[NetBehaviour] The New Who vs Oldskool Timey-Wimey Whovians

mez breeze netwurker at gmail.com
Fri Jan 3 04:05:57 CET 2014


—–[“The Time of The Doctor” SPOILERS (Sweetie) Alert]—–


On the 25th December 2013, Doctor Who received 12 new lives. In the episode
“The Time of The Doctor”, the current series showrunner, producer and lead
writer Stephen Moffat imbued the once-labelled as 11th [and now redubbed
the 12th, or even
13th<http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/25/doctor-who-review-matt-smith_n_4501917.html>]
Doctor a new regeneration cycle. In this episode filled with heavy-duty
retconned <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retcon> plot threads, we see the
New [old] Who emerge.


>From a traditional Whovian perspective, there’s been substantial trouble
with Moffat’s version of a character who, like his regenerations, has
undergone substantial re-jigging as part of the entire franchise reboot,
many of which have been largely controversial. When Moffat plucked the Who
writing mantle from Russell T Davis, there was substantial concern that his
[then] largely episodic inflected story style wouldn’t be able to
adequately extend beyond flashy emotion-inducing viewer bait, complete with
thrill laden plot segments and incomplete long arc shifts where
foregrounding, consistent character development and plots worthy of the
previous writers were/are [mostly] abandoned.


In this pivotal episode, Moffat attempts to disassemble and reassemble
elements of the Who Canon in an effort to extend the longevity of the
franchise beyond the Doctor’s accepted and restricted Regeneration cycle.
The episode contains all the benchmarks we've come to expect from Moffat:
companions posited as disposable tools or eye-candy mannequins, story gaps
you could drive a TARDIS through and plot-hole-construction-gloss thrown
about almost randomly by the shiny bucketful. The result creates a type of
standard willing Suspension of
Disbelief<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspension_of_disbelief>that
only just lightly grips the edges of believability. Emotional key
points fall cheaply and wantonly [like the death of his handy
Cyberman-head-pal “Handles”, or the Doctor's promise to Clara that he'll
never abandon her again]. The rushed passage-of-time markers rub the viewer
in any manner of annoying ways, and flimsy self-referential exposition
becomes paramount when the contrived CGI effects fail to impress.


And yet, given all of the failings of this crucial episode, the emotional
reefing that Moffat does best still manages to evoke a type of stretched
wonder-thrall. Moffat discards [and has now for many, many episodes]
conventions that traditional Dr Who fans hold dear: Joseph Campbellesque
hero variables <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces>and
crucial sci-fi story elements are bypassed in order to cater for more
incrementally-oriented audience members used to absorbing their story
snippets through 2 minute YouTube blipverts or Tumblr-emulated focals.
Moffat knits together these contemporary absorption points via a method
that, instead of catering for narratives comprising sequential beginning,
middle and ends, seeks to harness the power of discrete narrative units.
These units merge techniques drawn from graphic novel variable truncation
to story-board framing, resulting in staggered story-time acceleration and
retconned plot explosions designed for nonlinear attention spans.


Moffat may not be the great grand hope for old-timey-whiney Whovians [ahem]
who yearn for believable extensions to Who chronology beyond an established
and pre-mapped regenerative timeline. But through the New Who incarnation,
Moffat instead offers us an extension of a well-worn and much-loved
character, one that at least utilises the very methods that a contemporary
audience regularly deploys to maintain a narratives beyond standard story
knitting.


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