‘Doctor Who’ has been alive in the public consciousness for over 50 years now. Unfortunately, with success and longevity comes marketability and profitability.
At this point the show’s identity of old is gone – it has become unrecognizable. Its longevity has now become a matter of maintaining a brand name: something recognizable for modern audiences to latch onto. ‘Doctor Who’ is now a franchise.
At what point did this begin to happen though?
In order to avoid repeating history with another cancellation, the show’s new producers, as die-hard fans themselves, tried to make it popular and appealing to a vast new audience. In a business sense, of course, this works in the BBC’s favour, with the new-found mainstream success of the familiar-to-many ‘Doctor Who’ brand making way for an all-new cash-cow franchise.
In order to get mainstream appeal and guarantee longevity, the core audience of the show was altered. The new (2005-) series arguably established itself as an entity targeted towards the lowest common denominator – a diluted, mainstream parody of the classic show, ignoring its audience of old – born from the desire for mass appeal.
‘Recognizable things’ such as Daleks, Cybermen, the Sonic-Screwdriver and the TARDIS are thrown into the show to create the illusion that it is the same continuous programme, and to win over the support of long-term die-hard fanatics. By comparison, in the entirety of Season 7 (1970), none of the above made an appearance. With an emphasis on completely original and thought provoking ideas, even the TARDIS rarely makes an appearance and is barely utilized.
No longer can it permanently act as a truly intelligent, niche sci-fi piece, however. With an all-new, firmly established 21st century audience, different to that of yesteryear, it is now arguably too late for a change in the show’s approach. It is almost like the new series is trapped with an all-new unshakable identity.
The moral – target an audience and appeal to them. Don’t put the show’s success and marketability before its quality. For this reason, I feel it is necessary to familiarize the general public with the series of old via my ad, in an effort to allow ‘Doctor Who’s shadow to once-more loom larger than its branding.