Television 10 October 2018 | 17:39

Sell ‘Doctor Who’ to someone who can do it right

10 October 2018 17:39

I’m sure the BBC’s Doctor Who algorithms would have identified me as dead-cert fan of the first episode of the new season:

Lifelong fan ✔️

Thinks Jodie Whittaker is a great choice to play the Doctor ✔️

Pretty much all my friends liked it ✔️

Also, the Peak District is my favourite part of the world and, most importantly, after the confusion of the Moffat years, I desperately wanted to like Doctor Who again.

But I’m sorry to go against both the predictive formulae and the Editor-in-Chief of DRUGSTORE CULTURE. As the episode flopped about with its knockoff Predator plot – except this Predator arrived in a big blue onion; kept teeth as hunting trophies instead of its victims’ skulls; and his tentacles floated about him rather than being attached to his face – I couldn’t help feeling that it was all a bit cheap. The montage of the Doctor building herself a new sonic screwdriver from a bit of Sheffield cutlery just reminded me of The A-Team.

As the plot plodded to its predictable conclusion, my mind wandered to Star Trek, another beloved sci-fi series which has undergone a recent reboot and has an ever-changing cast of characters and showrunners. Star Trek: Discovery, the latest version of Gene Roddenberry’s never-ending franchise also has a smart, energetic female lead, but here the similarities end. Whereas Doctor Who was all rickety CGI and clunky dialogue, Discovery has eye-popping special effects and a plot that gets very dark and messy, and forces the characters into morally difficult choices.

I wonder if all my friends who were so keen on this first episode of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who were, like me, desperate to like it – but then ended up going too far, and eradicated its all-too-obvious flaws them their minds.

With competition from Netflix, Amazon and HBO only becoming more intense – as their big bucks hoover up all the writing and acting talent, as well as the audiences – I can’t help but think that it’s time for the BBC to admit that they no longer have the resources. Perhaps they should sell Doctor Who to one of the major players in the new Movieverse, who can provide the money, innovations, and perhaps even VR spin-offs, that the franchise and its fans deserve.

Though, of course, I’ll be there on Saturday, watching it as usual – and, as a friend pointed out, the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery was pretty dull, so perhaps I’m being far too pessimistic and this will end up being a classic Doctor Who series. I do hope so, but, without the mega-dollars, I suspect that this will be the last regeneration of the Doctor that I can be bothered to watch.