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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 11:59am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

In the latest issue of UK sci-fi magazine "Starburst" (#445), writer JR Southall talks about forthcoming change in DOCTOR WHO (new Doctor, new creative personnel, new filming techniques that will give the series a cinematic appearance, etc.). He then puts forward the view that the series has always been about change. 

Here are some of his words: 

In 1970, Doctor Who emerged out of its first cancellation crisis by putting a stop to its black and white meanderings and relocating to a fixed modern day setting in colour. The audience's interest was reengaged, and the series survived and thrived, becoming by the middle of the decade about as successful as it's ever been. 

Ten years after that first wobble, a second flirtation with termination was averted when the series moved to a twice-weekly midweek spot, a pretty radical change for a programme that had been a weekly Saturday evening fixture for the previous eighteen years. 

The idea of a story's odd-numbered cliff-hangers being resolved within 24 hours wasn't a million miles away from the reformatting into 45-minute weekly episodes, the next change and one that reflected how the rest of contemporary television was shown. 

The modern series is no different. We've had split series and autumn starts, with Doctor Who's broadcast time bumped around the schedules, but the programme has remained a constant with television's Top 30 programmes, and Audience Appreciation figures have stayed almost permanently in the '80s. 

However articulately JR Southall makes his point, those are more format and scheduling changes than creative changes. It's almost like comparing apples and oranges. Thoughts?


Edited by Robbie Parry on 10 February 2018 at 12:00pm
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 1:26pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Yeah, a better example of 'creative', as well as 'stylistic' change would be the new artistic designs of Season 18(under John-Nathan turner, and the new emphasis on tighter continuity and more science-driven plots, as opposed to 'space opera(which, itself, had been the direction taken by his predecessor, Graham Williams, after flirting with stories inspired by 'gothic horror' themes).

Edited by Brian O'Neill on 10 February 2018 at 1:53pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 1:29pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

The Doctor is the same person only by general agreement. Even the most superficial check shows it's not really so.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

'Splendid chap...all of them.'
'NuWho' works better for me if I place it in an alternate universe. It doesn't destroy suspension of disbelief to accept that the first 7 Doctors(and McGann, for the hell of it) are all 'the same guy in a new body'...but accepting that anyone since Eccleston 'used to be the Hartnell version'? Well, that only works by pissing on the First Doctor, as Moffat did in his 'lovely parting gift' at Christmas.


Edited by Brian O'Neill on 10 February 2018 at 2:00pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 2:44pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I posted in the SPACE: 1999 topic about how the second season of that show feels like an "Elseworlds" version because, tonally, it's so different to the first season, plus there were many changes.

To me, DW from 1963-1989 is what it is whilst 2005 onwards feels like the "Elseworlds" version. 
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Andrew Saxon
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 4:56am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

'NuWho' works better for me if I place it in an alternate universe.

To me, DW from 1963-1989 is what it is whilst 2005 onwards feels like the "Elseworlds" version.


I entirely agree, chaps, though the BBC, BIg Finish and rabid fans of the 21st century version* would not. I watch the modern series with interest, occasionally even enjoy it, but I don't love it in the way I do the original. As far as I'm concerned, the last time we saw the Doctor was at the end of Survival when he walks off back to the TARDIS with Ace. By the way, this isn't me just cherry-picking - I hate the entirety of Colin Baker's time on the show, but I would never dismiss it as non-canonical in the way I do everything from the Paul McGann movie on. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - for some bizarre reason the BBC doesn't seem to pay much heed to what I think, ha-hah!

*I struggle with the 'nu' thing. The modern take on the show is far from new now, and a shortening and respelling of a word to save typing a single letter doesn't seem worth the effort to me.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 9:07am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

'NuWho' works better for me if I place it in an alternate universe.

To me, DW from 1963-1989 is what it is whilst 2005 onwards feels like the "Elseworlds" version.

I entirely agree, chaps, though the BBC, BIg Finish and rabid fans of the 21st century version* would not.

And they'd be right. As noted, the Doctor is the Doctor is the Doctor. "Alternate Universes" are the realms of fanfic. and if one indulges in them, one is installing oneself as one of the writers of the show.

The best thing, as with all serial fiction, is to drift along with the story being told, and ignore what does not fit one's own format.

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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 2:00pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I'm with Andrew on this one. 21st-century 'Who' is 'okay', and has occasionally been capable of flashes of greatness..but the overindulgences of the writing have destroyed any idea that 'The Doctor is the Doctor'.
'Doctor Who' needs to stop being about 'the show-runner', and 'ideas that turn the show-runner on'. 
('And then the Doctor was an idiot, and the beautiful Mary-Sue saved the universe for the 240th episode in a row...and then I woke up nd had to change the bed sheets again...) That is NOT the '1963-89' Doctor.
Many of those 'show-runner's turn-ons' have turned off a lot of viewers in the last 5 years or so.


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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 15 February 2018 at 11:24pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It's a big mess, it's always been a big mess, but sometimes it's the best big mess going. When it's bloody awful you can feel superior imagining how you'd do it right, when it's actually good you can imagine how you'd make it that one touch closer to being almost perfect!

Personally, Who is a woman? I'm not into it. Seems a desperate and even trendy move, but I've been wrong before... I thought the Peter Davison run would be really awful and Colin Baker would be the best ever.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 1:46am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Here's my issue with the new series:

I've talked to people who have said that Nine is their favorite Doctor.

Now, I probably should have asked, but I suspect he's either the first Doctor they've seen, or he wasn't around long enough to get sick of. Of the new series Doctors, I'd think Nine and Ten would be the most fun to hang out with. (Eleven tended to be goofy at times when it wasn't necessary more than Ten, and that could get old fast. Plus, I'd have running into River Song a lot.) 

Eccelston was great as Nine, but Nine was too....plain. And I'm not just talking about how he dressed.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 3:02am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Nine was, as they say, 'dead common.'
And, yes. for the umpty-nth time, I hated that they insisted on having him say 'Stupid Apes!' as a catch phrase(What could be more annoying than 'FAN TAS TIC'? That could).  When an alien who looks human insults human's appearances, it's just..well, 'the sort of writing you get a lot since 2005'. Great line for a Klingon, but not the Doctor.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 5:24am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Many of those 'show-runner's turn-ons' have turned off a lot of viewers in the last 5 years or so.

Present.

Stopped watching Smith on any kind of regular basis shortly before Amy and Rory got the heave-ho -- in a particularly stupid fashion. May have been the Weeping Angels that broke the back for me. Loved "Blink"* but did not enjoy seeing the concept run into the ground. And don't even get me started on Clara!

---------------------

* Can't watch it any more. Moffet's subsequent excesses have made it impossible to overlook the episode's flaws.

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Bill Collins
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 10:43am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I`d argue that the move to a midweek slot was a reason
for it`s demise, putting it against Coronation Street at
a time when video recorders were not that widespread was
a calculated move by a BBC boss who hated the show, to
give falling ratings as a reason for cancellation.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 11:40am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Yeah, that was the big reason. The change in tone during Colin Baker's run(towards campier', 'panto-style' stories and acting) had to be part of that 'calculation' as well(otherwise, it was John-Nathan Turner's version of 'show-runner's quirks and fantasies' ruining the show).
As for the midweek slot, I know that Davison's seasons aired twice a week, but what about that first '50 minute episodes' season of  Colin Baker? Did the BBC move it back to Saturdays, and from there to the 'Coronation Stret' slot?
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 17 February 2018 at 6:31pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I think the attempt to kill off Doctor Who started during Peter Davison's run, for one reason: Peri.

They introduced a companion that was supposed to be American, but played by an English actress whose accent jumped all over the place, had the characters use British idioms, and gave her a ridiculous name. (My theory? Peri has British parents and was only partially raised in the U.S.)

They made the Sixth Doctor a cold-blooded, arrogant egomaniac who looked like he was dressed in the dark by the Batman villain Two-Face's colorblind tailor.

Mel. Arguably the worst companion in Doctor Who history. (Not counting one-offs and short termers) I avoid anything with Mel involved, including books. 


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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 17 February 2018 at 11:02pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Colin Baker's run began with the decision that his first story, 'The Twin Dilemma', should air at the end of Season 21 in 1984, thus leaving no gap between regenerations.  Davison's final story('The Caves of Androzani)  is regarded as a 'classic', and averaged over 7 million viewer per episode, yet the individual episode figures for 'Dilemma; dropped by over a million between the first and last episode, as there was a huge percieved difference in quality between the two stories.

Airing the first 'full story' of a new Doctor  before the end of a season had not been attempted since the first regeneration in 1966(timing dictated by a combination of Hartnell's health, and lingering bad ratings).
John-Nathan Turner felt that eliminating the 'wait' for the new Doctor would be a departure from the six-to-nine-month gaps of the past.
However, the lackluster debut for the Sixth Doctor just meant they went into the break on a bad note, and then a succession of problems the next season(criticisms of violence and dialogue in 'Attack of the Cybermen', and 'Vengeance on Varos in particular, being 'inappropriate' for the time slot; and a succession of cheesy stories, combined with the casting issues Brian Floyd mentioned) ending up hurting the show in the long run..and added fuel to Michael Grade's 'thing' against the show.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 1:19am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Bonnie Langford (Mel) was a well known, annoying child
actress in the U.K.(Think Shirley Temple with added
saccharine) they knew exactly what they were doing when
they cast her!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 9:43am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I think the attempt to kill off Doctor Who started during Peter Davison's run, for one reason: Peri.

They introduced a companion that was supposed to be American, but played by an English actress whose accent jumped all over the place, had the characters use British idioms, and gave her a ridiculous name. (My theory? Peri has British parents and was only partially raised in the U.S.)

You LISTENED to Peri? What on Earth for? Sight was the only sense required!

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Bill Collins
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 10:18am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I saw Nichola Bryant who played Peri at Memorabilia show
a couple of years ago, she doesn't seem to have aged at
all.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 1:13pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

The stupidest thing about Peri was that John-Nathan Turner fed the press some BS that Nicola Bryant was using her 'real American accent' on the show, and that she had dual UK/US citizenship, spending most of her childhood in this country. This was eventually debunked on the convention circuit, but it was treated a 'gospel' for years.
At least that actress who plays Lena Luthor on SUPERGIRL has usurped Bryant's 'least convincing accent' claim!


Edited by Brian O'Neill on 18 February 2018 at 1:14pm
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 1:47pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

As a Brit i didn`t mind her accent! I guess it`s like
the awful English accents from some U.S. actors!
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 2:28pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant made something later called The Stranger. It shows what those 'years' of Doctor Who could've been. I guess you could give points for daring, but I absolutely hated the Colin Baker Doctor Who, maybe because I expected to really like it on the basis of photos in advance in the Doctor Who Monthly. I never liked Peri, she seemed extremely whingey-whiney. Peter Davison should not have bothered to 'die' for her! I even preferred naggy Mel to whingey Peri. Tegan was only a bit stroppy in comparison. It was such a relief to see Ace who just got on with things (Nissa with attitude), although she was something of a stereotype.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 18 February 2018 at 4:04pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I watched DOCTOR WHO without fail until Colin Baker came along, and didn't see anything of McCoy until several years after the original series ended. Just going by what I'd read about the 6th Doctor's era, I didn't mind skipping those, and the 'McCoy with Langford' episodes.
Once I got to see some of the final season, I really liked the Doctor-Ace pairing. I thought the chemistry was about as good as the Doctor with Jo or Sarah.
The only thing I didn't like was the running joke of Ace never getting the 'Professor's' name right. Funny the first couple times, then it was like Big Bird botching 'Mr. Looper's' name every day!
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Andrew Saxon
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Posted: 19 February 2018 at 4:43am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

...putting it against Coronation Street at a time when video recorders were not that widespread was a calculated move by a BBC boss who hated the show, to give falling ratings as a reason for cancellation.

The BBC were actually using Doctor Who to test the waters for their own twice weekly soap opera intended to take on Coronation Street. There's no way they would cast Peter Davison, who was a big star on British TV at the time, to be the lead in something they 'intended' to fail.

The change in tone during Colin Baker's run(towards campier', 'panto-style' stories and acting) had to be part of that 'calculation' as well.

No calculation, the show just lost its way. That early Saturday evening slot has been important to both BBC and ITV for decades because if you can grab the viewers at that time you might potentially hold on to them for the rest of the evening. Moving Colin Baker's Who back to Saturday nights shows some confidence in the series on the part of the BBC, at least initially.  I would not argue that Doctor Who wasn't going off the rails at that time (as I've said before, I find CB's era unwatchable now), but it was happening for a variety of reasons. Davison's finale, The Caves of Androzani, had proved a massive hit with not only the fans but also script editor Eric Saward, who used the story as the template for Colin Baker's first series. Doctor Who went from being a spooky Science Fiction series to a nasty SF series. Watching Peri with the 6th Doctor was like watching a nervous woman trapped in a marriage with an abusive husband (an abusive husband dressed as a clown!). It was all a little unpleasant and a big turn off. No conspiracy required. If I, as a fan who had been watching since the black and white era, was finding this unpalatable then can I really blame Michael Grade for putting an old dog out of it's misery? No. It was a mercy killing.



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John Byrne
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Posted: 19 February 2018 at 9:09am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

As a Brit i didn`t mind her accent! I guess it`s like the awful English accents from some U.S. actors!

I have not seen enough of her episodes to pass judgement on Peri's accent, but I have noticed that British actors seem generally to do a better job with American accents than American actors do with British. There we often end up with what Dave Gibbons calls the "Dick van Dyke accent" (referencing his role in MARY POPPINS).

SIDEBAR: Growing up in Canada, one thing that struck me was that, aside from an exaggerated "aboot" here and there, American actors used to portray Canadians as sounding British, while British actors portrayed them as sounding American. Place names would trip up both. There's a town in Alberta called Medicine Hat, which is pronounced with emphasis on the "Hat". Invariably it would be pronounced MEDICINE Hat. Similarly, Margot Kidder was born way up north in Yellowknife, NWT, pronounced with emphasis this time on the "Yellow". But when mentioned, it would become YellowKNIFE.

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