This is the second DW series I’ve watched from the standpoint of a fan and it’s quite striking how many similarities I’m spotting in fan behaviour and psychology.
I remember very vividly the outbreak of bad-tempered sniping roundabout the Eurovision break. It figures. Whatever you’re hoping for, chances are that by E7 you’re having a reality check. It’s almost a year to the day since Martha fandom exploded at the words, “You’re not my plus one”. I was foolish enough to put it in a Martha-centric fic and ended up getting thrown out of two communities, one on each side of the divide. I remember going into work almost in tears because of some of the shit that was flying around, and how personal it got.
So what have I learned, apart from more respect for those who moderate communities, and a healthy awareness of the limits of shipping communities (not necessarily two mutually exclusive things)? Well, sadly I’ve a bad feeling about the way fandom will go over the next few weeks. I think we’ll see people behaving badly in all the ways we saw last year. The outbreak of rage that greeted Martha’s departure from the Doctor’s life could well be equalled by similar howls of anguish from all those who, for whatever reason, hope to see the Doctor and Rose romance brought to a conventionally happy conclusion (I choose my words with care). And it’s a fair bet that people will be looking around for someone to blame, rationally or otherwise, if the outcome isn’t to their liking.
It appears that in some quarters this is being seen as an RTD vs Moffett fight. RTD is the shipper, the romantic, the one we trust to do right by the Doctor and Rose. Moff is the mysogenist canon junkie who can’t wait to get his fundamentalist hands on our beloved show and purge it of all that emo crap like the Doctor crying and falling in love. Yes, that’s ridiculously simplistic but who said fandom was rational? Personally, I trust both parties about as much as I trust the public pronouncements of any TV professional, and that’s all I’m saying.
All this will no doubt be further explained by the recent spoiler announcement about the upcoming two-parter.
It’s very unlikely that Moffatt has thought up this particular story line to spite a particular group of fans. Whatever happens in 2010, he isn’t yet in charge, and the most he can do is express an influential enthusiasm for a particular storyline. Rewind to S1 and imagine the reaction if news had leaked that Rose was going to fall head-over-heels for a handsome third wheel and Nine would be jealous as hell but have him on the TARDIS anyway. You begin to see how much depends on the way a story’s presented – and you can rely on the tabloids to be as inflammatory as possible.
Is it true? Probably – the news of a serious leak came out several months ago and was downplayed, but admitted to by the POTB. But what exactly is the situation? Are we so obsessed with Rose as the OTL that we’d deny the Doctor any possibility of any other romantic relationship, even centuries after she’s dead and gone? I don’t think even Rose would want that.
Besides, there are several hints, including a very clear one in the trailer just recently aired, that we’ve looking at a scenario with several alternative timelines, and therefore futures. The Doctor may have control over which one he chooses, or he may not. A relationship centuries ago in his past may be in another character’s future. For him, it might be a done deal.
Or it could be canon. In the New Adventures he’s linked with an archaeologist from the future, admittedly a different century and a different name, but it’s a fascinating possibility. Particularly as the lady I have in mind (Bernice Summerfield) is also very close to Irving Braxiatel, who might be the Doctor’s brother and is definitely a Time Lord. I’m really quite excited about the possibilities of this particular plotline, and the mysterious doctor character from the Library who seems so familiar with the old timey-wimey stuff.
I still think they may pull a really clever one and split off into two Doctors in two different universes, allowing them to have Ten and Rose as a spin-off. One argument in favour of this is I can’t see RTD letting go completely so willingly – he’s the sort who’d always want to pop back for another outing now and then, and this would give him the opportunity to do so without undermining a new direction S5 onwards.
But after a few viewings of the trailer, another thought occurred to me. Rose seems to be taking on a lot of the Doctor’s characteristics. It may be that they both end up outgrowing an exclusive relationship with one another. So long as they stay in touch, I can deal with that.
Whatever the outcome, one thing I can confidently predict – that some people won’t manage to stay civil to one another, and they’ll behave as if the show belongs to them. I’ll be over here in my bunker.