Doctor Who is my favorite TV show of all time. It struck at the perfect time of my childhood and captured my heart and imagination. For as long as I live, I will remember the different incarnations of the Doctor, the Daleks and Cybermen, and the many different adventures starring the titular time traveler. When people say space ship or time machine, my first thought will always be a big blue police box, and that wonderful wheezing sound will be ingrained in my mind for decades to come.
And as a huge fan of the series, I was exceptionally excited for season 11. We would get a brand new show runner, the first ever female incarnation of the Doctor, and a brand new ensemble cast to share the adventure with. What could possibly go wrong? I was ready for a brand new adventure with a brand new Doctor!
Except… She really isn’t a brand new Doctor. And these new adventures are really anything but thrilling.
Today, I’m going to break down the major problems that drag season 11 down and prevent it from being truly special. Some of these may seem like little things, but the little details make the big picture. With that said, let’s get started with our first and most important point…
Jodie Whitaker: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Jodie Whitaker is a great actress. She’s got charisma, genuine skill, and she’s fully capable of variety. She can be goofy and charming or dramatic and serious and do a great job at both. The issues with her character are not at all her fault. It’s all the fault of the script.
Here’s the issue with Jodie, and no it’s not the fact that she’s a woman. The issue is that, in terms of personality, she’s not a unique character. She’s just a copy-paste of Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the 11th Doctor. He’s my favorite incarnation of the character. But I loved him because he was unique. He was goofier yet more intimidating than any other incarnation of the Doctor before him.
The 13th Doctor on the other hand is just derivative. She’s goofy, eccentric, and brilliant (although not exempt from making some serious stupid mistakes). But it’s okay! Now she makes jokes about how she’ll never get used to being a woman practically every episode!
Because that didn’t get old after episode two.
That’s not to say the show doesn’t have good characters. Rian, Graham and Yas are all good side characters, and they have solid chemistry with each other and the Doctor. I just can’t get over the fact that the Doctor herself, the title character, isn’t anything new. Wouldn’t it have been amazing if the first female Doctor was also a cool and new character?
A man can dream.
Tell, Don’t Show
One of the most important things to remember when making a movie or TV show is that film is a visual medium. As such, you need to show the audience what’s happening. Simply telling the audience that something happened isn’t enough. If you want to immerse them, emotionally engage them and catch their interest, you need to show the audience what’s happening.
This season doesn’t do that. At all. It constantly hides something just off screen from the audience, and some of these are really annoying. For example, the second episode features the Doctor and friends flying to a planet that had been knocked far out of it’s orbit. Because of it’s altered trajectory, it now orbits three separate stars (which would realistically fry the planet like an egg, but whatever). Instead of showing us this possibly amazing sight, however, it focuses on the characters faces without ever panning around to show the planet itself.
I’m not watching a fucking play, I’m watching a sci-fi TV show! LET ME SEE THE SCI-FI, DAMN IT!!
Previous seasons of Doctor Who followed the ‘Show, don’t Tell’ rule very well. It always showed you what was happening and what the Doctor was facing. Sure, the special effects weren’t always great, but it sold you on the world. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was enough to get you sucked into the show and put you on the edge of your seat.
Let’s take an example from one of the best episodes in the entire series: Silence in the Library. Y’know. The episode from ten fucking years ago.
When the Doctor and Donna arrive at the Library, they’re initially carefree and excited. The Doctor rambles on about books and lecturing, and other such Doctor monologuing things. Then, after a moment of silence, the Doctor makes a realization. It’s quiet. Too quiet.
And then this shot happens.
After focusing entirely on the Doctor and Donna for the first chunk of the episode, the camera pans up and shows us the same sight the characters are seeing. We realize what the Doctor’s talking about right alongside Donna. For the first time, we see just how hauntingly empty and quiet the library is. This immediately gets the audience engaged and puts them on their toes. The silence is deafening.
This one shot alone makes the audience ask questions. What happened here? Where is everyone? Are the Doctor and Donna in danger? How long has it been like this? Questions like these suck viewers into the story quickly, and the rest of the episode keeps them there.
By hiding everything behind the camera, you prevent the audience from getting into the show. You essentially build a wall between the characters and the viewers. The only question the audience is asking is ‘Why can’t I see it?!’
In a visual medium, that is a question that no one should be asking.
Music, or the Lack-thereof
Doctor Who has one of the greatest soundtracks out of any TV show I’ve ever seen. From the Doctor’s Theme to Doomsday to I am the Doctor, each episode has a long list of spectacular tracks. Hell, I listen to that music at work! I’m listening to it right now!
The new music, on the other hand… Actually, is there any new music? Because I can’t hear any of it.
Murray Gold is one of the finest composers in the television industry. He’s been working on Doctor Who for a long time. And now? I don’t even know if he’s been working on the show. The music is too lack luster to be his, and I’m too lazy to look it up!
Every other season of Doctor Who has a collection of tracks that stick with you. Music that you find yourself humming in the shower. But the music in the new season is so forgettable that, even after watching the first episode six times, I can’t remember for the life of me!
You took one of the strongest aspects of the show and ruined it! HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!
This is where I get genuinely upset. Everything else I can kind of deal with. But this? This was the point that made me realize that I didn’t like this new season.
Doctor Who has some of the most memorable villains in television. The Master, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Weeping Angels, and so many more are some of the most iconic monsters ever made! Even if you haven’t seen Doctor Who before, you know what a Dalek is, or how the Weeping Angels move when you don’t look at them. That’s how memorable these villains are!
The new villains, on the other hand, are a complete fucking joke. None of them are memorable, intimidating or even that distinct. The first is a dude with teeth in his face, the next is a planet, and then there were giant spiders. Nothing unique, like the abominations called the Daleks.
Easily the worst example is this mother fucker whose name I genuinely can’t remember from the episode ‘Rosa’.
This dude is the most pathetic mother fucker in the history of television! His motivations for his actions are simply ‘I’m racist’. No I’m not kidding. That’s the only reason he’s trying to change history. And he doesn’t even try that hard! They explain that he was in jail for a while, and he was genetically altered so that he can’t harm anyone.
And even if he can’t kill her, he just let’s the Doctor walk all over him! She straight up rips the Vortex Manipulator off his wrist and starts stomping it beneath her heel, thus locking him in the past. What does he do to stop her? Nothing. Literally nothing until it’s too late.
Yep. That makes a really threatening villain right there.
Words cannot describe the sadness I feel. I never wanted to write this post. I wanted season 11 to bring Doctor Who back to the glory and fame it had just a few years ago. But the quality has only declined to the lowest point in the show’s long history, and the ratings reflect that. And even worse: there won’t be a Christmas special this year.
Well, my Christmas is ruined.
It’s cruel to say, but I honestly hope the show ends. It only makes me sad to watch it at this point. The show is a shell of it’s former self, and no it’s not because the Doctor is a fucking woman now!
Ugh… This is just depressing to talk about. I’m going to take a nap and cry into my pillow.