Doctor Who 15-1

I’ve not been a great fan of Doctor Who over the past decade or so. That’s partly because I seem to be allergic to almost everything that Steven Moffat writes. But also I just didn’t get it. I mostly wasn’t very invested in the characters or the stories. I’m pleased to say that, with the new season, that’s all changed.

There have been a lot of complaints on social media about the current season, especially the finale. Some of them are just dudebros frothing about the Doctor having gone Woke, as if the whole idea of fighting Daleks wasn’t being anti-Fascist. But a lot of it is from people who, for some inexplicable reason, want the stories to make sense. People, this is Doctor Who, it is a show about an incredibly old being with two hearts and indeterminate gender who bums around space and time in a police phone box fighting evil. His main weapon is a screwdriver that seems able to do anything the plot requires of it. Do you really expect it to make sense?

Jelly baby?

Of course previous seasons have, to some extent, bought into the idea that making sense is something the show should strive towards. Various actors have played the Doctor as being quite a serious chap, with the weight of the universe on his shoulders. Not so Ncuti Gatwa. His Doctor is delightfully camp and flippant, and consequently everything around him is less serious too.

I mean, we started with singing goblins. It was ridiculous, and hilarious, and it set the tone for the series. We had space babies and a snot monster. We had aliens who wanted to conquer the world through cosplay. And we had the glorious Jinxx Monsoon eating up the scenery with impeccable style. How is any of this supposed to make sense?

And yet…

“73 Yards” was about the dangers of Fascism. “Dot and Bubble” was about how racism warps people’s sense of reality. “Boom” was about the commercialization of war for profit. Which just goes to show that you don’t have to be serious to make a serious point.

Now you can fairly argue that many of these points were clumsily made, and that consequently the show is tending to lose politically committed viewers that should be supporting it. But this is the BBC we are talking about. We shouldn’t complain about the talking pig because the only language it knows is English.

There were no episodes that were specifically about trans rights. And yet there is an openly trans character in a fairly major role. The show itself is unashamedly queer, and introduced a male love interest for the Doctor in a way that inhabited the traditional tropes of Regency romance, the setting for that episode.

Having watched the Doctor Who Unleashed episodes that followed each show, it is clear that there are a lot of queer folks working backstage too. Oh, and Russell lives some 15 miles south of me, while Steffan from Unleashed is from Glanaman, which is the next valley east of me up into the Bannau Brycheiniog. Local boys. Very proud of them, we are.

So try to relax, folks. This is not hard science fiction. It isn’t even remotely firm science fiction. It is wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey camp adventure, that occasionally shows its teeth. And in doing so, pipes a little ray of sunshine into the awful right-wing propaganda machine that the BBC has become.