is seen as necessary to generate ratings? What's so wrong with producing an intelligent, family friendly TV show nowadays? Do young children not matter to the BBC anymore? Are the Daleks adult-only?"

google-site-verification: googlec9fe367ac800d499.html