Monday, June 18, 2007

The Shock Of My Life

Monday evenings a pal of mine usually phones. His opening question is usually the same every time: “Well, what did you think?” You can guess what it’s in relation to. From his opening gambit, you can probably guess the subject matter.

He’s a fan of Doctor Who, although I should point out that he actually doesn’t laud the show unreservedly and can be quite critical of the most god awful episodes – or as they’re more commonly known, the opens that have ‘Written by Russell T Davies’ in the opening credits.

That aside, the Monday calls pretty much ends with him in stitches as he prods to see how much the weekend episodes wind me up. When I stopped watching for a couple of weeks, I think he was quite put out that I failed to provide the requisite entertainment.

This evening I beat him to the punch and yelled down the line, “It was a complete and utter contrivance!” He agreed. But it still didn’t change the fact that he liked the episode, simply because it brought back The Master. He may be the most poxy villain ever, but for the fans there is always a place on the hallowed Doctor Who altar for him.

There was no point trying to convince him otherwise, especially once he asked if I had caught the audio clips of Roger Delgado, who originally played the character. I hadn’t. And I really didn’t care that I hadn’t. Since it was broadcast, he’d watched the last five minutes of the show over and over much the same way that I’d watched the last five minutes of The Sopranos finale. Which means on quality and sheer brilliance, I win!

He was surprised that I knew what the final two episodes of the season were leading up to. I wasn’t something I actively searched for. I had simply been checking the BBC’s Press Office and came across the big deal reveal. Perhaps he was disappointed that I didn’t give a damn what was going to happen. It looks obvious that Captain Twat is going to shoot someone as well. If I’m actually sat watching it in two weeks time, I hope he turns the gun on me.

After briefly talking about Jekyll, the conversation turned to Moffat and the simplicity of last week’s Blink. He was still taken aback that I had enjoyed it. Why do Moffat’s Doctor Who scripts work? Having connections to people on the inside, pal related that Moffat’s the only one that actually stands up to RTD. Moffat, after all, had a career beforehand and will certainly have a career afterwards. He doesn’t need to write overwrought fan fiction.

After the call I watched The Time Of Your Life. I actually watched a ITV drama that didn’t involve an English country detective. A girl waking from a coma after 18 years may have been a contrivance, and the fact that she could climb out of bed and walk without any physiotherapy or other rehabilitation had to be taken with a pinch of salt. But written by Charlie Martin it had some wonderful understated character moments and the conceit beautifully illustrated how little school friends who get back together have in common with each other any more.


At 10:54 am, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Finally got to watching Blink.

Apart from some clumsy jargon and a couple of contrived “perilous moments” (and I’m talking very, very tiny things here), it was a very good piece of writing and a well put-together show.

A high-water mark indeed. Definitely what Doctor Who needed to be about when it was re-launched. Certainly what it needs to be about to survive and sell in the world TV markets.

Let’s hope that those in charge can see the quality, let Moffat and those like him define the show and stop it being silly campery.

At 12:00 am, Blogger English Dave said...

What's the big deal with Doc Who? It's pleasant enough. Does it make me want to watch? Not really.

Way to smug.

At 12:10 am, Blogger English Dave said...

'Too' even.

At 12:14 am, Blogger Good Dog said...


I really, really, really don't get it. I really wish somebody could explain this fever that has infected the viewing population.

I guess if I was five or six, maybe even seven, I'd watch and enjoy it. But it still wouldn't be blind adoration.

They're like pod people. And when people roughly my age rave about it, there's something very wrong with the wiring in their brains.

I mean, you're a fucking adult for fuck's sake. What do you need this abhorrent comforter for? Why are you watching a jumped up kid's show for?

I guess the way the BBC are shoveling money into it's stinking maw at the expense of other shows and being so bloody self-congratulatory about it.

Still, two more weeks and all the bullshit will be over for a while. Maybe some sense will return.

At 1:36 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

Like you, GD, I just don't get it.

I think the reason grown men profess to have orgasms while watching the show is not because of what's actually broadcast, but because of the power of the franchise to take people back to their childhood.

And that's fine. It's just a pity that all the nostalgia isn't linked to a better-quality show.

(Excuse me a moment while I sip my internal milk.)

I'm also pretty sure there's an Emperor's New Clothes thing going on - a few critics declare how luxurious the fabric is and suddenly half the middle-aged men in the country are squealing like teenage girls.

At 12:28 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

J&C, you’re right about the whole childhood nostalgia. Although a good chunk of the audience hasn’t regressed because they probably didn’t grow up in the first instance. Science fiction and fantasy pretty much is the crutch for folk who can’t get on in life.

What should we have next? The Tomorrow People? Ace of Wands? Skippy The Bush Kangaroo? How about – God help us - H.R. Pufnstuf? Or people reading the Janet and John books on the trains and tubes in to work?

It does need someone with a voice to stand up and point out that it’s... well, crap for the most part. Really, if fans hadn’t been put in charge of the show, the possibilities could have been quite interesting.

Witness how Battlestar Galactica, which was the most appalling skanky nonsense, was redeveloped. It is actually doable if the source material isn’t blindly worshipped.

At 8:47 pm, Blogger English Dave said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:51 pm, Blogger English Dave said...

To me I see the hype surrounding Doc Who is a case of 'In the land of the blind the one eyed man is King''

It is different from the usual tripe that is served up. Different is sometimes enough.

At 2:16 am, Blogger stu willis said...

I think calling the New Who "fan fiction" is the best diagnosis of its failings I've seen.


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