Methinks we can take the hint: our readers need to get it out of their system!
Why’s that? Perhaps because Doctor Who is the perfect storm of storytelling: brazen, complicated yet simple, with traditional elements yet edgy boundary-pushing, sci-fi and fantasy, epic yet personal, all those paradoxes even before the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff gets started.
Current showrunner Steven Moffat under the previous showrunner’s five-year tenure won acclaim for his scripts of The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, Blink, and Silence in the Library / The Forests of the Dead, and now he’s rebooted the show’s universe at least partially, at least twice. He’s a planner, that one. Chronic outliner, it would seem. Likes to play with time-travel and twists, on a large scale — his River Song and now The Silence story arcs — and on a small scale — daring to get the Doctor out of impossible situations with deus ex machina time paradoxes that actually work simply because of the show’s story-world rules.
This week I finally figured out who Moffat as storyteller reminds me of: parents who gleefully tell their children that Santa will come in the morning. His enthusiasm, explicit in interviews and implicit in the stories he shares, is contagious.
Now, after 40 years of obscurity, Doctor Who is crazy popular. It has dedicated fans, cosplay, insipid internet memes and everything.
Last Saturday, the revived British programme’s sixth series ended, and answered pretty much every question I could think of, going back to series 4, actually. For those of you disappointed with the Lost finale, Doctor Who actually brings story “payoffs.” No “it was just a dream” stuff. A spoiler-free review:
Who is River Song?
Already answered, almost all the way, it seems.
How did the Doctor escape his own clear death in series 6, episode 1?
Rather simple, actually, and one could say it was a big cheat if we had not been trained from previous series to expect giant complicated conclusions. Also, Moffat lied, rather overtly, claiming it was absolutely the Doctor himself who died a proper death. In fairness, Moffat also admitted he’d be willing to lie about secret plot points.
What happens next?
Since 2005, the finales had been getting bigger and bigger, to the point of exhaustion. In order:
- The Doctor saves future Earth from Daleks.
- The Doctor saves current Earth from Daleks and Cybermen.
- The Doctor saves current Earth from The Master and mutated invading humanoids from the future, in a later-aborted timeline.
- The Doctor saves the entire blinkin’ universe and parallel universes from a “reality bomb” made by Daleks and their creator.
- The Doctor saves contemporary Earth again, from the Master and his own long-lost race, the Time Lords, who were trying to escape their predestined doom.
- The Doctor saves the entire universe and parallel universes again, not only from a this-point-forward wipeout, but an explosion in time/space itself that would stop everything from ever having existed.
- The Doctor saves pretty much the entire universe yet again, from a similar crisis caused when someone tries to thwart a predestined event: the Doctor’s own (seeming) death.
But now the series 6 resolution moves Doctor Who in a new direction. Instead of being pretty much at the center of all known universes all the time, the Doctor, and his friends, can lapse into obscurity — not to us, of course, but in the story-world. I still remember in series 1 when the Doctor handed someone a computer disc with a program that would erase all rumors about him from the Internet. At that point, the Doctor would still prefer remaining in the shadows.
Later, though, he must have given up. Everyone in the universe became aware of the Doctor and his world-saving habits.
Now Moffat seems to want to go back to that in-the-shadows setup. The Doctor had been Superman, flying around in a colorful cape and flagrantly catching planes and lifting buildings and smashing up erupting volcanoes. Now it seems he’ll be much more like Batman.
There. “Previously on …”-style summary over. Discuss, quote, talk with fake British accents, and of course apply the Doctor-ish catchphrases of your choice. Reviews? Critiques? Anticipations?