Thursday, 29 May 2014

Doctor Who is rubbish! There! I've said it!

I've never been able to remember the exact detail of The Emperor's New Clothes, but the gist of it is that an emperor, long ago, is brainwashed into thinking that he is wearing clothes when, in fact, he's naked. The tale is often used to illustrate how something that is essentially a load of old tosh is viewed by few (or many) as the best thing since sliced bread. The BBC's Doctor Who is a case in point. In short, it's not very good, in my opinion, and never has been.

Doctor Who: it's not scary and it does not possess any cult significance.
In fact, the only episode that I would give any credit to is the one featuring the original Weeping Angels – that, it has to be said, is brilliant and I would watch it time and time again, it's that good. As for the rest of it? I'd even suffer listening to the Archers if I had to choose.

There are myriad problems with Doctor Who, the first being that whenever you see 'an alien' it never fails to look like somebody dressed as an alien. It's never possible to suspend disbelief, in other words. And regardless of the scenario in which the Doctor finds himself, it always looks as if the whole thing is being filmed in a television studio, even when it isn't. In the same way that 'made for television' movies in the seventies had a certain naffness about them – they never looked like a proper movie of the sort you'd see in the cinema – the same is true of Doctor Who. And even when you see a movie on the television, it looks 'better', more authentic and once again, with Doctor Who, the viewer's ability to suspend disbelief is impossible.

Whenever I sit and watch Doctor Who, in the back of my mind I'm always aware that beneath that monstrous-looking costume of an alien – for that is what it is – there is a man or woman who, at some later date will be featured on a television programme about the making of Doctor Who explaining how difficult it was to get the bloody thing on or how hot it was in there. Again, the ability to suspend disbelief is just not there and why would the BBC spend time and money making a programme about the making of Doctor Who? It's simply not that good.

Indeed, the BBC goes out of its way to make Doctor Who naff by trying to big it up by creating a myth that, even as adults, people cower behind the sofa in fright. Listen, they don't! Doctor Who simply isn't scary! And yet you'll always hear television presenters – especially the BBC prefects and 'head girls' like Zoey Ball, going on and on about how they'll have difficulty sleeping after watching an episode. Rubbish! If Hannibal Lecter isn't scary (it's good old Anthony Hopkins after all) then where does that leave Doctor Who?

That ability to suspend disbelief is stunted further by Doctor Who Confidential, a programme which, in itself, is naff, because it sets out to analyse an episode of 'Who' and thereby ruin it for anybody who is foolish enough to be capable of suspending disbelief. In Confidential we hear how the programme was made, we hear from the writer, the actors, we see shots of camera booms and directors – all of which reinforces the reality that Doctor Who is little more than a television production. There's nothing worse than being told how a magic trick works so that you're aware that it isn't magic after all – of course it isn't – just sleight of hand, and that's what Doctor Who Confidential attempts to do – it ruins any imagination the viewer might possess. And, once again, Doctor Who simply isn't good enough to have a separate programme devoted to how it was made.

I feel the same way about actors on chat shows. Those who are frequently seen chatting to Jonathan Ross or Parkinson or Graham Norton soon become 'themselves' in the eyes of the public and once again that ability to suspend disbelief is damaged forever as when you then see the actor in question trying to fool you that he or she is some major historical figure (or whatever) it's impossible not to see the actor staring back at you. In some cases, of course, that ability to suspend disbelief was never there in the first place – yes, in Doctor Who, but who could possibly suspend disbelief enough to watch Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter for God's sake! – as beat poet Allen Ginsberg?

But let's get back to Doctor Who. In short, it's rubbish: the sets are rubbish, the alien outfits are far from convincing, the whole thing is bigged up beyond belief and its hard to watch the BBC's various presenters patronising the British public, pretending that Doctor Who is scary and 'deep' when it isn't and generally making out that Doctor Who holds some kind of cult significance. It doesn't. He doesn't.  It's not the X Files (which never looked as if it was filmed in a studio, and if there were aliens, they always looked a darn sight more convincing than those in Doctor Who).

And yet, if you dare to question the greatness of Doctor Who it's almost blasphemy. The crowded room goes silent, a bell tolls, and the hangman arrives to take you to the gallows. Well, come and get me "aunty", Doctor Who is bollocks! There, I've said it! It's bollocks! Rubbish! A load of old tosh! Put that in your Tardis and smoke it!

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