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Sci-Fi Television Entertainment

The New Series of Doctor Who: Fleeing From Format? 170

An anonymous reader sends in this thoughtful article about the format of Doctor Who: "The New Series has given itself two basic tasks. One, to put back and keep on our screens a program by the name of Doctor Who that maintains substantial visible continuity with the classic series in many ways. Two, and this is where conflicting elements start to come in, to seek to define this resurrected program against many aspects of the classic series, even fundamental aspects, in pursuit of task one. In itself this is neither good nor bad. If anything it is on balance probably a good thing to seek to redress the shortcomings of the classic series, but what matters, ultimately, is the choices involved and their execution."
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The New Series of Doctor Who: Fleeing From Format?

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  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:49PM (#42007199)
    So little to say, so many words to say it.
  • by dehole ( 1577363 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:53PM (#42007235)

    Keep the Doctor Who series the same quality show that I have come to love, it is the very last show I can bear. You have to love a show where the main character's weapon, is his mind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He's basically MacGyver with a time machine.

    • by Zephyn ( 415698 )

      His backup weapons aren't bad either. The Sonic Screwdriver and the Deadly Jelly Baby.

      • by f3rret ( 1776822 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:02PM (#42008155)

        Don't forget the occasional bit of heavy handed handwaved deus ex machina.

        • Not so much of that since RTD left.

          • by fatphil ( 181876 )
            But the sonic screwdriver solves some problem magically in almost every episode, still. It's Deus ex Sonic Screwdriva.

            Bring back the terileptils - that device needs to die...
            • by f3rret ( 1776822 )

              I'm not sure what the Greek translation of 'sonic screwdriver' is, but it's not that.

              Either way: Deus ex sonic screwdriver works fine, god in the sonic screwdriver.

        • Now Jo, I want you to pull that lever. []

        • Baah... The kicker is that The Doctor is like your uncle when your three years old. Sure the monster in the shoe-box is scary, but your uncle know's it's only a sock. boom now he's running from the monster too, all good fun. Figuring out how to stop a sock monster is fun, but not a real threat.
          The Doctor has technology that is so insane that it dwarfs any problem he's in. Heck, the sonic screwdriver is probably much bigger on the inside, utilizing power that might rival a small star.
          The plot hole
    • You have to love a show where the main character's weapon, is his mind.

      You're gonna love the first episode in the new series of Red Dwarf.

  • Reincarnation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:55PM (#42007263)

    The nice thing about Doctor Who is if they screw up, it's just a one minute visual effect and a new actor away from being fixed. So relax people, have some custard and fish sticks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:56PM (#42007271)

    This seems to me like someone doing lots of talking but not actually saying anything. I get the impression that the author likes the sound of his own voice.

  • Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jerslan ( 1088525 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:56PM (#42007275)
    This article is nothing more than flamebait.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:59PM (#42007327)

    >> good thing to seek to redress the shortcomings of the classic series

    Special effects, check. What else?

    >> (Doctor tries to get into his companions' pants.)

    Sex, really? I thought you were British.

    • In the first series the Doctor abandoned his granddaughter on a backwater planet. She clearly wasn't able to be involved in the Time Wars so she's probably still alive. If they really want to redress the shortcomings of the classic series they should make Charlie Sheen the next Doctor and he should go find her and she should be played by Miley Cyrus and the Companion should be played by Rowan Atkinson.

      Well, it'd certainly get the show some attention, but, my point is that both the classic and the modern
      • > My joke about Miley Cyrus makes me think that she would make a great alien

        Only if Miley was vaporized at the end.

        If you saw her on Three and a Half Men, you know that she could easily play someone totally alien. Or maybe that's her in real life.

        But I agree, the "last of the time lords" seems really unlikely. How does he know? "I just know." And then he's wrong -- The Master survived. And he (presumably) doesn't know yet that Jenny survived in "The Doctor's Daughter", and seemed entirely unaware of

        • The remaining Time Lords hiding from the Doctor for a joke is a brilliant idea.

          As for the sig, well fortunately that particular song has been cast into oblivion along with I Wanna Be Loved By You. The actual line was rather different though: "I hollered up at Ethel, I said, "Don't look, Ethel!" But it was too late. She'd already got a free shot. Grandstandin', right there in front of the home team."
          • If they really wanted to improve the show they could do a Southpark/Kenny thing and wipe out Miley Cyrus every episode in ever increasingly unlikely and excruciating ways. Better yet, turn that into a computer game - you are the Doctor, you have a goldfish, two sticks of gum and a sonic screwdriver, your job, yet again, is to save the universe from the Miley Monster!
            • > If they really wanted to improve the show they could do a Southpark/Kenny thing and wipe out Miley Cyrus every episode in ever increasingly unlikely and excruciating ways.

              That really shoulda been the fifth season of Hannah Montana. Directed by Sam Raimi.

              But we digress.

          • Boop boop ba doop.

          • I Wanna Be Loved By You.

            Mary Ann thinking she was Ginger.

            • Yes Young People of today - however bad today's music may sometimes be, the greatest musical horrors lie in the past where they should be left to moulder. The greatest horror of them all, the very worst song of all time, so bad the Vogons wouldn't claim it, is from 1914. See [] if you must but I recommend against it for your sanity is at risk if you do. I swear that this song is what drove Gavril Princip's assassination and started the Great War.
              • Man, that blew the dust off some neurons. Now, they won't stop, and it's all your fault. I didn't even have to click on the link, as Mom used to sing that musical travesty when I was a child.
        • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )

          If you saw her on Three and a Half Men, you know that she could easily play someone totally alien. Or maybe that's her in real life.

          That's nothing, you should see her Dad.

      • If we're going to have the Doctor start meeting up with the Disney Kids then my vote is for Selena Gomez, her portrayal of Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place often stole the show. You've piqued my curiosity, I'd certainly be interested in seeing the guy who finds all the trouble paired with the girl who makes all the trouble just to see what kind of trouble they'd get into together.

      • The backwater planet was EARTH. If memory serves, Susan met David while fighting the Daleks in Bedfordshire. The Doctor felt it was time for Susan to settle down with someone (David). He locked Susan out of the Tardis, so she would move on with her life and not spend her time looking after him.

    • >> good thing to seek to redress the shortcomings of the classic series

      > Special effects, check. What else?

      Pacing, music.

    • The "classic" episodes are so dry, long and drawn out, and so dialog heavy. I've tried watching episodes from every Doctor and they all bore me to death. I know they had limited budgets back then but come on. Bubble wrap with green spray paint is supposed to be a giant insect arm? High school plays have better effects than that.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @07:09PM (#42007465)

    I'm probably burning Karma here, but, I've heard alot of people say Dr. Who is becoming 'Atheist Jesus'. In the Classic series the Doctor was an Alien detective/investigator who merely lived a long time with a set number of Regenerations. He didn't always save the day. (Up until the latter part of David Tennant, he didn't save the day either.

    But with Matt Smith, he's become like, a Demi-god or an Apollo type god. (River/Melody calls him 'an ageless god'. Now it's the case there are no limits on how many times he can regenerate, and he can use his regeneration abilities to heal others. The series doesn't make contiguous sense the way it did under Tennant and Eccloston. Basically, it's non-sense after non-sense plot. (The last Episode with the Angels is quite good really EXCEPT THE ENDING SUCKS.

    • True, but they had to get rid of the Ponds somehow. I'm still convinced that at some point the Doctor will realize that gravestones don't necessarily have BODIES under them and bring back the Ponds to their proper present. However, being a companion or two past them he will no longer snuggle up to them like a neglected puppy.

    • by Zordak ( 123132 )

      The last Episode with the Angels is quite good really EXCEPT THE ENDING SUCKS.

      Huh? Amy and Rory disappear from the Who universe, apparently for good (finally). What's not to like?

    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @07:59PM (#42008107) Homepage Journal
      Honestly each regeneration of the Doctor has lead to a new series. Hartnel was basically history for kids. When he left they didn't want to end the show, so they came up with regeneration and put Traughten in with a more action style. some time an arbitrary limit was set. That limit was broken, I believe, with the master and the Keeper of Traken.

      Pertwee was a gadget guy and no longer roamed the universe. He went around saving earth from all manner of dangers. I think this is when we really got the Doctor as the defender of earth. It goes on. Baker of course is well known, he formalized the idea that a female assistant attract the teen and older men by wearing little. Of course we did see Sarah Jane in bathing costume on one of her early appearances. Davidson got rid of the gadets and his episodes, with a unusual size of entourage, tended to be very emotional.

      Then we had the Colin Baker fiasco where instead of real episodes we got a season of clip shows and elevator episodes.

      I like daring of McCoy and ace. I think it was the best of everything that came before.

      Which is to say that the current stuff is like the old stuff, in which the show pretty much does what it wants to. No one can say the Gallifry episodes were all that good, so having the doctor be alone instead of having a country is good thing. If a series is going to last as long as the doctor, it can't get bogged down in details.

      • by symes ( 835608 )

        I think you hit on an important point there - Dr Who has always been a family show, one that tries to appeal to viewers from about the age of 5 years upwards. I like having a show that I can watch with my kids and that I also enjoy. It is about the only show we can watch together. What has been done well is that mix of things that each of us like woven into a cohesive story that we can discuss. We can pick over story lines here in /. as much as we like, but at the end of the day Dr Who's broad appeal makes

      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        And if it doesn't change, even if its bad sometimes, it stagnates and dies off. The world changes, and so does show like this if they are to survive.

        Sure it doesn't always work out well, but even during the bad times, with horrid experiments like Colin, i would still rather see that than the same exact thing for 40 years..

        As a disclaimer i started with Davison, and I thought he was the best of all with his more practical approach to things and no 'flashy tools' as a plot escape route, at least until Tennant

    • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:20PM (#42008861)

      (The last Episode with the Angels is quite good really EXCEPT THE ENDING SUCKS.

      You have to watch the last few minutes very closely or you'll miss why it's awesome. You probably blinked.

    • Now it's the case there are no limits on how many times he can regenerate

      I remember when I was a little kid watching the episode where they talked about Doctor only being allowed twelve Regenerations (I think it was twelve, I was a kid at the time) and crying over it. I never wanted the Doctor to die and I thought it was mean of the Timelords to tell the Doctor he could only have so many Regenerations before he died. My old man, who was a huge Doctor Who fan himself, pulled me up into his lap and told me

    • They turned him into a trickster God some time before the Pandorica episodes and then really rubbed it in with those. The one where he spent a while human rubbed that in a bit around the end of it as well (imprisoning people in mirrors etc).
      • by fatphil ( 181876 )
        You bastard!

        I'd forgotten about the fucking stupid imprisoning in mirrors. Selective amnesia. I liked several things from those episodes (part 1 much more than part 2), but the final conclusion was total pants.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          One interesting thing is that Neil Gaiman, who has a long history of writing about entities with Godlike powers, didn't do that with his episode (The Doctor's Wife). Instead it looks to me a lot like a Douglas Adams episode written for Tom Baker's Doctor where wits instead of supernatural powers save the day. That's the sort of stuff that got me hooked on Dr Who back in the day.
  • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @07:37PM (#42007857) Homepage

    I'm a long-time Doctor Who fan. I like the new series, but maybe not as much as the classic series. The actors are good, but I think the writing and stories aren't as strong. I've heard Lalla Ward mention in classic episode commentaries, for example, that it would do a world of good in the new series to cut their budget in half, so they learn to focus on making the stories tight (and not rely on special effects as much). The linked blog also mentions that some stories in the new series did really well because they had small budgets and had to keep the story tight and within that budget.

    Now that we're coming up on the 50th anniversary season, I'd really like to see some hard references to the classic series. I came up with a great idea a few weeks ago that I'd love to see. With 7 Doctors in the original series, you can have 7 episodes to use as references. (Or 8 if you include McGann.) Imagine a series arc like this:

    Story 1 : The episode starts with the Doctor, Clara (the new companion they'll introduce at the Christmas episode), and "Colin" (new companion .. see later) discovering a strangely quiet space museum on the planet Xeros. Exploring the museum, they discover themselves on display in the museum, with the TARDIS nearby! The Doctor realizes the TARDIS must have jumped a time track when they materalised. Thus they temporarily occupy a fourth dimension. This lets them be simultaneously in the cases in one reality and standing, looking at themselves in the fourth dimension. The Doctor adds that is why everything seems familiar, yet unfamiliar - for example, why he can remember meeting Clara but is fuzzy on meeting Colin - they're experiencing time out of order and things are all mixed up.

    From there, the rest of the story is a one-hour version of 'The Space Museum' (1st Doctor). It was a good story, and would translate well to the current series, but needs editing down.

    (The "Next Time on Doctor Who" trailer is not actually from the following story, but a re-cut trailer from a classic story. Same for the rest of the season.)

    Story 2 : The TARDIS arrives on Earth in the year 3000 and the travellers quickly discover a base where scientists commanded by Leader Clent are using an ioniser device to combat the advance of a new Ice Age. The scientists uncover Martians (Ice Warriors) frozen in the glacier ice. The Doctor warns that the Ice Warriors are dangerous enemies. He also comments how similar this is to the first time he met them, also in Earth's future, but Colin suggests this is deja vu from jumping time tracks from the earlier episode.

    This story re-introduces the Ice Warriors from the classic series, and in fact is a one-hour version of 'The Ice Warriors' (2nd Doctor).

    Story 3 : The Doctor and his companions make a test flight in the TARDIS, trying to jump back to their original time track, and arrive on the planet Peladon. Seeking shelter, they enter the citadel of the soon-to-be-crowned King Peladon, where the Doctor is mistaken for an Earth dignitary (Clara and Colin as his aids) summoned to act as Chairman of a committee assessing an application by the planet to join the Galactic Federation.

    The rest of the episode plays out similarly to 'Curse of Peladon' (3rd Doctor) but edited down to one hour. Sort of a cheesy episode, but can be improved through editing and some minor re-writes. I'd change the antagonist to one of the delegates, probably Alpha Centauri. The Doctor believes he knows who was causing trouble, but would end up being wrong. Instead, Colin and Clara ferret out the bad guys. The Doctor is really confused by now, especially since things seem familiar, yet unfamiliar (a theme repeated throughout this season).

    Story 4 : The Doctor, Clara and Colin arrive on a desolate and apparently deserted Earth in our far future. They soon find a group of shipwrecked astronauts from a human colony in the Galactic Federation, lured there by a fake distress call. The astronauts suspect the Doctor of luring them. One of

    • One could argue that rehashing classic episodes is pure laziness on the part of the writers. I'd prefer to see more original stories than rehashes (especially if they're as fan-pandering as the ones you describe).
  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES ( 2546640 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @07:46PM (#42007965)
    This was interesting and well written in many ways. However, the author makes assumptions about the classic series which are unlikely to be shared by a broad audience, as the comments here so far demonstrate. The "classic" version ran for 26 seasons, and was under constant revision. Originally, there were supposed to be no B.E.M.s. Then, Daleks came. Newman wanted 50 percent historical stories. That lasted maybe a season. The concept of Time Lords wasn't even jelled until season 5 or so, during "The War Games". I could go on for pages, but I won't. The series is similar to a long running superhero comic book, in that the content changes to reflect what the producers feel the audience of the day desires. The author of this article really has a problem with the modern audience (meaning most of you), but he's turned it into a faux critical comparison so he doesn't have to be a hater. That know what? I'm not afraid. I'll be a hater. Holmes and Hinchcliffe rule the Who universe, and those who disagree will one day be exterminated!
  • Doctor Whom
  • by 6031769 ( 829845 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @07:56PM (#42008081) Homepage Journal

    I see (for all its good points) that the revival edition suffers from its episodic format. We have discrete 45-minute programmes (occasionally 2-parters) within a series which often has a loose story arc. Great for the MTV generation, perhaps, but for those of us who were brought up on classic DW, a bit of a let-down.

    Back in the day we had each series consisting of (usually) six stories spread over sets of 4 episodes many of which ended on a cliff-hanger. This was great drama, well and tightly scripted. The special effects may seem crude in hindsight but they were cutting-edge then and kitcsh now. Most importantly there was a story and key to this was the Doctor who was on the side of the moral good. The zenith of the whole canon was surely the Key to Time [] series which gave a classic quest storyline over the arc with 6 quintessential plots for each part of the key and a reveal of superb quality. I doubt we'll ever see its like again, but I dearly hope the beeb will prove me wrong.

    In essence, a return to a medium-length plot within a series-long story would be best, but I fear those in control won't countenance it.

  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:30PM (#42008375) Homepage

    I don't think I've ever seen so much waffling outside an IHOP.

  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ischorr ( 657205 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:35PM (#42008981)

    The author has, almost verbatim, described my thoughts about the new series. And why I just finally stopped watching it and moved on to other things.

  • by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:41AM (#42010561)
    Seriously, it's a rare episode where there isn't some sort of chase or flight scene. That's only part of the issue I have with the new series, though.

    Honestly, I think the 45 minute episode is a terrible fit for Who. Assuming four episodes per serial in the old series, you'd have five minutes out of one episode devoted to plot setup, with thirty seconds or so of cliffhanger recap at the beginning of each following episode. I realize that there are reasons why they use the one hour story format now, but it's really narratively confining. Someone in a rubber suit pops up, says 'Hi, I'll be your monster of the week", and the opening credits roll. Then there's a lot of running, the Doctor waves his sonic screwdriver around like a magic wand (ironically, the reason they wrote the thing out of the original series) to magic some exposition up, there's some more running, and finally a denouement. There are episodes that break that mould, but they've sadly been few and far between.

  • The Doctor has dealt with crises from a little girl with a psycho-active imagination, to genocidal extinction and universe-threatening cataclysms. He looks like a little, fussy man in a bowtie, but is a 1,000 year old alien with vast storehouses of knowledge and a very non-human perspective.

    There are many ways this could be explored; where the Doctor has to do the right thing, which isn't necessarily the good thing. I also wish that the plot line they had in mind for Colin Baker's Doctor could have bee
    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      A few years back, my g/f and I rewatched *all* the old classic doctor series, and we'd always do a bit of a post-mortem on each episode and each story. Apart from horrors like "megabyte modems", we both agreed that Colin Baker wasn't as bad a doctor as we had partially remembered. I much prefer Colin Baker being disappointed about the failings of humans to Tennant repeatedly telling us how brilliant humans are. That wasn't new - Pertwee was very critical of the humans' military approach to the Silurians.

  • If you look at my handle here on slashdot, you'll see I've been a fan for years. it was my online handle in the 80s, and I took the identity seriously. I haven't seen much of the new series. And now...from what I've read...I don't want to. I am afraid I might have to hurt someone badly if they destroy my idea of what Doctor Who is. Perhaps it's time to end this blasphemy now, and save our souls from the eternal fire.

  • The Oncoming Storm stuff comes from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe. Stuff like comic books and radio shows that were outside of, but based on, the TV continuity.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky