vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (bujold -- choose to be)
[personal profile] vesta_aurelia
So, I blame this on Vixy and Tony. Really. Their cover of Ned Cave's "Red Right Hand" was playing in the car and *pop* one of the lyrics erupted in my head and there I was, attempting to filk lyrics and drive at the same time.

Don't know the song? Here's a live performance:

Big Blue Box is a Doctor Who filk. I've been thinking about The Doctor for a while lately--and I think I've identified why I don't like the new series.

Big Blue Box
Take a little walk through the city streets
down to the river side
Where the London Eye looms like a wheel of doom
and the Angels hide.
Where secrets lie, with a quiet sigh, and you'll always try
'cause you know
you'll never see him twice.
Just a hint, just a clue, just a word of ad-vice:
He's the Oncoming Storm and the Breaker of Locks
with his long dark coat and his
Big Blue Box.

He'll grab you by the hand and say
you've been a good child
He'll rekindle all those dreams you had that
drove your parents wild
He'll reach into that hole, heal your shrinking soul
and there won't be a single thing
that you can do.
He's a myth, he's a man, he's a god
he's a gu-ru.
They whisper his name from the Palace to the docks
with his long dark coat and his
Big Blue Box.

Planet been conquered?
He'll set you free.
Fear for the future?
He'll let you see.
Got some Cybermen, or Daleks--again?
You better listen up
he's on his way:
through all time, through all space
from the deepest heart of Gallifrey.
That shadow is cast wherever he walks
with his long dark coat and his
Big Blue Box.

They've got him in their nightmares
You'll get him in your dreams
He appears out of nowhere but he's not
what he seems.
You'll see him in your head, on your TV screen
and you do what he tells you to do.
He's a myth, he's a man, he's a god
he's a gu-ru.
There's no Conquering Foe he can't out-fox
inhis long dark coat and his
Big Blue Box.

"You wrote a Doctor Who filk and you don't even like it?
I've adored Doctor Who since the early 80s. I don't like NuWho. And I think I finally figured out why....

I got distracted at first:
I thought it was the performers. It wasn't.
I thought it was the scripts. It wasn't--not really.
I thought perhaps it was even the improved production values. But no.
Those are viewer-level problems with the series.
I have producer-level problems with NuWho.

When I fell in love with Doctor Who (and I adored the program with the passionate obsession of the OCD-inclined), I fell in love with it for very specific narrative and emotional reasons--very few of which are still valid with regards to the show.

First? Sex.
Doctor Who, as a program, was a dry island in a sea of sexualized television. The other dramatic shows we saw were full of sexual and romantic tension : Dallas, Dynasty, Magnum PI, Quincy, etc. Even Star Trek (aka Kirk's libido in spaaaaace) and Battlestar Galactica (oh, no, they aren't prostitutes...)--those other bastions of American SF--were rife with it.

But there was none of that on the TARDIS.

On the TARDIS, you were expected to care deeply, even passionately, about people and about ideas (and ideals). But you weren't required to care romantically. Your place in the narrative wasn't based on your UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension) with the show's lead. I could daydream about being on the TARDIS and adoring The Doctor...but I didn't have to be "in love" with him for there to be space for my character. However, romantic/sexual tension is the story direction Davies and Moffat chose for NuWho's first companions, (except Donna--and narratively, she was "punished" for that)--and I dislike that intensely. It grates on me.

Second? Destiny.
One of the things I liked about The Doctor's companions was that, at the bottom, they were ordinary people doing ordinary things, just in extraordinary circumstances. Dragged into The Doctor's orbit, they learned to step up, grow beyond themselves, do common place things in fantastically timed ways. Sarah Jane had nothing extraordinary about her except, perhaps, her ambition to get the story. Ian and Barbara were schoolteachers. Jamie McCrimmon was rescued from the Battle of Culloden. Tegan was a stewardess. Ace was a punk kid who liked to blow shit up. And yet, they saved worlds. Sacrificed themselves to end wars, or preserve timelines.

All they had to do was ... say "no." Step in front of a weapon that was going to hit the Doctor. Press a button. Push over a column. Plug in a machine. Scream. Things anybody could do, to help anybody else in the world. Their good works are repeatable. Doable.

Comparing that to NuWho's companions and I'm seeing a disturbing pattern: NuWho's companions aren't ordinary people. the Bad Wolf, creating herself through time. Jack...the Immortal Fact. Donna...the "most important woman in the universe." Amy...the Girl Who Waited and Remembered a Universe. Clara..."born to save The Doctor." Martha is the only one who seems to buck this trend. Rory...was a narrative unit used to prove how special Amy was. River....? Is a clusterfuck.

The reason Doctor Who captured my imagination was because my character could step into the TARDIS as ordinary as a loaf of bread--no special destiny written out in the convoluted intertwined timelines to fulfill. No previous high bar of Extra-Specialness to leap for the next story; no escalating oneupsmanship to top. Companions used to become companions because of an accident. Now? It's their destiny. That's a story direction Davies and Moffat chose for NuWho's companions--and I dislike that intensely.

Third? Emotional voyeurism.
The root of most of this is the first decision Davies and Moffat made: having the Doctor destroy Gallifrey (yes, I know about the pocket universe from the 50th) and the resulting 7 seasons of hand-wringing about it. I'll say it bluntly: I loathe angst. I find absolutely no narrative or emotional value in it. Instead, I find it a form of display, wherein molehills are portrayed as mountains.

The thing is, I have not met a profoundly traumatized person--as The Doctor would be, having to kill his entire species--putting his trauma on display. In fact, the most deeply traumatized people I have ever met spend an inordinate amount of energy creating and cultivating ways to conceal their trauma, and present the appearance of "normalcy" and "good adjustment" to the world around them. Their trauma is hidden; their pain is private. I see that applying to this very alien--yet very culturally British--character.

What Davies and Moffat have done, however, is created a story direction wherein The Doctor is repeatedly putting his trauma on display and asking the audience to view the character's resulting vulnerability as a "prize" they get for watching faithfully. Like the role of the Interrogator in ClosetLand, they've made the viewer complicit in the violation of the character's privacy, voyeurs of the character's pain for their personal pleasure--and I dislike that intensely.

And there are the reasons I dislike NuWho.
I feel better now that I've articulated it.


Date: 2014-03-04 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"But you weren't required to care romantically. Your place in the narrative wasn't based on your UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension) with the show's lead."

This concept is so completely foreign to me that I have a very hard time figuring out what it even means. Why the heck would UST between the characters have anything to do with the viewer? Clearly this is a frame of reference for TV that would never have occurred to me.

(Not that I have a problem with you feeling that way, I'm just intrigued by how completely baffled I am.)

(I've never been able to like Dr. Who in any of its forms, so I have no opinion about that either way.)

Re: Huh?

Date: 2014-03-04 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it's gender. DWho has always reflected its concurrent culture, so I think the current thread of misogyny is being reflected here. I see it even more strongly when I tried to watch Sherlock--the second programme Davies and Moffat were involved in. (Women don't really exist there. It's bizarre.)

It's some weird variant of the Bechdel test...what's her purpose in the narrative? Originally, the companion's purpose was to be the viewer's stand-in (Susan, Ian, Barbara). Then they became pretty young girls that the male viewers ogled while watching with the family AND the viewer's stand-in (Vicki, Polly, Victoria, Zoe, Jo). Then they became pretty girls the male adult viewer ogled, the female adult wanted to be AND the viewer's stand-in for the adventures (SarahJane, Leela, Romana, Tegan). But the reason they were there was NEVER for romance, except occasionally with each other.

In NuWho, they seem to be there for the romance and the UST. It's the predominant narrative drive in every characterization: Rose (yep, UST), Martha (thwarted UST), Donna (wasn't interested, now doesn't remember anything), Jack (thwarted UST), Amy (attempted UST, diverted to Rory), River (all about the UST), Clara (haven't read enough about her).

How many female characters on mainstream television or film exist without a romance? Even Uhura in the reboot isn't allowed to exist without a romance--she has to be tucked into some male's narrative. NuWho's the same, which I think is a bad, bad thing.

Re: Huh?

Date: 2014-03-04 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That makes a little more sense to me now, though projecting yourself into a show still isn't something I relate to. But I disagree that a show that simply focuses on some male characters is inherently misogynistic... especially when the title character is acknowledged by everyone to be a social jackass (just plain misanthropic, regardless of gender).

Date: 2014-03-05 01:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know I am going to have to learn this now. :P

I totally agree wiith you. I have slowly watched it get worse and worse. I am hoping eventually get better, but I realize now it won't until they get a show runner who will be true to the original idea. And as people who hate the old series and love the new one out number those of us wh want to get back to thr show's roots, I don't see it happening. Continuing on the same track is going to make the BBC IS making the BBC money. People who aren't SciFi fans adore the new series for the soap opera feel to it.

The other problem I have is thier penchant for changing the perameters of the Who universe. Those were set when the show was originally created, and they have gone out of thier way to get rid of them. Once you have created the laws of the universe, for crap sake stay consistent. If you don't like it, create a different one with a different name.

And Sherlock is misogynist. He was to a certain extent in the books....they just jumped on that and expanded. They like to change the perameters of that 'verse too. Not a fan.

Date: 2016-05-24 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Two years on, and Clara is out in a manner that echoed Donna's departure. While it's early days yet (new episodes won't be coming 'til 2017) the new companion coming in (Bill) seems to be a return to old-school form. The trailer suggests that she'll be a snarky one, in the vein of Ace. (Still, like the Doctor, previews lie.) As you intimated, though, here's hoping she won't end up becoming the Most Important Person In The Multiverse Everâ„¢.

(That said, I'd love to see the return of Romana, whether as Lalla Ward or an entirely new actress.)

Also, NuWho does have its redeeming qualities. "Vincent and The Doctor" is one of the most memorable and meaningful hours of the show that I can recall (with part four of Earthshock taking second). The pain I feel when rewatching that episode is almost physical. Curran acted his heart out.

At any rate, um, here's a drive-by post. And I do hope you read the note I sent a few weeks back. I apologize if I came across as pushy. I hope she's doing okay.


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