Thursday 26 December 2013

Last night's Doctor Who - what did I say?

Well, I don't know what I said last night after watching The Time Of The Doctor, having a wee drink and going online, but this morning I woke to find...

Blimey. Banned from Gallifrey, what did I say? Well, I'll find out on Saturday when the ban is lifted, if I can bothered to look (knowing I'll only have to write lots of apologies, maybe I'll wait a while). But I can only assume it wasn't good. I probably had a misguided attempt at being ironic or, more likely, used a sweary word. Maybe I was channeling Malcolm Tucker.

I definitely have to apologise to Tony Lee and his friend for an unfortunate reply I posted when I told Tony's friend to "get off Facebook", by which I meant he ought to avoid looking at Facebook until he had watched the episode for fear of spoilers, but it came across as me telling someone I didn't know to "get off Facebook" full stop. Now that is rudeness. (I apologised as soon as this was pointed out to me). The lesson we learn is don't go online when you've had a drink, especially when you have contentious opinions about a TV programme with which other people might disagree. (A lot of people like The Time Of The Doctor, you see).

I didn't like last night's episode of Doctor Who, and I don't think I'm the only one. Certainly here in the Christmas household I was the only one out of four people who watched it through to the end and, going onto Facebook, Twitter, and Gallifrey Base I found many similarly disgruntled commentators too. And my reasons for disliking it are the reasons I've disliked a lot of recent stories: I'm a populist.

I've long been a light entertainer, putting on comedy shows and writing & drawing comic books with the intention, mostly, of making people laugh. There's a light satirical side to what I write, and it's far from bland and uncontroversial. Why we've even had complaints. But the bottom line is that I set out to entertain a broad range of people, and I tend to like entertainment that does the same. That's not to say I don't like the esoteric and the challenging - I went to art college and have a BA in Fine Art, and next year's Socks show is on the subject of modern art, as is this year's new Socks calendar (on sale now Socks fans). I prefer Breaking Bad to Call The Midwife, I prefer Stewart lee to Michael McIntyre, I'm not saying I only like popular audience-pleasing fodder. I've never watched the X Factor for example. But in the case of Doctor Who, I'm a populist.

By which I mean I want everyone to like Doctor Who, young and old, male & female. Which is why I so enjoyed Doctor Who when it returned in 2005 under Russell T Davies. He wrote a show that reached out and entertained a vast new family audience, while staying true to its roots. And I loved Steven Moffat's episodes of that run of the show. At all times the show made sure new viewers were welcomed in, that the story could be explained to newcomers and youngsters, and that it was entertaining. Especially the Christmas Episode. I remember getting lippy & disgruntled with the RTD stories when I thought he was jumping the shark, with The End Of Time which the Socks parodied, and other less successful stories. But ultimately he was always trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience with his Doctor Who stories.

I don't think Steven Moffat has been doing that. He has been indulging himself in long story arcs that are not fun and are hard to follow. And his defence of them seems to be that if you're not clever enough, or interested enough in the arcana of Doctor Who mythology, to follow them, then tough luck. Last night's episode was another example of that. Well, I said enough last night, and if I'm so clever why don't I write better stories myself? Exactly.

Perhaps my New Year resolution should be not to talk about Doctor Who in public. Let's see how well I do.

UPDATE Dec 30th The Reason For The Ban. I have been contacted by a Gallifrey Base moderator who says:

For your information, "It is sweet that so many fans are trying hard to say something nice about this episode. Never have so many Aspergers kids tried to show so much empathy to so little end.", as you posted on the 25th, was beyond the pale. It's not much better than "retards" or "spastics".

Additionally, please don't discuss moderation in public. All you needed to do to find out the reason for the ban was contact a member of staff.

As someone who works in schools and who regularly discusses Degrees Of Empathy in relation to The Autistic Spectrum, my comment about empathy and Aspergers had been what passes in my world for a gag, but I can see how it didn't travel well. Lesson learned, don't post and drink. I'm interested that Aspergers is considered on a par with Retard and Spastic as terms of offence. Is this the generally held opinion? If so, I apologise again and will have to self-moderate in future.

On Regenerations Past

Where were you when the Doctor regenerated? This year I was spending Christmas with my in-laws in North Wales. I was also here for the first half of David Tennant's regeneration story in 2009 (though back home for his actual regeneration on Jan 1st 2010), and here for Christmas 2005 for Tennant's first episode.

When Christopher Eccleston regenerated I was at home in Clevedon in front of the telly, in the same place but with a different telly from when Sylvester McCoy turned into Paul McGann in 1996. When McCoy was spawned, in a truly dreadful episode that made last night's look like Shakespeare, I was living in Leicester watching it happen on the same grainy telly picture that we'd seen Colin Baker emerge on a few year earlier. I seem to remember that, at work the next day, I was the only person who'd watched The Twin Dilemma. One person was surprised to learn that Doctor Who was still on.

Tom Baker's regeneration into Peter Davison happened when I was a student watching it on a shared telly. Some of us had never watched Doctor Who before, and I was the one sat there throughout Logopolis saying "I'm sure it used to be better than this when I was a kid". It was my earliest experience of trying, and failing, to explain the plot of a Doctor Who episode to a normal person. We were watching it because I looked like Peter Davison. This story did not endear me to Doctor Who which I kept watching throughout the 80s, always willing it to be better than it was.

When Jon Pertwee turned into Tom Baker I was 12 and a big Doctor Who fan. I had already started drawing my own Doctor Who comic strips, I had made a cardboard Dalek costume, and although The Tomorrow People and The Goodies had slightly supplanted the show in my affections, it was still one of my favourites. As a result this was my first experience of not liking the new Doctor because he wasn't "my Doctor". I warmed to Tom Baker, then grew out of him once our band started rehearsing on Saturdays. Once Leela appeared, I only saw about half the episodes, and only saw The Power Of Kroll for the first time this year. It's not very good. But better than Logopolis.

Jon Pertwee's first episode is, to all intents & purposes, my first Doctor Who episode. I remember seeing him being interviewed on Ask Aspel, then I watched his series from then and it was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen on the telly. My former favourite show Batman was history and I was a solid Doctor Who fan for the next four years. Watching episodes from this era since I have found them to be just as good as I remembered. Whether this is a result of good writing, good acting, and big budgets, or rose tinted spectacles, I may never know.

Patrick Troughton I was alive during, but was too young and/or too scared to watch. I was equally frightened by the Cybermen and The Joker out of Adam West's Batman, but collected the toys from the latter show rather than the former. William Hartnell's era was before my time, but if I was in the room during his regeneration then it was an a semi-detached house in Evington in Leicestershire on a road which, some years later, changed its name so as not to be associated with the council estate further down. I lived on a road that regenerated, how neat is that?


Monty Pines said...

Sadly I too was disappointed. Russel T Davies rebooted DW marvelously and David Tennant was great, however SM leaves me disappointed. Background music, as good as the BBC Symphony is, is innappropriate "less is more" the viewer is not stupid and loud music does not build tension. Funny I noted in all the 50th anniversary progs RTD was hardly mentioned. I thought the 50th edition too was a disappointment. If you've watched DW since the beginning you stood a chance of understanding it otherwise I thought it wasnot a "stand alone show" as advertised. In this episode Matt SMith seemed to want to Hamm up - what had he to lose? SM seems to think only the Cybermen and Daleks are what the viewer wants to see but there is so much more to DW. Don't despair Kevin. I agree dangers of putting comments online is there will always be folk who disagree and take offence. SO if you're offended - don't look!

Unknown said...

"A lot of people like The Time Of The Doctor, you see"
Wait, what? Is that true? Thankfully, I missed that. I know one person who likes it and he knows one person who agrees with him.

Also I definitely think you should write better stories yourself. It's about time somebody did.

That said, we must be due departures and reshuffles soon enough anyway. Moffat's been working with Spielberg already, so I can't believe he'll want to keep doing this forever.

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