A number of years ago, a very good friend of mine insisted that I watch Doctor Who. She had me watch several episodes of series 1 (2005.) What I had been promised (rather aggressively) was a show that was “better than Star Trek and Star Wars combined!” Although I had little doubt I would find this claim to be wild exaggeration, I did imagine that the show would be at least passably good.
Instead, I saw several episodes of what seemed to be a pretty terrible show. The writing unwisely made the show’s cheesy special effects more or less the centerpiece of the show, but you could hardly blame them as the alternative was focusing on the incredibly awkward actors. I also never quite got over the fact that the music sounded like a bad porn groove. Defenders of the show describe all of this as “cheesy.”
Yeah, no. “Cheesy” I can handle. This wasn’t cheesy. It was bad. There’s a huge difference. So, of course, I figured my experience with Doctor Who was over, and I could relegate it to the realm of things that other people liked and I didn’t. (Note: I don’t spend a lot of time complaining or caring about what other people like and I don’t. What’s the point?)
That was indeed the case until quite recently. A very good friend of mine insisted that I watch Doctor Who. He had me watch the first episode of series 5 (2010.) After doing so, I find myself with a very simple question.
Is this the same show?
The first, most immediately apparent difference was the music. I’m not going to try to argue that it’s great by any general standard, but it’s definitely at least reasonably good. It goes from being a major distraction to being exactly what a television soundtrack is supposed to be if it’s not spectacular: something in the background that enhances the overall viewing experience.
But the real difference was the writing and acting. I was absolutely astonished by how much better the acting is here than in what I saw of series 1. The special effects are still (pardon the pun) nothing special, but that’s not a huge concern when the writing wisely focuses its attention on the characters.
Obviously I have a long way to go with this series, and series 6, and 7 when it comes out if it continues with its current cast. (I am obviously avoiding spoilers, so I have no idea.) In any case, this is a very promising start that I really didn’t anticipate.