This is about Fandom. The wonders of it, and the horrible way it can really obstruct other people’s enjoyment of things.
Doctor Who fans, in general (I think) are a wonderful bunch of people. They vary hugely in every way, and cover several generations. Even the younger fans seem to be able to intelligently hold their own in debates over whether the Slitheen should make a wiffy return, or if the Daleks really are the meanest baddies in the “Whoniverse”.
(Incidentally, my pedantic side picked up on something that was said by a 12-year-old fan in a podcast I heard recently. He said that he’d seen “just about all the classic series, which is an achievement for a child of just twelve years of age.” I agree. Especially since many episodes haven’t existed on video since the late 60s/early 70s…)
But there are some who are so set in their ways, so convinced that what went before is better than it can ever be again, that with every new idea, every new theory of the Doctor’s past or the development of any plot line that has been used before, that they become willfully destructive and just blow up at the slightest provocation.
So we come to The Doctor’s Daughter. This isn’t a review, as I haven’t seen it yet, but a reflection of the controversy in fandom about this.
This is what is happening, as far as I can tell:
Firstly, people are up in arms that the title is so deliberately provocotive and controversial.
Secondly, the mere idea that the Doctor can have a daughter is appalling to some.
There is something that would counter both of these, to some extent. To find it, let’s quickly hop back to 23 November 1963…
The first Doctor travels with three people, to start with, at least. Two are teachers from a school. The other is his “Grandaughter”. Grandaughter. There you go. That might go some way to explain why the Doctor having a daugher isn’t as controversial as it seems. If the Doctor had a Grandaughter, its a fairly safe assumption that there would have been a generation in between. Perhaps, say, a daughter. And as for the title being deliberately provocotive and controversial… it got you talking about it, didn’t it… What else is it supposed to do?!
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Doctor Who is cool right now. And its been a long time coming – ever since the mid-80s when Michael Grade got his dirty hands in the pie and started to mess with it, Doctor Who hasn’t been cool. But now, we have a wealth of excellent stuff coming our way – really well-written, produced and performed audio adventures, a TV reincarnation that is better than any of us scarcely believed could have happened, books and new releases of Classic Who coming out of our ears. We have more and more fans – many of them young – joining us, and discovering what helped us through our formative years.
I don’t see the harm in playing with some of the old elements – there are new viewers to entertain these days, and its something that fans should be used to by now. This is our Doctor still, very identifiably our Doctor. But the old days are now a reference in something new and fresh and exciting. I was thrilled just to hear the name of Sir Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart being mentioned in The Poison Sky – he is a legend and I love watching old episodes with him and his UNIT colleagues. But to bring him back now would have been wrong. Even more than it was in Battlefield.
There’s no doubting it, the Doctor has changed. He’s had to. With TV and drama in particular the way it is now, there’s no way he could have returned meandering around for 20 minutes each week, no matter how well written the stories. I know some die-hard fans don’t like the 45 minute format. I’m not entirely sure I am totally with this either – but its the way things are done now. Doctor Who could not compete with US drama or what’s being produced on a regular basis by the BBC, without being dynamic and bold. Being the wonderful and ageing BBC Statesman, strolling round the corridors of Television Centre, is no longer an option.
This Doctor is young and exciting. He makes kids want to be like him. Just like Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee, Colin Baker, Sylv McCoy and the rest did for us. A whole new generation of kids are pretending to battle Cybermen and Daleks in school playgrounds at break time. Isn’t that more important than if the Doctor’s hair is exactly the same two weeks in a row, or if they do something that contradicts a line in The War Machines?
And so what if this Doctor wears a suit with trainers? The one before wore a leather jacket. I think its a slight improvement on a question-mark-emblazoned tank-top or a coat that looks like he just mugged a passing gypsy. Don’t you?