I’m totally fine with the new Doctor and the new Companion. I’ve got a few issues with the setup and the episode, but overall, fine.
However. I should know better by now than to ever watch any BBC promotional materials.
(SPOILER FOR LATER IN THE SEASON and objection follows)
Later in this season, Professor River Song (aka That Archaeologist Chick Who’s Really Bernice Summerfield*) shows up and drives the TARDIS (which companions have done before, I’m not complaining about that), and then announces that the whole iconic vworping/screeching sound of the TARDIS is produced by the Doctor always leaving the brakes on during flight.
Oh, how many things are wrong with this, if it’s not some kind of nightmare/dream sequence.
The most important thing is: you should not squander the heritage of the show on a cheap laugh. You are saying that poor dead
Delia Derbyshire’s Ron Grainer’s work is useless, that all the shivers up the spines of all the fans are also useless. The sound of the TARDIS is iconic. Devaluing it like this is a great big two-fingered salute, right in our faces. What would be funny in a fanfic is not funny at all, when it’s canon.
The secondary factor is that learning such an important thing from a secondary character (and especially a character that’s a copy of a fanfic character**, fergoshsake) increases the insult for the fan. If we’d learned that from the Doctor, the Master, or even some member of a rival time race, that would be different.
I was so excited about this show, ready to love it again; and now we are told that the Force is just midichlorians. In a promotional clip. Freakin’ shoot me in the heart, won’t you?
Man, I hope it’s a dream.
* In the New Adventures Doctor Who novels published by Virgin Publishing, Bernice “Benny” Summerfield was an alcoholic archaeology professor from the future, who spent some time off and on as a Companion to the Seventh Doctor. For some unknown reason, this annoying chick created by Paul Cornell struck a chord with the other New Adventure novelists, and she kept appearing again and again.
After the BBC took back the novel licenses from Virgin, Virgin kept publishing New Adventures about the characters who weren’t from the TV show. Which meant mostly Summerfield. Then, after Virgin stopped publishing the New Adventures, Cornell and his cronies thought up a non-Doctor Who universe that was still populated by Summerfield and her annoyingness, and published that as novels from Big Finish.
And now on the TV show, totally coincidentally, there’s a female archaeologist professor from the future named River Song, who’s also an off-and-on Companion of the Doctor, and also is very annoying. They gave her some kind of heroical tragic ending in her first episode that didn’t actually involve going away and never being seen again, and now we are going to see her again and again in the upcoming seasons, during events that happened sooner in her personal timeline. Probably this is a sign that we need more mortification and penance in our fannish lives.
However, some fans take the cheery view that Summerfield has been removed from canonicity by her replacement, River Song, and that now all the Summerfield novels and audio plays can be totally disregarded. Since this would make life a lot cheaper for those of you who are completist fans, I recommend this view of things.
** The people who write the various Doctor Who novels like to claim that they are totally canon, especially if they used to write on the show or write on it now. Doctor Who fans have various levels of acceptance of this claim, from eager credence to total refusal to accept any of the novels as canon (except maybe one or two). Since the novels do all sorts of horrible things to favorite TV characters, include all sorts of overcomplicated arc plots, destroy the universe several times, kill and resurrect people fairly often, have good guy characters commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, and give the Doctor some fairly offensive political opinions, it’s difficult to argue that they are totally unlike the current seasons of the TV show. But since most people couldn’t be bothered to read most of them, most people don’t actually care about their version of Doctor Who. All the publisher drama also took a lot of credibility away.
Personally, I say it’s all professional fanfic, and less credible fanfic than even the least credible Star Trek novels ever were. Some of it is very well-written, entertaining, and creative; but from the very first novel, it went off the reservation so far that it never found its way back.