At the time of writing this article, we are deep into the next round of Doctor Who and already it has left some with a bitter taste in their proverbial mouths. Whilst a few of the directions that the series is taking (ie two part episodes) are quite well received, others are decidedly more divisive.
An example of such is the inclusion of the ‘sonic sunglasses’ as a replacement to the Doctors beloved screwdriver. This wouldn’t be such an awful idea, had they not simply given Peter Capaldi a pair of regular sunglasses and made him press invisible buttons, overlaying some ‘sonic-y’ sound effects in an attempt to convince us of their true nature.
Other strange, ridiculous and plain silly inclusions abound, such as the doctor playing electric guitar whilst riding in on a tank in medieval england (the sheer logistics of which are mind boggling), dalek eyestalks popping out of people’s heads and killer sentient mud that can apparently, climb up the walls and take revenge for having been treated like… well mud.
There is also the inconsistency with dalek models, having a mix of styles and designs stretching back to their inception in the 1960s (are we just ignoring the new paradigm thing now?). Other standouts are the predictable ‘dead, not dead’ game and of course, a certain scene where Missy pops out from a monitor accompanied by a looney tunes style sound effect.
It is inclusions like these that make the show lose a little of what it grew upon; the Doctor being an unknown variable. He is the man that walks into the room and no one knows who he is, what he can do, but he manages to save everyone (well almost). Now the Doctor is more reminiscent of a Rock star, and it is much to his characters detriment.
When everyone knows who you are, when you can hop skip and jump across time and space and obliterate evil unimpeded, then what stories are left to be told?
This is one of the issues with the new series in general and one that could mark the final nail in the coffin for this current run.
In a similar vein, Steven moffat has sought to answer every unnecessary question possible, whilst filling in the rest with poor humour and thinly veiled in-character remarks intent on riling up his cheer squad of haters. Destroying some of the mystique around the character, major species and various other elements do nothing but create a storying telling ‘dead end’, leaving the show burning out prematurely.
Now, this is not to say Steven moffat has failed entirely in his duties, he has not. His handling of Doctor Who has been up until recently, very well done and he is certainly someone we should thank for his contributions. He has written some of the most amazing stories and interesting characters of the new series and contributed to the dreams and nightmares of thousands, if not millions of children worldwide.
That being said, if the calibre of the past seasons is anything to go on, it appears as if the man is running out of ideas. The beginning of the Capaldi era marked a significant drop in story quality and, perhaps with his commitment to the equally brilliant tv series Sherlock, who can really blame him for not being at his a-game; the guy must be exhausted.
This season so far has started with a two badly written episodes, but has been slightly redeemed by its third story “Under the Lake”, which showed off Capaldis skills as an actor and brought the audience back to what is loved about the series, the mystery and suspense.
As for the rest of this season, if it can keep up the writing quality shown in episode 3, then perhaps, just maybe, all is not lost.