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Monday, September 19, 2011

Doctor Dark?

Over in the UK there's been a lot of complaints from distraught parents that Doctor Who isn't a kid's TV program anymore. It's too scary now.

I have to admit, when my friend Cameron first got me into the show -- through some audio books like War of the Daleks and some comic strips of the Seventh Doctor tearing around time and space -- I had no real idea that this was, in fact, a show intended for kids. It seemed like a regular, adult Drama to me.

I mean, sure the plots got a tad silly sometimes but by and large there was nothing that pushed me into a 'this is for kids' mindset. In fact, to be honest, the writing on the show has often been quite compelling. Adult-level compelling.

Honestly, I wish I'd have discovered this show when I was younger. (I mean, I knew it existed but back then I was more interested in Cartoons).

Instead, I found myself settling in with the Doctor during his 9th iteration, when Christopher Eccleston re-launched the program as a traumatized Time-War Veteran.

Sure, the first episode was a tad hokey -- about plastic coming to life through an army of mannequins and trash bins -- but the character drew me in. He was manic, eccentric, brilliant; unlike any other character I'd ever seen on TV.

Yet there's no doubt that over time this show has gotten darker. As each Doctor made his way to the forefront, as more and more adventures have scarred him, the fight against the baddies has slowly turned its way inward. And as he has grown darker, so too has his rogue's gallery: The Weeping Angels, The Silence, The Gangers, The Headless Monks...

Creatures that get you from behind, when you're not looking. Creatures that make you forget you ever saw them, that can control your mind and make your every action their own. It's creepy territory, for sure, moreso when people start talking about how this is supposed to be a kid's show.

Mr. Moffat has defended this trend, saying things like:

"Children like to be scared – like on a ghost train or a rollercoaster" and "They have always told each other ghost stories in the dark."

And by and large I agree with him.

Except for one thing:

I would readily say that this show is no longer for 'kids'. It's now a show for 'the kids who grew up watching the Doctor', kids who are now adults and wanting their Doctor to tackle more adult themes; To explore darker, more ominous questions like 'Is this hero really a hero? or is he a crazy old man who hurts the ones he loves?'.

Yes, these aren't new questions, and they're not the first time they've been asked over the 50-ish years of Doctor Who's existance but questions like that were often found in novellizations and radio dramas, things that, by their nature catered to more adult fans.

Seeing them here, now on the main stage (as it were), with the largest audience that the Doctor's ever had -- often an audience of fans who want their children to share in it as well -- it gets harder and harder to justify that this is a 'kids show' any longer.

It's growing, changing, becoming something more... but as it struggles to straddle both worlds the seams are starting to show. Like the Doctor himself, this show has a decision to make. A path to choose.

And I'm intrigued to see how it'll all pan out.


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