I’m a big fan of Doctor Who. I grew up watching it on TVO in my parent’s basement, and yes, I did jump behind the couch sometimes because “my” doctor was Tom Baker, and we all know how his episodes played. I continued watching Who up until it was canceled in my University years, and even then the local PBS channel from Ohio played whole serials (most from John Pertwee’s era) as “movies” each Saturday night, and my roommate and I would sit up and watch them every weekend.
So as you might expect, I was ready to go when Doctor Who returned in 2005, and overall I’ve loved the ride ever since. I enjoyed Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, I came to adore David Tennant in the role like anyone else, and I’m actually looking forward to Matt Smith’s run. Of course, I’m not actually looking forward to it for Matt Smith, since he’s a completely unknown quantity (and I still think he’s too young) but for the end of Russel T. Davies in the writer’s chair. Now, I completely confess I have loved a couple of his episodes (Midnight, Gridlock, Waters of Mars) and he does have a sense of style and motion that helped bring energy to the relaunch of Who and make it great. That said, the man also wrote most of the worst episodes of the new show as well (not THE worst, that would be The Unicorn and the Wasp by Gareth Roberts), and turned an adventure show into what was very much an Earthbound drama. He wrote and produced a Who that was half show-half fanfic/loveletter to the show he watched growing up, and did some of the stupidist sh*t to grace that series in a long time. He took a show that was at least semi-grounded in science (even if some of it was closer to magic) and make it into a pure science-fantasy where a character took control of a death-star type spaceship by a grabbing a lever, and if everyone claps three times they can turn the Doctor back to normal and give him godlike powers. Don’t even get me started on his season-long “arcs”, which started interesting (not good, but interesting) and then turned into the same crap recycled in different flavors over and over, getting more and more ridiculous. I think if he’d been a general staff writer on the show, things would have been fine, but instead of that we got plot holes you could drive a planet through.
So, when I watched The End of Time, Part 2 today I was praying he could break that streak and produce something good, especially since his last “series finale” with the the Daleks was so incredibly bad. Did he do it? I’d have to say no in the final analysis. He produced something with some great bits (anytime the The Doctor and Wilf were talking) and the ideas behind the new Timelords was cool too, but the execution? A real letdown. That last 10 minutes especially was almost maddening, as it was neither needed nor asked for, and was a pure exercise in self-indulgence on the part of RTD that I think summed up his whole term on the show. (In a bad way.)
On the other hand, he did do one thing right- he found Stephen Moffat to replace him. The man who wrote the absolute best episodes of the past 5 years worth of show, and the man many of us look to as the one who will take Davies’s ideas, and really give them the extra solidity they need to make them work. Yes, he might turn the show in another mess, but lets have a little faith based on his track record.
Especially since he’s giving us this to look forward to: