How Much ‘Doctor Who’ Is Too Much ‘Doctor Who’?
The snap answer to this question is, of course, “There’s no such thing as too much ‘Doctor Who’”. But is that really the case? Have we reached the point where keeping up with Doctor Who is such a full-time job, that we don’t have time for our real full-time jobs or any other aspect of life?
I pondered this question recently when, after spending some time filling in some gaps in my BBC Books collection, and putting them onto the bookshelf. As I did so I realized that there were a large number of the books (oh – you want numbers? Ok, then – its 32!) already sitting on that shelf that I had not yet read! I pulled all of the unread books off the shelf and they are now sitting in a very intimidating pile in my apartment – waiting to be read. At a conservative estimate, I will be lucky to read them all by the end of next year – even if they are all that I read! And this is a year with limited new Doctor Who on TV (but not anywhere else!)
And so, combined with this backlog, in 2010, we can estimate that the following new Dr Who stories will be broadcast, or released for us to look forward to:
- 13 Episodes of Series 5 (or 1, or 31, or whatever the heck you want to call it!) (45 minutes each)
- 1 Christmas Special (60 minutes)
- 12 Big Finish audios for Doctors 5, 6, and 7 (Approx 100 minutes each)
- 8 Big Finish audios for the 8th Doctor (Approx 60 minutes each)
- 9 BBC Books (Approx 250 pages each)
That totals 38 hours and 45 minutes of Dr Who to watch or listen to, and 2,250 pages to read.
When you include 12 episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures (360 minutes), maybe some Torchwood on TV and in the novels, and the Companion Chronicles from Big Finish that brings the total to well over 55 hours of Who-related television/audios, and nearly 4,000 pages to read, before you even around get to re-watching old adventures on DVD (another 40-odd hours if watched with and without commentary!), buying non-fiction books about the show, along with DWM, and the new IDW comic book! Getting through it all is not only a full-time job, but requires getting a second job to pay for it all!
So is this too much Doctor Who? Has quality been diluted? As with any media there are going to be good and bad stories, and so perhaps the trick is to find the quality products and ignore those that aren’t. And with message boards galore it is much easier to canvas a good consensus of opinion today, than it was when the only source of reviews was DWM or a fanzine.
Of course, the sticking-with-the-quality-stuff-only tactic ignores that completist gene possessed by so many Doctor Who fans. Perhaps then, the alternative solution is to concentrate on those media which are the most immediate – the television show is probably the best example of this. The style of series today is such that spoilers can damage a person’s enjoyment of a story, and can also be unavoidable, especially after a story has aired, and even before – witness Series 3’s Dalek Sec debacle in the Radio Times. Seeing that picture before seeing Daleks in Manhattan certainly lessened the impact of that cliffhanger for me, since I knew that the “super-Dalek” was just a man in a fairly unconvincing rubber mask. Whether being more shocked at the cliffhanger would have led me to enjoy the whole story more I can only guess at, but it certainly didn’t help.
So if we concentrate on keeping up with the television series and then reading and listening to those books and audios and sundry other offerings when we have time,
We are in a golden age of our favorite show. And much as we may all want it to continue forever, it can’t, and won’t last, at least not in the volume of new stories we have available to us today. But with the wealth of material currently being released, and by enjoying it at a pace that works for our schedule (and our bank balance), rather than at the breakneck speed required to keep up with it at the rate at which it is released, we can rest assured that there will almost always be a new Doctor Who story to look forward to.
And isn’t that a wonderful thing?