A friend of mine just complained that the latest Doctor Who episodes, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” and “The Crimson Horror,” put her to sleep. She doesn’t like Clara, she doesn’t like the Matt Smith characterization of the Doctor, she doesn’t like the TARDIS being infinitely big, and she doesn’t like the kiss that the Doctor gave Jenny. It just doesn’t feel like Doctor Who to her any more.
She’s not the only one. A lot of people are unhappy. Here’s are some complaints from the Doctor Who community on LiveJournal. In the post “The contempt of the show-runner” by ed_rex, who wrote: “The whole of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who has been a long series of insults dressed up as Big Ideas, punctuated by apologies from the likes of Richard Curtis and Neil Gaiman.” Commenters said things like:
- “Worse, Moffat’s women issues have gone from a ‘hint and a wink’ to f* it, let’s just smear it on the wall. . . . the Doctor is totally acting like a stalker.”
- “. . . sometimes he [the Doctor] seems like just not a very nice person at all. Very cold and cruel and calculating.”
- “until recently I’ve viewed the show as being relatively progressive in terms of its view of women. I thought the female characters were strong and empowering . . . I think Clara has a chance at being another strong Companion, but if SM keeps letting his own issues get in the way, then I think the show is going to dive bomb pretty quick.”
- “a part of Eleven’s personality is a prepubescent boy who has naive sexist views on girls.”
- “I can’t watch ANY of the Eleventh Doctor without feeling completely sick to my stomach. I’ve been a Whovian since the Tom Baker series and wasn’t sure how I’d react to the the new takes…LOVED it until Moffat took over. He needs to reign in his overblown ego and stop ruining this show”
And here’s something from the post “The Crimson Horror and Sexual Assault” on the blog doctorher.com:
“I think some of us are in mourning. The Doctor as an asexual character is officially dead. This is not my Doctor. This is not the Doctor of the last 50 years. . . [this] is the most aggressive and only instance of predatory behavior on the part of the Doctor.”
I’m watching all these comments with great interest because none of the incidents mentioned “break” the Doctor for me, but I too have my breaking point. And it’s been reached at times. Here were my top five moments when something I found sacrosanct was broken.
- In “The Two Doctors,” the Doctor killed someone out of revenge / for fun.
- In “Mindwarp,” the Doctor betrayed a companion and then she died. We were later told (not shown) that she survived, and that just wasn’t enough for me.
- In the 1996 TV movie Doctor Who, the Doctor kissed a woman. I remember sitting on the couch with my friend watching it in great excitement and with high hopes that the movie would revive the series. We both yelled at the screen when that happened, because up until then the Doctor had been portrayed as asexual.
- In “Family of Blood,” the Doctor took revenge on four people in rather horrible ways that also made him out to be pretty darn omnipotent.
- At the end of “Flesh and Stone,” when the Doctor let Amy kiss him despite a clear power differential and “girl-women weirdness.”
Why did these things “break” the Doctor for me? Because I started watching in the Patrick Troughton era, and all through the Peter Davison years the Doctor was a good guy, powerful but not a demigod, and he took on the role of mentor/teacher/father figure to women. I identified with the female companions and above all had the sense that they were safe traveling with him. They were safe from the Doctor, and they were safe from the other monsters too. I would have walked into the TARDIS with him in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t do it now.
To me those were some pretty serious lines that were crossed. (All but #3. I would be okay with a kiss between equals.) And yet I keep watching. Why do I keep watching? I guess I still believe in the guy. I guess I still believe that those breakages are the exception, not the rule. I guess that guy the Doctor used to be is still rattling around in my head.
But I am afraid that at some point the show will go too far even for me. That would be a sad day.
Readers, what about you? What do you find sacrosanct about the Doctor?