Thursday, May 23, 2013

After 50 years, nobody wants to hear it

So as many of you may or may not be aware (actually, now I think of it, all of you either are or are not aware.  Much like being a little pregnant, there really is no third option) last weekend was the season finale of the current run of Doctor Who.

And if you haven't already, you should immediately check out daddies new gig at What Culture where he's writing about the program.

Ahem.  Plug over.

As I was saying.  Last week was the season finale.  It was entitled 'The Name of the Doctor'.  For those that might not be in the know, what the deal is is that the titular (stop it, it's a perfectly valid word!) character is just referred to as 'The Doctor' because we have never learned his name, despite the show having been on for 50 years.  (Seriously.  No exaggeration. It started in 1963)

This caused quite the furore (which IS a real word no matter what spell check thinks) because a lot of people, quite frankly, didn't want to know what his name really is after all this time.

Which got the vizsla thinking.  When you set up a show with a central mystery, there really is a pretty limited window in which you can successfully reveal the answer to said mystery.  Too soon and people stop watching.  Too late and any answer is going to be disappointing.   And seriously - after 50 years, if his name didn't turn out to be something along the lines of 'MikeyHeinrichFreakinRocksYoCheckOutHisBlog' I would be disappointed.

The circumstances of this one are actually fairly specific and interesting.  The reason we never knew his name is that despite being titular (stop it!) he was never actually intended to be the central character.  That was supposed to be a schoolteacher named Barbara, played by the lovely Jacqueline Hill.  The Doctor was basically intended to be flobotunum - e.g. a walking plot device that got the main characters into one wacky and educational mishap after another.

But then Jackie Hill left the show after two years and somehow over the course of things it became 'about' the Doctor.  Which left them in the awkward position of not knowing anything about him but having to somehow find viewer identification.

Which they did and it all worked out.  But 50 years later he still doesn't have an actual name, and as I said before - ANY answer they come up with now is simplky not going to be good enough to justify that amount of waiting.

So what have other shows with a central mystery done?

The X-Files-

The central mystery of the X-Files was "What happened to Mulder's Sister?"  They finally got around to answering that about half way through season 7, and while I don't remember any of the details, I do vaguely recall that it sort of made sense at the time.  The problem they ran into then was that the show really had nothing left to talk about and even David Duchovny wasn't pretending to care anymore.  So clearly, if you wait 7 years to reveal the secret you need to end on that note.

 I suppose the central mystery of Lost can be summed up as 'What the holy everlasting fuck is going on?' (apologies for the salty language there, but after season 5 you kind of let them start flying.)

Now - I remain in the minority of people who think that the Lost finale ended up explaining things fairly well and was actually pretty satisfying all around.

That said, I still couldn't explain what all was going on without a few drinks and a lot of leeway.

So - the lesson to be learned here is that maybe at some point you need to stop creating new mysteries and start dealing with the four thousand you already have.  Unless you have a REALLY good reason not to.  (spoiler alert - they kind of didn't)

 I really loved this show.  I own both seasons on DVD and watch them regularly.  I still don't have a clue what the hell it's all about, other than that Clea Duvall is evil and we knew that going in.

Still great television though.

And we should have found out how he met their mother at least two seasons ago, btw.

Vizsla out

No comments:

Post a Comment