Doctor Who: A Failed Reboot?

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By Beth McMillan

At 6:45 P.M. on Sunday the 7th of November, the world waited with baited-breath for the Doctor to re-grace their screens after nearly a year’s absence. For Whovians like myself, this was a moment of great importance in their lives and a significant one in the history of Doctor Who, with the first female actor about to take on the role of the rouge Timelord.

The show has for a while now, much to the fear of us Whovians, been treading unsteady ground. Whether due to the rise of on demand TV, or a decline in the quality of the show itself (I vote the latter…), viewing figures for the runaway and his multitude of companions have been steadily declining since its peak of 10.7 million in 2009, with only 5.6 million tuning in for the 2017 Christmas special. However! We Whovians speculated that perhaps Jodie Whitaker’s introduction of a new angle to the classic character would be the reboot the show needed. Sure enough, viewing figures soared to 8.2 million at the arrival of the woman who fell to earth.

BUT, my fellow Whovians, rejoice not yet! Arguably the changing of a traditionally old, paternal character to a woman was always going to attract viewers out of interest. I’m as up for a female doctor as the next person, a character as alien and changeable as the doctor, who can literally regenerate provided the perfect opportunity, perhaps even the only known opportunity, to try out a gender swap, and Jodie Whitaker showed enormous potential and acting talent, but even she couldn’t distract from the abysmal script… Far from the (long awaited by me) retiring of Steven Moffat as scriptwriter helping to reverse the polarity of the ever worsening plotlines and characterisation, it appears the talent shown by Russel T Davis in introducing incredible character development and companion back stories seamlessly in to episodes, was one in a million, with viewers now being expected to connect with characters immediately despite knowing nothing about them.

Watching the show, I couldn’t help but feel the early timeslot dictated the entire thing, since when has Doctor Who not been allowed to show a dead body?! For me Doctor Who has always been about the mystery and excitement of a madman in a box who falls to earth and changes a lucky person’s life forever- and that chill of fear down your spine that gets you not quite but close to leaping behind the sofa! So, when you have a monster whose scariest point is that its face is decorated in teeth, that’s when you realise something’s gone drastically wrong… Where were the jump scares? The carefully created monsters? Personally, I needed something more than some floating rope… And since when has the Doctor been so open about him/herself to companions, especially when she’s only just met them?

Maybe it’s just me getting older (sob), but I couldn’t help feeling the show had lost its touch and become a kids’ show rather than one for the family. There was an overwhelming sense of trying too hard, the show had become almost a bad re-enactment of itself, the humour didn’t seem quite so brilliant, the Doctor’s traditional after regeneration speech a little cheesy. I found myself looking back nostalgically to the good old days of David Tennant and company – who can forget the genius that was Donna Noble or the beautiful relationship between the Doctor and Rose (what can I say I’m a sucker for romance!). Needless to say, Doctor Who needs to seriously up its game if it wants to ensure its long-term future.

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