Watching “old” Doctor Who after The Simpsons on BBC2 was staple to a child’s television watching schedule way back when. So when Russell T Davies “rebooted” the show with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper in 2005 I became one of the millions across the UK that couldn’t not love the show once more. Of course though, like all good things in recent years, Doctor Who became one of the leading causes of hipsters and I slowly lost interest.
Not too long ago Doctor Who emerged in America as a minor hit. This intrigued me seeing as the kind of quirky and cheap (compared to US television) Britishness of UK shows like Doctor Who tends to be laughed at by American culture (see any episode of any US TV show ever). This isn’t to say that they don’t like our shows, no, they’re usually just impenetrable for US audiences and are simply remade (see The Office, Being Human, The Inbetweeners, Shameless etc. etc.). But recently, thanks to shows such as Downton Abbey (which has been nominated for 16 Emmys this year and has grabbed as many as four million regular US viewers) that could all change.
If a show like Downton Abbey can find a huge US audience (some of its recent ratings in the US surpass the then-average viewerships of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scrubs and Battlestar Galactica – which is just madness) it seems like Doctor Who, which is still young in the US, could be on an unstoppable path of popularity. But is that good? Should something be popular just for being popular?
One of the primary reasons I stopped watching Doctor Who was that it became unbearably eccentric and that somehow attracted a larger audience than before. When the show first rebooted it seemed – just like its previous series – to focus heavily on strong plots and chemistry between its two leads. Once David Tennant arrived though, Doctor Who to some (me) became more about a wide-eyed peculiar fellow in a suit who sported a fly hairstyle and had a tendency to behave like a crack addict – if a crack addict saved the Earth every other week. (I should stress that I don’t have a dislike for Tennant, I have a dislike of his Doctor.) I even tried to re-enter Doctor Who after the departure of Tennant, only to find that his replacement was just a less attractive, more “British-sounding” reproduction of the tenth Doctor.
Apparently Doctor Who had become less about intriguing plots and more about 50 minutes of watching an impressionable “heartthrob” push anyone and anything aside to claim a spotlight that can’t even keep up with him as he darts around the screen with as much vigor as a sped up DVD screensaver. Doctor Who had found its new selling point, and until current popular culture trends change (hopefully for the better) it looks like we’re stuck with it.
Of course, all of this is just opinion. This all spawns from being reminded annually that a show I used to love found a new audience and changed a little too much for me. But why should people like me get to hog all the television show love? New generations need their own Star Trek, Buffy or Star Wars (and in my case, Lost) too. What’s wrong with having a few more Whovians who are just a little different and more enthusiastic than those of old, that wear bow-ties and a fez in place of the iconic overcoat and scarf?
All anyone can say for certain is that America seems to have finally started embracing British television shows for what they are instead of trying to badly imitate them – which is definitely a good thing. And regardless of what I or anyone else thinks about Doctor Who, if the show puts a smile on just one person’s face – even if it means that my own smile dissipates – who am I or any of us to challenge that?
(I feel like Mild Concern editor, Tim would be unhappy with me for not putting in at least one .gif whilst discussing something like this. So, to please those of you who do still like Doctor Who or for those who want to join me in scoffing at what Doctor Who has become, here’s a .gif of The Hipster Doctor being irritating.)
* Editor’s Note: Kat would like to add that the views expressed above are not the views of well, me. Or Tim. Because we love Doctor Who and have previously stated that we think the Steven Moffat/Matt Smith/Karen Gillan era is a definite improvement.