I have been having a hard time loving Doctor Who recently, which for those of you that know me is something of a shock. Not the current era, but the whole damn Doctor Who thing and I was trying to work out why. This is a blog I have written to try and work it out myself.
I think it is because I've lost sight of the programme itself amongst the fog of fandom. Fandom is a complex thing. A portion of it is irredeemably toxic: racist, sexist, homophobic and, basically, appears to have learned nothing from watching Doctor Who itself. I wouldn't like these people if I met them. I despise everything they stand for and they probably wouldn't like me very much. Which is fine. Saves us all a lot of disappointment.
The rest of fandom is made up of too many different types of people to pin down but I don't find it as much fun as I used to. Doctor Who, for me, was a point of joy in the world. Yes, I like picking it apart afterwards and coming up with my own head canon, but that was all alongside actually watching, listening and reading Doctor Who. Recently I have been doing less of that. A lot less of that.
And I blame myself.
I came to fandom late. I was always a Doctor Who fan. My first memories of life include little bits of watching Tom Baker as Doctor Who in stories I was far too young to watch without being terrified. I was though mostly a solo fan. I knew one Doctor Who fan before I was 18. I knew about five before I was 40. I read fanzines and DWM. That was about it. A lot of 1989 to 2005 was me defending Doctor Who from a less impressed group of people. And myself for being a Doctor Who fan. I think that has impacted on my observations and interactions with fandom. I am quite defensive about Doctor Who. I try to be amusingly so, particularly about the more obvious things: "it's a kids series; it's rubbish; it's cheap; it's silly...etc etc."
I can criticise Doctor Who though. It's not always perfect. I've never found myself disliking an entire Doctor's run. Or an era. As far as I'm concerned every Doctor, every era has its ups and downs and, for me, the ups always outnumber the downs. There are some eras/seasons I love. Tom Baker will always be my favourite Doctor and Season 17 will always be my favourite season of Doctor Who.* So, I find the broad hostility to a whole era, the cynicism about motives and decisions, the desire by one group of fans to stomp all over the joy of other fans all a bit...depressing.
The reason I love Doctor Who - and I've thought about this a lot - is that it is overwhelming an optimistic and hopeful series. A light in the darkness. Doctor Who says there are monsters out there but there are people out there to fight them and that darkness can and will be defeated. And it will be done with wit and charm.
Seeing people get so angry about the Chibnall era to the point of monomania has just knocked the positivity out of me. I'm not saying by the way that the Chibnall era is great. I don't think I will ever love it, but I've enjoyed most of it and loved some of it. There are things there to be criticised. But I've found it difficult not to get a bit depressed by the whole thing, which has had a knock on effect on my love of Doctor Who as a whole.
Which is weird. I'm getting old so maybe I am too set in my ways. I know I'm taking it all too seriously. It is, after all, only a television programme. But it is a television programme that has been at the centre - well, centre-ish - of my life for...45 years. It is one of the things my friends know me for, even - especially - the ones who aren't Doctor Who fans. So, the weird feeling that of distance I have from the whole thing at the moment is...strange.
It doesn't seem to be as much fun as it used to be.
Perhaps I just need to watch a bunch of my favourite stories and talk about them to friends. It seems weird writing this because this is just a download of my personal feelings. I don't expect anyone to feel the same.
Anyway there you have it. Writing this might have helped.
*Not necessarily the best but my favourite.
*Yes, I still think The Master was playing a game to keep the Third Doctor from getting too bored whilst he was in exile on Earth.