I want to love Dr. Who again. I really do. But it’s getting hard right now. I admit Matt Smith just never quite worked for me. The manic delivery, and the very strong sense that the solutions to the various problems were less solutions then just frantic hand waving didn’t help. He did get better toward the end, but when Amy and Rory left the show my interest began to flag.
Carpaldi is a terrific actor, but right now his arrogance is playing more like a petulant twelve year old which isn’t all that appealing. The conceit of his rivalry with Robin Hood was just painful.
Then we come to Clara. The Impossible Girl who is seemingly unmoored in time. The mystery just seems to go on and on which means she has no agency or personality beyond being a mystery. And now she’s turning into the female equivalent of the Magical Negro so beloved in Hollywood movies. Only she’s the Magic Mommy Figure dispensing comfort to frightened little boys everywhere.
It was this week’s episode LISTEN that set me off on this train of thought.
So it turns out that the thing that has frightened and obsessed the Doctor is an incident from his childhood when he was crying in his bed as a child, but the thing under the bed that frightened him was Clara except then she tells him to “listen” and she tells him not to be afraid and that he’s going to be a big hero someday, and then she leaves him this toy soldier except the toy soldier had been given to the guy she was trying to date — by Clara — when he was a scared kid, and when last we saw the toy it was in the hands of a descendant of the Date Guy…..
Okay, by now my head hurts. A lot.
And what does this bad date have to do with anything? Is Daniel/Orson the new Rory? I guess so and that does help a bit with Clara not having a story apart from being a mystery. We’ll see how that develops.
Back back to what turned out to be the heart of the episode. I always loved the old Tom Baker episodes that were set on Gallifrey. I find the Time Lords fascinating and now we find out in this episode that there was/is the equivalent of Hogwarts for Time Lords called the Academy. I would love to know more about The Doctor’s early life. His parents, his time at this school, etc. But I need those stories to be focused on him. Not on the impossible Clara.
I’ve always felt like a movie, show book can only support so many “weirds”. The Doctor is Doctor Who’s big weird. To make Clara the focus of mystery is for me a mistake. She’s not as interesting as a Time Lord, right now she’s just a conceit. Not a real woman at all. The strength of the companions (after they stopped being a gimmick so the Doctor could explain things) was to ground him. Remind him that living in the moment is wise. That kindness always has a place even when measured against all of time and space.
Clara is just another mystery for him to solve. And at least for me it’s not working all that well.