Why I’m Done With Star Wars & Doctor Who
When I was a kid, after I watched Return of the Jedi, I asked my mom, “Will they always make Star Wars movies?” I don’t know if she was prescient of the future or just telling me what I wanted to hear, but she most definitely told me they would. I also sometimes had cable as a kid and sometimes not. When I didn’t have cable, I watched shows on PBS like, Wild America and some strange British show with two people (Tom Baker and Lalla Ward) traveling around the universe in a police box, whatever that was. As a child of the 80’s, pop culture just happened around me, it was nothing to get sucked into, it just was. Several decades later, Doctor Who and Star Wars are still here but I almost wish they weren’t.
I long ago came to the conclusion that story is king. You have to have a good story to draw your audience in and keep them. For fiction dynasties, however, you need something more, some glue that holds everything together and keeps the audience coming back again and again. For Star Wars fans that force is, ‘the force’ and all that it entails, including light saber battles, Jedi mind tricks and of course you need cool alien creatures and awesome space stations. The glue that holds Doctor Who together is the quirky time lord who, while his face and even some of his characteristics change, he is always the hero who needs a companion, but can think his way out of anything, kind of like a cosmic MacGyver.
As I got older I wasn’t a Star Wars fanatic, and it didn’t shape my childhood into making me want to become a filmmaker. It was just a series I enjoyed as a child. When I was in college I saw the remastered versions and enjoyed them without even initially noticing or caring that they made it so Han didn’t shoot first, but episodes 1-3 didn’t seem that great to me. There was a cool light saber scene or two, but the backstory for Darth Vader didn’t fit my expectations and Hayden Christensen seemed too moody. Do I even need to mention Jar Jar? Star Wars was stuck trying to fill in a backstory rather than telling a good story.
The Force Awakens and Rogue One did a better job at fitting in with the established story but didn’t have an interesting story of their own. The only things I even remember from them is Dork Vader, Rey mastering the force out of nowhere, and everyone dying in Rogue One, including the Robot who was the only character I liked.
I had hope for the next movie but then I heard the directors were fired for straying too far from the Star Wars universe created by Lucas. It’s too bad, maybe some fresh eyes would have helped. But as it stands, Star Wars is a huge cultural thing but doesn’t tell an interesting or even fun story for me. I take my kids to them because they mostly enjoy the movies. I’m not trying to rain on anyone else’s parade if you enjoy it great, but I don’t.
As for Doctor Who, I enjoyed it as a kid and I enjoyed most of the new Doctors. I stopped watching with Peter Capaldi because he just came off as a grumpy old man trying to be cool and wasn’t by half. I had hoped that the next doctor would be better. Now, comes news of the first female doctor. Maybe she will be better but I have no interest in watching. It’s not because I don’t want female heroes, I’m looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman at some point. It’s not as Jodi Whittaker suggests that fans fear her gender. Just because you don’t like or agree with something, doesn’t mean you fear it. It’s because even though the Doctor has always changed, he was still supposed to be the same person and changing gender’s is just too hard to pull off in my mind as still being the doctor. I know Whovians will yell at me “the Doctor always has a different personality!” and “Time Lords are genderless!” Time lords have changed genders in the past but I never really appreciated it. For me, it just doesn’t make sense as coherent, and will only be a distraction. Changing your main character every few years can be difficult enough, changing genders also, will make it even harder to follow. Many will love this new change, but I’m just not one of them.
If the BBC had created another show with a woman main character in the Doctor Who universe, that would be great, if it’s a good story and entertaining. But for me, I’m probably done with Doctor Who. The BBC has a right to make anything they want of their show, and I have a right not to watch. Pop culture for the sake of itself doesn’t interest me that much. Just so you know that I’m really not against leading woman in Doctor Who, I’ll share that my two favorite companions were Donna Noble played by Catherine Tate and Clara Oswald played by Jenna Coleman. Donna even became the Doctor and was known as Doctor Donna. I thought she was the best because she didn’t fall in love with the doctor like the rest of the companions, and she never took any guff from the Doctor. I really enjoyed Clara because in a way she was also like the Doctor. In her introduction to the series, her character kept being killed off but kept popping back up. Really, Doctor Who lost me with Peter Capaldi, I just need a little more consistency in character. Perhaps I’m alone in this.
You can’t cling to the past when creating long running programs or a film series, but you also just can’t fly head first into the future with pop culture as your guide to telling stories. Change for the sake of change is also not very useful. There’s a fine line between a good story and just another movie or TV show. With creative dynasties, it’s harder to see that line because some people will hold on just for nostalgia and will make all manner of excuses why something is still great. But my time, money, and attention span is too limited to just watch something simply because I always have.