Russell T Davies was one of the greatest, most important people in the history of Doctor Who. He brought the show back to life, gave it to an entirely new audience, and pretty much made the show what people love today. It’s undeniable that without him, Doctor Who would never have become what it is now, but, nonetheless, it’s also undeniable that RTD left behind problems that are taking years to fix.
The first major problem with RTD’s era is how exposed humanity becomes to alien life. Of course, groups like UNIT and Torchwood have to know about aliens, and humans having some ideas about aliens is no problem, but when everybody on the planet completely and without question knows that aliens exist, then something is lost. The show has to connect to modern times, but, with the knowledge of aliens, the world has to be different. From that point, our world is no longer connected in any way to the world of the Whoniverse. We can’t pretend that it could all be real, which is one of the most fun parts of the whole show.
RTD has quite a big history of introducing aliens to humanity. First up, we have “Aliens of London,” which, while I’ve heard a few bad reviews, I personally loved. That wasn’t such a big problem. As we see in the end of the two-parter, humans can always come up with some excuse for this to not be true. Same applies to the “Christmas Invasion” and “Smith and Jones,” although to a slightly lesser extent. But “Doomsday”? Cybermen in every home? Daleks flying the skies? It’s undeniable now, isn’t it? Just in case there were any questions left, RTD then moves the entire planet to a completely different part of time and space, sticks a bunch of planets in the sky, and has the Daleks invade again. Of course, there are more examples, but just these few can show that there was definitely a good reason for sticking all of these events into the cracks. The world had changed too much from reality by this point, and that was unacceptable.
Daleks. And Daleks. And more Daleks. The Time War killed all of the Daleks, supposedly, which is what made their first return so exciting. They were supposed to be dead, but they survived, and the Doctor’s reaction to this discovery was fantastic. But then Rose came along, and killed every Dalek in existence. They were gone, definitely gone. This worked pretty well, because I have to say the entrance of the Cult of Skaro in “Army of Ghosts” made for one of the best episode enders ever. Seriously, I could watch that scene over and over and never get tired.
But then those Daleks were defeated, too, thrown into the void. And then they came back. And then they were defeated. And then they came back. And it just started to feel like old news. The return of the Daleks got boring by “Daleks in Manhattan,” and when “The Stolen Earth” came around my thoughts were just “again?”
This is probably, in my opinion at least, the biggest problem. The Time Lords are now all dead. The Doctor is the last. We know this without a doubt; even when the Master returns we know that the Doctor was only tricked because the Master was under the disguise of a human. We’ve had a lot of half-Time Lords, and not-quite-Time Lords, and, in the “End of Time,” we’ve even had the real Time Lords, but not for long, and with them we find that we can never bring the Time Lords back.
The problem that I’ve noticed more after listening to the Eighth Doctor Audio Plays is that the Time Lords are necessary to keep the Doctor under control. They may not be the nicest people in the universe, but they’re bigger than him, and he needs that. We’ve seen “The Parting of the Ways,” where the Doctor takes huge decisions of life and death upon himself. We’ve seen “Family of Blood,” and the “Last of the Time Lords,” and “Voyage of the Damned,” where the Doctor is insufferably full of himself, casually making incredibly weighty decisions. We’ve seen the Doctor make speeches to scare enemies away, in “Silence in the Library,” “The Eleventh Hour,” and the “Pandorica Opens.” Sure, not all of these episodes are written by RTD, but the problem comes because, after Gallifrey is lost, there’s nobody left to keep him under control.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you love what RTD did to the series, or do you loathe it?
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