So we're near the end of August and I still don't have a new post ready to go up (I like to put up, at least, two of them a month). I have been working on what will become a new series that will work similarly to my Progressive Doctor posts but it will be with companions - but I'm just not going to have it ready before the end of August.
Fortunately, I keep a backlog for just such occasions. This one was written during a time when I first discovered click-bait sites that dealt with either Doctor Who or Sci-Fi, in general. A lot of them were taking open submissions and I thought it might be fun to give them something. So I wrote a few articles that enumerate things - since that is the trend for these types of articles. Ultimately, I decided click-bait articles are just too damned annoying and never submitted. But these articles were still lying around so I figured I'd finally post one.
It was originally written at the end of Series 7 but I've tried to update a bit
FIVE THINGS THAT PROVE THAT CLASSIC WHO AND NEW WHO REALLY AREN'T THAT DIFFERENT
You hear those musty, old, cantankerous geeks say it all the time: "I don't watch the New Series. It's not at all like the original show. It's not True Doctor Who." And, while we can't deny that the format of the show has changed, post-2005 Who has made serious efforts to stay true to its roots as much as possible. Here are 5 common objections these cranky old fans make and a buttload of examples that negate their ideas.
5: It doesn't acknowledge its past.
This one strikes me as the most ludicrous. But you hear the older fans say it. Because, every once in a while we have things happening in the New Series that clash, slightly, with continuity established in Old Who.
The fact of the matter is, New Who goes to painstaking lengths to reference things that have occurred in those first 26 seasons. The best example of this would be the Macra returning in Gridlock. Here is a completely obscure alien monster from a late-60s story that only has a few scenes from it that are still intact. Nearly the entire story was deleted from the BBC archives during a purge in the early 70s. But RTD knew that us hardcores remembered the Macra and he gave them back to us. A gesture of love from a super-fan...
But there are so many other instances of this respect for the past: the Doctor mentionning the Sense-Sphere in Planet of the Ood. Kate Stewart throwing a Cybermen head from The Invasion at the foot of the latest Cybermen invasion force in Dark Water (the Cybermen are also emerging from St. Paul's Cathedral). Even in Time of the Doctor, he makes a beautiful, hasty, non-intrusive reference to The Five Doctors regarding where he acquired the Seal of the High Council. A reference that, at the same time, signposted to fans which Classic story they could go watch that gives an example of where another Time Lord was offered a new regeneration cycle.
The show, if anything, references its past a little too much, sometimes. But the fan love is nice to see.
4: The TARDIS is too steerable
"In Old Who," these curmudgeons groan, "the TARDIS never went where it was meant to go. The Doctor was always ending up at the wrong place. Nowadays, it always goes exactly where he wants it to."
They are right. In very, very, very, very Old Who, the Doctor could never get the TARDIS to go where he wanted it to. Nearly the first two seasons of the show dealt with the Doctor trying to get two schoolteachers from 1963 back to London in their proper time. In the end, he never actually succeeded as Ian and Barbara have to use another more accurate time machine to get home.
But if you watch the Classic Series carefully, the Doctor's navigational skills get better with age. By the time he hits his Seventh Incarnation, he's getting to his intended destination almost every time. And the TARDIS does get pretty erratic again as the show returns in 2005. Just look at what the Doctor accidentally did to poor Rose in Aliens of London because his coordinates were a bit off. It's my guess that the TARDIS took some serious damage in the Time Wars that made it difficult to pilot, again, for a bit. But that the Doctor is smoothing out those creases as the show progresses. Just as he did in the old series.
3: The Doctor's dress-sense is too modern
Yes, I was as shocked as anyone else when the first pictures of Eccleston's Doctor were released. The Doctor in jeans and a leather jacket?! I couldn't believe it. But then, the idea also made sense. New Who did need to be as accessible as possible in its earliest days.
But we've been seeing a gradual progression in the costumes that seems to be getting back to the Edwardian influence that affected most of the Doctor's sartorial tastes from days of old. Tennant, at least, went back to wearing something a bit more formal. Smith's Doctor was always getting berated for the anachronistic choice of a bow tie. And, as his seasons wore on, the tweed blazer got dropped for a look that would fit right in with the clothes the Classic Doctors wore. Okay, he still wears his pants with the cuffs rolled up - but those kind of quirky costume choices are actually, very much, in keeping with what the Doctor does with his outfits.
Doctor Twelve certainly set the internet ablaze when he started wearing T-shirts and hoodies for a bit. But, most of the time, his gear is looking pretty classical, too. Several observations have been made about the resemblance his coats bear to the way Pertwee dressed. And how can we forget the Hartnell-esque trousers that he wore at the beginning of Series 9?!
No, he'll probably never wear a question-mark-covered pullover ever again. But some would say he never should!
2: The special effects are too good
It's funny how this is meant to be a criticism. Like it's a bad thing that we don't have to go through the last 10 minutes of Tom Baker's first story ever again (try to feel any kind of real connection to the tension and drama of the final moments of Episode Four of Robot - it's just not possible!).
Personally, I hated it when the Classic Series' poor budget shone through. It caused me to drop my suspension of disbelief rather than see some kind of cute charm about the show. But I think what these fans are trying to insinuate is that strong visuals have taken the place of good dialogue.
If that's the case, then why is it that some of our strongest memories of the New Series are the amazing monologues the Doctor has recited? One of the most memorable ones took place within the first 20 minutes of the very first episode. You know the one. Where the Doctor tells Rose about how he can feel the Turn of the Universe while everyone else can't? But it's not like that's the only time we've gotten a monologue like that. Who can forget that moment in The Pandorica Opens? Or the Doctor stopping everything at the end of Death In Heaven to rant about being an idiot with a box? We even get the incredible "Take it, baby" speech in Rings of Akhetan: a story that is not even all that well-liked by a lot of fandom - but the monologue still receives high praise.
1: The Doctor has a love-life
This one kills me. Because, if you go way back to the very first season of the show, the Doctor actually gets engaged in one of the stories! Yes, it happens through a cultural misunderstanding. But the fact of the matter is, the Doctor is flirting with this woman before it happens and is getting even more affectionate with her, afterwards.
The choice to make the Doctor so avuncular happened later in the Series. Mainly because they started having him travel alone with all these hot women and they wanted to firmly establish that the Doctor wasn't some sort of letch that was using the ability to travel through all of Time and Space as a way to impress the babes.
But, even in New Who, the Doctor's interest in "gettin' it on" is pretty limited. Most of the time, it's still women who are trying to hit on him while he's just trying to go about on his adventures. Even when the Doctor does seem to get a relationship going with someone, it's painfully awkward. Half the time that he romances River Song is because of the timey whimey nature of their love for each other. She's used to a future version of him who is more comfortable in his affections. So as she meets him in his past, she is expecting him to have some ability to be socially-graceful with a woman he's interested in. The Doctor is just falling into those expectations rather than actually being the sort of Cassanova that oldschool fans keep railing against. To me, this is another example of a slow progression that is being built into the character that reflects on what happened in the Classic Series. Rather than a harsh about-face that denies important events that went on before the series returned in 2005.
This idea of progression is really the crux of my whole debate. Doctor Who does not ignore its past. But it has developed a future. A future that does not rely on the character being exactly the same over and over for another fifty years. But, instead, let's him grow. Again, something that is in keeping with the ideas of Classic Who, too. The character frequently evolved and changed in his first 26 years - there's no reason that should stop, now.
The Doctor keeps growing. That's a fact that means the show will change in style and tone throughout the years. I think the real problem is a certain sector of fandom just doesn't feel like growing up with the show.