Lurky McLurklurk (ionlylurkhere) wrote,
Lurky McLurklurk

Why I will always love Doctor Who

Doctor Who fandom seems to have a weird way of setting up everything as a fight between two camps, so that it becomes impossible to criticise one thing without being automatically seen as a supporter of some diametrically opposite position, rather than occupying a sensible middle ground, as most people do. The old-school/new-school thing seems to have broken out at this point into one of those situations where people are enjoying the fight a bit too much. The overlong ramble below the cut is about why I find "hate" a hard word to apply to the series.

There's a lot of talk among the old schoolers at the mo about not wanting to have to switch your brain off to watch the new series; for instance, the intro post to the brand shiny new h8zone invites us to be proud of our critical faculties. Do people really need all their neurons firing fully to watch [insert silly old series story of your choice]? Doesn't applying one's critical faculties to [insert bad old series story of your choice] end in tears? The new series has problems, but so did the old. The Golden Age is mythical/twelve.

It seems to me that fandoms, particularly the ficcy ends of them that I like to lurk around, have never been much about sitting there basking in the brilliance of show X, they've been about engaging with and expanding on what's there. And that's where Doctor Who wins -- because it's such a flexible, amazing concept that there's so many different ways to do that. Sure, it's nice when the source material is top notch, but let's face it in many ways it can be even more fun when it's not.

That said, there are two recurring elements in the new series that make me flinch.

The first is the occasional contradiction of the extended canon. All the way through School Reunion, and for the whole of the next week, a little voice was saying "They contradicted Interference and Bullet Time and the audios and ...", 'cos if there's one companion who didn't never-see-the-Doctor-ever-again, it's SJ. But of course Doctor Who has always contradicted its earlier canon (and strictly speaking, Five Doctors is also being ignored there, so it's not like my preciousss good-sales-are-about-0.1%-of-the-new-show's-worst-ratings books 'n' audios are being singled out).

The second is, surprise-surprise, Rose's Speshulness and Teh Ship. This has been analysed to death by all and sundry, so I'll summarise: I'm in the camp that says that the Doctor feels the same way about Rose as he did about all the other companions, it's just a difference in presentation now that the show has a more emo tone (much as we're supposed to believe that a Dalek spaceship is a Dalek spaceship, whether it's a plate wobbling over a picture of the Houses of Parliament or a hugely detailed CGI craft swooping towards Earth) -- as evidenced primarily by the handling of Sarah in School Reunion -- with a side order of "she helped Nine over his Time War angst".

Rose may feel more strongly for the Doctor than most other companions (but hey, Sam and Charley trod that road a decade or so ago), but that doesn't change the Doctor's characterisation (my take on the "she knows" line is that he's kidding himself that she does understand how he feels, that though he loves her for some value of "love", it's not the settling-down-to-get-a-mortgage-together love that he knows she's looking for from him). This is the rationale I have constructed around the evidence on screen, but dammit there are times when it's hard not to feel like they're a hideous exclusive Mutual Appreciation Society and that Rose > Universe in a way that (for example) Tegan never was even if he did surrender as soon as the Cyberleader threatened her in Earthshock.

And the shippers can be rather annoying at times, sure -- I find the more blinkered ones' refusal to accept that those of us who know the old school canon might have a different interpretation of events and have evidence for it bewildering, but hey, no one's forcing me to read T&C, just as no one's forcing them to watch Curse of Fenric or City of Death (though they should). And just look at them! They're so full of enthusiasm. Not all of them will leave when rose_goes -- in fact, I think only a tiny minority will. And in fifteen years time, some of them will be arguing with the Thirteen/Chloe shippers about whether he had the same thing with Rose back when he was Christopher Eccleston.

So yes, there are times when it feels like the ship is killing my show. The gap between "Tell her" and "she knows" was one of the longest of my life, as I dreaded what he might say next. But really, my show is unkillable. The Doctor Who that I love is the total freedom of the idea at its core -- "the best idea ever invented in the history of the world", as RTD so rightly put it. This is a show that can go anywhere and do anything. And everything ever made under the Doctor Who banner has the spark of that brilliance in it. Sometimes it burns as brightly as the eyes of a girl who's just etted the Time Vortex so that the plot can get resolved in time for the credits -- Inferno, Spare Parts, Alien Bodies. But all the padded runaround episode threes, all the teeth-hurtingly badly-written books, all the overlong trad audios, and yes, all the shallow Rose-is-so-speshul new series stories, they all have the spark too, it's just that bit dimmer. It never ever goes out.

... and that's why you could slap a Doctor Who logo on anything and I'd buy it.

Then again, it's just maybe possible that I feel a lot better about things now I know we're getting rid of a certain someone.

Feels mild displeasure about Gary Russell's trying-so-hard badness. <-- full extent of my h8rd right now.
Tags: doctor who, meta

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