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Steven Ellis can’t understand what all the fuss is about. Literally

It’s enough to make you weep

Do you think it’s safe enough to talk about Doctor Who yet? I’ve always tried to stay away from the subject in the past, but I’ve been stewing over some of the more extreme reactions to this year’s series of Who for a while. It’s been off TV for a month now and it’s not back until Christmas… Everything’s quietened down; do you think I can safely talk about this now? (Please note: this was written before news of a possible film came out… if only I’d known!)

I’d be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Doctor Who. I watch the show, I like the show, but I don’t think I’m as invested in it as some other fans. Sometimes I joke that I can’t be a real Who fan because I enjoy the show. Saying that feels like less and less like a joke lately. To me it’s 45 minutes of entertainment on a Saturday night; sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s brilliant.

I’m that kid Tony Hadoke talks about in his show; that shiny Star Wars fan who likes the space ships; I’m afraid I was won over by the space ships. That’s not to say I don’t have fond childhood memories of classic Doctor Who. I do. Peter Davidson was my Doctor and I’ve done my time behind the sofa. I just don’t think the show means to me what I can see it means to others.

So, what is it about Doctor Who that causes such intense reaction from certain quarters? Am I the only who’s looking at some of the stuff being written and said about this last series with incredulity? Fans, media and pretty much anyone with a spare half hour just seem to target Who for this bizarre speculation and opinion when most of it can be debunked with a quick Google search…

I have no problem with opinions. Opinions are great. I have loads of them. But when it comes to Doctor Who, opinion seems to fly in the face of fact and become a very fervent beast. I realise that Who is one of the UK’s biggest sci-fi shows – if not the biggest – and that Doctor Who is a bit of phenomenon around these parts. It’s the only show that gets its own area in the SFX forum, an area that has almost as many threads as the whole of the rest of the TV section put together and almost as many posts. It’s the only TV show that gets a discussion thread for every single episode – threads that go on for pages. This show is more nit-picked than anything Lucas ever tinkered with.
SFX itself has even come under fire occasionally for what some see as its over indulgence when it comes to all things Who. I have no problem with any of that. It’s home grown and it’s very popular – why shouldn’t we shout about it? But do we have to rip it apart at every turn as well?

There are so many different rumours and stories being thrown around about the show; Matt Smith says in an interview that he’d like to try to crack Hollywood some day and the rumour mill decides he’s immediately leaving Who. Even a later quote from him saying he’s not thinking of leaving any time soon, even though we know he’s committed to at least another 13 episodes, people, it seems, are still worried about him buggering off in the middle of the night.

Reports and claims of viewers leaving Who in droves when any viewing figures shows that Who has remained steady with an average above 8 million viewers every series since it’s return in 2005. I’ve even seen the viewing figures questioned because by people who aren’t enjoying the current incarnation of the show. A quick web search gave me several different sources and all those sources gave similar figures. I doubt there’s a viewer number-inflating conspiracy.

I’ve seen speculation as to how many shows we’ll get next year and whether they’ll be split over 2012 and 2013. It’s not enough to know that there will be 13 episodes in the next series of the show; we have to start worrying about when they’ll be shown?

Then there are the complaints that the show is too complicated, when everyone I’ve spoken to about it understands just fine, and that number includes several child viewers who seem to love the show just as much as ever. Some people are saying Stephen Moffat is the worst thing that ever happened to the show because he’s not doing exactly what they want him to do. The same thing was being said about RTD a few years ago and the same thing will be said of whoever takes over from Mr Moffat. For a show that has change fused in at its deepest levels, some people really don’t seem to like it when any change happens.

And I haven’t even mentioned reactions to scripts, actors, episodes or the frankly awful comments I’ve seen about certain members of the guest cast… Isn’t it all a bit much?

I’m sure most of these reactions come from a very vocal fan minority or people looking for an easy, popular target to hit but it still makes me wonder just how this little show generates all the fuss it does. Why has a family entertainment show about a man in a blue box become the phenomenon it is? What do you think? Why do you think Doctor Who generates the reactions and fervour that it does? Is it all just a storm in a tea cup?

UPDATE: Just after I finished writing this, there was news of a possible Doctor Who film by David Yates. The reaction to that would needs a whole other blog… There were a lot of very negative opinions and at least two “Oi BBC! No!” petitions begun within 40 minutes of the announcement. Somebody even mentioned Hitler… And this is just the idea of a possible film maybe happening. Over reaction? Nah…

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