Monday, 15 October 2018

Doctor Who Series 11.1, 11.2

The outgoing Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, was the best writer of stories that the show has yet found. As showrunner, he was less successful, taking the show in a wrong direction and gradually losing his audience by trying to be too clever. He tended to write fantasy rather than science-fiction stories, and seemed to see the Doctor as a superhero figure with a magic wand; whereas I much preferred him as a travelling eccentric with a screwdriver.

The new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, has given us two stories so far, which have been very well presented and well acted: they look good. I'm not sure how much credit he's due for that, but he may turn out to be a better showrunner than Moffat. He's trying to write science fiction rather than fantasy, which is good; unfortunately, he seems to have little understanding of science or technology, which is a significant handicap when writing sf!

The 13th Doctor seems to be less of a superhero (good), but still has a magic wand: the sonic screwdriver, originally a humble gadget with very limited functionality, can now apparently do almost anything the Doctor wants it to do (sigh).

Chibnall's Doctor Who stories in the Moffat era were adequate but unexciting, and his first two stories in his own era are also adequate but unexciting. There's not much in these stories that might tempt me to watch them again, except to remind myself later how the 13th Doctor started her career. Various other writers have been engaged for Series 11; I hope they'll have better stories to tell.

Now that the Doctor Who team has the collective ability to tell stories so well, it really needs some good stories worth telling.

At first sight, I'm not keen on the new TARDIS interior. The TARDIS is the Doctor's home: she lives in it. Would you like to live in that? Do you think the 13th Doctor would really like to live in that? And the user interface of the new console seems very 1940s. Perhaps it'll grow on me, but I'm not very hopeful.