Doctor Who is a children's show. I am in complete understanding of that, and make no denial of it. At the same time, I want the show to be exactly what I want it to be, and will get mad at any deviation from it that Steven Moffat makes in his tyrannical rule as show-runner. Everyone has their qualms with Doctor Who. it's almost become a tradition to mock and chase away it's more stupid ideas. When the Doctor Who fandom tells you your concept is too childish, that's when you know you've messed up! Case and point, anyone enjoy the Power Ranger themed Daleks from Season 5? NO OF COURSE YOU DIDN'T!
Doctor Who, in it's resurrected form, is this year approaching it's 9th Season, and it's been ten years since since the show itself was brought back from the ether. That makes for a very strange mix of a fandom. There are fans who've been watching intently since the 70s, some who got on board in the resurrection and grown into adulthood loving it, and some who weren't even born when Christopher Eccleston took up the role. The Doctor Who fandom, now especially with the show's success with BBC America, is more diverse and eclectic than ever, yet it has been sticking to the bright colours, goofy noises and basic save-the-world premises that have tested well with children since the dawn of time. Does the show really have no space for a change in style?
I understand that "gritty reboot" has become somewhat of a dirty buzzword in recent years, and I certainly have no desire for a grizzled grumbling Doctor in the rain with his TARDIS covered in graffiti and hey maybe Jared Leto should play him! Unlike so many other nerd culture properties where darker and grittier equate to unimaginative and hegemonic, Doctor Who would actually grow from developing a more complex tone, or from receiving a more varied and tangible visual palette. Doctor Who in it's current form has been going strong for ten years, and nothing has really changed significantly apart from the writing (which incidentally has gotten worse). What could Season 9 do to take the show in a new and exciting direction?
It's been so long since I've looked at an image in Doctor Who, and actually felt that that space could exist. Everything feels conjured up from some whim Steven Moffat had, and that's enough to make me see through the entire show. This is the same problem the Star Wars prequels had. Look how much better off Star Wars is now that a measured, adult approach has been taken to the creation of it's world. Of course I'm talking about The Force Awakens, have you heard about this?
A more tangible setting that isn't just the product of whatever the writers feel like would also suit Peter Capaldi much better. In the current state of the show being full whimsy and tension free hijinx, Capaldi appears only as a mean-spirited old man who doesn't enjoy what he does. I like Peter Capaldi's characterisation, but if the show just took it's surroundings and it's premise a little more seriously, his Doctor could appear more three-dimensional. In "Kill the Moon" in Season 8, the Doctor conducts a cruel and callous trick that Clara wades into. By the end of the episode, it's unclear if their friendship will mend. Of course, two episode later, everything's back to normal because it would be really hard work to actually carry over character relationships! That would take foresight!
How much cooler would it be if Doctor Who addressed itself and it's audience with that crucial bit more respect?
But Doctor Who is a Kid's Show!
Why yes, it is a kid's show, but assuming that children can't deal with complex aesthetics or storylines is just as insulting as not registering them as a demographic at all. Take a show like Avatar: The Last Airbender, which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike on a genuinely sincere level, and has a consistently beautiful aesthetic to boot! I'm certainly not advocating that the show get genuinely grim, with death and violence abounding. Even if that could happen, it would only be Torchwood! Doctor Who itself has also been able to get particularly dark anyway. Come on Steven Moffat! You're always talking about scaring the kids, but they're desensitised these days! Up the anti! I was totally allowed to watch that face melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc, and I'm better off for it!
Perhaps this isn't even an issue of tone, or being dark or gritty or even of Doctor Who needing a makeover. Perhaps this is just a simple issue of Doctor Who refusing to grow and develop with the modern TV landscape, or just not being very good. In which case... BBC! Consider this my application to take over all of Doctor Who! Don't worry! I'll sort the show out!... hello?