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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 2:58 am 
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Well, the new Doctor will be announced tomorrow in a special programme - much like Matt Smith was. Part of me thinks this is taking things too far - I don't really see why a normal news item isn't enough.

The favourite is apparently Peter Capaldi. I find this unlikely. Not because of his age but because he's been increasingly moving into directing and writing. I can't see him wanting to commit to the 9 months per year that Doctor Who demands.

I've got my fingers crossed for Daniel Rigsby.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 2:44 pm 
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It's going to be quite different to the Doctor Who Confidential in which Smith was unveiled - it's a live show with a studio audience. On the one hand, this is quite unnecessarily theatrical and overblown. On the other, it's probably going to be fun.

In regards to the betting: I've wanted Capaldi to be the Doctor for years. He is one of the most underrated and talented actors on television. He is a superb comic actor and a superb dramatic actor too. Although I have my doubts about him being revealed as 12 tomorrow...William Hill is practically insisting that Capaldi is definitely the Doctor, considering the odds. It's gotten to the point that bookmakers have suspended betting, being convinced he's got the job. Daniel Rigby is certainly talented, yet I really, really would like to see Capaldi. If not Capaldi, I would be open to seeing a woman finally take the role.

Let's consider the ultimate nightmare scenarios:
- Jenna Louise-Coleman. The rumour mill has speculated now and again that Clara might actually be the next Doctor. Unfortunately, I think Clara's personality is rather annoying, and I've yet to see any great acting talent demonstrated by Coleman.
- David Walliams. He was quite a popular suggestion when Tennant's departure was announced four years ago. He might well be the worst imaginable choice. That is, other than...
- ...Miranda Hart. :huh:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 3:15 pm 
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Personally, I don't want to see a woman. No matter how good the actress, I think its just going to seem as a gimmick. It's I think throughout the actress' run, it would be in danger of being a gimmick.

In all honestly, what with River Song recently (and Romana in Classic Who) as well as the constantly strong female characters in "NuWho" I don't think we need a female Doctor. Since it's return Doctor Who has had upteen well written female companions and guest cast leads... Just look at Russell's first season: Rose, Jackie, Jabe, Harriet Jones, Cathica, Nancy and Lynda. It's not about equality - in my mind the show already has equality.

Anyone who says Doctor Who doesn't or cannot inspire females, or needs to send a message, is simply not watching the show.

Edit: Oh, you should see Walliams in Poliakoff's Capturing Mary - A stunning performance of a demanding and ambigious role. Greville is polite, dapper and... the ultimate personification of charming evil. Or is he?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:51 pm 
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If the first female Doctor is handled well - and a female playing the Doctor is virtually inevitable - then only the people who aren't watching will view it as a shallow gimmick. It can be done, and ought to be done: the Doctor can change enormously in both appearance and personality. To have the character perpetually be a man is improbable and silly. Besides, without it necessarily being a gimmick, a female Doctor could explore continued sexism in society, as well as sexism throughout history, not to mention likely lead to more male companions.

There have indeed been countless well-written females on the show, but making the hero one would be a step further towards gender equality (which is still far off). And let's face it: regardless of how well-written many females are, they generally remain the characters who ask questions and get kidnapped. Clara, for example, never stopped getting in danger (Bells of St John, Crimson Horror, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, etc.) Even Rose was merely a more complex version of the damsel-in-distress at times.

Most importantly, it is a fairly big change, and Doctor Who is also about change, and how it is simultaneously tragic and wonderful. Every change, as shown by every regeneration, is both death and birth. Having the Doctor remain generally the same goes against the show's inherent principles, and risks the possibility of stagnation.

I know that in 10 minutes' time we're almost certainly not getting a woman, but I would welcome a female Doctor at some point in the future.

Anyhow...are you ready to learn who the next Doctor is? :milkbuds: :biting:


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:37 pm 
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YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:18 am 
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In retrospect, I guess it was obvious it would be a known "name" in the role. The BBC wouldn't do a live show if the reveal was somebody most of the audience hadn't heard of.

I'm somewhat disappointed it isn't Rigby - but having an "older" Doctor should, hopefully, enable different storytelling - including having, incidentally, a more competent companion.

I'm still not convinced a female Doctor would tackle such issues as sexism. Martha didn't exactly spark racism debates or stories. Both times it came up it was reasonably shallow and token. And the original idea for Davison's Doctor would be people would find it hard to place trust in him, being "an old man trapped in a young man's body". It never really happened - perhaps in Frontios, written incidently by the Fifth Doctor's co-creator Bidmead.

We do undoubtedly have better writing in the show these days, but I think the combination of wanting to keep the show family friendly and to appeal to as many viewers as possible means such examinations of society are still unlikely to come up. Every story set in Earth's past would have to address sexism in some way. It would (I'm sorry to say) quickly become old... or worse even a running joke, like the Doctor/Donna "marriage". (I think making it a running joke would be the worst thing to do).

I think you're being harsh on Clara. She did after all sacrifice herself to save the universe/Doctor's timeline in the last episode. Plus she was more than inspiring enough in The Snowman, Nightmare in Silver for example. She's only been in little over half a season's worth of episodes. And while the common thread maybe "Companion gets into trouble" don't forget we've also had Donna saving the multiverse, Martha travelling telling stories about the Doctor all around the world for a year (in a world ruled by the Master) and there's been a fair few times the Doctor has had to be rescued (such as in The Crimson Horror - where he was primarily rescued by Jenny and Vastra two females. And Jenny has quickly turned into a sort of Victorian Emma Peel too!).

I feel people wanting a female Doctor want it solely for political reasons. A trophy if you will. A milestone that can be referenced in the future. Again, I don't feel they are looking at new Who. I genuinely don't think the show has any equality issues at all - despite the basic formula of the companion frequently having to be rescued.

Update
Looks like most of the Silence storyline will be tied-up by the end of the Christmas special.
http://io9.com/steven-moffat-promises-c ... -924543261

I think its a bit odd that two stories likely to be watched by more casual viewers than any other are going to be used to finish his plot housekeeping. Shouldn't all of this have been done by the end of The Name of the Doctor?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:26 pm 
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2099net wrote:
In retrospect, I guess it was obvious it would be a known "name" in the role.


Agreed; how would have the audience responded if the next Doctor was Joe Bloggs?


As for the update: I'm actually happy that the Silence are making a reappearance. Although I'm not too fond of the complicated, timey-wimey arc they're intrinsically linked to, I do think that they are a cracking good idea and fairly creepy.

I have a feeling that the Christmas special - unless Smith regenerates in the 50th as a twist, although that's unlikely - will deal with the regeneration limit. If we count John Hurt and the aborted regeneration from Journey's End (or, as an alternative to the latter, the Doctor using regeneration energy to heal River's hand in The Angels Take Manhattan), the 11th Doctor is the final one. Perhaps we'll be seeing him return to Trenzalore, but this time we see the referenced battle there (with the Silence?) and his death. I think the Doctor will actually die, in order for the tomb to appear and the events of The Name of the Doctor to take place...however, after the events in the S7 finale, perhaps the Doctor's timeline will somehow be restored to a new body with a new set of regenerations.

I agree that S7 should have cleared up the Silence storyline; in fairness, perhaps the First Question element will be extended to the 50th, in an exploration of the Doctor as an individual, using the John Hurt Doctor to explore foreign territory (the Doctor is not his name, but his title - the Doctor and the Last of the Time Lords are two separate entities, with the former being his idealised persona that he tries to be).

However, in retrospect, I think the whole overarching arc of the Matt Smith era was a bad idea. We don't need the Doctor to be explored in this way: even if we don't know his name (which is irrelevant) or his entire past (which should be kept secret in order to preserve some element of mystery), we know bloody well who he is. He is the selfless hero, the anarchist, the trickster, the wizard, the cosmic hobo - the epitome of heroism, magic and adventure. Explorations of his Doctor only ever amount to umpteen attempts to portray a darker Doctor, be it Smith killing Solomon last year or introducing a secret incarnation who committed some unforgivable crime. It's tiresome and shallow. And if the Doctor was ever truly, deeply explored or reshaped as a character, it would be disastrous. Tom Baker put it best: "The Doctor never changes." Superficially, yes. But overall, he remains a fundamental, mythic constant: the alien hero, in all imaginable senses.

Moreover, Moffat's arc has the secondary effect of making the Whoniverse smaller by making it focus on the Doctor, by making it a universe where all the bad guys only want to kill the Doctor, and by allowing him to save the day not through intelligence, rationality or hard work, but merely by being the Doctor. The overriding message of this type of storytelling is that it doesn't matter what you do, it's who you are that really counts.

"Just remember who's standing in your way!"
"There's one thing you should never, ever put in a trap: ME."
"I'm the Doctor, and you're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up."


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:27 am 
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I'm not sure the Silence/Silents have been confirmed have they? Just because he's tying up loose ends, it doesn't mean they have to be involved. It could all be exposition?

I am worried that for 2 to 2.5 hours, there does seem to be a heck of a lot to tie up, and don't forget we're supposed to be celebrating 50 years too!

I've been thinking about what I would do for the 50th, and I think I've come up an idea. Sadly, it seems Doctor Who Magazine had some of the same ideas...

But I would go back to An Unearthly Child/Tribe of Gum and so something which acknowledges that The Doctor helped the Tribe regain fire. While he may not have given them the secret of fire, he certainly gave them considerable assistance. We don't know - at least I don't think we do - how the Tribe of Gum had fire before. Perhaps they just keep some fire going from a lightning strike or similar rather than creating it themselves?

There's something worth exploring I think that the Doctor defends humanity so well, and by some interpretation it could be said that he aided them with one of their biggest discoveries; fire.

(Of course, strictly speaking other alien entities would probably have done the same - there's enough in the show's history who have been said to have been giving mankind an evolutionary or social push from the Silents themselves to the Daemons etc. But there's something thematically 'right' about going back to the first adventure).

I'd make fire the theme, and get some fire based monsters, but beyond the Pyroviles, the series doesn't really have any.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:34 pm 
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Although I've thought about it, I'm still unsure about what I would do and what I would like best from the 50th Anniversary Special. Virtually anything could probably disappoint.

I wouldn't like to see a return to the Tribe of Gum; although it has the full-circle element, the Tribe don't encompass or reflect the entirety of Doctor Who's history. I think a story about the Doctor creating fire for humans would be a little underwhelming, but more crucially is the issue I have with it (a problem that I also have with the Silence implicitly being connected to the fire and the wheel): it suggests humanity can't do anything themselves. Every great human invention and use of reason ends up being attributed to someone else.

I have a list of things that I believe HAVE to be featured in it:
- The Eleventh Doctor meeting an elderly, widowed Ian Chesterton, discussing Barbara, Susan and ageing
- The Daleks
- Narration by Tom Baker
- UNIT cameo (with or without Kate Stewart)
- Jelly babies, psychic paper, "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow"

Even if it would have little quality, I think the most fun story would be one bringing back the Bakers, Davison, McCoy, McGann, Eccleston and Tennant, fighting either the Daleks or Omega, and leading to some kind of revelation or big change (along the lines of The Three Doctors, and how the Doctor's exile was lifted).

What with the numerous story arcs and episodes focusing on the Doctor's importance within the universe, and the few episodes where the Doctor resolves the situations just by saying "I'm the Doctor, look me up!", I have pondered the potential benefits of Moffat allowing the universe to be destroyed, while letting the Doctor and the TARDIS (plus the Daleks of course) falling into a parallel universe where the Doctor never existed.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:12 am 
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Actually I feel that a multi-Doctor simply cannot work. Of course, there's still some confusion about just how much old Doctors (apart from the Tenth) will be involved in the current special, but I really don't see how it could work... given some are dead and most have aged considerably.

Also I'd be more than happy for the Daleks not to be in the 50th, especially if they were in the Christmas special (a separate celebration of 50 years of the Daleks being as The Mutants/The Daleks screened over the Christmas period originally). I really can't understand why the Daleks haven't been in a Christmas special before. :?

I'm growing increasingly concerned about the direction of these two specials - is the Hurt Doctor going to be in the Christmas Special as well? There just seems to be far too much emphasis on new series continuity and tying-up "loose ends" than creating fun, slightly scary adventures for the whole family. You know, the sort of thing the general public associate Doctor Who with being - and most certainly the sort of stories "casual" viewers who will tune in because of the specialness and hype around the anniversary and the Doctor's regeneration will expect.

While I'm more than sympathetic towards Moffat's stance and storytelling (on the whole) and find the accusations that it's "too complex" easy to dismiss most of the time (I mean, is the ongoing story any more complex than the relationships and interactions in EastEnders for example? People only complain because the answers/solutions tend to be "fantasy" based and outside the tropes and clichés TV reviewers are familiar with), having these spill into what should be an anniversary celebration of the entire history and creativity of the show seems like bad planning to me.

It doesn't mean I have a better idea. But I'm not paid the big money to have the better ideas! :wave:

Now to change the tone - have you read the JNT book Frankenollie? It's a wonderful read. I've never been a JNT basher - or much of a JNT supporter to be honest. But I feel really sorry for him after reading the book - it's clear the BBC cared little about the show at the time, and his treatment at the hands of the BBC is appalling. Considering I consider his major creative "fault" to be a loose understanding of plot and his over-reliance on this script editors to set the tone of the programme, I don't see why Saward isn't verified as much as JNT (or conversely, why Cartmel isn't praised more).

Much as I hate to admit it, I got great pleasure hearing that Jonathan Powell became an alcoholic in later life. Childish and spiteful I know. But there you go.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:00 pm 
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The fact some Doctors have noticeably aged shouldn't matter - Davison, McCoy and McGann can certainly still act (at least as well as they ever could) and run about. And Moffat could use any sort of generic Technobabble to explain why they look older. I think the fact that Tom and Colin look like fat old men would be less of a flaw than not including any previous Doctors because of their appearances.

I agree that the Daleks ought to be in a Christmas special ("I'm Gonna Spend Christmas With a Dalek" could be played!), but the upcoming Christmas special isn't the one that would best suit them - it's presumably going to be dark and arc-heavy. I'd like to see them in the 2014 Christmas special more, in a breezy, lighthearted story. They have an idiosyncratic oddnes that would be highlighted on contemporary Earth or snowy Victoriana (as opposed to a scifi spaceship setting, which suits the Daleks), yet their vibrant colours and the bauble-esque Dalek bumps make them visually Christmassy. And I would love nothing more than to see Daleks mercilessly exterminating innocents at Christmastime.

As for having read the JNT book...not yet. I'd forgotten about it. I'm busy trying to finish my reading list (consisting mainly of classics) over the summer, so I'm unlikely to get my nose in it any time soon.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:04 pm 
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At the start of the summer, I planned to watch every single episode of Doctor Who in chronological order (or at least the ones that aren't missing). Of course...this would have taken more time than I had. Thus, partly because of lack of time for the entire series, partly because watching them means spending hours and hours watching a lot of rubbish, and partly because I have a greater emotional attachment to them, I have started re-watching NuWho from the very beginning, and hope on the 50th to watch The Name of the Doctor, followed by The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and a few other favourites.

My ratings and incredibly brief assessments of the episodes of Series 1:

Rose - Well, what can I say? It's perfection. It's put together so incredibly well, that it's equally incredible that some of the subsequent episodes not only matched in terms of quality and creativity, but even managed to surpass it. The opening montage that makes us understand Rose as an archetypal yet realistic and convincing character is excellent, particularly considering its brevity; the first scene with the Autons is a mix of nostalgic fun, horror-style direction and something simply, persistently creepy; and the whole episode has a great, pumping kinetic energy to it, a breathless sort of pacing that draws audiences both familiar and unfamiliar in from the first moments. To say that Eccleston and Piper are good and good together are understatements - few pairings in Who history have this much chemistry. Eccleston's very modern Doctor is a fully-formed character, a mysterious one whose actions (quite similarly to Hartnell and, in their own ways, C Baker & McCoy) are utterly unpredictable. Davies' attempts to ground the action within familiar surroundings succeed on every level, especially when it comes to the light humour of fickle Jackie and sweet, simple Mickey. And it's Davies' talent that makes Clive more than just an amusing, creative and metatextual idea: he is a character you care for and sympathise for when he perishes. The ending leaves you wanting more. No complaints. The only potential problem at all might be in regards to the SFX...but even Genesis of the Daleks had that giant clam, didn't it? Besides, the Nestene Consciousness here is better than the one that triggered Jon Pertwee's gurning. 10/10

The End of the World - I have realised that, for this series at least, most of the assessments will be little more than me praising Davies over and over again. I can't help it...he's just so good. The world's end; the Moxx of Balhoon; a giant sentient face in a jar; Britney Spears; chips. And 45 minutes of gloriously indulgent, well-written fun. Notably, this episode has made me realise how Davies' writing is firmly within the science-fiction aspect of DW, rather than fantasy (just look at Cassandra). As with the Daleks and the Cybermen, Davies' sci-fi writing is all about looking around at what we know in the real world, and holding up a mirror within an alien setting. This is also quite evident in, as you have said, the way Davies' aliens are generally animalistic rather than truly 'alien'. 10/10

The Unquiet Dead - It is a regrettable fact, but it's true: Mark Gatiss isn't a particularly talented writer. He's good, certainly, and his stories are generally adequate by DW standards, yet considering the high quality of the rest of this series, his relative weaknesses are clear. There's also the issue that Lawrence Miles has discussed: the Gelth and their predicament has a familiarity to it, which is certainly something that is part-and-parcel of the Davies era. They are reminiscent of asylum-seeking, and their negative portrayal is a little unpleasant. Moreover, I don't like the story's debatable implication that Rose was right (and the Doctor wrong) about whether or not to use the corpses as bodies for the Gelth. Despite these baleful elements, it is a rather good story, and Simon Callow is quite delightful as Dickens. 7/10

Aliens of London/World War Three - My perspective on this episode is forever tainted by your imagination, 2099Net - as you've said, it would have been a much better twist if it turned out that the Slitheen were children. By this point in my marathon, I've observed that, for this first series, most of the stories will at least be very good and reasonably entertaining, and this is no exception. To say that there's plenty of hilarious dialogue, interesting ideas and moments of good acting is par for the course now. The only flaws (and I am being fastidious now) are Harriet's rather unreasonable insistence of meeting the PM to discuss cottage hospitals at a time of international crisis (but Penelope Wilton is likeable enough to pull it off), and the fact the "narrows it down" sequence goes on for a bit too long. 9/10, 9/10

Dalek - As usual, it's great entertainment, Eccleston is superb, and there are only one or two bad spots (the bits with Rose and Adam don't fully fit in with the suspense of the rest of the story). Nicholas Briggs should be commended in particular for his ability to make a shrieking metallic voice sympathetic, and Murray Gold should be commended for one of my favourite pieces of his music to accompany the Dalek. There are plenty of nice touches, like Van Statten's painting of himself being quite similar to the illustrated cover of Ayn Rand's magnum opus, not to mention the Cyber-helmet. 9/10

The Long Game - The first blunder of NuWho is this McCoy-style allegory about the news and Rupert Murdoch (given a makeover as a giant penis monster). One of the key problems is the main flaw with many episodes in this first series: the pacing. Adam's scenes are very oddly paced; I'm not sure what exactly they were going for with the Tamsin Grieg character, be it sexual chemistry or something that was meant to be creepy, but everyone forgotten to tell Murray Gold. Whatever the case, it has an underlying sense of awkwardness, and it doesn't feel intentional. Yet even though its flaws cannot be ignored, it is nevertheless rescued by Simon Pegg and the unique conclusion to Adam's short stay in the TARDIS. 6/10

Father's Day - On the one hand, it's a beautifully well-told character piece, and Billie Piper at her best. On the other, this is where Murray Gold's music starts to get annoying, spoiling an otherwise superb few scenes by being a bit too candidly and shamelessly manipulative. 9/10

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances - You know, I complain quite a bit about old Steven, but regardless of my views on his later work, I just have to say one enormous thank you to him for this ebullient, marvellous story. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for the ingenious concept of the gas mask zombies. Thank you for the suitably ingenious solution. Thank you for Nancy and Dr Constantine. Thank you for the wonderful, sparkling, creepy dialogue. Thank you for the atmosphere. Thank you for the period music. And, most of all, thank you for the transcendent, magical message this story conveys: that death can be reversed and everybody can live if you just accept yourself and your sexuality and learn to dance. Thank you, Steven Moffat. 10/10, 10/10.

Boom Town - I assume that this story originated as a space for Russell to fill in after sorting out the other stories, a space to set up the finale and give the audience a light break. The decision to make another character piece is understandable, as is the decision to set it on contemporary Earth, but bringing back the Slitheen so soon is a little bizarre. Fortunately, it pays off: Margaret and the Doctor's conversation over dinner is sublime. And I love the little gang of the Doctor, Rose, Jack and Mickey. 8/10

Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways - The first part will date terribly, yes, but it's just a bit of morbid fun. The second part is horrific - while Moffat can write "creepy" more effectively, the relentlessness and ruthlessness of the Daleks makes the finale powerfully striking. And it's Davies' talent when it comes to characterisation that makes it work so well: we care about sweet Lynda with a Y, and the charming archetypal office couple, and we care when they die. Bad Wolf is resolved quite quickly and illogically, yet it makes a thematic and emotional sort of sense, and Davies has always been more interested in the human rather than the scientific side of DW. I'm the same, which is why the conclusion works for me. Eccleston's departure is swift but still has an impact - but it isn't one of sadness and misery (presumably what Davies intended when writing Tennant's regeneration), but one of a strange sort of hope, and bittersweet happiness. Oh, and John Barrowman gets naked. :drool: I really wish Mary Whitehouse had lived to see this. 10/10, 10/10


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:42 am 
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Hi Frankenollie!

And going back to the female Doctor discussion... how many of those stories have a well-written, strong, female character either as a main support character or a main villain? What's that? All of them (except perhaps Dalek, but Rose does just as much in Dalek as she does in Rose to progress and shape the narrative). Nu-Who is not the same show, with the same issues that Janet Fielding complained about.

Anyhow, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree about the "need" to have a female Doctor.

I'm just going to throw out a quick question for you. It seems like me, you dislike the constant demand for "darkness" from various people (fans, the media..). I'm not against darkness - as long as it matches the tone of the story. Also, for every bit of "darkness" we need more light - just as in real-life, you need the light to cast the shadows. It's just that I've noticed with Capaldi's casting the expectation seems to be a "darker" Doctor and "darker" stories. Do you think this will be a problem? I suspect the last thing you would want is increased darkness?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:33 pm 
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You're right about the number of strong female characters, certainly (although I think the amount has decreased in recent years). But for me - as I'm sure it is with the majority who desire a female Doctor - it's not a matter of improving the show's depiction of women. It's about representation and symbolism: an attempt to more explicitly display the interchangeable, fluid nature of gender, and how women can be as strong, intelligent and brilliant as men. A female Doctor is a better demonstration of this than any old female character.

In regards to the matter of darkness: Capaldi might be a "darker" Doctor, but only to the extent of being a bit testier, a bit more belligerent, "trickier and feistier" (as Moffat described him), not an angsty or moody sort of darkness. After the overt, giggly, energetic cheeriness of Tennant and Smith, I welcome this kind of darkness in the character, as long as the rest of the series doesn't become too dark. I too have an issue with "darkness for the sake of darkness", and dislike the modern trend for dark grittiness in storytelling, yet I would not say no to more darkness in the shape of a great actor like Capaldi. Look at Eccleston - when I watch him, I don't think I'm watching a dark character on a dark programme, I think I'm watching a fully-fledged, complex character on an equally complex programme. I'm not concerned about Capaldi's potentially darker characterisation. I'm more concerned about the possibility of Capaldi's Doctor actually disappointing me and others; I've always wanted him to be the Doctor, and was delighted about his casting. But the high expectations of myself and others may be too great to be met.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:59 am 
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Dr Frankenollie wrote:
You're right about the number of strong female characters, certainly (although I think the amount has decreased in recent years).


Yes, I think that's true - but I would still say compared to other "real-world" non-soap television dramas Who still has a wider and more inclusive range of roles for women. It certainly doesn't belittle women, even if - through necessity - it repeats the "damsel in distress" motif frequently. Doctor Who would never fail the Bechdel Test for example.

Quote:
But for me - as I'm sure it is with the majority who desire a female Doctor - it's not a matter of improving the show's depiction of women. It's about representation and symbolism: an attempt to more explicitly display the interchangeable, fluid nature of gender, and how women can be as strong, intelligent and brilliant as men. A female Doctor is a better demonstration of this than any old female character.


Although Gaiman and Moffat established that a sex change is possible, I still think that doing so would be counter productive. You only have to look at the media frenzy everytime a Doctor is leaving regarding even the possibility of a female Doctor to see how - no matter how well intentioned or implemented - that simple fact would become the story, and that story would most likely become an uncontrollable media monster.

Would it die down and would a female Doctor be accepted? Especially if the stories and character were well written and thoughtful? I'd like to think yes. But sadly, I think the hype and frenzy could harm the show more than support it. I'm not a believer in the phrase "any publicity is good publicity". I may be old fashioned, but I would continue the show to carry on as it does now - despite the main character's sex, really there's no real implication that any sex is "better" than the other, or indeed any sexuality. The Doctor is male, but he's "better" because he's an alien! Don't forget that. And that also makes him "worse" in other aspects too.

Quote:
In regards to the matter of darkness: Capaldi might be a "darker" Doctor, but only to the extent of being a bit testier, a bit more belligerent, "trickier and feistier" (as Moffat described him), not an angsty or moody sort of darkness. After the overt, giggly, energetic cheeriness of Tennant and Smith, I welcome this kind of darkness in the character, as long as the rest of the series doesn't become too dark. I too have an issue with "darkness for the sake of darkness", and dislike the modern trend for dark grittiness in storytelling, yet I would not say no to more darkness in the shape of a great actor like Capaldi. Look at Eccleston - when I watch him, I don't think I'm watching a dark character on a dark programme, I think I'm watching a fully-fledged, complex character on an equally complex programme. I'm not concerned about Capaldi's potentially darker characterisation. I'm more concerned about the possibility of Capaldi's Doctor actually disappointing me and others; I've always wanted him to be the Doctor, and was delighted about his casting. But the high expectations of myself and others may be too great to be met.


I've been thinking about Capaldi a lot since his casting. I must admit, I never expected him to play the role. I really though his mind was on things increasingly away from acting. Despite the rumours and the bookmakers odds etc, it really was a surprise to me when he was announced. (Although as I said, it was inevitable given the live-show hoopla it would be him in retrospect). I guess I was too fixated on my own personal fantasy Rigby casting. :)

I wonder if Capaldi will be a Hartnell/Eccleston type doctor. I say this because both Doctors effectively stood back a lot of the time and let the companions do more. I actually enjoy Hartnell a lot - I've certainly grown to appreciate his portrayal more. But I'm somewhat so-so on Eccleston to be honest. Part of that is probably because of Dalek - no matter what the justification narrative wise, I can't forgive the Doctor contemplating using a gun. I know the reason, I know the emotions they wanted to show. I know it was part of his own personal "arc". But I think that put be off Eccleston's Doctor. I know there's a fine line between this and the Crucible/Daleks being destroyed in Journey's End etc. But the rawness of seeing the Doctor aim a gun, with the intention of shooting was too jarring for me.

I liked him again when he proclaimed himself a "coward" in The Parting of the Ways. That was the first time since Dalek I felt that Nine was THE Doctor. But of course, by then it was too late (but, assuming Davies knew of his departure with a lead-time on writing Parting of the Ways, a fantastic end to the Ninth Doctor's own "Journey". It was probably always conceived that way as Davies probably thought he only would get one series. Regardless once again it shows how effortlessly Davies can 'do' character).

I'd probably like Capaldi's Doctor to show more righteous anger at various villains and monsters than we've seen. People seem to only remember Douglas Adams' scripts for their humour, but there's the wonderful "What's it for?" speech from The Doctor in The Pirate Planet which I think would suit Capaldi down to the ground.

The Pirate Planet wrote:
[In the Captain's trophy room:]
The Captain: My trophies, Doctor. Feast your eyes on them, for they represent an achievement unparalleled in the universe.
The Doctor: What are they? Tombstones, eh? Memorials to all the worlds you've destroyed?
The Captain: Not memorials. These are the entire remains of the worlds themselves.
The Doctor: [not really listening] You come here to gloat on the wanton destruction you've wreaked on the universe.
The Captain: [to himself] I come in here to dream of freedom...
The Doctor: [realizing what he said earlier] Did you just say, "the entire remains of the worlds themselves?"
The Captain: Yes, Doctor. Each of these small spheres is the crushed remains of a planet. Millions upon millions of tons of compressed rock held suspended here by forces beyond the limits of the imagination, forces that I have generated and harnessed.
The Doctor: That's impossible! That amount of matter in so small a space would undergo instant gravitational collapse and form a black hole!
The Captain: Precisely.
The Doctor: What? But Zanak would be dragged in to a gravitational whirlpool.
The Captain: And why doesn't it? Because the whole system is so perfectly aligned by the most exquisite exercise in gravitational geometry that every system is balanced out within itself, which is why we can stand next to billions of tons of super-compressed matter and not even be aware of it. With each new planet I acquire, the forces are realigned, but the system remains... stable.
The Doctor: [stunned] Then... It's the most brilliant piece of astro-gravitational engineering I've ever seen. The concept is simply staggering. Pointless, but staggering.
The Captain: I'm gratified that you appreciate it.
The Doctor: [offended] Appreciate it? *Appreciate it?* What, you commit mass destruction and murder on a scale that's almost *inconceivable,* and you ask me to appreciate it? Just because you've happen to have made a brilliantly conceived *toy* out of the mummified remains of planets!
The Captain: DEVILSTORMS, DOCTOR! IT IS NOT A TOY!
The Doctor: THEN WHAT'S IT FOR? What are you doing? What could possibly be worth all this?
The Captain: By the raging fury of the Sky Demon, you ask too many questions. You have seen, you have admired; be satisfied and ask no more!

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:18 pm 
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I can forgive the Ninth Doctor for using a gun, because I think the Doctor should always be incredibly unpredictable, shocking and mercurial, just like the show's storylines and style. It's always interesting to see the Doctor become somewhat OOC and change, albeit it's done for logical reasons (and in this case, Eccleston's behaviour was understandable, considering what he had just been through).

As for his proclamation of being a "coward"...I think that's an awfully complicated moment. I'm honestly uncertain about whether it's meant to be the right choice or not. Ethically speaking, from my consequentialist perspective, I think the Doctor should have used the Delta Wave. Otherwise, the Daleks would have destroyed the humans themselves, and gone on to destroy the rest of the universe. Moreover, it's explicitly a restaging of the Time War, but the Doctor responds differently. I believe RTD wished to convey a theme of Rose making the Doctor more humane, affecting him so he responds differently to the same dilemma. Yet his actions at the end of the War were the right one, because if he hadn't destroyed the Time Lords, then they would have destroyed everything and everyone else. Surely the Doctor should be the man who has to make the difficult, impossible decisions that the universe revolves around. Yes, Eccleston's choice to be a coward seems more in line with Tom Baker questioning whether he has the right, but...the Doctor should have earned that right by now. He's clever enough, knowledgeable enough, and (just about) incorruptible enough.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:41 pm 
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Hi Frankenollie

I'm going to tell you a story. So sit down and relax.

In what I found is quite common with Doctor Who fans, I was bullied at school. For a good three or four years, my life was miserable. And this was physical bullying as well as mental. To make matters worse, I got no support from my older brother - who was, dare I say it - one of the "cool" kids. He obviously valued his status at school more than his family.

(To this day, I have little contact with my brother. Despite him living literally 5 minutes away from my parents, and the fact that I stayed at my parents for over two weeks last Christmas/New Year, I only saw him for 4 or 5 hours combined over the whole stay. I genuinely don't think he cares, but I know I don't think I will ever forgive him.)

I fell in love with Doctor Who because here, we had a character... a hero... who never carried a gun. A hero who stood up to bullies - be they human or monsters because he could. A hero which used mockery, sarcasm and wit as his main weapon. A hero who tricked his enemies to end up the victims of their own plots and weapons. I think Moffat's description of the Doctor as "a Trickster" is spot-on for this reason.

He was everything I wanted to be. Everything I told myself I could be. He was - to me - the ideal.

I know Davison's Doctor - the main Doctor of this period of my life - did brandish and fire guns and did directly "kill" enemies (threatening Davros in Resurrection and using Adric's badge on the Cyberleader in Earthshock, or using the gas in Warriors of the Deep... and yes, Colin Baker's Doctor was perhaps even "darker"; shooting the Cybercontroller in Attack of the Cybermen or killing Shockeye in The Two Doctors)... and some (but admittedly not all of the examples I've listed above) did disappoint me.

Now looking back, with hindsight, age and countless analysis and interviews in Doctor Who Magazine, I can look back of some of these "out of character" moments and see that they are the result of Saward's vision for the programme. I can see now that - even when he was making episodes of the show in the "Golden Period" of my youth - he never really "got" the programme. I don't necessarily feel any bitterness or disappointment towards his script editing, because I still do have good memories of that era, and also because now I am mature enough to see it was just one person's personal approach. One I don't much care for. (Just as I generally don't care much for Pertwee's Doctor and his UNIT stories in general for similar reasons).

But I am disappointed by Davies' allowing the Ninth Doctor to do what he did in Dalek. Can you imagine what 2005 was like for an crusty old fan, a fan who despite finding so much joy in Classic Who, was constantly mocked at the time (and, in a more joking manner since) to see the show embraced with such open arms by the British public? Can you image what it was like to go in supermarkets and hear children talking excitedly to each other and their parents about the show? To witness first hand the excitement on the streets and in the media about the Dalek's return?

Until then the show had been a celebration - a celebration of the character who had helped me through those dark days. A character who had all the baggage of the New Adventures/EDA novels stripped away. We had Cassandra, Victorian Zombies, Farting Slitheen... and despite there being darkness hidden away (everything dies, Cassandra's "death", Eve's sacrifice etc.) it was surrounded by wit and humour.

I know in my mind that their is absolutely a character narrative for the Ninth Doctor. I know why it was written as it was written. I know the beats and points they were trying to make. But heart wins over mind, and really, I was expecting so much more from Davies - a fan of the programme who knew so much, not just "continuity" but it's heart and soul, do that?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:27 am 
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The 50th Anniversay is available to pre-order on DVD and Blu-ray already... without the DocuDrama. Wasn't the idea the two would come bundled?

Is is possible the 50th will have a "vanilla" release and a later supplement including release in the new year with the Docudrama and Xmas Special? I must admit at the very least I was expecting this year's Proms (in full) on the DVD/Blu-ray for the 50th.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:36 pm 
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Hello; I have begun the most challenging year in education for me thus far, so I have less time to post. Expect me to do it sporadically (well, as usual, I suppose).

I have read your story, and understand and empathise with you. The main issue of conflict here is whether or not the Doctor is meant to be truly mutable, like the Companions and adventures, or whether he is another fixed point, a simple elementary concept that can never change, similar to the Daleks or the TARDIS. Good points can be made on both sides of the argument. On the one hand, the Doctor clearly never really changes. Once Hartnell had toned down the darkness and settled into a rough outline of the Doctor as a general character (rather than in the form of a specific portrayal), not much has changed beyond the superficial. Some Doctors have been younger, some older, some hairier, some fatter, some funnier, some darker, some stranger...but essentially they have remained the same idiosyncratic, quintessential scientific hero. The trickster anti-hero who defeats the villains by making them fall into their own traps, who fights with sarcasm, wit and reason, who adheres to concepts like liberty, anarchy and social justice. The Doctor is this simple idea, and each incarnation has its own trappings that come and go. Tom Baker considers the Doctor to be this figure.

Alternatively, the Doctor has never remained the same. The fact that the actor changes means he cannot be the same, because regardless of how similar the writing of a character is (and obviously in the case of Doctor Who, even the writing for a character changes drastically from Doctor to Doctor) each actor will offer a different interpretation and performance. These differences cannot be dismissed as a few contrasting catchphrases or quirks unique to a particular iteration, because each actor offers an inherently different version each time. Sometimes, the audience can have the impression of them being the same immortal character, especially in Matt Smith, whose portrayal harks back to Hartnell and Troughton. But often these similarities are incidental. Each Doctor is different, each Doctor is a new individual, and each regeneration is truly death.

What of the Eccleston Doctor, the one who considers using a gun? Well, if we consider the latter approach, then this is entirely in-character for the Doctor, because the Ninth Doctor is his own separate character. But even if we believe that the Doctor is an immortal and elementary archetype, with the same idea permeating through all different scripts and performances, the Eccleston Doctor still falls into line with this interpretation. And this is where I am almost bewildered by your issue with Eccleston in Dalek. He clearly doesn't want to use the gun. He has reluctantly resorted to desperate measures. It is both a stamp of individuality on one version of the same figure, and fidelity to this same figure. The Doctor considers using the gun because he is fallible, because he has humanity, and these qualities are what make him all the more relatable and appealing. His imperfections are part of the charm of his character, and part of what makes him so much of an idol. Because he can make mistakes too, just like you and me. And he needs others like us too.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 4:02 am 
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Hi Frankenollie!

I know it's somewhat illogical. But as we've often discussed sometimes narratives have an "emotional" feel rather than a logical one. To me, 2005 was all about emotion. As a long time Doctor Who fan, I don't think any of us expected the revival to succeed - not as much as it did. I personally was expecting two years - one year to raise awareness and another year to justify the expense, but then I was expecting it to be quietly shuttered down. Not "cancelled", but once more on "hiatus" for a decade or two.

But my God, it hit the screens running - just like the Doctor and Rose from Henrik's department store in the first episode. It did everything right - well almost everything right. I wasn't too keen on the 45 minute single-episode format, but then along came Aliens of London/World War III. I loved everything about that Doctor Who season - "farting" aliens, Clive, Mark Gatiss' scripting*, Jackie, Chips, "the last of the Time Lords"... and it wasn't only me loving it. The whole nation seemed to be part of the conversation. The show was the media darling. It was more than I could of ever hoped.

And unlike some niche properties which hit the mainstream, Doctor Who had done this by sacrificing nothing. It had done so by simply playing to it's strengths. And the humour. Even my dad would watch it and chuckle along, and he hated "classic" Doctor Who and too be honest has little interest in drama on TV and film in general.

I must admit I've only seen Dalek about three or four times. I can accept it's written well, forms a narrative spine for that season's/that Doctors narrative and that it does nothing wrong - as we both agree the only format of Doctor Who is that it has no format.

But it was "dark" - I know people like "dark" but... [shrugs] If I wanted to watch "dark" I could watch any US sci-fi series**. Doctor Who should never be dark. Let's face it - again, I accept it was introducing the Daleks as a major threat for new viewers... but... this may come across not how I intend it...

But Daleks are - at the end of the day - "silly". Individually everything about a Dalek is perfectly logical and makes sense; their origin, their tank-like casing, their lack of compassion and pity; there role as space Nazis. The design is also a genuine, one-hundred percent classic. Forget about Apple's i-this and i-that, the Dalek deserves to be in a museum of the top ten designs of the 20th Century. But.. they're also a little silly. It doesn't mean they can't be in stories which have them exterminating teams of people. It doesn't mean they can't be cunning and conniving. It doesn't mean that they can't be presented as an unstoppable army. They can be all of these things - but I would argue not "exclusively" these things.

Having come from stories filled with such joy - as well as killing! - Dalek was an abrupt change of pace. I... I just didn't care for it at the time, subsequent viewings haven't really changed my opinion and I just feel no need or desire to watch it again.

But despite fandom's general contempt for, say, The Slitheen episodes, I'll happily watch them again. The have a "space-pig", Harriet Jones, Jackie slapping the Doctor, Jackie reporting the Doctor to the police and UNIT intercepting, Annette Badland - she is so good, Slitheen hurriedly clothing themselves in human suits, hopping about from leg to leg pulling up their "trousers", Col Frost from UNIT (she dies?) and that wonderful ending with Jackie, Rose, Mickey, the Doctor and the TARDIS.

But yes, it's all subjective. Lots of people place Dalek in the top three stories of that season. Some probably in the top three of all Nu-Who series. It's a combination of lots of things that make me generally dismissive/disappointed by the story and/or it's final direction.

To change the subject, it appears the 50th anniversary Blu-ray will have An Adventure in Time and Space on it (at least in the UK, the US... it's not so clear).

Secondly, it appears Nu-Who pre-Capaldi will move to be "Classic" Who in a BBC rebanding soon (presumably to "reboot" the show when it returns in 2014. I guess it makes some form of sense to keep the first 50 years together. But if it is true, it seems a little stupid and counter-productive to me.

--------

* I've never understood the general disapproval for Gatiss' scripts in fandom. I'm not saying that they're perfect, but only one has left me feeling it was insubstantial (Night Terrors).

** Although I love The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit which are "dark" episodes. Oh well, I suppose that just confirms I'm a Gemini.

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