Matt Smith, the second finest Doctor.

After running it for five years I’ve decided to close down Doctor Who Is Dire. I simply don’t have the time to give it any proper focus and as such it’s begun to look a little anaemic.

Back in 2008 I created Doctor Who Is Dire as a fan site. I say fan site, it was more of a site dedicated to exasperated cries of why, rather than true fandom. It went by the name of Doctor Who Is Shit initially but after a few months I realised that Doctor Who Is Shit was a little bit inflammatory, so changed it to Doctor Who Is Dire.

The site was intended to contain a robust critique of Doctor Who, both old and new, but in the end mainly focussed on my thoughts and feelings about Russell T Davies re-imagining of the show.

Having watched Davies’ vision of Doctor Who since it launched in 2005, I had found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of imagination and the willingness to trot out the same tired old villains time and time again.

The sense of frustration grew and grew until eventually it reached a peak with the screening of the abysmal The Sontaran Stratagem. Its ridiculous premise and hammy acting managed to completely destroy any hope I had that Doctor Who could be great again.

Most of the frustration I had with the program was due to the direction Russell T Davies had chosen to steer the show. It had become a vehicle for his egotistical desires and as the weeks progressed it became clear he was gradually working his was through each and every Doctor Who property, diluting their potential for drama as he went.

When Steven Moffat took over and Matt Smith became the Doctor, there was a brief period where I felt that Doctor Who might be moving in the right direction. Ultimately though Moffat’s tenure has proved disappointing, leaving me once again with the feeling that no one will ever make a Doctor Who series that lives up to its amazingly exciting premise.

Think about it, Doctor Who is the story of a 900 year old, immortal alien, he pilots a spaceship that can go anywhere in time and space and he also just so happens to enjoy humanity’s company.

The possibilities are literally endless. Yet we still end up with dross. Oh well.

All the posts from Doctor Who Is Dire have been transferred to this site under their own category and I’ll be going through, tidying them up and reposting them over the coming weeks. I’ll also still continue to post my thoughts on Doctor Who here.

Aren’t you lucky?

The Doctor, Amy and Vincent

The Doctor, Amy and Vincent.

Vincent and the Doctor is the best episode of Doctor Who ever written. Fact. The acting is perfect and the script coherent, rarities in the show pre Moffat and Smith’s tenure. The ending speech given by the Doctor to explain to Amy why Vincent still ended up committing suicide, despite there seemingly having cheered him up is particularly touching.

The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.

What’s more this episode in particular deals with tremendously hard topics – depression and suicide – with compassion and understanding that – given that it’s a Saturday tea-time kid’s show – beggars belief. Not only does the episode deal with these difficult topics, it manages to do so without becoming weighed down by them. At times it’s light and airy – Amy’s heavy handed gift of sunflowers – and at times deeply comic – – it never strays too far from it’s roots though.

The Doctor, Amy and Vincent painting a Krafayis.

The Doctor, Amy and Vincent painting a Krafayis.

The use of a monster that no one can see is in itself a subtle way of referencing depression. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. With his sensitive handling the show communicated a very strong message about the difficulty of dealing with depression in others and it did so in such a perfectly balanced manner it threw into sharp relief Russell T Davies’ handling of gay rights issue which – whilst laudable – were amateurish and heavy handed. Despite still having overall misgivings about the over reliance on time-travel gotchas in Moffat’s Doctor Who, episodes like this give me hope that we will see more well written episodes in the future.