Are the Minor Monster Returns Ruining Them?
Guest contributor Barry Quinn tackles the subject.
Beginning in The Stolen Earth and continuing vastly throughout Moffat’s tenure, past enemies have reappeared frequently without really bringing much to the overall story. Whilst it’s nice to see these popular monsters recur, as it shows how much the fans have taken to them, I believe it really does take something away from their main appearances. In the classic run the Daleks were so scary because you never knew when they turn up and you often didn’t see them for a few years. Now though, it’s barely a few episodes before they turn up, and quite frankly, it is generally accepted that the Daleks are no longer scary.
As I said this really began in The Stolen Earth. The Judoon returned as part of the Shadow Proclamation but aside from a humorous fast-paced line from Tennant, it brought nothing to the episode. It was nice to see them, yes, but the Shadow Architect played by Kelly Hunter was much more affective and helped progress the story. Seeing the Judoon in a different setting than their previous appearance made them less effective and scary because we now knew that the brutal rhino warriors answered to someone else. The Judoon also appeared in The End of Time, The Pandorica Opens and A Good Man Goes To War and each of these fleeting glimpses again brought nothing to the respective episodes. They featured purely for the nostalgia.
The End of Time was the first episode to utilise several recurring villains extremely poorly. Admittedly the Sontaran, whilst seen briefly, was rather affective, but the Slitheen, Hath, Judoon, Adipose, Graske and Sycorax weren’t. The Hath, Adipose and Graske were never particularly scary in their respective episodes so this didn’t really ruin them for me. But I loved the Slitheen in their series one two-parter and I am desperate for them to return again in a main capacity (I’m more hopeful now as we’ve had brief references to them in The Pandorica Opens and The Time of the Doctor, just as we had references to the Zygons a few times before they reappeared) but again,they were only used nostalgically. The Sycorax were scary in A Christmas Invasion but they were on screen for less than a second here. Yes, Davies was really just filling the bar, but for me it took something away from their main appearance.
This is a problem that has plagued Moffat’s tenure. The Autons were executed tremendously and it came as a genuine surprise when the Romans were revealed to be so, but most of the rest of the monsters in The Pandorica Opens weren’t used in a similar manner. The one-armed Cyberman, whilst appearing briefly, was scary, especially since Amy was disorientated, and the Daleks were more effective in the following episode. But the Silurians, Weevils and Sontaran really weren’t. But then again, the Weevils were vastly overused in Torchwood anyway.
A Good Man Goes To War saw the return of the Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians and Judoon. As I already said, the Judoon were pointless, as were the Cybermen really. Madame Vastra was great, as she always is. For me, there really isn’t anything else than can be done with the Silurian race as a whole in terms of them as an enemy, but I so desperately want to see an episode set 1000 years later to see the Silurians and humanity living side-by-side. Perhaps the Sea Devils could also return in that episode, serving as the episodes enemy? Contrary, the Sontaran desperately need a new story with them as the main enemy. Strax has ruined the Sontaran race and undermined their previous appearances by being rendered a humorous plot-device. For me this would be okay, if we had another episode to show just how scary an enemy they really are. Until that day comes, Strax will forever be a niggle for me.
Next comes the Daleks. Fair enough they have recurred A LOT throughout the course of new-Who but some of their appearances have annoyed me more than others. Firstly their appearance in The Wedding of River Song took away from the appearance in Asylum of the Daleks. There really was no point in them appearing. I’m sure I read a rumour somewhere that the Daleks have to appear every year because of licence rights but still, a very brief appearance annoyed me more than a larger appearance would have. Any other character or species could have appeared in their place. They understandably appeared in The Day of the Doctor as it was the 50th anniversary, but did they really need to appear in The Time of the Doctor? Firstly, this took something away from their previous appearance. Secondly, the Daleks have appeared in a regeneration story before (just two regenerations stories before) so surely we could have done without them? And thirdly, it’s rumoured that the Daleks will be appearing very early in Series 8 in a two-part story. Four episodes in a row. Really? That is far too much exposure for me personally.
Finally, we come to The Time of the Doctor. Aside from the Daleks (who I’ve already mentioned) the Sontarans, Weeping Angels, Silents and Cybermen also appeared. For the Sontarans all I have to say is: why? There was just no need. For the Weeping Angels, aside from one extremely affective scene where we saw their arms burst through the snowy floor, the rest of their appearance for simply for the sake of it. They’ve recurred through Matt’s tenure so… Fair enough. The Silence just had to be in there also, simply to end the long-running arc throughout Matt’s run in the show but they weren’t really scary anymore. They were there, they likely won’t appear again (I hope so, otherwise it’ll ruin them for me. Also, don’t bring the Weeping Angels back. AT ALL).
But Handles the Cyberman single-handedly ruined the entire 47-year history of the Cybermen for me. Their appearance in Closing Time was bad enough but they were kind-of redeemed in Nightmare In Silver. In The Time of the Doctor, the Cybermen were reduced to, for me, a humourless plot-device to provide light-relief in the dark and brooding story and to provide the Doctor with a companion throughout his 300- year exile. I understand he needed someone with him, but did it really have to be a Cyberhead voiced by Kayvan Novak? From the first time I saw Handles on the episodes poster I knew I was going to hate this element of the episode and I was unfortunately proved right upon its airing. Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel were their only good new-Who story. Nightmare in Silver was alright, but we desperately need a new, scary episode from them to fully realise their true potential. Otherwise retire them completely. Please.
This article might give the appearance that I hate Doctor Who, but I really don’t. It’s just seeing the same enemy over and over without them doing much is really beginning to bug me as it takes away from their next appearances. We need more new monsters and less of the old. We already know that Capaldi is going to be fantastic in his new role so we really don’t need to see him square off against the Daleks to cement him in his new role. I hope Moffat changes this soon, or is replaced by someone who’ll agree with me. Maybe I could take over?