The last Doctor Who reaction post I did was for Listen, and y’all may have noticed I didn’t do one for the episode that followed, “Time Heist”. There’s a reason for that, one that pretty much bubbled right up to the fore with this past weekend’s episode, “The Caretaker”.
Which is to say, I’m starting to really not like this season of Who. Dara, Paul and I all watched “The Caretaker” last night, and none of us liked it. Dara calls out her reasons why over here. And to what she has to say, I’ll add this.
As many of you know, I came into Who fandom with the new series. I’d been half-assedly paying attention over Dara’s and Paul’s shoulders when they watched the classic-era episodes on our local public access station, but when the series revived in 2005, Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper made me sit up and take notice. And yeah, I’ll say it right out: I really liked the relationship chemistry between Nine and Rose AND Ten and Rose. I’m a romantic sucker. This is known.
But I’ll also note that just because I am a romantic sucker and I greatly enjoyed the love story with Rose, this does not mean I am incapable of appreciating Who in a non-romantic context. I have since gone back to enjoy quite a great number of the classic-era episodes, particularly in the eras of Three and Four, with nary a love story to be seen.
Let me emphasize this: I do not need the Doctor to be a love interest for him to be interesting to me.
But with all due respect to the considerable acting powers of Mr. Capaldi, y’know what I also don’t need him to be? A screaming asshole to everybody in sight. Here is a short list of things I am now really tired of in this season of Who so far:
One, the Doctor’s rampaging anti-soldier bigotry, which appears to have exploded from out of nowhere. I speculate that this may be a leftover from his experiences on Trenzalore, but I don’t know, because we haven’t been given any justification for it so far. Dara points out correctly that the Doctor does have a history of being contemptuous to the military, but for me as a viewer, it seems like it’s been ramped up to 11 in this series, and for no good reason at all. It can’t just be a reaction to Danny, either, because he was starting this pretty much right out of the gate. “Into the Dalek” had it too, and the Doctor specifically, sneeringly denied Journey Blue a chance to come with him in the TARDIS because she was a soldier.
Two, the constant derisive remarks about Clara’s appearance. I’ve counted at least one per episode, and this is starting to become seriously NOT OKAY. Yes. I get it. The Doctor isn’t Clara’s boyfriend! But he’s supposed to be her friend, and friends don’t say shit like that about each other.
Three, the Doctor yelling “SHUT UP” at everybody. This has grown really tiresome, and it’s presenting Twelve as an arrogant asshole without something to legitimately balance it out. It’s making the Doctor come across as not giving a damn about anybody else having a voice in what’s going on–and that’s another thing, this whole notion of the Doctor “not caring”. I don’t like this idea of Clara as his emergency backup conscience. The Doctor’s supposed to be a champion of humanity, and while sure, there’s some amusement value in the snark of him calling Earth the Planet of the Pudding-brains, if he keeps this up, you have to start wondering why he’s still bothering to do anything on humanity’s behalf. “Because Clara is making him do it” doesn’t cut it as an answer to that, either.
Trevor on the Doctor Who Podcast, which Dara and I follow, has been talking in recent episodes about how in this season, he’s just not finding the Doctor heroic, and he’s really having a hard time understanding why Clara or anybody would want to travel with him. And I’ve got to back Trev up on this.
Because right now, the Doctor I’m seeing is not a Doctor I would want to travel with. I don’t care if he’s got a time machine and can go anywhere in the cosmos. If he said shit to me like what he’s been saying to Clara, particularly this past episode’s line of “you explained me to him, but you haven’t explained him to me”, I’d tell him to stuff his sonic screwdriver where the suns don’t shine. Because that, that right there, encapsulates the problem in a nutshell. My immediate reaction to that line was “hey asshole, she doesn’t owe you an explanation for her love life!”
And I really do not want to be thinking of the Doctor as an asshole. It makes me sad and it makes me cranky all at once.
I don’t need the Doctor to be a romantic lead. But I do need him to be a hero.
I need him to be the Doctor.