Dreifaltige Rollenspiel-Lektüre

Drei Falten mit einem Rollenspielerkopf dahinter, ergibt einen nachdenklichen, amüsanten und relativ bodenständigen Blick auf das was war, ist und möglicherweise in der Szene los sein wird.

Samstag, Februar 09, 2008

[10:15 on a Saturday Night] The Boring Adventures of Dr. What and Sideshow Girl- My inner Brit cries himself to sleep

Sorry for the digression, but I have to tell you a story of something completely unrelated to roleplaying. A story of how I lost and regained my faith in Doctor Who. Up to today I positively hated, the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)- not the actor mind you, he did his best, but the way the personality of the Doctor was realized by the writers and directors (I don’t know which ones contributed more) of the first five episodes.

I never thought I would be capable of actually hating a revival of a classic show: I enjoy reading Superman-comics and adore the movies with Christopher Reeves, but I don’t miss a single episode of “Smallville”. I liked to watch the original “Battlestar Galactica” when I was a kid, but I still pine for the next season of the new show. OK, I didn’t like the “Hulk” movie, but I could never relate to this character anyway and found the old TV-show boring as hell. From Bewitched to Boston Legal I have always been supportive of new interpretations of timeless classics and have enjoyed them in a way that adds to, rather than detract from, the genius of the originals.

So when I heard they were showing a new Doctor Who, I was excited, having been introduced to the Doctor (along with “The Prisoner”, “Thunderbirds” and “Captain Scarlet”) a while ago, by some English friends (I never had the chance to catch the episodes when they were shown on German TV). I patiently waited while the while the German air-date was postponed again and again, exercising iron self-control to keep myself from spoiling the content of the new episodes by reading about them on the internet.

Given my inherent tolerance of new interpretations of old shows I wasn’t concerned at all that the show might turn out in a way different from what I could enjoy. Besides, the Doctor had already gone through so many incarnations (my favourite is Silvester McCoy, in case you wondered), with each actor adding something unique to the role, so there would be little chance of being “untrue to the source”- any way he chose to play him, it would still be the Doctor, right?

The pilot- “Rose”- opened promising, with all of the staples of whovian tradition, a nice dose of comedy and an upbeat atmosphere. Then however, when the Doctor and Rose were talking, I got a little concerned, as he clearly showed a great disdain for humanity at large, referring to them as “primates”. That is something you wouldn’t have heard from the old Doctors, who, even if sometimes a little arrogant, always saw the best in humanity. From there, it just got worse and in nearly every episode that followed the 9th Doctor did something, which identified him as having absolutely no moral centre. From the torture and murder of an intelligent being, which posed no threat at all at the end of “The End of the World”, to using the superstitions of the naïve servant-girl Gwyneth to trick her into helping them in “The dearly departed”. All the while he performs all of the above acts with a certain manic cheer, which is, to say it quite frank, unsettling at best. All of the things happening to him and to his “companion” seem to be a great adventure to him and he doesn’t seem to care about the risk for others involved.

When it comes to himself, however, he suddenly gets very defensive and careful, so afraid of losing this one regeneration that he will do almost anything to find another way than direct conflict. In this way he prefers negotiating with the Nestene Consciousness in “Rose”, despite the fact that they already started an invasion on Earth. He is willing to accept the possible loss of human lives during the invasion, if that means he can avoid tackling a superior opponent until he has an edge over him. All the while he does some whiny dialogue about how he suffered being the last member of his race, which is probably aimed at making him sympathetic, but just serves making him appear even more a self-centred GIT, than before. At the end of “World War Three” this whiny-ness and self-absorbed tendencies are taken to a new level, when doesn’t even allow Rose, despite all she has gone through so far, of spending even a few moments with her family, forcing her to adhere to his whims and come with him immediately, or leave it be.

This brings me to his “companion”, whose main purpose seems to be to point out the obvious, get captured and stand there with her mouth open. Yet, despite this fact, the Doctor seems to be very fond of her for some reason, to the point of actually debating if saving the world is worth losing her in “World War III”. Maybe he likes her, because she fits his ideas of humans of this time being helpless and in need of his care. Maybe he got himself a little pet, rather than a companion? She is curiously devoid of any personality, who meekly complies with every suggestion the Doctor makes ( no matter how idiotic).

I was at the point of whishing myself a time machine to get a message to the writing staff of the new Doctor Who show in 2005. I even had the content figured out, it would read something like this:

Dear murderers of Dr. Who,

I know you are trying very hard. I know you are trying to live up to a tradition of nearly 40 years. I know this isn’t very easy, but it doesn’t excuse what you have done. If you hate your job so much, don't try to vent your frustrations on the episodes you write/direct.
[Here I would have repeated the above arguments]
For the above reasons the new Dr. Who show is treason against all, the Doctor stood and is supposed to stand for. You took the Dr. Who of the classics and turned him into Doctor What (as in “What the f*** did he do to the real doctor”), a sad, sorry parody of a hip, tragic anti-hero (not even a real “hip, tragic anti-hero”, but a sad, sorry attempt to take some qualities of this type and combine them with the Doctor, while pretending you didn’t really change nothing about the shows premise). I’m by no means saying you can’t deviate from the source material with the new show: Go ahead and make the Doctor a selfish, angsty, dark avatar of vengeance, but at least be fucking honest about the break you did. Show him in all his madness and brutality and how he alienates normal humans around him. But don’t do it, like you have done, and try to maintain the upbeat, humorous tone, of the older shows, because what you are really saying by this, is “Hey, torture and murder are actually kinda’ fun”. And this is not what I want to see in a Doctor Who show, because it is treachery against everything done before.


A fan

P.S.: Please give Rose a meaningful role in the show. If you are unable to do that, replace her with a character where you are able to do so. Don’t let her continue her “sideshow” existence.

So, what happened to change my mind? “Dalek” happened. New writer, new director, and I’m in love again. All my complaints about the nature of the new show were addressed in just a single episode. The Doctors mad rages are brilliantly portrayed by Eccleston and having Rose act as the “conscience” of the Doctor is a great way of elevating her importance. I still think she agreed a bit too readily to kill the Dalek at the end and the new companion (Adam) strikes me as a bit bland, but overall this episode made me exited about Doctor Who again.

A damn shame that “Dalek” also happens to be the last episode of Doctor Who aired in Germany. Lack of viewer interest made the cable network provider Pro7 cancel the show. Life sucks.

2 Kommentare:

Anonymous Erdferkel meinte...

If I understand this correctly, you never watched 2005 series in English, and your whole judgement is based on the German dubbed version?

Your inner Brit shouldn't be crying himself to sleep, he should softly and suddenly vanish away. What you've watched is a totally different series, butchered and devoid of the original's irony.

Februar 10, 2008 1:22 nachm.  
Blogger alexandro meinte...

True. Sadly, I can't afford at the moment to watch the show in it's original version (i.e. imported DVD), so I have to make do with what I get here. The translation is reasonably good, but of course they can't capture every nuance of british humour.

My problems with the first episodes don't stem from the lack of irony lost in translation, but from the *content* (which is (afaik) unaltered), which I consider very questionable.

Februar 10, 2008 4:23 nachm.  

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