I first discovered the show as a kid in the 80s, on one of the upper-band UHF channels from somewhere out of state. It might have been the first foreign TV show I ever watched. Don't ask me which Doctor it was; they all look alike to me anyway. I remember thinking it looked low-budget and kinda cheesy (which Sandi agreed it was). I watched it for a little while, but I don't think I fully understood what was going on most of the time. Plus, the picture quality was never great. I gave up on the show and forgot about it shortly.
Then came the Internet. Suddenly it seemed like Who fans were everywhere. I re-learned the very basics about the show - long-lived alien, travels in a spaceship disguised as a phone booth, reincarnates in different bodies, etc. - from online conversations and articles. John and Sue are uber-fans. They love talking about Who. Being the contrarian that I am, however, my lizard brain automatically looked upon it with suspicion: if it's popular, it can't be that good.
|Peter Capaldi, the current Doctor|
Sandi said last Saturday's ep was atypical. Doc's laying low, teaching at some university on Earth. He meets this chick named Bill (not Billie). She has a friend who gets sucked into a puddle of goo (which may be a two-way dimensional portal of some kind) that changes her into some kind of non-human, liquid creature. Bill needs Doc's help to save her. Sandi said Doc's new status quo as a professor, the pace of the story and even the music seemed like a departure from how the current Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, had been depicted previously. I certainly couldn't notice anything different...
...unless you compare the show to how it looked in the 80s. The current model is much less cheesy. It looks and feels like a modern SF show, with impressive special effects. Thing is, though, there are so many genre shows on TV now, on so many channels, that Who no longer appears unique. I find I'm almost nostalgic for the low-budget look.
In the ep I saw, Doc spent more time running from the monster-of-the-week than anything else. He didn't have much of a plan for saving Bill's friend. Sandi said Doc's weapon of choice, the sonic screwdriver, can do anything (though I find this hard to believe), yet he only used it to scare off a Dalek. Captain Picard would've studied the creature's behavior to determine what it wants, tried to communicate with it, and if that didn't work, and he thought it was a threat, then he'd attack it. Doc just ran until he couldn't run anymore. I'll allow for the possibility this was an unusual ep, but if so, is that how you wanna present your star character the first time out of the gate in a new season? The little bald guy wasn't much help either.
I did like Bill - I understand she's the first gay girl Friday of the Doctor's - though it's unclear what assets she'll bring to the show. My impression was that Doc's companions were ordinary people, but they pulled their own weight somehow.
I don't hate Who (though I do get sick of hearing about it from Fandom Assembled all the time). I just don't see what makes it different from the hundred other genre shows out there. Nothing about it makes me go "Yeah! Awesome! I want more of that!" and I suspect at this point it doesn't know when to get off the stage. Perhaps the producers don't know how to end the show, or more likely, it's cruising on its reputation, knowing the TruFans® will stick around no matter what.