I know I’ve done a lot of video posts instead of my own thoughts lately thanks to how crazy things are right now or just being tired. And what you’re about to see is a five hour video, but when I come across something I have to fight to pull away from it’s something worth sharing. So have a seat, wait until you get to your computer or Smart TV unless you have a stand for your tablet or smartphone, maybe get some Spring cleaning done with this in the background because we’re going to be here a while.
It’s tough for me to pick on the Chibnall seasons of Doctor Who considering I watched a few episodes and wasn’t all that interested. The strange thing is it doesn’t even live up to those first two episodes I watched. The more I hear about the show the less interesting it becomes. The characters aren’t interesting, the Doctor doesn’t live up to the confidence of her previous incarnations. It’s like they made the girl Doctor and didn’t really do anything with her until the history-breaking “Timeless Child” nonsense. (As opposed to the Timless child, a child who never knew anybody named Tim. Luckily I know a Tim and he’s a good guy.) I’ve seen plenty of videos going over specific issues but tonight here’s one that goes into ALL the problems. The fact that it takes five hours to get there and it isn’t just for the jokes that keep the video interesting during the deep analysis is the sad part, even with three seasons of her and the “Fam” in action.
In this video by Jay Exci we get a good long look at the three seasons of Doctor Who, why Chibnall doesn’t understand the franchise, and why no matter who was playing the Doctor the show would have problems. It comes down to consistency, characterization (or the lack thereof), and that retcon. Note that there is random swearing in the commentary.
In a recent radio interview (according to this article from Fansided’s “Winter Is Coming” blog) Jodie Whitaker said that she didn’t research the old show or the previous Doctors, not even Peter Capaldi’s run just before hers, and Chris Chibnall thought that was a good thing.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve done it wrong. I’ve done it wrong’ and we were only like six weeks in and I had seven months left. I came in to work I was like, ‘You should have told me, I’ve been doing it wrong!’”
“He was very clear that he wanted me to come in with a very fresh perspective and to not necessarily sit at the beginning and work through the entire thing, because his vision was that I came in with a new energy for that.”
Chibnall didn’t seem interested in following the classic Doctor, though as the video shows he would reference moments on a surface level. That sounds like the big problem. Stuff that works on a surface level fails because it doesn’t make sense in use. We’ve all seen Hollywood do a special effect to death, beating a newly popular genre into the ground rather than properly integrate it into their movie list, and comic artists joining them in using some visually interesting imagery without understanding why any of it worked. It’s a combination of outright laziness and looking down on your audience and the art of storytelling. These things work for a reason but not when the creators don’t really care. They just want to look cool, get awards and praise from their yes-men and colleagues, and don’t really care about what they’re doing so long as their resume leads to what they really want to be doing or they get to do something whether it works for the story or not. It’s really kind of sad.
Yet you have the Timeless Child. Defenders point to a scene in “The Brain Of Morbius” showing more than the then current four Doctor, but that was a screw-up on the writer’s part that nobody along the line opted to fix. I don’t think Chibnall even cared about that. He killed off Gallifrey and the Time Lords again, after Davies decided to get rid of it for some stupid reason and Moffat went through the hoops to bring them back, a sort of “friendemy” for the Doctor. They’re his people but they can be real jerks sometimes. They need to stop tossing that potential out. Meanwhile we’ve gone over how the Timeless Child was unnecessary because the Doctor is a traveler who helps the people he/she comes across and doesn’t have to be the most special person ever. That was my issue with the “Cartmel Master Plan” as presented in the novel Lungbarrow and my biggest issue with Russel T. Davies’s run outside his ruining of Christmas iconography and killing off the serialized format of the original show.
I also wonder if all the explaining is an overblown pushback to “death of the author”, to ensure that what Chibnall intends to be the interpretation is in fact the only interpretation out there. It’s just a theory but some people are so obsessed with the idea that it won’t work anyway, so what you get is unnecessary exposition that makes it appear the writer has no trust in his own writing or in his audience. If any of the other writers have been doing this as well, then the same applies to them.
Rumors are out there that Whitaker, and some even say Chibnall as well, are looking to leave the show. I’ve heard these before with previous Doctors and showrunners only for them to still be around for another season or two. Doctors tend to do only three seasons with some exceptions (Tom Baker stayed on longer while Christopher Eccleston left after one due to health issues and problems with the BBC Wales management) while Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat each only have two Doctors in their run. So I don’t put much stock in rumors. Could things turn around with a better showrunner and writers who actually care about the series? Maybe. They’d have to get the show’s messages straight, give characters personalities, flaws to overcome, skills to be useful, and a decent arc. They would have to respect the franchise. And they’d have to give 13th a minor overhaul where she gains a bit more confidence. It could work…with the right people involved but more and more I’m worried the right people aren’t the ones moving ahead in the entertainment industry or as stewards of cultural icons in storytelling.
Also Chibnall’s TARDIS is ugly, especially compared to Moffat’s. He’s right, they should have stuck with his second console. It’s the best of the New Who consoles.