Well that’s that then, writes Andrew Owen. No more Doctor Who until the 50th anniversary special on November 23. How will we fill our Saturday nights until then?
Where will we go? What will we do?
Well, frankly, my dears, I’ll be just fine, thanks for asking.
I’ve gone from, ‘Great! Doctor Who’s on tonight!’ to ‘Doctor Who’s on tonight. Great?’ (And, believe me, my inner 12 year old was cursing as I typed that.)
And I’m not the only one.
The ratings have dipped below five million, and even my dad has been less than impressed with some of the episodes in this second part of season seven. What more proof do you need?
The penny finally dropped the other week in the Crimson Horror.
There was a scene with Strax the Sontaran (think Davy Jones from The Monkees combined with an occasionally psychotic baked potato), and Madame Vastra (think lesbian lizard woman – well, actually, you don’t need to - she is a lesbian lizard woman) and a little thought sauntered into my brain.
‘This is really silly,’ said the little thought. And I couldn’t argue.
Last week’s episode, Nightmare in Silver, was another stinker.
Great ideas – the Doctor’s inner battle to remain in control of himself against an alien force – presented as if by a hyperactive five year old who’s overdone the sugar.
Both stories had plenty of potential – evil goings on in a Victorian sweet factory; a planet of dormant Cybermen – but I soon found my thoughts wandering because – as usual – both zipped along like a boy racer in a 30mph zone, without any real plot or sense.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for Matt Smith’s brilliant portrayal (hands down the best Doctor ever) I’d have given up weeks ago. (All right, all right, I would probably keep watching for Jenna Louise Coleman, but that’s not the point right now.)
And that brings us on to Saturday’s end of season finale. A quick scoot around Google will show you some fans exploding with excitement (“best episode ever!!”, “Wow!” etc ) and others who were slightly less impressed (“That sucked”, “Rubbish”, etc).
I think I’m somewhere between the two. I loved the way they used clips of the previous 10 Doctors, and some of the ideas – the Doctor visiting his own grave – were intriguing. Oh, and it looked fabulous.
But hammy Richard E. Grant’s villain was under used, and I’m going to have to watch the whole thing again on the iPlayer because – as usual – it sped away like a runaway train.
So if the ratings are down, how do we get them back up again? How do we save Doctor Who for the next 50 years?
Here is my idea, and please feel free to ignore it.
Slow down. For God’s sake slow down. Why cram everything into 45 minutes? Why not – ooh, I don’t know – try telling one story over two or three episodes? Yes, dammit, you can call me crazy. But it might just work.
Drama needs time to develop. Viewers need to know who characters are in order to care about them. Most weeks it has been like watching a cut-down version of a much longer film.
Last time I made these criticisms a few people said, ‘Ah, but you’re old. Kids can follow it.’ But that’s just patronising to kids – they can cope with depth and plot, and most of them really like good stories well told. They’re not idiots.
So, November 23rd it is then. I’m sure I’ll tune in. Even though I have a horrible feeling I’m going to be disappointed.