For the record: I have not seen “Asylum of the Daleks.” The Man and I don’t have cable – we just do everything through Netflix, so unless we resort to less-than-legal methods, it’ll be awhile before I get to see season 7.
However, I’ve of course been paying attention to the hype and promotion building up to the premiere over Labor Day weekend, and there’s something that’s been bothering me. Every time I saw it, I felt a little squicky, but I thought, “Oh, you’re just being silly.” The more I think about it and see some of the reactions coming in, though, the stronger I feel about saying my piece.
I’m talking about this image right here:
Disclaimer: Ten is my Doctor. And coming off the AWESOMENESS that was Donna, the Ponds have not been my favorite companions. I’m ready for them to move on and see what comes next. And while Eleven will never be my Doctor, I do kind of like what Matt Smith does with the character.
My problem with the image above is wrapped up a lot with my feelings toward the changes in the show since Russell T. Davies left and Moffat took over as showrunner. Moffat wrote some of the most brilliant episode under Davies’ reign – of course he seemed like a natural choice to take over for season 5. However, unchecked, his storytelling abilities are starting to cannibalize themselves. He has evolved the show from its origins to a sexy, blockbuster-ish series where everything is HUGE and people RUN AWAY FROM EXPLOSIONS IN SLOW MOTION.
I mean – seriously. Look at that photo up there. I mean, it’s cool and everything, but…that’s not the Doctor I know. That’s nothing of the Doctor Who I love.
And that right there? That’s not a companion worth giving a damn about.
Being carried from the wreckage like a Fainty McFainterson. Swooning in the Doctor’s arms. That tells you everything you need to know about how Moffat has been writing his primary female in the show for the past few years.
Let’s do a quick comparison by taking a look at Davies’ three companions.
- Rose: Whether you like her or not, woman took charge. Season 1? She became the TARDIS. Season 2, she risked herself alongside the Doctor to save the world. Then she crawled her way back across space and time to get to his side and stood against a Dalek invasion.
- Martha: She grew from doctor-running-away-with-a-crush to a soldier who took charge of her own life. She crossed a ravaged and occupied planet on foot for a year to save the Doctor’s ass and everyone else’s, too.
- Donna: Oh, Donna. My favorite. She always felt not quite good enough, but more than any of the others, she was the heart that kept the Doctor grounded. More clever than she knew, always softer than she let on. When the shit hit the fan, she absorbed Time Lordiness and moved planets alongside her best friend.
Now let’s take a look at our wilting flower up there. Amy has:
- Remembered the Doctor
- Had a baby that’s a ridiculous vixen stereotype
- Squabbled with her husband
In all fairness to Moffat, let’s take a look at his other lady – his “strong woman” River Song, who has:
- Sexually harassed and nagged at the Doctor in a sex-kitten-as-wife role
- Become what the Doctor said she was just because the Doctor said it
- Ruined the whole world so that the Doctor had to clean it up
- Generally degraded in intelligence and natural confidence since we met her character in season 4
Now I must ask myself, which of those groups of women would I want my little sister looking up to? The Well-Rounded Women’s Club who consistently stand alongside the Doctor and help him save the world? Or Sex Kittens Anonymous who have to be carried from the chaos and are mainly valued for how they look in a miniskirt?
Look, Who is Who. I’m going to keep watching and hoping (probably in vain) that Moffat turns around and makes new companion Clara a strong, layered character (and not just his definition of strong, which seems to only consist of “is sassy”). But I do miss the focus and humanity of the past seasons and regret a bit what it’s becoming.
That image? It’s a very accurate depiction of the new Who. It’s just not quite my Who.