(The following is a major rewrite of a recent Facebook post after finishing the second season finale of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who. If this topic is of no interest to you, bail out now. The blog contains, if not exactly spoilers, my thoughts on the specific revelations within the context of the show.)
R.J. Much Approves
So I finished Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker Season 2 and let me just cut to the end: I loved it. Unconditionally, no buts, no asterisks, no backhanded compliments, it was the best DW I’ve watched in years. Thoughtful ideas executed thoughtfully told in a way that made sense and which expanded on the myth. Everything I could have hoped for and more. Period.
Given my record on Facebook of whining and complaining over the previous six seasons of DW’s erstwhile showrunner and what I saw as several egregious mistakes during his run (and how that generally poor writing bled into Sherlock and Dracula, making me sincerely wish that the BBC would please for the love of God stop assigning said showrunner to showrun all of my Very Favorite Things, but that is another rant for another day).
Season 2 of Jodie Whttaker’s DW, helmed by Chris Chibnall, built upon the potential of Season 1 and early on addressed my Season 1 criticism: it was all well and good but it needed bigger stories with greater stakes. And boy howdy did the buildup and payoff deliver on that promise.
Wow. a proper story arc with interesting ideas, clear stakes and a buildup and climax that held my attention and didn’t cheat and didn’t let me down, it’s been awhile. So I certainly don’t want to get into spoilers because there are plenty of things to spoil. I’ll simply say that I loved it and I love this Doctor and her stories as much as I loved the best of David Tennant and Tom Baker (which are, in my opinion the pinnacles of the show based on my very incomplete watch of the entire series.)
R.J. Understands Nerd Frustration
I will say this to those who disliked it or who have concerns. I feel ya. I still have six seasons in my recent past of being the grouchy old man shaking his fist at the soufflé girl and raggedy man ego trip wank fest. But to a specific contingent of the whiniest whiners, the loudest criers now crying that now after thirty something seasons of broadcast TV Doctor Who, that somehow this… really…. this… is the season where DW has crossed a line and been damaged beyond repair.
Ridiculous! As if any bad writing team could destroy Doctor Who. As if in thirty-something seasons, Doctor Who hasn’t already had several dozens of idiotic contradictory and painfully terrible ideas blended into its myth, contradictions absorbed, shaken off, deflected, or ignored and then just keeps on going.
Look, I get exactly what it’s like to be a fan watching what you think to be a creative team misuse a legendary character. That it’s not “your” Doctor, that they fundamentally don’t understand what made it great. I felt that way during the previous era (and add a side helping of JJ Abrams and his can-we-finally-admit-not-particularly-smart-or-interesting-Star-Trek-films happening, it felt to me, at the exact same time). It’s not a lot of fun while it lasts, whether two seasons, four, sometimes even six.
But the thing I remember about all my complaining is that I recognized, as bad as I thought it got, there was nothing he could do to destroy the show or the character fundamentally. The Doctor has a far stronger, more flexible, more robust foundation than some dozens of writing teams through the decades. The Doctor has outlasted them all and will outlast this one, too. Personally I think the show has reinvigorated itself, and is as good as it’s ever been. I hope to see a couple more years of this team before we move on.
Crossing a Line
Even more importantly: I never once thought my personal opinion of another creative person’s contributions justified engaging in such behavior as signing a petition to get producers or actors fired, threatening their very livelihood. I didn’t unite with other grumblers, make death threats, shit-post on good faith promotions, or any of that other toxic fandom bullshit that so many so-called “fans” feel is perfectly acceptable, all in defense of a GOTDAMNED SCIENCE FICTION TV SHOW.
So let me unambiguous on this point.
If this is you, Stop it. You’re a horrible person, you’ve crossed a line, and this sort of behavior is why no one takes you seriously.
Ahem. Where was I?
I think in time, when the background noise has stopped and viewers can visit this era of Doctor Who on its own merits, it be well regarded, but I may be wrong. It is, in the grand scheme of things, a small part of a much larger TV show. But what does matter is, love it or hate it now, Doctor Who will move on. It will change and evolve to be something new and exciting and different and strange and perplexing, and maybe sometimes infuriating, because that’s what the Doctor always does. And that’s okay.
Doctor Who 2005-Present is available to stream on HBO Max, including the latest two seasons and specifically its finale “The Timeless Children”, which is what this post primarily discusses.