On one level, Tom Baker ruined Doctor Who for everyone else.
Clearly, not in every way, but he did nevertheless introduce the scarf
and the scarf became a 'thing' and it was a good thing - but then everyone else had to have a 'thing'. The fact that the very next Doctor's 'thing' was cricket whites and a sprig of celery immediately indicated that most of these things really weren't going to be very good at all. Hartnell didn't need a 'thing', unless holding your lapels is a thing - and I'm not sure that it it is....
In this context, Ecclestone's decision not to have a thing, indeed to present himself as the dark, minimalist 'anti-thing' Doctor, was probably a wise one.
Even more interesting was Matt Smith's approach: He experimented with a range of things, consciously aware of the notion that 'things', if you got them right, could be 'cool'.
Of course a fez and a stetson and a bow-tie aren't
cool, but he consistently, and rather pathetically, had a go anyway, endearingly exposing a lonely, alien-in-exile aspect to the last Time Lord. There was a point to these 'things', that was slightly more thought-provoking and layered than those things merely being 'cool'. His self conscious 'bow ties are cool' statements emphasised his awkward alien need to fit in, making him a bit like one of those teenage kids in the 80's who came back to school after the summer holidays having 'gone Goth'. Also, even though all of this stuff wasn't superficially cool, in a funny sort of elusive way...it actually was.
But cool is a quantum concept... look at it too hard and it's gone... and this season, it really has gone hasn't it?
One of my (very few) criticisms of the new Mad Max film, is the inclusion of that guy swinging about on a truck in front of a huge stack of speakers. It strays beyond an exuberant, nihilistic, death wish response to an impossibly tough environment, into something that someone quite clearly thought 'would be cool'. Well, if you are an eight year old boy, any combinations of the following list will probably result in something 'cool': explosions, dinosaurs, rock guitars, tattoos, huge pieces of artillery. This doesn't mean that we are well-advised to combine them in Doctor Who.
I can almost hear the script meeting:
"Yeah, I know, lets have him enter playing guitar"
"Yeah!....on a tank!"
"Whoah.... that'll be....umh.....cool..."
I am claiming no great authority to pronounce on such things, but really... it isn't is it? The only area of the BBC where an explosion, followed by the entry of a middle-aged man, in shades, playing electric guitar, on a tank is regarded as legitimately cool is in the now-defunct Top Gear
Now, you may think I'm being harsh on a fun little moment from the start of the season that, had it featured in the Christmas episode, I would have laughed at in a moment of hazy, post-lunch goodwill - and fair enough I say..... but, as I feared, elements of this scene...the shades... the guitar.... went on to become a 'thing'.... and not a good thing.
Maybe I'm missing something? Some broader context?
I can have a go if you like...umh... maybe regeneration is being used as a vehicle to explore the groping for a new identity experienced during the male mid-life crisis. Maybe slipping a timid little All Saints woollen hoodie into the Doctor's formal attire, whilst it doesn't exactly obscure him from any CCTV, does add that desperate note of "I'm trying to add a bit of street to my look
But even your average mid-life crisis is a shade more nuanced than shades and a rock guitar...
This is Top Gear territory... not ours.... me and my fellows from the Wargaming club didn't nurture the flame of our hopes for decades for this.