Tuesday, 28 July 2015

TGT Debate - Do we still love the classic aliens, or is it time for new ones?

Last week we discussed whether the Doctor should travel with more male companions. Most of you seemed to think that he should, with 86% saying he should travel with more male companions and 14% preferring he stick to female companions.

With a range of new monsters being featured in the Series 9 trailer, we've been talking about whether it's a good idea to bring back old aliens or if the show should invest more in new aliens.

"It's time for some new aliens!" argues Anna

When I think of enemies from Doctor Who, I think of the Daleks and the Cybermen. These monsters were there from the beginning, and they were scary then. But now, audiences have grown accustomed to these and other recurring enemies. We expect them to be there, and are rarely surprised when they turn up, again and again, to try and defeat the Doctor. Over the years, this show has presented us with many formidable enemies, renewing the audience’s fear and excitement. These monsters may only appear for a brief episode, but they make their impact, unlike enemies who are constantly brought back time and time again. 

If Doctor Who only presents viewers with a limited variety of aliens, the audience does not get to see the vast amount of diversity our universe offers. Surely there are not only five or six aliens races bent on the destruction of worlds? New enemies would allow for new strategies, values, and different ways of trying to achieve world domination. 

There should also be more unpredictable alien tech. Surely these other races would have new technologies, new strengths and weaknesses, new ideas and ways of living. With new aliens, we get to see and learn more about the amazing and terrifying universe in which we reside within one tiny, minute corner of. I’m sure many would like to see the variety of alien tech. The only way to wage war can’t be with guns? There has to be more than just spaceships to take you from one place to the next, and on alien planets, there are tasks that we could never have dreamed of, requiring skill and technology we do not have. Doctor Who is known for bringing viewers new concepts they’d never imagined before and I think we’d all like to see more of that.

Also, who is to say that all aliens are bad? Most of the aliens we’ve met on the show are enemies, but perhaps with new species being introduced, the show could have a chance to add more alien good guys. This would give us an equal representation of our friends and foes in the universe, and perhaps teach people that not everyone alien is our enemy. We have the Doctor and a select group of others who help him, but there seem to be a lot more alien cultures out to get us. With more kind aliens, perhaps we’d have a better look at the wonderfully varied sights and cultures of our universe.

"We still love the classics!" argues Ben

Should aliens and villains return in Doctor Who? Of course they should! Imagine if the Daleks never came back or if the Cybermen had never returned. These aliens have been brought back time and time again over the last 50 years, and for good reason.

Revisiting old aliens also gives us a chance to expand on what we know about them and create new ideas for them. The most obvious example is the Doctor’s oldest enemy, the Daleks. Over the years the Daleks have developed the ability to move off of their magnetic flooring, revealed Davros, had multiple emperors, formed a cult and had numerous facelifts. Every time we see them we learn something new, so it’s not as if it ever gets boring. Occasionally it feels like the Daleks get overused, but they have become an icon of the show now, so people expect to see them just as much as they expect to see the Doctor or the TARDIS. Brining a character back gives the original writer a chance to use the ideas they didn’t get to use in their first story. It also gives new writers an opportunity to share their take on the character. 

Another reason for bringing back an old alien is that the quality of effects has dramatically increased over the years, so we can show them off in their full glory, the way the writer envisioned them. For example, the Autons. In Spearhead From Space, the plastic-loving meanies were used to great effect and looked visually stunning even then, but by 2005’s Rose, they looked eerily close to real life shop window dummies, while the Nestene Consciousness itself was rendered beautifully in a way that would not have been possible in the 70s. The Autons are also a great example of using an old enemy as an element of surprise. In The Pandorica Opens, the setup is so clever because the Autons have disguised themselves so well. Although we are spoiled hugely with episode previews in magazines and next time trailers, there have still been a few times when one of our favourite aliens have popped up to delight us.

In the post-2005 series, we have had a number of villains from the classic series return to our screens. Some have been used a lot (Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans) and some have only returned for an episode or two (Autons, Ice Warriors, Zygons). It’s fair to say that, considering the wide range of aliens from the show’s history, only a select few fan favourites have been used. This is because they are fan favourites. Remember the sheer joy when you heard the Zygons were coming back for the 50th Anniversary special, or the moment of awe when you saw the new Ice Warrior being defrosted in Cold War? I think we deserve these little treats now and then. It’s not just the bad aliens that make a welcome return either. With the likes of Vastra and Strax becoming regulars in the show now, it’s good to have some aliens that we can trust. 

I think it’s obvious why these aliens are being brought back. It’s because we love them. So while it’s nice to see some new alien lifeforms - and I hope there are plenty of new creatures to scare us in Series 9 - let’s not bid farewell to our beloved Cybermen and Daleks.

You've heard what we think, but what are your thought on the matter? Would you like to see more old villains return, or do you prefer to see more new aliens in the series? Vote in the poll and let us know what you think in the comments below.