The new Doctor Who BBC series has a lot of fans who never watched the original. So why do the producers insist on hauling out more and more Thatcher-era crap? It's like they're trying to drain the freshness out of the show. The latest instance is the return of 1980s doctor Peter Davison in a mini-episode for a BBC charity night. When David Tennant tells Davison, "You were my Doctor," he's speaking for the fans-turned-writers. It's another stage in the descent of Doctor Who into self-referential fluff.



Davison starred in the show the first time it started to inscribe itself with its own past like the amnesiac moron in Memento. He had a whole season of stories featuring only villains from the show's previous 20 years, followed by a past-Doctor convention. After Davison left, the show hired a fan to serve as "consultant" on the sixties and seventies backstory it kept referencing. All that self-indulgence helped lead to the show's death in the late 1980s. To be fair, this short skit is the right place to do a fan-service cameo by Davison. And writer Stephen Moffatt finds a cute way to treat Davison's manic doctor as one "phase" in the development of a single person.

But still. The new Doctor Who has been at its best when it's pretended to be a reinvention instead of a continuation. The revamped Autons, Daleks, Cybermen, Master, Macra and soon Sontarans are becoming yawn-inducing. At a time when Star Wars and Star Trek are both doing the autofellatio of delving into their own pasts, Doctor Who should keep moving forward. So this latest clip, harmless nonsense though it is, is another bad sign.