Friday 9 October 2015

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it

Words written c35500
Stories completed 5
Rejections 83
Acceptances 1

I don't know what it is about the current incarnation of Dr Who that grates so much.

Or, rather, I don't know which aspect grates the most, whether it's the Doctor-centric storylines, with the time lord being the centre of attention rather than a dispassionate observer in others' stories who watches the equivalent of laboratory rats bumble around a maze before intervening, or Malcolm Tucker's trying-too-hard-to-convince-everyone-including-himself performance.

But, as a writer, hackles - which I didn't even realise I had - rose during The Witch's Familiar.  You see, as a writer, you construct a storyverse with a set of rules, the local laws of physics and logic.  And then you stick with it.  Tales of American series having telephone-directory size guidebooks to character and setting are legion, with the hanging threat that any writer who strays outside of them can forget ever working in that town again.  Or planet, if it's sci-fi.  So, if you have to make up a get-out-clause to get you out of a corner of your own painting, then go back to the start and do not pass Go.

You see - spoiler alert! spoiler alert! - the Doctor solves his problems with a laying on of hands (hello? the Doctor as Jesus?), channelling his regenerative energy.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't ever recall that being in the Doctor's arsenal.  In fact, my childhood recollection is that the Doctor met his regenerations as I would root canal work, as a rather nasty experience being done entirely to him.  Not by him.  I don't remember the Doctor having any control whatsoever over the whole regeneration trip.

But suddenly, because its the brush that's now needed to paint himself back to the doorway of this particular room, he can turn it on like a tap.

I'm not proposing to do this, but I wonder how many storylines from the last fifty years would be different if he had had this power all along.  Which, of course, within the Dr Who storyverse, it turns out he had all the time...

Issigonis said something along the lines of any fool can design a big car; the challenge is in designing a small car.  And promptly gave us the Mini.  Bend the rules all you like.  Find ones that everybody thought was a rule, but isn't (like you can't set the engine sideways).  But don't break them.  Or make up new ones.

It's damn hard keeping a character going for 35 series over half a century.  All credit to them.  But when you have to make up new attributes to get out of ever more extreme scenarios then you may wish to consider whether the Doctor has run his course...