That I love Doctor Who really isn’t much of a secret – when you wear a Vote Saxon T-shirt to local film events, you’re pretty much earning a reputation for yourself. And I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t written more posts about the show (that one with the Steven Moffat quote doesn’t count, since it just used his thoughts to reflect on my own growth as a writer, with the fringe benefit of earning quite a few page hits for my blog).
It’s a good question. I’ve thought about doing episode recaps before – I tried that once with Lost, on my first blog, so long ago I can’t even remember the URL. There are two problems with that, though. First, there’s the danger of sacrificing enjoyment for analysis; as Ross Ruediger, an invaluable resource when it comes to Doctor Who, rightly notes:
If you’ve ever tried to recap a series on and on, year after year, it becomes a drag after a while, and takes a big part of the fun out of the show for the person doing the writing.
Second, as I learned the hard way, when you’re writing about a serial drama, what you write for Episode 17 may ultimately be rendered obsolete by Episode 20, or even by Episode 18. I remember writing a whole post devoted to how much I hated Henry Gale when he was introduced to The Island. Of course, within a few months Ben Linus had become my favorite character on Lost. (That means more, of course, when you know that Ben and Henry were The Same Person.) When all you have is the setup, you can’t presume to know the payoff.
And I see that happening right now with Doctor Who, especially after that mindblower of a season premiere. Without giving too much away, it’s clear that Moffat intends to build on a foundation laid from the beginning of last season – and if you haven’t seen Series 5 yet, it’s a good time to catch up, for a lot of reasons.
First: With three words spoken near the end of “The Eleventh Hour” – “Silence will fall” – Moffat begins a storyline that I suspect will last far beyond this season. This is where the Lost comparison comes into play – like that show, Doctor Who appears on the verge of becoming a series that tells its story not just over one or multiple episodes (as it has done in the past), not just over one season (as it has also done in the past), but over its entire run. As far as I know, that’s new territory for the series, and having been through it before, the implications are nerve-wracking and frustrating and exciting all at once.
Second: Series 5 is a great place to start for anyone who’s new to the show. As it begins, The Doctor has just regenerated (into a brilliant Matt Smith), and he’s still trying to figure himself out, so audiences are [re]learning the character right there with him. And despite a few questionable moments (I’m still not sure what Mark Gatiss was thinking with “Victory of the Daleks”, though he’s quite redeemed himself with his work on Sherlock), it’s a fun ride, a wonderful reboot for the character and his universe.
Third, and this is the most important one: I could go on for hours trying to explain the show and what I love about it, but I’d fail miserably. I could talk about the acting, but it will mean nothing until you’ve actually seen Smith and Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, and all the Doctors and companions and allies and adversaries to come before. I could talk about the writing (which has attracted the likes of Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman), but you’re really far better off watching Moffat’s “Blink”, or Terry Nation’s “Genesis of the Daleks”, or Richard Curtis’s heartbreaking “Vincent and the Doctor”. I could talk about the history, but Ross can do that far better than I (and can also name many more episodes you should see). I could talk about how much fun it is to share with other fans, but it’s easier to just invite you to join in and attend a Doctor Who Fans Unite screening. I could tell you what to look for, but in the end, you won’t find it, can’t find it, until you’ve seen it for yourself.
So, you have your call to action. Your “Allonsy”. Your “Geronimo”. Your “Come along, Pond”. If you’re already a fan, I hope I’ve done the show some modicum of justice; if you’re merely curious, I hope I’ve helped pique your interest. Either way, hope you enjoyed the effort.
Take care, and until next time, “be seeing you…”
(I know, I know, wrong cult classic. But it’ll do for now…)