Why we should call time on Doctor Who
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This month the hit science fiction series Doctor Who returned for its ninth series, with Peter Capaldi now looking pretty comfortable as the Twelfth Doctor. Upon being rewarded the prestigious part of the time-travelling Time Lord a few years ago, Capaldi confessed that he’d been a complete Who fanatic, or ‘Whovian’, when he was a child, but by 18 or 19 had moved onto other things. Now that I am of a similar age, and am forced to devote more of my time to tedious issues such as university exams, essays and driving licences, I look wistfully to Doctor Who in the hope of restoring some of the magic it brought to my childhood. When it was revived in 2005, under the steady stewardship of writer Russell T. Davies and with Christopher Eccleston as the lead, I was eight-going-on-nine and completely captivated. Eccleston himself admitted that boys just under ten had been his target audience, but with its exciting and engaging storylines, creepy – if not always terrifying – monsters, tongue-in-cheek humour and interesting and well-rounded female companion, the show also appealed to those who could remember the days of William Hartnell or Jon Pertwee, or who were completely new to it altogether. So it is with great difficulty that I now say the show should either be given a long rest, or be put down altogether. In the intervening ten years, something has gone seriously awry. The show peaked during the era of David Tennant, but even before the immeasurably popular Tenth Doctor made his exit some episodes were already showing the strain of years’ worth of heavy plotlines on their shoulders. As well as that, the Doctor’s more tiresome adversaries – the Cybermen or the Daleks, for example – were resurrected so frequently I’d groan upon their return; while former companions, such as Rose Tyler, who was thought to be lost forever, were brought back in order to milk the ‘goodbye scenes’ for all the kitsch emotion they would yield.
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