I’m a Doctor Who fan. Been one since the early 1980’s when I first saw the show. At that time, the show featured the delightful Tom Baker in the titular role and he was incredibly charismatic, goofy, weird, and exciting. Here are some of the comedic highlights of his run…
Tom Baker’s Doctor Who proved so popular they even got John Cleese into the act. This is his cameo from City of the Dead…
It is my belief that Tom Baker’s Doctor Who was so iconic it influenced many of the Doctors to come. Where before the Doctor was an older, usually more “serious” person, this lighthearted, youthful, and at times very odd personality would find its way into future Doctors. That series, which began all the way back in 1963, ended its run in 1989.
In 2005 a new version of Doctor Who began and, in my opinion, did quite well for itself through at least three Doctors, those played by (in order) Christopher Eccleston (a wonderful run yet sadly short lived as he played the Doctor only the first new season and apparently left the show because of friction between himself and the show’s runners), David Tennant (a great run and plenty of well written episodes plus the benefit, for much of the run, of having the delightful Billie Piper as his companion), and Matt Smith (who also had the benefit of acting opposite the equally delightful Karen Jillian as his companion for much of his run).
When Matt Smith departed the show, Peter Capaldi took over the role and his run, I hate to say it, wasn’t quite as good. Mr. Capaldi was fine in the role, I felt, though his Doctor seemed to draw more inspiration from the pre-Tom Baker Doctors (older and more stern) than those who came before him. Alas, the stories weren’t quite as memorable and, as has become clear, part of the magic of Doctor Who is the interaction the Doctor has with his companions. In the case of the Tom Baker years, he had wonderful companions he could “bounce off” of and, during the Eccleston/Tennant/Smith years we similarly had a string of strong, interesting companions, which I listed above.
The big news following the imminent departure of Mr. Capaldi was that Jodie Whittaker was taking on the role of the Doctor, making her the first female to take the lead role. Here is her first appearance as the Doctor, along with Peter Capaldi’s exit…
I was all for it!
I set the DVR and taped the entire 11th Season of the show plus the New Year’s Special and, over the summer and whenever I had a chance, watched all 11 episodes and…
To put it bluntly: As excited as I was with the prospect of a female Doctor, the 11th season of Doctor Who simply wasn’t that good.
As I mentioned above, having a strong actor play the lead role is important but so too are the Doctor’s companions. This time around, sadly, the three companions Ms. Whittaker’s Doctor flies around with are… well… they’re not terrible but they never really distinguish themselves all that much either.
For that matter, Ms. Whittaker’s Doctor, as written, is too much of a cypher, often daffy and never quite fearsome or as engaging as I hoped, often running around breathlessly and/or aimlessly.
Don’t get me wrong, the season wasn’t a complete disaster by any means. There were decent episodes and moments here and there but, overall, I’m not too surprised to see the ratings for this season hovering between the 5-6 stars out of 10 for viewers at IMdB with only two of the episodes rising to a little over 7 out of 10 (you can check the IMdB ratings for individual episodes here).
Though I just offered negative critiques of the actors, my feeling is they performed as well as they were asked. The show’s problems, as they often do, lie with the writers/scripts.
The episodes in Season 11 of Doctor Who, in my humble opinion, were mostly -beware, I’m about to use an incredibly complex literary critique here- blah.
The stories were never as exciting as one hoped they would be though some featured intriguing situations -the most intriguing of which was the Doctor meeting up with Rosa Parks in segregated America. Even sadder was the fact that this season featured some very established and relatively big name actors who were promptly wasted in mediocre episodes. I’m referring specifically to Chris Noth as a Trumpian fool in the mediocre Arachnids in the U.K. and Alan Cumming playing King James in the equally mediocre The Witchfinders.
Still and all, as I said the season wasn’t a total disaster. My hope is that the writers/producers/directors learn from their mistakes and give audiences better overall episodes.
I really like the idea of a female Doctor Who and feel Jodie Whittaker can do the role justice.
Please, just give her better stories!