Sgathaich: Flawed Adventures In Time And Space

SgathaichSeries 11 of Doctor Who has been one of the most different by intent. In the history of the show the changes brought about by the new show runner have only been comparable to the shifts from classic Who to modern Who as well as the changes at the start of the 3rd doctors run.  However as the series continued what started out as optimism for the future gave way to the undeniable fact. Series 11 of Doctor Who is bad.

Series 11 started its first episode,’ The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, with some of the highest ratings the show has had in a long time, not the highest in modern Who but with 10.96 million viewers in the UK. This however is to be expected, the show had a brand new doctor and for the first time the actor was female with Jodie Whittaker taking up the role a position new head Chris Chibnall insisted on doing as he was appointed to his role. However by the end of the series the viewer numbers had plummeted down to 6.42million with only a minor increase to 6.million for the finale which is understandable as people expect the final part of a story to be of importance.

While the series seemed to being praised by mainstream journalists the same could not be said from long time viewers or the audience as a whole. Many sites like Rotten Tomatoes had only large critical scores while the audience score for the show fell to below 25 and many online calling into question the integrity of the so called critical reviewers due to their unquestionable praise on a thoroughly flawed series.

dr whoThe first season of Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker has been abysmal to say the least with many people saying it is putting political agendas and preachy story telling above actual storytelling and character development. Others have sighted Whittaker’s portrayal of the doctor as a weak attempt at emulating David Tenant or Matt Smith’s run. From my own perspective, I found her portrayal rather pathetic. By the end of the first story of each doctor we had a moment where the formerly confused due to regeneration doctor now stood proudly a sort of “I AM THE DOCTOR” moment. But instead she seemed to wobble about making preachy comments and condescending ones if the target of that comment was a white male, not helped by the fact the first foe she faced was a blatant rip off of the Predator, and not a good one at that. The episode “The Woman Who Fell To Earth” ended not with a showing of what was to be coming but instead a parade of actors who are going to appear in the season, which to any fan of Doctor Who was a large warning sign of how little the head of the show understood the show he was now in charge of and was indeed changing it into something else, and sadly something far worse.

When the announcement came of Jodie Whittaker as the doctor and thus it being the first female doctor there was cautious praise of the decision from the fan base. The cause of the caution wasn’t out of some kind of dislike of the idea of the doctor becoming a woman, but more fear over how the character would be portrayed, fears that as more and more information about the oncoming show came out were only raised further. Information came out about how Chibnall replaced all the old writers of the show what’s more; the vast majority of the new writers had no previous experience writing science fiction. More came out how Chris Chibnall intended to take Doctor Who back to being semi educational and take the doctor and her companions to eras like the civil rights era of America and the partitioning of India, the specter was raised that the show runner was going to turn Doctor Who into an agenda thrusting story and memories of other franchises heavily damaged by such actions raised their heads, and these fears were sadly confirmed as the show continued and the audience bleed began.

The doctor lost the image of the wise traveler and was instead replaced by that of an arrogant preachy person going on about how morally superior they were while actually allowed moral wrongs to go about, which as a fan of Doctor Who from its classic years is one of the very things the doctor fled away from because he hated that about his people the Time Lords. What was made worse is that the target of the preaching seemed to be almost unanimously white males. Whenever female characters were shown they were displayed as strong and competent, while males were often flawed or deep down pathetic, often the villains in fact. And yet as more and more of the fan base complained about the show, citing poor storytelling, poor characters or a seeming contempt for the show that came before and its fans, so called critics praised the show just for having a diverse cast or its casting of a woman in the lead role as well as uttering disgusting bile at any who had any criticism of the show accusing them of being sexist or a toxic fandom despite none of the complaints being about the doctor’s gender.

Perhaps the divide between audience and critics of the show can best be seen in the episode Rosa. Now if you read critical reviews you would be mistaken for thinking this was gold… it isn’t. The episode was more focused on glorifying Rosa Parks rather than actually telling a compelling or thought provoking story, the villain was a white racist and that’s his entire character and every time Rosa was on the screen it accompanied her by music that is ironically used by black hate groups who actually hated Rosa Parks, showing how little the writers and producers actually understood about what they were writing about. What’s more the over glorification of the actions ended up damaging the very point of the story. The idea was clever showing how small actions lead to big changes and was used as an example of what Rosa did and how the villain planned to prevent it, but the over glorification of the action belittled the work of all of the peoples in the civil rights movement while damaging this point of the story. The episode also glossed over the work of anyone of a different ethnicity in the civil rights movement leading to accusations of racism against white Americans. Now the story of the civil rights movement is an important one to tell, but this is not what people should watch to learn about it, if you wish to learn more about it I would recommend movies like Selma or Hidden Figures, hell there’s even a song about Rosa Parks by the Horrible Histories series that is far better at telling her story than this pretentious episode, of course you could also read up on it as well yourself, but do not let this episode ever be your guide for it or Rosa Parks. I noticed while observing the reviews of this episode those praising it were more focused on the subject matter than ever talking about in depth the episode itself.

The show then continued its downward trend with the next episode “Arachnids in the UK” has since gone down as in many eyes as the worst in the series and continued the overly agenda throwing policy of the current run by having an obvious stand in for Donald Trump in the role as the real villain of the episode. The next historical episode was about the partitioning of India and fortunately it was actually more focused on telling a small family story set during the tumultuous time than making a big statement so the episode was in my eyes the only good one, but even then the doctor who had previously stood up to the mighty Sutekh now meekly allowed an innocent man to die.

dr who castThe doctor was not alone in this series though as she was accompanied by 3 companions -the middle age Graham O’ Brian his adopted grandson Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan. However the series became a rather sickening trend of acting like the term ‘Companions’ was a dirty word as in both in the show and press releases the term companion was phased out and treating previous companions as if they were nothing special as part of its continued condemnation of what came before. What is worse is that Though Graham and Ryan were by far the best characters in this series you began to notice that even though the new doctor called them her besties there was little to no chemistry between any of the cast and even little character development and Yasmin feeling like in the long term she was just included to facilitate the episode set in India. While some may argue that is due to the increased main cast the 3rd doctor had a larger recurring cast thanks to UNIT and they ended up some of the most beloved characters in the franchise, and that brings us to Resolution.

Resolution was a New Year’s Day special of Doctor Who, forsaking the previous standing Christmas special under the excuse of having no ideas left to do with Christmas the episode ended up having the worst ratings of any seasonal special in the show’s history and had a disturbing divide between audience and critics reception. The episode which had barely anything to do with New Year’s saw the doctor face a single Dalek that had been left on Earth since a failed reconnaissance in the past that has become active and takes control of archaeologist Lin and makes a makeshift Dalek casing for itself. However it also deals with the return of Ryan’s father to continue with a rather disturbing trend of father hatred that show has had of late of which one of the worst offenders was the penultimate episode ” It Takes You Away” also considered one of the worst of the series and in this episode even goes as far to have the doctor imply she had an absent father.

However one of the worst things this episode did involves UNIT and I have a message from a fellow reviewer in this website to cover that.

You might be wondering who I am to be placing a small digression inside this article. Call me Nephrite. On this site I have a column in which I review audio books.

But that isn’t the relevant topic at hand. I am also a massive Doctor Who fan – both classic and new – and that’s why what happened in the New Year episode stings so badly!

The current show runner decided to make an incredibly pointless and tasteless joke regarding UNIT. UNIT or the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce – Unified Intelligence Taskforce in New Who – is an institution of the show since its glory days in the 1970s although UNIT itself dates back to 1968. They are a military and scientific defensive force who defend The ENTIRETY of the planet from any potential alien incursions or invasions and if any encountered aliens are non-hostile they will do their best to assist these aliens as best they can.

 As you can guess an organisation like UNIT must be competently run? Thank God then for Brigadier Alistair-Gordon Lethbridge Stewart the original commanding officer of the British division in the 1970s and UNIT’s current commander his daughter Kate who alongside her scientific advisor Osgood – that lady from the 50th Anniversary special – and several others has the single best team in the entirety of the current Doctor Who universe. I will stand by this fact no matter what. Kate and Osgood are just that damn good at their jobs

 Except Chibnall decided to make a joke about Brexit! So he shut down THE ENTIRETY of UNIT FOR THE SAKE OF A BREXIT JOKE! Only there’s one problem with that…UNIT’s bases are in Geneva, Peru or Brussels depending on the story! This is why the joke of The Brigadier always being busy in Peru started. So please tell me which part of England or the UK at large contains Geneva, Peru or Brussels!? And even during Brexit I’m pretty sure invading armies of aliens would need to be told to get lost or potentially blown the *profanity* up? So who would do that if not Kate, Osgood or the rest of UNIT? Money be damned the planet would need defending!

 This is genuinely the most insulting thing to happen in Doctor Who for me in years. Forgive the digression. I just had to include myself in this discussion. I’m usually a lot more Civil but that just broke me.

 Now back to your usual writer.

It is very clear now that current show writer Chris Chibnall has nothing but contempt for the core audience of Doctor Who or the fans of the classic show. What was once an inventive show that had some of the most memorable TV actors of its time showing a universe filled with amazing wonders both terrifying and inspiring has been reduced to this poorly written pretentious crap just so Chris Chibnall can act morally superior to people going on about how he turned something for man into this diverse show, and he’s completely wrong.

Dr Who both classic and new has been one of the most progressive shows since its inception. The final story of the first doctor had the first ever black astronaut, and early in his run one of his first companions a female school teacher took down a Lovecraftian horror by giving it super cancer. Those companions that Whitaker condemned as being the best thing a woman could achieve in Doctor Who had been filled out by roles of scientists and even other Time Lords, the final one of the classic run Ace took down a Dalek with a baseball bat, these roles were never looked down upon and the return of Sara Jane Smith in the modern run was beloved to the point she received a spin off show that ran till the actor’s death.

I think the worst thing I’ve seen from this modern run though has been how those that worked on it and those that praise it treat the people who enjoyed the old show. They deny these peoples genuine criticism of this series by accusing them of being sexist males even though no mention of gender from either the complaint or that of the complainer was mentioned. These are the people in the 20 years the show was gone from our screens kept the spark alive, and when they express concern that their show is being twisted into a self congratulatory ego trip, they are slammed with being a toxic male fandom by hypocritical defenders.

One final note. Dr Who is a flag ship show of the BBC now and its international image is important, those episodes like Rosa and Arachnids are described by the American audience as racist towards them. What’s more reports are coming in that merchandise based on the show’s current run are not selling and it will be very interesting seeing how DVD sales go not just here but overseas. Dr Who isn’t set to return for over a year, a similar occurrence happened with the 6th doctor Colin Baker who by the way, I much prefer his bizarre coat to the weird rainbow suspenders and bra line of Whittaker’s ill fitting get up. People who viewed and didn’t like this show now have a year to fester before the show returns then we see how truly damaging this run of the show will have been.

Some would call Jodie Whittaker brave for being the first female doctor; I however will call the second female doctor assuming they don’t cancel the series brave, as she will have to repair the disastrous image of a female doctor she has been left with because of this run.

It is very odd that a show about time travel is so willfully ignorant of its own past.

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