A big change to the Whoniverse perpetrated by the creators of Nu Who is, obviously, the obliteration of the rest of the Time Lord race and presumably the planet of Gallifrey — though the 10th Doctor’s description of it burning could simply be the surface burnt off; actual whole planets are not easy to destroy, no matter what George Lucas says. I suppose, though, that in the context of said Whoniverse, if there was ever a weapon that could obliterate a whole planet so that even the Master couldn’t find it, then the Time Lords were the people who could make it.
Anyway, all that aside, I have a problem with the conception of 1) the Time War, 2) the destruction of Gallifrey not after all being so much the fault of the Daleks as the Time Lords themselves, who apparently went so badly off their heads that they had to be put down like rabid dogs.
My problems with the Time War are brief: I don’t understand it. This is probably due to my low scientific intellect — math is haaaard, and I don’t understand skiencefikshun talk about time streams and time loops and “higher races” being able to perceive what was going on while “lower races” just went about their lives and all that stuff. For example, did it happen in the past (besides the Doctor’s own past, that is), the future, or some “outside time” place. In which case, if it’s outside time, is it still going on? (Because how can things “outside time” stop or start.) Do you see what I mean? Well neither do I. And that’s the problem I have.
Moving along to what is more important to me: this conception of the Time Lords as (finally I guess, because they didn’t start out that way) evil villainous beings of evil who were so evil they had to be killed a second time! Heck they were so evil we had to sacrifice Susan (that woman Claire Bloom played was not the Doctor’s mother, that was Susan, several decades or centuries older and just looking that way because she needed to regenerate), so evil that the Master had to help kill them. It just… frustrates me.
By the way, why couldn’t the Doctor just have grabbed Susan (not his mom) and dragged her out of the way just before the Master’s laser beam hands sent the whole crew back to Gallifrey’s galaxy, or time loop, or time cave, or whatever? Ten, despite having fallen several feet through a glass roof onto a marble tiled floor, seemed pretty limber.
Anyway, Steven Moffat, currently in charge of Nu Who, thinks that Russell T. Davies’
character rape conception of the Time Lords as evil etc. is just fine and dandy. “Brilliant” is what I think he said. Now keep in mind this is Moffat we’re talking about and he has a way of… not saying everything. But let’s just go with that. The writers have decided to basically not only isolate the Doctor but do it in the most traumatic way possible. That’s one thing. Another thing is… what is so brilliant about taking a complex conception of a race of beings who were, in their own minds at least, super-intellectual, super-civilized, and one of the oldest civilizations “in the universe” and simplifying them into a group of “oh they’re just evil!” My thing is this: the original conception of the Time Lords as being sometimes superior, sometimes just tool old and decadent, often manipulative for all sorts of reasons good and bad and beyond good and bad, sometimes helpful, sometimes helpless (and thus needing the Doctor’s help), sometimes ossified and unable to see the solution right in front of them because they were too set in their ways, sometimes outright jerkasses — was much more interesting then turning them into a bunch of evil freaks who were a-okay with destroying “time itself” so they could “ascend” — though where they were supposed to be ascending to without any time or place existing any more no one seems to have cared to speculate on. In short, I find the reduction of Time Lords to psycho villains too simplistic.
It also removed an entire set of plot possibilities from the show. I am not so sure that that wasn’t the intention of the writers — for all his geek credentials, Davies didn’t seem very interested in the wonders of exploring alien space — most of his shows took place in the human universe, which he conveniently extended to the very heat death of the universe, and way too many of his shows took place in the same few square blocks of 21st century London. I had hopes for Moffat, but his show seems to have turned into a Rory-Amy-Doctor-River soap opera, which is interesting, I guess, unless you were looking for an episode of Doctor Who.
Perhaps this is due to the constant calls for more stuff about the Doctor’s personal life coming from a certain segment of fandom. Forty-eight years ago when the show first aired, people hadn’t been nurtured forever on 24/7 television drama. They were, it seems, more okay with a character being of mysterious origin, and not needing him to be a cute guy they can “identify with” (I hate that phrase, by the way — it’s so condescending, implying that I can’t feel sympathy towards the plight of anyone who doesn’t look or act like me). I don’t know what the problem is. But if there’s a way to approach the actual Life Of The Doctor, I do think that disappearing his whole race, refusing to talk about it, and saddling him with the companionship of humans and only humans (and only humans from 21st century Earth) isn’t the way to go about it.
This is all a long roundabout way of saying I wish they’d retcon away the Time War somehow. It’s just awkward. The Doctor is an alien, not a human, and getting rid of his people to somehow make him “more human” just makes it look like you don’t like science fiction and really want to write a show about 21st century Earth. Don’t get me wrong — the new show is still vastly entertaining — but I want my sense of wonder back. I just don’t get it from the new shiny show like I did from the old gimcrack low-budget joke with the cardboard sets and bad special effects.