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September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?" 
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Post September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
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Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:11 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Wonderful post, James! I think you and I were leading parallel lives. For me, I discovered the show through a friend and got addicted. I can remember the eagerness with which I greeted each new episode that showed up on the local PBS. And I eagerly devoured the novelizations of episodes I had not or could not see.

It's so weird to see the show popular and hip now. But I'm glad of it because the show is better than ever. As a matter of history, I think Steven Moffat will end up being the best thing to ever happen to Doctor Who.


Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:05 pm
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
I was a child of the 80s so I sort of got in at the end of the original series. Despite being my favourite Dr, I still think of All Creatures Great And Small when someone mentions Davidson.

It galls me to no end that the BBC continue to make Dr Who look deliberately shit (this must be the only reason they get away with it). It's probably their biggest show, yet the vast amount of funding given to them by the government apparently isn't put towards something useful like making the show look good. I'm aware that something doesn't have to LOOK good to BE good, but really the show just looks awful. Smith isn't too bad though... I guess... it's a shame Peter Sellers never got to be a Dr!


Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:17 pm
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
It ticks me off a bit that BBC America doesn't show any Classic Who. They advertise themselves as "The Best of British Television" yet they fill up big chunks of their schedule with old American SF like Star Trek: The Next Generation and the remake of Battlestar Galactica, which we can get from other sources, not to mention the cooking shows and the like which may be "British Television", but I doubt count as "The Best of".


Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:48 pm
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
I enjoy the new Doctor Who series, but I prefer the older series. The stories are on the whole better in the classic version relying less on special effects (obviously) and more on plotting and smarts. The Doctor in the new series is too much of a demi-god (do you ever doubt for a second that he will fail?) and his sonic screwdriver has more features and functionalities than Harry Potter's wand. There are some very smart stories in the newer series, but they tend to be the multi-part stories (equaling 90 commercial free minutes which, surprise, was about the same running time of an original series story).

The humor is better in the new series, but more obvious. The new series could really stand to kill off a companion and keep them dead to add some drama and genuine peril to the series; something the old series did not fear to do, though it was relatively rare.

Some of the older stories are available from Netflix instant including the very first episode I saw on PBS back in 1984: "Pyramids Of Mars". I was hooked from that episode on.


Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:37 pm
Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
I would argue that Doctor Who has always been cool, but Huey Lewis and the News not so much ;)


Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:33 pm
Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Doctor Who became cool, IMHO, with the 2007 broadcast of the episode "Blink."

Horror has always been "cooler" than science fiction. My wife and daughter will not sit through Star Trek or 2001: A Space Odyssey. They became Whovians, however, after being creeped out by "Blink" and can now appreciate the campy humor and other "nerdy" elements of the entire new-Who run.

For the rest of us, the Doctor's been cool for over 900 years!


Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:48 pm
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
I saw a few of the Christopher Eccleston Dr Who's and one of David Tenant's episodes. I wanted to like it. I REALLY did. I love science fiction in general and I like the concept behind the show. And Billie Piper is utterly drop dead gorgeous! Eccleston is okay too I guess. But I just thought the show got too cheesy and too hokey both visually and it's storytelling. There were a few episodes that kind of intrigued but I hated where they went with the story and it just felt silly. I don't mind shows that contain an unabashedly happy ending, but this was just so endlessly corny and eye roll inducing.


Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:15 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
I'm sort of a fair-weather Trekkie (my familiarity begins with TOS and ends with TNG, plus the movies), and I've been a Star Wars fan since childhood. I've been contemplating dipping my toes into the world of Dr. Who, but it's a very big, very intimidating body of work.

Where should I begin?


Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:22 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Dragonbeard wrote:
I was a child of the 80s so I sort of got in at the end of the original series. Despite being my favourite Dr, I still think of All Creatures Great And Small when someone mentions Davidson.

It galls me to no end that the BBC continue to make Dr Who look deliberately shit (this must be the only reason they get away with it). It's probably their biggest show, yet the vast amount of funding given to them by the government apparently isn't put towards something useful like making the show look good. I'm aware that something doesn't have to LOOK good to BE good, but really the show just looks awful. Smith isn't too bad though... I guess... it's a shame Peter Sellers never got to be a Dr!


Good point. I used to love Dr Who as a kid in the 80s, but no more.

All the tropes are there for a geekily inclined chap like me to like. Science, Time-Travel, Adventures....yet as you say, the show just looks so unbelievably shit.

Do you remember Billie Piper travelling back to meet Queen Victoria whilst wearing some kind of glittery crop-top?

Garbage. Utter, utter garbage!

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Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:49 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Ken -

Quote:
Where should I begin?


Don't.

There's a show in the UK called "Room 101" where celebs and well known figures get the opportunity to symbolically condemn something they don't like into Room 101 (naturally depicted as some kind of hell). About 7 years ago the guest was a former BBC Director-General (I think maybe Greg Dyke) who was famous among Who fans for being the "Bad Boss" who finally axed the show in the 90s. Not only this, he was on "Room 101" to condemn the show he axed to eternal damnation.

This was controversial to say the least (among Who fans anyway), and the clip he used to justify the condemning was one that showed a Darlek creeping out of a landscape that consisted of plastic tree and grass props that would shame a junior-school play. It was an epically hilarious scene of antonishingly low production value.

What gets me now is with all the money that is thrown at the revamp, the production looks incredibly poor (and I don't care if this is ironic or not), the acting and diologue are corny and stupid, and the partly owed to the above, the plots are boderline incomprehensible.

It is a very, very bad show indeed.

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Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:18 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
This is what Chris Ecclestone said about the show -

Quote:
I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up, around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.

I thought to remain, which would have made me a lot of money and given me huge visibility, the price I would have had to pay was to eat a lot of shit. I’m not being funny about that. I didn’t want to do that and it comes to the art of it, in a way. I feel that if you run your career and– we are vulnerable as actors and we are constantly humiliating ourselves auditioning. But if you allow that to go on, on a grand scale you will lose whatever it is about you and it will be present in your work.

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Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:43 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Like JB, I watched most of the old shows (also from Tom Baker on) when I was a kid, and have very fond memories of it. But I also have fond memories of The A-team, Knight Rider and The Dukes of Hazzard, so that is hardly an endorsement.
I watched the first 3 seasons (I think) of the reboot, but have since logged out. It's just very, very lame imo - cheesy effects and dialogue "work" when you're 8, but not so much when you're a geezer, even a total nerd geezer - well not this one anyway. How did they manage to not only make the companions incredibly annoying, but the Dr. himself too? It's inexcusable. The stories (that I've seen) have also been of VERY mixed quality.
Torchwood (a Dr. Who spin-off) was overall a significantly better show, although the quality there was also very uneven. The last season of that (Miracle Day) was particularly problematic.


Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:08 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
dps wrote:
It ticks me off a bit that BBC America doesn't show any Classic Who. They advertise themselves as "The Best of British Television" yet they fill up big chunks of their schedule with old American SF like Star Trek: The Next Generation and the remake of Battlestar Galactica, which we can get from other sources, not to mention the cooking shows and the like which may be "British Television", but I doubt count as "The Best of".


BBC America isn't really an arm of the BBC. They're just another U.S. cable TV station that happens to have licensed the BBC name and logo and purchases rights to a lot of BBC programs. But, like Sci-Fi before them, they have to pay for the rights to DOCTOR WHO, and they don't get a discount.

In order to show Classic Who, they would have to buy a package and, at this point, they don't view that as financially advantageous. It would be interesting to see what the ratings might be; I suspect they would be respectable at first but would drop off quickly.

Pretty much all of Classic Who, except the wiped episodes, is available on DVD (with the few currently unreleased stories due between now and the end of 2013). Netflix streaming and Amazon both have an okay selection of episodes for those who want to sample the old stories.


Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:58 am
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
James Berardinelli wrote:
dps wrote:
It ticks me off a bit that BBC America doesn't show any Classic Who. They advertise themselves as "The Best of British Television" yet they fill up big chunks of their schedule with old American SF like Star Trek: The Next Generation and the remake of Battlestar Galactica, which we can get from other sources, not to mention the cooking shows and the like which may be "British Television", but I doubt count as "The Best of".


BBC America isn't really an arm of the BBC. They're just another U.S. cable TV station that happens to have licensed the BBC name and logo and purchases rights to a lot of BBC programs. But, like Sci-Fi before them, they have to pay for the rights to DOCTOR WHO, and they don't get a discount.

In order to show Classic Who, they would have to buy a package and, at this point, they don't view that as financially advantageous. It would be interesting to see what the ratings might be; I suspect they would be respectable at first but would drop off quickly.

Pretty much all of Classic Who, except the wiped episodes, is available on DVD (with the few currently unreleased stories due between now and the end of 2013). Netflix streaming and Amazon both have an okay selection of episodes for those who want to sample the old stories.


Yes, I know that they're not really a part of the BBC. And, to tell the truth, I can't really fault them for not buying a package of the old episodes if they feel it doesn't make sense financially. It just that the combination of not showing Classic Who along with showing old American SF and the like rubs me the wrong way, given how they bill themselves.

And I intend to collect all the DVDs, but given the way their priced (generally much higher than other old TV shows) and my budget, that's a VERY long-term project right now.


Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:47 pm
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
dps wrote:
And I intend to collect all the DVDs, but given the way their priced (generally much higher than other old TV shows) and my budget, that's a VERY long-term project right now.


I own "The Key To Time" series and the Lost Episodes (Hartnell and Troughton) collections. I won't buy individual stories: as you note they are very expensive. If I eventually do so, it would only be as season long collections; not individual discs. And if they never get packaged that way, then so be it.


Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:07 pm
Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Ken wrote:
I'm sort of a fair-weather Trekkie (my familiarity begins with TOS and ends with TNG, plus the movies), and I've been a Star Wars fan since childhood. I've been contemplating dipping my toes into the world of Dr. Who, but it's a very big, very intimidating body of work.

Where should I begin?


Ken...were I you, I would look to the classic series over the newer series. The newer series is mostly frenetic action and explosions. As has been noted, the classic series have questionable special effects, but decent enough stories for the most part. Most classic series fans were first introduced with Tom Baker's incarnation of the Doctor, and that hooked us, so that's as good a place as any to start. Looking at Netflix instant, they offer these stories that would make a good starting point:

The Pyramids of Mars (which was the first one I saw)
The Ark In Space
City of Death (written by Douglas Adams [credited as "David Agnew"])

These run about 90 minutes each.

If you're on Netflix I'd stay away from anything from the 1978 series. It was a running story called "The Key to Time" spanning over 6 stories. The stories are mediocre to good, but Netflix doesn't appear to have The Armageddion Factor, which is the final installment. The order would be:
The Ribos Operation
The Pirate Planet
The Stones Of Blood
The Androids Of Tara
The Power Of Kroll
The Armageddon Factor


Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:17 pm
Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Ken wrote:
Where should I begin?


I will give you a different answer. The beginning of series 5 was the most recent reset point for the show. For a new viewer, that is the best place to start. If you watch series 5 and series 6 you would then be up to the current series 7. Then, after you have your feet wet, you can go back to classic who and the first 4 series of the revival at your leisure.

Do not watch series 6 episode 4 (The Doctor's Wife written by Neil Gaiman). It is an excellent episode, but it would be a waste to watch that episode so early. Kind of like watching Start Trek TNG's Relics episode (the one with Scotty) without ever watching ST:TOS or any of the movies.


Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:52 pm
Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
Like reading Superman: For the Man Who Has Everything or Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? if you're not familiar with the Silver Age mythology.

[/redundance + Superman]


Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:19 pm
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Post Re: September 4, 2012: "When Did DOCTOR WHO Become Cool?"
I can remember watching Dr. Who with Tom Baker in the 80's on PBS also and I was struck by how long winded and slow the stories were and how low budget the effects looked. Mostly tuned in as there was next to nothing to watch on Saturday night cable tv but that all changed when the companion Leela played by Louise Jameson came on. Wow. That changed the whole dynamic of the show for me and gave it some spark with the interesting interplay between her and the Doctor(though I hear Tom Baker didn't like her character). I would call this a pre Seven of Nine moment when one character comes on and brings a series to life.


Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:16 am
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