Stetsons are cool, series gimmicks aren’t

Pete makes a stab at identifying what worked and didn’t in the 2011 series of Doctor Who.

Delivering television seasons in halves and specials is nice; it’s convenient for producers and puts the show higher in the audience’s recent memory. Taking notice of this structure in the stories, however, seems like a waste of time, especially with so much good already in the 2011 series of Doctor Who.

A better bargain with the audience could possibly have been struck than was made this series surrounding the Doctor’s death. The cliffhangers of Moffat’s two-parters are suspenseful and satisfying but unanswered intrigue across or between series doesn’t have the same effect. By the time a series ends (or returns) so many possibilities have been raked over by the mind or the mob that the resolution delivered is robbed of its suspense entirely.

Along the way, Mr Moffat and company are making skillful, entertaining Doctor Who. Russell T Davies’ groundbreaking focus on character has been carried forth but his later excesses of melodrama have been corrected. The arts and crafts of the show are of a very high standard, especially with recent budget cuts taken into account.

There is a technical indulgence that’s still with us. Vast piles of artwork of all kinds are brought into being and chucked away one episode later, yielding the briefest of trips into very well-realised worlds. By the time a setting is taken on board and actors are best placed to connect with the audience it’s all yanked away.

Indulgence in a system that’s working so well is to be expected, however; it’s the conventions that don’t work that must go. Perhaps the fear is that the erratic landscape of 21st century television will destroy the show if the viewers aren’t somehow hustled. That’s understandable because the digital medium is assimilating all others and telly will be the last to regenerate. Weak attempts at intrigue, however, won’t help – the show’s certainly nice despite them.