The Good Doctor

Posted: May 23, 2006 in General, Movies/TV/Music

I did a little catching up with Doctor Who. The new episodes have been a little disappointing overall. I started with the two parter with the Cybermen, which, although was clever pretty much matched the truly unexciting levels of most of the other episodes. I followed those episodes with an early show guest starring Anthony Stewart Head (a.k.a. Rupert Giles from Buffy). I would say it was sad to see Head in something so… adequate. The high point was revisiting Sarah Jane Smith and K9 (my favorite character when I was a kid) from the Tom Baker era.

The last of my little Who marathon was called “The Girl in the Fireplace”. I have to say after watching it, that it is the first truly good Who episode of this reincarnated Doctor Who. It was by no means great, but it shows how much potential is in the Who universe.

What made this episode so good? First, the tech was about as lame as usual (robots that run on gears and clock parts trying to rebuild their ship using parts from humans). What was powerful about this episode was that it wasn’t about the tech, but the characters. The interaction over time between the doctor and a woman in 18th Century France. As the episode closed, we/I felt that the Doctor was shaken by the relationship and affected at a deep level.

“The Girl in the Fireplace” pushed Who from something like a 4 (on a 10 scale) to a 7, but more importantly shows what direction things could be going in. Who could be a 9 or a 10, but the BBC has to wake up, and make some changes to the series. My suggestions are:

1) Drop the single episodes and start building more of a serial set up. Create arcs that last ten or more episodes. Let’s start with an arc that explores the war with the timelords. Let’s see Gallifrey after the war. Explain to us why the Doctor can’t just go back in time to Gallifrey. There’s a lot of rich content there just waiting to be uncovered.
2) Using Earth in 2006 as a “home base” is acceptable, but Earth and the 21st century should be little more than a stop-over. I’m sure it’s cheaper to shoot episodes without building sets, but it also feels cheap (and I think most fans are getting tired of the fact that so much happens on Earth, and the rest of the universe seems to be a lot safer than London over the last couple years).
3) Show us a little more heart. Longer arcs should allow better characters and better relationships between them.
4) Hire some good writers, I’m sure there are plenty of fans who would be willing to write episodes, take a page out of the Trek handbook when The Next Generation accepted fan submissions. The show became dramatically better.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents.


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