Sunday 7 November 2021

Another post about 'Doctor Who'

I commented earlier that I don't watch BBC dramas anymore. 

I don't, but - as regular readers will know - there's one exception: Doctor Who.

Yes, its rating have been falling off a cliff under showrunner Chris Chibnall, but I've still largely kept watching - though mainly in my capacity as ITBB's Doctor Who Bias Correspondent. [Sue is Special Correspondent for other BBC dramas.] 

Viewing figures have fallen so dramatically that I rather suspect that the bulk of the small audience still watching are a mixture of those who have watched it since childhood, woke types doggedly supporting it [even if they don't actually like sci-fi], quite a few non-woke types watching it in a mood of unhappy critical antipathy [including YouTubers and bloggers], and a residual number of people who tune in simply because it's on their TV around primetime. It's quite 'niche' these days.

As regular readers will also know, Doctor Who has become Doctor Woke under Chris's tenure - a badly-acted, preachy disaster zone with at least as many plot-holes are there are UK potholes...

...and most of them stuffed with 'clunking great fist', politically-charged points about racism, climate change, feminism, diversity, 'Orange Man Bad', the evils of big business, how wonderful immigrants are, plastics polluting the sea, how Hindus in contrast to Muslims behaved badly during India's partition, etc, etc, etc,...

...culminating in an episode, The Timeless Children, when the entire lore of Doctor Who was chucked out, just so that the first-ever incarnation of the Doctor - erasing pale, male, stale William Hartnell - would be a black female child.

To paraphrase Queen Victoria on Gladstone, “Doctor Who under Chris Chibnall speaks to BBC viewers as if they were a public meeting.”  

This funny parody, which I've posted before, remains uncanny in its send-up of the recent box-ticking, virtue-signalling series. It's one of the most spot-on satires of the BBC I've ever seen, and if you've not already seen it, I urge you to watch it - even if you regard Doctor Who as a worthless children's programme. It's a subtle satire that sums up BBC drama:

The Chibnall era is coming to an end and the man who revived the show in 2005, Russell T Davies, is returning to try and save the programme, but Chibs is going out with a 6-episode bang/whimper. 

The first episode, though typically 'diverse', was a confused mess, but also surprisingly free of woke preaching. 

Today's second episode, however, shows that Chibs is unrepentant and that the BBC is still indulging him, and that he's doubling-down for the umpteenth time, with the BBC nodding along. 

War of the Sontarans is set during the Crimean War. [The Sontarans are egg-headed warmongers from another part of the universe, if you're wondering]. 

But guess which historical figure is going to be one of the main characters in this episode of Doctor Woke

Florence Nightingale?
Of course not. 

Yes, according to the Radio Times, the answer to that question is just who you'd think it would be if you guessed that the present-day BBC was behind it: that ultimate poster girl of the identity politics brigade here in the UK as far as revisionist, factually-dubious history goes: 

We're firmly in 'you couldn't make it up' territory again. 

Chibs, with his clunky, clumsy scripts, has evidently ticked another box on the list. 

He's well aware, no doubt, that doing so is the perfect virtue signal to épater les gammons and earn him brownie points.

High fives around many parts of the BBC and damn the historical facts, no doubt...

...though it probably won't help raise the ratings from near the floor, or help save a drowning franchise. 

Doctor Who has been falling off a cliff ratings-wise in the US too. That's a key market for the BBC as far as the show goes. Wiser heads at the Beeb are doubtless holding their collective breath and hoping that Russell T will work his magic again and save their dying cash-cow. 

Russell T Davies is hardly less obsessed with identity politics than Chris Chibnall though, albeit more for personal rather than career-advancing reasons, but at least he doesn't make you think his Doctor is talking to viewers like a social activist primary school teacher, and he/him also clearly much better understands the concept of 'subtlety' than Mr Chibs, and he can write a good story.

And that, you'll probably be very relieved to hear, is all I intend to say on the matter. For the time being...

Update: Or, as this is a blog, I could live-blog...

And it's just started and I'm already chuckling about the dialogue between the Tardis 'fam' [family]. Even I could write better dialogue. 

They've been chucked into a snowy landscape with a dead Crimean War soldier and are saying 'plot development' things that don't sound remotely natural but might advance the plot.

And here to the rescue, straightaway, roaring in, is a woman with a strong Jamaican accent. Mary Seacole to the rescue. 'All of dem dead'. 

And, inevitably, 'You are too close to the front to be with Mrs Nightingale. She won't come this close to Sebastopol.' 

Attacking Florence Nightingale and bigging-up Mary Seacole is basic paint-by-numbers 'wokery'.

And now Doctor Jodie is absolutely delighted to meet Mrs Seacole. 

Enter the egg-headed Sontarans. 

Both the biggings-up of Mary Seacole and the digs at Florence Nightingale are continuing. 

You get the drift. We're less than 10 minutes in...

And now about a hundred Sontarans have started shooting at John Bishop and every one of these most-deadly warriors missed him, even though he was taken off guard and right in front of them and dithering. Even I wouldn't have missed at that range, and I've no coordination [according to my secondary school teacher of 40 years ago].

Hm, maybe people are right to tell me it's a children's programme.

The acting isn't improving and the dialogue is dire and everything's getting complicated.

I'm tempted to turn off, but I'm ITBB's Doctor Who Bias Correspondent...

The bigging-up of Mary Seacole is continuing. And continuing and continuing. Doctor Jodie is in awe of her, declaring herself her ''assistant''. 

John Bishop's back in Liverpool The Sontarans are taking over Liverpool Docks. Meanwhile, Yaz Khan is channelling her actress's inner wooden plank. 

It's all very confusing, and the dialogue is getting ever less plausible, and Doctor Jodie's waggling her sonic screwdriver around again.

Aha, it's bad white British Crimean War officer time. He's behaving badly, like a woke person's idea of a British Crimean War officer. He's clearly a baddie. Inevitably. 

Good gawd, the dialogue is so corny. I'm doubting even the worst episodes of the classic 1960s-1980s series ever sank to this level dialogue-wise. It's so ''puny'' it's making me laugh. And the music's booming out. And it's all getting ever more grandiose and confusing. 

The Sontarans are wiping out the British Crimean War soldiers, but Mary Seacole's there and the Doctor is so grateful to her for being there, and then heaping even more praise on her. 

Now John Bishop turns up and sees Mary Seacole. He's absolutely over the moon to have had the chance to meet Mrs Seacole.

And now the toothy Buffy the Vampire Slayer-like big baddies are attacking wooden plank Yaz.

And now Mary Seacole's back and The Doctor is blaming the British officer corp rather than the infantry for their defeat at the hand of the Sontarans. 

And Mary Seacole is brilliantly advising our Time Lord on how to defeat the egg-heads - and the Doctor's giving her huge credit for doing so.

It's now all going wrong for the Sontarans. They are going 'aargh'. And Doctor Jodie is sassing them as they withdraw. And Liverpool Docks are out of their hands. 

But the bad, white British officer does something mean and blows up the retreating Sontarans and Mary Seacole tells the Doctor to run and the Doctor runs. 

The Doctor then echoes that [in]famous Russell T Davies era phrase about the General Belgrano in Falklands War as reimagined as a retreating alien force, ''But they were retreating''. 

Yes, really. 

The Doctor then despairs of the bad, white British Crimean War officer, whose bellicose badness makes her wonder why she helps humanity, but then she sees Mary Seacole again, and expresses her thanks to Mrs Seacole again, and hopes that her and Mrs Seacole will meet again. 

And now the Doctor is waggling her sonic screwdriver again as the tension builds towards an amusingly uninvolving cliffhanger focused on plank-impersonator Yaz Khan.

If you're losing the will to read reading this, thank you for still being here. I wouldn't have blamed you if didn't make it beyond the second paragraph.

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