For the benefit of the man whose heart I long to break, some thoughts on the second season of the 11th Doctor. These are provisional, based on seeing only the first 11 episodes of this season, and seasoned with the experience of seeing all of the current series and a sampling of the old serials.
Generally, I like the work I’m seeing this season. Is your heart broken yet?
I’ll list a few things that seem to define the current era, and the current season for you…
- I’d like it if every season didn’t end with Universe-shattering shatterings which hinge on the personal story of the Doctor.
- I’d like it if there were more Donna Nobles and Rory Williamses in the companion roster, which is to say, people who accept the Doctor for what he is, give him what-for when he needs it, but aren’t all moony-eyed about it.
- I’d like it if the personal story of the Doctor didn’t keep hammering on the fact that he’s an ego-maniac with a God complex whose interactions with his companions often verges on the co-dependent. (There’s an irony which deserves more attention than I’m going to give it between the fact that I want other stories and the fact that, actually, the way things have been going since at least the 4th Doctor, there’s probably some good justification for the Universe-shattering shatterings hinging on the Doctor’s personal story, and the fact that, despite a human perspective to see his personality as ego-maniacal and all God-complexy, he’s probably justified in having those traits.)
- The problem is this: we viewers keep getting the same story: The Doctor picks up a new companion, and they go on a series of adventures, as the villains get increasingly powerful, or, at least, knowledgeable about the Doctor and threaten him by threatening his companions directly or (increasingly) by causing the Doctor to face up to the effect knowing him has on those around him, especially the companions. Then, at the end of the season, there this Universe-shattering shattering thing. This season set us up with the apparent death of the Doctor when we see him get killed mid-regeneration and then burned in a boat. Difficult to see the way out of that one. I’m sure the answer is sitting right in front of me.
Complaining done. Probably. I like the program, since, even though it’s always the same story, it’s always told really well–or at least really entertainingly, which, really, is the same as telling the story well.
I like the concept of River Song, so I’m not going to quibble about things I wish were different. I like the idea that there’s someone out there who knows a lot about the Doctor, and who has built up a relationship with him asynchronously. I like seeing how that relationship writhes. Particularly since, as she’s not a Time Lord (do we still say Time Lady?), all she really has is knowledge and insight.
I find Amy Pond’s thing, Being the Girl Who Waits, interesting, and (just for a moment) I’m going to complain that this has an unfortunate side effect of making her the Girl Who Goes Missing and Has to Be Found Before She Dies. This was, however, well addressed in the episodes I’ve most recently seen, “The Girl Who Waited” and “The God Complex.” In these episodes we see Amy dealing with the fact that sometimes the Doctor doesn’t save the people–sometimes not even the companions. We viewers have seen this before, notably Donna Noble and Adric.
So. Looking forward to the end of the season. I don’t follow the trades, so I don’t know what’s on deck for the next season, or how (or indeed if) the Doctor getting shot to death and burned up on a boat gets resolved. I don’t know if the end of this season means the end of our interactions with River Song, or Amy & Rory.
What I hope for, though, for future developments is less focus on melodramatic character development (show us the Doctor’s character in action, not in stage-whispered dialog), less soap-operay plots (let there be continuity, but lets have more Donnas and Rorys in the mix), and more stories that sort of happen rather than Mean Something To The Doctor. I think six years deconstructing the Doctor is plenty for the time being. Time for some different stories.
Did you watch 12 yet?
Not yet. We're savoring the hangity of the cliff-hanginess of the pre-finality state of being.