What does it mean to beat a dead horse? Some of you reading this may believe that this article is doing just that, hitting on a topic that had been covered heavily by media back when the first episode of Doctor Who Season 11 first aired.
Rather unsurprisingly, the reception the series got was cut right down the centre, with the publications indoctrinated into progressive ideology lauding the show as the best thing since Black Panther, while pretty much everyone else held the opinion that it ranged from boring to terrible.
I wasn’t happy with that response. Sure, I didn’t exactly have a lot of confidence in where this new series was going, especially considering the nature of the more and more Orwellian BBC.
Judging a television series before it gets into the swing of things is very risky business. I personally have been burned by my knee-jerk reactions before, needing to look no further than the previous season of Doctor Who.
Back in 2017, the BBC had already become well known for their social justice antics, with a number of their shows already suffering from the ideology. This gave me worry enough, however, when it was announced that the new Doctor Who companion (an important character) would be a gay disadvantaged black woman, I was sure that the season was going to be a progressive dumpster fire.
But I was wrong. The series turned out to be actually rather decent, and the character that I was sure was going to become the emblem for its failure ended up being the cornerstone of its success.
Yes, cafeteria worker Bill Potts was a diversity insert, and one hell of one at that, but fundamentally she was both well written and well suited to the show. She was an inquisitive, quick witted character that was always a bit of craic to watch, and had great chemistry with both the Doctor and Nardole, his weird robot companion for the season.
With this in mind, I refrained from judging Season 11 instantly. Yes, the first episode was dull, with very little of any worth actually happening. The villain was probably the blandest I have ever seen from the show. However, I was wrong before, so I could have been wrong again and kept watching.
Now, after seeing everything Whittaker’s first season had to offer, I’m quite glad I made that decision. Not because my first impression was wrong per se. There’s no way around it, Season 11 is bad, but why it’s a bad season is a rather interesting topic.
First I want to cover what the season does right, and it’s quite a long list.
First off, I think Jodie Whittaker is, fundamentally, not a bad Doctor. While your mileage may vary, I found that she nailed the manic brilliance so central to the eponymous character of the show. More importantly, she was fun to watch, and what more do you really want from the Doctor?
Then you’ve got the supporting cast, which, despite a few blips here and there, was solid. The structural change from generic female companion/love interest to a larger group of diverse characters was a daring decision that actually paid off in a large way.
Credit where credit is due, it was here that the diversity tunnel vision of the creators actually turned into an asset, as the characters really stood out from their predecessors. This had little to do with the racial backgrounds of the characters though, with the diversity in age being the actual driving force behind what made these characters engaging.
First, you have Ryan, played by Tosin Cole, who is this nitwitted young man whose story arc revolves around getting over his grandmother’s death and his father’s absence (apparently even in Sci-Fi, the BBC ‘progressives’ believe a black kid knowing his father is too unbelievable), as well as growing to understand and and accept his new familial relationship with his step-Grandad and father figure Graham, played by Bradley Walsh.
These characters were by far the strongest of the series, with Graham often stealing the scenes he is present in from under Whittaker’s nose. As I said before, the age difference in these companions play a great part in this, with the wisdom grounded in age that Graham brings to the table bringing a new kind of Doctor Who experience that we have never seen before. Honestly, in the scenes when the series allow these two characters to really work, the result is nothing short of exceptional.
But these scenes are sadly few and far between. This is in part because of the third wheel of the group, Yasmin, played by Mandip Gill. If any character could be described as a wet fart, it would be this one. Gill puts in a decent performance, and most certainly did the most with what she got, but to be honest, that wasn’t a lot. And with the level of focus this character got, that was a significant problem for this series.
Which brings us on to the main problem: the writing. The show itself has a number of solid pieces, but the writing is what is responsible for bringing it all together, and when it isn’t busy having bad ideas, it is poorly executing good ones.
Let’s take one of the shows downright worst ideas. The episode ‘Rosa’ is all about the Doctor and crew trying to stop a time travelling Neo-Nazi skinhead from preventing Rosa Parks from getting on James Blake’s bus, which would prevent the Montgomery Bus Boycott from ever happening and as such, prevent the emancipation of African-Americans from happening.
This entire premise is ridiculous beyond belief. First off, you have the problem of preventing Parks from getting on the bus, which today many think was a planned protest on her part. If our time travelling Nazi did manage to prevent her from getting on that bus, chances are she’d end up doing the same thing a week later, for roughly the same result.
Even if he got Parks killed somehow, the NAACP already had another test case they were planning on taking to the supreme court until she showed up. There is no reason to assume that they would have been unsuccessful without her. And all this is all ignoring how any skinhead would much prefer to go back to the American Civil War and simply prevent the Confederacy from losing.
However, even forgetting this blatant lack of historical knowledge, the episode is nigh unwatchable due to the writing. The antagonist is lazy, but for the sake of him being a Neo-Nazi, I’ll even give that shoddy writing a miss. However, the show depicts literally every single white person in the American south as being some sort of spawn of Satan, with even the vague whiff of a Black person causing them to go into a demonic fit.
Make no mistake, this was a decision not made for the sake of good storytelling, but one made for the sake of ideology. Moral greys are often, if not always, the best colour to paint your antagonist, and to make the everyday joe of Southern America so downright evil is nothing short of propaganda.
But it gets worse. The entire series is filled with shoe horned lines that are clearly designed to bolster UK policing policy. The worst of these is when the Doctor compares her Sonic Screwdriver to a Swiss Army Knife, but then goes on to clarify that it’s not a knife and that there is NEVER a good reason to carry a knife. This is clearly an attempt to echo UK knife crime legislation, which has resulted in people being jailed for years for carrying things as innocent as potato peelers.
And it’s this that ruins Season 11. No matter which episode, it always feels like you’re watching something from the British Ministry of Truth. Narrative is often sacrificed for propaganda purposes, and scenes are more often than not ruined by the writers shoe-horning in some plot-hole making line which backs up current UK government policy.
Which brings us back to our question: What does it mean to beat a dead horse? I don’t think this article does it. Sure, people have stated before how they dislike Social Justice infecting the media they consume, but rarely have they explained why.
What is beating a dead horse though is repeating the same talking points over and over again. Talking points like ‘white people are evil,’ that knives are are terrifying and that big multinational companies are totally good and to oppose them is an immoral thing to do (yes, there is an episode like that). This is what it means to beat a dead horse, and boy, does Season 11 of Doctor Who beat that horse to oblivion and beyond.