The Return of Captain Jack

The Return of Captain Jack

If prayer is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then turning to a man is the last refuge of a feminist. 

The last acceptable (which is not to say good) season of Doctor Who was season eight. It had some major problems. But I could wade through it.

Also, I did like Missy. Moffat’s last decent creation for Doctor Who.

In fact, Missy provides what is arguably the last decent scene in Doctor Who.

On the face of it this shouldn’t have been a big deal. 

It was effective in the function it was meant to perform. Which was to remind the audience, on an emotional level, that the Master is evil. Osgood was quite the geeky fangirl of the Doctor. The modern Whovian audience member could identify with her.

Which turned out to be a real problem.

Osgood’s death appears to have been something of a watershed event for the show. Because the #JusticeForBarb crowd came out big time for Osgood. They were absolutely incensed by her death. And for the same reason they were mad about no one caring when Barb died in Stranger Things. They saw themselves in Osgood and they really couldn’t stand it when she died. These women regarded it as a slap in the face.

And the BBC caved big time. Not only was Osgood revived in an utterly ludicrous fashion but the show even provided that audience with a third, backup Osgood. Just to make sure they were really happy. 

So why was this a watershed moment? Because they the same women who were shrieking about Osgood were the same ones who had been demanding a female Doctor Who for years. The resurrection of Osgood let them know in no uncertain terms that they were now in the saddle on Doctor Who.

Woke art, is bad art. There had been genuine emotional impact when Osgood died. You couldn’t help but feel sad for her, but reversing it absolutely drained that scene of any emotional impact. And any scene following it that was meant to carry dramatic weight carried none. Because you knew it was going to be reversed sooner or later. 

I didn’t like the Clara Oswald character all that much, but her death scene had been potentially affecting, right up until my wife said, “I wonder how long until she’s back?” 

Two episodes as it turned out.

It’s been a very long road for Doctor Who, the first episode was broadcast the day John Kennedy was assassinated. It ran from that day until 1987 when it was put on, “temporary hiatus.” 

That was technically accurate although a program hiatus doesn’t usually last twenty years. But if you take the show at its official description then it’s been around for nearly sixty years.

In that time the Doctor faced many foes. Daleks, Cybermen, Zygons, Sontarons, The Master, The Silence, The Weeping Angels and various one-shot enemies that are too numerous to mention. He triumphed over them all.

But he has finally met the enemy who has at last vanquished him.

Against this foe the Doctor alas had no defenses.

Chibnall has retconned the unholy fuckity fucking fuck out of Doctor Who this season. 

Forget about turning the Doctor into a whaman.  Sure, it was a bad idea. But it could have worked if someone who can actually talk to woman on a regular basis (without repulsively turning into a trembling blob of sexual excitement) had performed the sex reassignment surgery. 

Last season, the Soy-Wonder brought back the Master to kill off all of the Timelords so he could resurrect them as Cybermen who can regenerate. He also presented us with the very first Doctor who was also a woman and (mega-woke bonus points) was also Black. 

Now, this presented something of a problem because the Timelords are supposed to have a hard cap limit of twelve regenerations. They aren’t supposed to get any more than that. After number twelve it’s the end of the road for any Timelord. The show had made a pretty big deal out of that around the time Matt Smith left the show. On top of this, it was canon for the entire run of the show since 1963 that William Hartnell’s Doctor was the very first one.

So how did Chibnall account for this “Ruth” being the First Doctor? Simple, he demolished the entire sixty-year backstory of Doctor Who.

One day many, many ages ago a woman scientist/explorer was gadding about the universe when she came upon a diverse child of color at the mouth of some wormhole or something. And although she was white herself, she adopted this child and was raising it as her own. Then one day the kid fell off a cliff, died and low and behold regenerated. 

Woman scientist/explorer is intrigued by this, straps her own adopted child to a table and starts murdering the hell out of her for ten years until she figures out the secret of regeneration. She shares this with her friends and they…I shit you not…become the first Timelords. The Diverse Child of Color was, of course, the Doctor. Her memory was erased.

This actually beats Luke throwing away his first lightsaber. 

This retconning of sixty (well really 40) years of canon is malignantly pointless. There has been nothing but hideous disasters since that blob Chibnall took over and the thing is, with this action he makes it blatantly clear that he never cared about Doctor Who at all. It was always just a paycheck to him.

But I think there is something more at work here.

Petty revenge on the Doctor Who fans who have so completely and utterly rejected his work. He now holds the record for worst ratings of all time for Doctor Who. No one has ever done a worse job. There are those who point out that the ratings were worse in 1986 but that was when Doctor Who was a genuine kid’s show. This epic fail is on prime time. Fans are now crying, “Moffat all is forgiven. Please, come back to us!”

“Sunday’s episode of Doctor Who, “The Timeless Children,” saw 3.78 million viewers tune in, but what is especially troublesome for the BBC is the fact that the shows preceding Doctor Who and following both had a higher amount of viewers all in the same range.

Prior to Doctor Who saw Countryfile with 4.44 million viewers, and following Doctor Who saw Antiques Roadshow with 4.41 million.”

In desperation Chibnall is turning to a man.  

Captain Jack Harkness is returning for the Doctor Who Holiday Special (formally the Christmas Special).  This is quite the Hail Mary play.  The profound lack of interest in Chibnall’s butchery of Who canon is self-evident. And in a desperate attempt to get a few nostalgia eyeballs he’s bringing John Barrowman back on to the show.

Captain Jack was introduced, way back in 2005.  He first showed up in the genuinely classic episode, The Empty Child.  Harkness was a time policeman/con-artist. After the two-parter, he becomes a Doctor’s Companion. The character really took off.  The WWII Spitfire pilot carried with him the air of a dashing cavalryman. He felt like an Errol Flynn swashbuckler. Barrowman himself had a square-jawed Rock Hudson-like (in many fabulous ways) handsomeness.  He could hold his own with the Doctor. He was a man of action, which was needed because Christopher Eccleston wasn’t up for it by then. The actor himself had charisma.

Proto-Tumblrinas loved him because he was openly bi. 

For those that don’t remember (or don’t really give a crap), Captain Jack was the only Doctor Who character to have a successful** spin-off series of his own. Torchwood.  Which was helmed by Chris Chibnall.

It was during Torchwood that Harkness became bisexual in name only.  He never seemed that drawn to girls during his time on Doctor Who but once he had his own show he was never attracted to the fairer sex again.  Captain Jack was in fact so powerfully gay he had the power of converting straight men… That served under him.

The first season of Torchwood was an acceptable Quatermass-light police procedural. In the second season it became blatantly obvious that any time a handsome man appeared on the show, Jack was going to be kissing him.  So much dude kissing. I was done early on.

The truth is most women* are turned off by it. I asked a girl about that once and her reply was, “we know where it’s been.”  As Captain Jack lost interest in women, the core audience lost interest in him.  Torchwood was canceled after two and half seasons, with a brief revival mini-series on Showtime.

Jack is also supposed to be an immortal.  

John Barrowman clearly is not. 

He was in his late thirties when he got the part fifteen years ago.  He is in his fifties now and he is suffering from Ryker syndrome.  He’s gotten puffy and the girdle he is obviously wearing is groaning mightily under its Atlas-like burden. This is why bringing him back is such a pathetic idea.  

Captain Jack Harkness looks like a living metaphor for what Doctor Who has become.

A well past its prime, sad reflection of something that used to be kind of special.

*Tumblrinas being a big exception.

**Yes, I know there were others but they never took off.

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