If you’re puzzled by the headline, check here.
So, Doctor Who, new Doctor, episode 1:
(There may be spoilers. You know me. If you mind spoilers probably better not read reviews…)
Massive, massive brownie points for starting off by foregrounding a same-sex, mixed-race, mixed-class marriage. Yes, it’s a smart way to tick several politically correct boxes at once (hello Lt. Uhura) but it still lifted my heart.
It may also make the show unsaleable in a number of territories because it’s women behaving transgressively and not naughty twinkly Captain Jack, so that’s extra brownie points.
Demerit marks for the same old raggedy man/idiot savant intro. I was really hoping they’d let Capaldi come in like Ninth Doctor Eccleston – potent, charismatic, angry and in full control. It’s almost as if they wanted to make him less threatening than a real grown-up and more like a bumbling granddad. Let’s hope they improve on this in future episodes.
Brownie points for tackling the age issue head-on, and in terms the BBC’s target audience will understand. Hopefully they will build to a more nuanced understanding of the value of silver foxes and developed brains. (It’s no surprise that Clara couldn’t control her class, as shown in the flashback to her teaching career. If she’s so afraid and dismissive of grey hair, she couldn’t help but feel disadvantaged with an aggressive class allegedly six or seven years younger than herself.)
Demerit points for the usual incoherent screamy-shouty-runny-abouty presentation and the chaotic mishmash of the script. Also for the shameless appropriation of now-out-of-copyright Holmes tropes (although I really would like to see our gallant girl investigators get their own series.)
And more demerit points for making the Doctor so apologetic. It didn’t quite cancel out his acerbic snittiness – he’s got great snark potential – but it was a close-run thing.
Overall: interesting character with great possibilities, rubbish script ditto.
But what we must always remember, us old fans who started watching however many Doctors ago, is that this isn’t really meant for us. Readers of The Anime Encyclopedia may recall our authorial comments on the tropes of the pre-teen TV show in which the same giant robots, heroes and villains put on slight variations on the same costumes, get a new and marginally different name and rerun the same battles for the delectation of a new generation of kids. There are people out there for whom Capaldi will always be THE Doctor, their first Doctor, the first to save them from the Daleks and the Cybermen and make them wish they were his next companion.
They don’t care about any of the above. I think they deserve better, but what do I know? Too much grey to understand.