BLOG What Is This Sad Who Masochism?

As you all probably know Doctor Who returned to our TV screens recently and the Who -related area of the forum is once again a den of heated “discussion”. Actually the heated discussion predated the return of the show by some weeks with the anti-Moffat fans setting out their stalls and the pro-Moffat gang leaping to the show-runner’s defence in various threads. It’s nothing new. “New Who ” has generated a lot of heated debates in the forum – I’ve been involved in a couple myself – but I do know of many forum members who avoid the area altogether because sometimes it becomes a little bit too intense.

The same debates are hauled out time and again; we hate/love River Song/Amy/Rose/Martha. We hate/love Steven Moffat/Russell T Davies. We like/dislike the new companion. The show isn’t what it used to be. It’s too adult/too childish. I’ve often said that I think there’s just something about Doctor Who which brings out the fight in some fans. I’m not against a bit of lively, heated debate and I’m not against people discussing their various points of view on this character or that episode. What I don’t understand is the fans that seem to only watch the show so they can tear it apart afterwards. From what I read in the Who area of the forum on this site, and in a few other places on the internet, there are some who really hate the current incarnation of the show, Stephen Moffat and half the regular cast. Of course everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I just don’t understand the mentality of watching something that makes you so mad. It’s called entertainment; we watch these things to be entertained.

I’ve heard people ask, “If you don’t like it, why watch it?” and I’ve heard various responses, most revolving around, “I’m a Doctor Who fan, you can’t tell me to not watch it!” or “I watch it to see just how bad it is.”

But if you don’t actually enjoy the show, why watch? I get that you can be a life-long fan of Who and not want to miss any episode. But the unique thing about Doctor Who is the show-runner changes and the main cast change and the direction/feel of the show can change. It is an inherently renewable show; if the current run isn't your cup of tea what's wrong with taking a break until the next Doctor or the next show-runner comes along?

If I watch a TV show and I'm not enjoying it I stop. Most people do I think. I’ve given up on a lot of sc-fi and other genre shows because I wasn’t enjoying them. Flash Forward, Arrow and the remake of V to name a few. Sometimes I come back at the start of the next season/series to see if I'm liking it any better and sometimes I can get back into it. I did that with True Blood and Primeval, and I missed two whole seasons in the middle of Lost before giving it another chance. Actually, I kind of wish I hadn’t gone back to Lost in retrospect.

I recently wrote a piece about my disillusionment with the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” books and the fact that I wasn’t enjoying them so I decided to step away. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I was six years old, through great films and bad films, through excellent books and terrible books. But I reached a point where I wasn’t enjoying reading Star Wars so I stopped. Some might say there’s a difference between giving a series of books and giving up a TV show, but the general point is the same; I’d never keep submitting myself to something I really wasn't enjoying, never mind starting to hate.

I realise I’ll probably get some stick for this blog but I'm not having a go at anyone; I’m genuinely interested in people’s thoughts. I'm not saying anyone should stop watching the show and I'm certainly not saying shut up and stop moaning. If you want to watch it with the constant hope that it'll improve then I understand that. But if it isn't getting any better for you, and you dislike almost everything about the current incarnation, then isn't taking a break a good idea? At least until the next series starts. Take a break; take a breather and come back fresh later. I just don't understand the mentality of sticking with something that you haven't got a good thing to say about.

So, I guess my question is just that: if you watch Doctor Who but you don’t like what Steven Moffat is doing with the show why don’t you take a break? Why do you subject yourself to a show that you aren’t enjoying? Why keep putting yourself through it? And are there any other shows that people watch even thought they don’t actually like anything about them? ( Yeah, but I’m paid to, so that probably doesn’t count – ed. )