Enough Complaining!

I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who since the 80’s, back when it aired in the United States on PBS affiliates. They’d do it different ways. Some did each episode of each serial in the actual 30 minutes, while others would run 2 or 3 episodes in a block, or even the entire story uninterrupted. For the longest time, this was the way to watch Doctor Who for Americans like myself. And it wasn’t just Doctor Who. PBS also ran other British programs like Blake’s Seven, Red Dwarf, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Black Adder, and Keeping Up Appearances.

These days, Satellite companies have BBC America, which is basically the same idea, when it’s not showing reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Doctor Who ran for quite a long time, starting in 1963 until it was cancelled at the end of the 80’s.

I’ve learned that there are two kinds of Whovians.  The first kind is the one I belong to. We praise the show and talk endlessly about how good it is. Then there’s that…other kind. The kind that are always saying how Moffatt is the worst writer, or how Clara is one of the worst companions ever. Before that, it was outcry about Rose or Amy or others. Yes, even David Tennant, who in my opinion is one of the best to ever play the Doctor, has his share of haters. Some think Tom Baker ruined the role. (blasphemy!)

These kind of people never seem to be satisfied. The show could win Hugo Awards every season (and it has won quite a few, actually), and they still wouldn’t be happy. They’re the hipsters who think the show was best when it was still underrated and cheap.

Now, I want to make something clear. I have found things I don’t like about Doctor Who. It’s not a perfect show. I’ve given some episodes low scores on this site. But here’s the difference between me and those people I mentioned above: I’m not constantly being negative. If I ever get to that point about any favorite show, I stop watching. I stopped Naruto because I got tired of the story not going anywhere. Bleach was the same way. All those side stories made it difficult to care about the main story when it finally came back around.

But I want to see this stop. This is why Doctor Who was eventually cancelled back in the 80’s. The show had its enemies, but the fanbase turning its back during the McCoy era didn’t help either. That’s the whole reason “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” was done. This episode was made to directly attack the fans who’d turned their backs on the show as it was struggling to find footing amidst the meddling of Michael Grade and other backstage politics. It could happen again. And you’d be the ones to blame this time, not Michael Grade. Not Moffatt (who actually isn’t as bad as you folks make him out to be).

So, can we please find more positive things to say? It’s not that hard, you know.



4 comments on “Enough Complaining!

  1. I wish I’d seen this earlier. Better late than never, though, right? I had some strong responses to this particular rant, blog, editorial…whatever you want to call it. Casting things in binaries is occasionally a bad idea, and your argument, which is fairly weak, offers a good example of why. There aren’t just two kinds of Whovians. There’s at least a third variety, and probably more. I myself don’t fit into either of the categories you establish here. I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I was eight years old, in 1979. I own every episode of the show’s Classic Era that’s possible to own. I don’t like every choice that’s made on the show. I’ve never liked every choice that’s been made. And if I don’t like something, I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with saying I don’t like it–I can always give a fairly credible reason why. However, this doesn’t put me in the category of ‘people who are never satisfied.’ Jason, like myself, you’ve been in fandom since before the word ‘fandom’ was a common term. I’m sure you can see the parallels between fans in the geek realm and fans in the sports realm. I know sports fans whose teams never have any success–in subjective terms, never do anything right–and whose fans criticize the team and the coach mercilessly–but they keep on watching; keep on supporting. And when the team improves, they acknowledge that. That’s the kind of Doctor Who fan I am: I’ve loved the show practically all my life, and I’m not going to stop watching it. I had quite enough of not watching it between 1996 and 2005. Neither am I going to blithely and blankly park my brain at the door and treat a spoonful of shit like a spoonful of sugar. I know the difference between good “Who” and bad “Who”, and I see no disloyalty in saying which is which. To use a comparison from the classic era, “Genesis of the Daleks” is not the same as “Meglos.” “Inferno” is not the same as “Invasion of the Dinosaurs.” I applaud the “Doctor Who” team when they get things right, and I complain when they get things wrong, in the hopes that, over time, the batting average will get better. It’s what I expect of my own audience–I’m an author, you know. I don’t have time for and I don’t really value the opinion of those people who think the stories I write are flawless. I know very well that they aren’t. I grow in my work by hearing from others the things that resonated for them and the things that didn’t. Honest criticism is not empty complaining–and all complaining is not empty. This country, itself, is founded on a long history of the expression of discontent. I value taste and discernment. I’m never going to ask for a restaurant review from someone who thinks all food tastes the same. Someone who would say that “Terror of the Vervoids” or “Horns of the Nimon” is every bit as good as “Earthshock” or “The Mind of Evil” is not someone whose opinion about Doctor Who I’m likely to take very seriously. I’d say the same of a Star Trek fan who can’t tell the difference between “City on the Edge of Forever” and “Spock’s Brain.” There is a place for discernment and dissatisfaction in the ranks of fandom, and everyone who isn’t capable of unequivocal love for each and every episode of something should NOT be cast into the outer darkness and disregarded. I’m not a chronic complainer myself, but I have a healthy respect for dissent. We already live in a culture headed by someone who doesn’t like dissent. If I can’t even voice dissent or dissatisfaction with a simple TV show without being painted as disloyal, that bodes very ill for an opinion of more serious forms of dissent, in my view.

  2. Clay, this wasn’t directed at you! I guess I should’ve created a third type: The “Balanced Fan”. This where you fit in: you praise the show when you feel it deserves it, and you challenge it when you don’t. This article was really meant for the ones who think every episode is terrible. You know even I don’t like every episode. Look at my reviews of “Love and Monsters” or “Fear Her”.

  3. Hehehe…I don’t have to feel like something’s directed at me personally to feel it’s wrongheaded and in need of poking at. And that’s precisely why I chose to comment on this when I came across it–I’m not the sort of person who can just walk by and leave a sweeping binary generalization to sit there and do its damage. People ought to be encouraged to see that there are more than two categories to fit things in, and when I’ve been invested in something for as long as I’ve been invested in who, someone would be unwise to think I won’t say something about it when I see something I strongly disagree with, and I disagreed with the assumptions in this editorial pretty much right down to their core. Your original post ALMOST sounds as though it’s discouraging freedom of expression–which I will address every single time i find it ANYWHERE, regardless of whether I think it’s directed at me or not (and I repeat, I didn’t). Even the people who seem to make a sport of complaining about Who have a right to their complaints, and they don’t need to be–and shouldn’t be–told to stop complaining. My friend John Francis, who’s been watching DW for as long as I have, and is as hardcore a Whovian as you could hope to meet, was so disgusted with the things Moffat has done that he entirely quit actively watching the show two Christmas Specials ago, although he’s continued to DVR them, and has now begun catching up–it just took him a long time to work up the will to do so. Now, I didn’t do that, as you know, but I can understand it. When you love something as deeply as John and I love Doctor Who, and feel like it’s been crapped on and brought down to the lowest common denominator of ‘wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey’ irrationality as many times as Moffat and his minions have done that, I can see how it WOULD be a temptation to just withdraw from it. That isn’t the way I react to things that make me angry. In fact, as I’m sure you’ve seen, one of the best ways to get me to comment on something is to make me mad 😉 Which is not something I mind, sometimes. It’s always been something I disagree with the Jedi on–to cross fandom lines for a moment: I believe that anger is a powerful force for change, when it’s directed with clarity. In fact, most social change is rooted in outrage, which is a form of anger. If I’m not emotionally moved about something–whether in a positive or negative direction–I’ll just say nothing, most times. That’s the main reason I’ve never started a movie review blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s