…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
I thought David Tennant and Matt Smith both made great Doctors (Eccleston is too long ago in my memory for me to recall my judgement). It’s not that Perter Capaldi is making this new Doctor my kind of Doctor, but more the concepts surrounding him.
Capaldi makes for an older Doctor, well we know the Doctor is old, but this is also now reflected too within the TARDIS with all of the old books (very me) and the use of a chalk board. It reminds me of Doc in Back to the Future – a film I enjoy watching time and again.
The theme/opening credits of the new Doctor Who is also quite steampunky with the use of the clock face and gears. However, while I do like these elements, there is something misplaced about them. The Doctor is from Galafrey, so why is he surrounding himself with human inventions – books, clock parts (the clock face element features Roman numerals), and a chalk boards? Or are they things many civilisations throughout space (and time) invent? Or perhaps we never invented them but were taught of their existence by visiting space creatures… alright, that’s all very Erich von Däniken of me.
When there is a TV show, film or book that I don’t like, I am conscious of the possibility that it might just be me (indeed the opposite can also be true) – perhaps I’m not in the right frame of mind to appreciate what it is that others do. I pondered this with the first episode of this series of Doctor Who – from the little bits and pieces I read, fans seemed to be fanatical by default, whereas I wasn’t overly thrilled. The episode where the characters are shrunk and inserted inside a Dalek was a poor on for me – it didn’t seem well implemented – perhaps the challenge of enlarging the innards of a Dalek was too great to make it believable to some parts of the audience. Corridors inside a Darek? Lets drop them into goo. “This is the Dalek’s memory banks – and you just happen to be in the part that you need to be in to turn on its happy thoughts so we can get the hell out of here and end this episode”. I was immediately aware of the film of the same concept (Innerspace) which the Doctor himself alluded to (just to inform the audience that we know this is kind of a rip-off…) but this then made me question: “Why would the Doctor have a brain full of trivial stuff, such as human filmography from back on Earth?” Perhaps he just likes us a lot.
The next episode “Listen” was what made me less cynical and realise that this was my kind of a Doctor. The opening scene had him pondering with a chalkboard (and a candle) just like to Doc in Back to the Future, pacing back and forth, asking himself questions, it’s the episode I really saw around the new TARDIS, well, the control room at least, but he was at least trying to answer a big question – even if it only turned out to be what lurks under our bed. But there is another thing I have noticed.
This series began with the challenge of the Doctor’s companion to recognise that it was still him, the Doctor we all know and love, just with new/old skin. This seemed to be as much for the audience’s benefit. However, with a combination of dialogue in the script and chemistry between the characters (or lack of – I’m not sure at the stage, compared to previous Doctors), now it seems to me like the Doctor looks at Clara Oswald as if she is the stranger.
Another aspect I enjoyed in this episode (and in the next, ‘Time Heist’) was concept of time lines. You see, even though the Doctor is a time traveller, it seemed the concept of seeing one’s self had been amiss for a while. In Listen Clara has the opportunity to see herself from behind and be a brief observer of herself – something I have pondered about myself (should I ever have the opportunity to time travel!) She is also using time to her own advantage by being whisked off on adventures with the Doctor, only to return to present-day Earth a few moments later. The playing with time lines features heavily in Time Heist. I wonder if this meddling will have repercussions later in this series.
And in closing, I’ve just recalled that Back to the Future (where the characters played with time lines a lot) ended with the Doc and his companion, also called Clara. It has only taken me a few years to make that connection.