Why BBC’s DOCTOR WHO’s 50th Anniversary Plans Disappoint

quadposterNow that the BBC has announced its (presumably) full slate of programing designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO, I can officially say that I am quite disappointed.

I want more episodes of DOCTOR WHO, not more shows about DOCTOR WHO. Don’t get me wrong — the lineup of original commissions sounds wonderful, and I will eagerly watch everything that BBC America makes available. Every minute of it. But — and I acknowledge that this sounds a bit ungrateful and probably more than a little daft — the celebration plans seem to include everything but the show itself! Not enough classic Doctors. Not enough WHO.

Yeah, there are lots and lots of shows on TV and radio that will be dedicated to singing the praises of the world’s greatest TV series, and DW deserves every single word of praise. But where is the actual DOCTOR WHO material? We are getting one — and only one — actual episode of DOCTOR WHO. One story. The Nov. 23 episode, aptly titled “The Day of the Doctor,” is the sole piece of televised DW original fiction that will build on the 50-year legacy. Thankfully we will see the traditional Christmas Special, but then there will be nothing until the fall of 2014.

That means the BBC is celebrating its greatest entertainment series with a bunch of new programming about the show, but not much of the show itself. I would have preferred for the BBC arrange for at least a handful of new content — let’s say, a new episode every week in November — rather than packing the schedule with talking heads talking to other talking heads about the show.

cleanartlrgBecause, let’s face it: We know that DOCTOR WHO is the greatest TV series that ever was or ever will be; who needs a bunch of people on documentaries and clip-compilation programs telling us that? Granted, there are people who need to be introduced to the series — but the 50th anniversary, which is by definition an acknowledgment of the past, isn’t for newbies. Any 50th anniversary is about the past; it’s about the fans and friends the show already has. This should be a time for rewarding the in-crowd, the longtime devotees; not trying to hook strangers. Any 50th anniversary or birthday party is a time to gather familiar faces; who invites strangers off the street to an anniversary party for people they don’t know? (Which is not to say there should be NO outreach; it simply should not be the focus of the party.)

So the BBC has decided to create a bunch of programming by fans featuring fans talking to fans about how wonderful DW is. It’s going to be a huge, incestuous fanwank — and that’s totally fine for what it is. But — and I probably sound like a truculent child for complaining — it isn’t DOCTOR WHO.

I want to celebrate with more new material, not just listen to lots of people rave about all the old stuff for the 50th time.


Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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