More of that new Doctor Who magic…

So, how good is the new ‘Doctor Who’ you ask me?


Damn good… Extraordinarily good…

No, actually, it’s bloody good.

We’re over half way through the first season now, and the episodes, aside from one average two-parter, go from strength to strength. It’s so very hard to say much about the show without spoiling it.

Anyway, there are some talking points. The much vaunted return of the Daleks (well, Dalek) was well worth the sixteen year wait, and the cameo by another old villain in the very same episode… Well, some of this goes to show just how far ‘Doctor Who’ has come since it last went off-air, what with its development as audio plays, novels and an industry of fan-fiction that, in many cases, almost approaches ‘good writing.’

Ah, and what writing it all is.

Russell T. Davies, the producer and primary writer, has orchestrated a series of thirteen stories that tells not one, not two, but three interesting stories. The first story, which is by far the most interesting (and also, strangely, the least) deals with the last Great Time War. Delivered as vague hints, recurring themes and a repeated term, what it all means will probably not become clear until ‘The Parting of the Ways’ which might well feature the death of the Doctor (a seemingly obvious point since Christopher Eccleston is not returning… Davies has, however, proven himself the master (?) of surprises) and the return of… well, my idle speculation is that we will see the Daleks in grand, terrifying force. Whether this will result in a different outcome to the last Great Time War is yet to be seen.

The second storyline of note is the Doctor. In the space of ten episodes we have learnt more about the Doctor than in four years of the old series. For those whose memories are a little lax we learnt in ‘An Unearthly Child’ that Gallifrey’s sky was purple, in ‘The Sensorites’ we learnt that the Doctor’s species was telepathic, in ‘The Time Meddler’ we learnt that there are other time travellers of the same species as the Doctor and in ’The War Games’ we learnt that the Doctor was Timelord and on the run from his own people. In the course of ten episodes of the new series we have learnt the Timelords were engaged in a great war (which they lost), that they have special powers to do with the manipulation of Time, they take care of paradoxes and they live very long lives. There is more, but some of it approaches spoiler territory and I don’t want to reveal too much for those of you not up to date on the ‘story so far…’ Come episode thirteen, though, and I’ll claim that it’s your own head for not watching it with me.

But, more importantly, we have learnt much of the Doctor’s character. He is a bully, sometimes treating Rose as a possession rather than a person. All of this seems to due to his loneliness, something which Rose has quickly picked upon. This is the new TV series’ greatest strength; characterisation. The Ninth Doctor is the relic of a once mighty civilisation who shows some of his species greatest weaknesses and strength. The Doctor, for whom Death always follows, wants to atone for his race, but is confused as to his place in the world. From his not wanting to kill the Nestene Consciousness in episode one to believing the Gelf in episode three the Doctor is the compassion of the Timelords, yet his anger and rage in episode six against the single surviving Dalek shows the arrogance and sheer abuse of power of Timelord society. This ninth Doctor has fallen far from the almost constant peace-brokering of the First, Second and Third Doctors. Davies has written for us a living character, a powerful persona with all the foibles of his favourite species, the Humans. It is a pity that next year we will have a new version of the Doctor, with his own unique perspectives and weaknesses; Eccleston’s Doctor is a rich mixture from which many new stories could be cooked.

Most importantly, however, is the story that is Rose and her character development. Billie Piper is showing herself to be the best thing about new ‘Who.’ Not only can she act, but she has been given a real and believable character to play, one that is, in many ways, the Doctor’s equal in chutzpah (just not in knowledge). Rose is independent, something the Doctor sometimes regrets. She is human; she often does the right thing for entirely the wrong people. She does fall in and out of love, a plausible flaw for someone in their early twenties waiting to find out who she is. Rose is our conduit to who the Doctor is and what the world has been and could be. I don’t know about you, but I want to be her.

And she, more than anyone else, is growing. Each week we see a stronger, more intelligent person for whom time-travel was the obvious choice. We see her contrasted with other possible companions and I am now beginning to appreciate just how unwieldy this new series would be without her.

So, yes, it is bloody good. I really want to be in a position to write for it one day.

There is so much to admire about the new Doctor Who. Believable characters, interesting villains and a great line in comedy. Of especial interest to me is that the show is becoming increasingly creepy. It has achieved many ‘Behind the Sofa’ moments that are most affecting to this member of a modern TV audience. The show has all the virtues of its predecessing seasons tied up with that exciting modern filigree that people expect of a 2005 production. It’s classy, snazzy, witty and hip, and bound to be the launching point, praise-wise, of a thousand similes.

Once again, more on this later; this is one excited fanboy signing off.


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