Thursday, December 27, 2018

Doctor Who Series 11

So, with this season of Doctor Who over and done with, I thought I'd write out what I thought of it.  First of all, I thought Jodie Whittaker did a pretty good job as the Doctor.  She played it a lot like David Tennant's 10th Doctor, just a little more scatter-brained.  David Tennant was my favorite of the new Doctors, and Jodie Whittaker is a close second for me.  I also like how they handled the Doctor being a woman.  She wasn't constantly commenting on it, she only really said anything when she was faced with something sexist that brought her up short.

The writing, for the most part, was a hell of a lot better than anything out of the Moffat years.  The worst of Chibnall's first season was better than the best Moffat ever achieved.  Mostly, because Chibnall knows how to structure a story, where Moffat doesn't know the first thing about it. 

Most of the episodes were a little mediocre.  They would start out good, and then they'd just get a little dumb once the villain was revealed, and kind of grating when it came time for the moral of the story.  There were some extremely good eiposdes in there,  The Demons of Punjab was probably my favorite, with Witchfinder being second.  But, overall the season was more mediocre than good.  But, again, Chibnall's mediocre is lightyears better than Moffat's best.

Previous show runners on the new series have limited historical episodes to one per season.  Which has been more than fine with me, because the historical episodes were some of the worst episodes of the season.  There were three in this season, and two of them were my two favorite episodes of the season.  The third was the aboslute worst of the season.  Not because it was really all that bad, but, more because it was extraordinarily lazy.  It was the laziest episode of the entire season.  That would be Rosa.  Look, Rosa Parks is an American hero.  She deserves a better tribute than a  terrible Doctor Who episode.  It was like the writers were all together, brainstorming ideas, and someone said, hey, let's do Rosa Parks.  Everyone said, yeah, that's great.  And that was all the thought an effort that went into it.  The thing is, though, that Chibnall was EXTREMELY proud of this episode.  In every interview he gave, this was the episode he brought up.  And it was just awful.  It was boring.  It was badly written.  It wasn't exactly all that historically accurate.  And, kind of worst of all, is that Rosa Parks only succeeded in taking her stand, because of the efforts of a white woman. 

Another problem that this season had, was that it wanted to have a message.  The problem was that the messages were usually extremely heavy handed, and they weren't very well incorporated into the stories.  What you basically got was a five minute or so stretch in almost every episode where the canst would pretty much look at the camera and say, and this is today's moral of the story... GET IT!?!?!?!  It's really kind of distracting, and it makes episodes that would, otherwise, have been decent, possibly good, kind of not all that great.  I have no problem whatsoever with social justice messages.  What I have a problem with is when the entire story grinds to a screeching halt so that we can address the moral of the story.  It should be integrated into the story in such a way that it's not popping out in your face.  The characters shouldn't take time out of the story to tell you , hey, look, this is the moral or the story.  It should be woven seamlessly into the story, and it just wasn't.

So, all in all, it was an okay season.  It's the best season since Russell T. Davies left by a very long shot, but it did have it's problems.  While a few of the episodes were excellent, most of them were just sort of mediocre and okay.  If I could give Chibnall one piece of advice for the next season, it would be to tone down the social justice a notch or two, and better integrate it into the story.  It's really jarring when all action and forward motion in the story comes to a halt so that we can discuss the moral of the story.  It needs to be better woven in than that.  I get that it was kind of his schtick when it took over, but there's for more compentent ways to do it than the way it was done here.  It was an okay season, with a great new Doctor, some very good new companions, but it really needed some work on the writing.

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