Follow-Up Notes: “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”

Doctor Who1

 

“I like the way the BBC makes television; usually 12 to 13, maybe 14 episodes and a Christmas Special, but that is a Doctor Who tradition, basically proceeds from the Christmas Specials are donated to charities, which is fantastic and I wish American television would adopt such a policy, and with the 12 to 13 episode format per series (what we call seasons here, across the pond in the Colonies), you can look at your series as a solid movie. Producers receive production budget money and then they set about shooting chunks of episodes, as when a particular actor is cast, they can have everything to shoot with that actor and also make use of the sets over a grouping of episodes, and they do this to save money. It’s an ingenious system and I think American television shows are adopting this practice. I know the Cable channels have been doing this because they also keep to smaller seasons and story-arcs.”

American television production (as I mentioned, beginning to adopt this process) is still decades behind the BBC. This is an economical and efficient process with regard to shooting; applying these very impressive visual effects, sound work – all of this on time and within budget. I have noticed certain productions, namely “Bates Motel” and “Hannibal” (usually shows with smaller per-season commitments) are toying with this idea. Rather than slavishly following a 22 to 24 episode season, and figuring out how to stretch it out, this new wave of production tells the story of a television like a movie – one long narrative.

“It’s obvious that Russell T. Davies was a voracious fan of American television, which is one of the reasons this reboot of Doctor Who works very well for American audiences. Eccleston is more television-friendly than half the lot of original Doctors from previous series. The Doctor most audiences were familiar with before this reboot was Tom Baker, with the crazy hair and the scarf, and also Sarah Jane. So, at least to my admittedly limited knowledge, the Daleks seem to be ret-conned a little. When Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced the Borg, they were obviously influenced by the Daleks, changing “exterminate” to “assimilate”, but then I think Davies borrows back from Star Trek to refine his particular Dalek creation, same with the Cybermen who will appear in the second series in 2006.”

“Steven Moffat shows, at least in my opinion, why he’s the best writer of the series, the show and the most significant. He created the characters Jack Harkness and River Song, who figures prominently in later seasons. She was introduced three years later in another important two-parter, “Forest of the Dead” and “Silence in the Library” and then she figures in the Matt Smith series. I like his style. He isn’t interested in explaining everything, he just goes all in. “Just go with it” would be his motto, and the modus operandi of all science fiction writers. He usually wrote one episode per season, such as “Blink” or “The Girl in the Fireplace”, two excellent episodes.”

This is something I don’t get into, but I think Moffat is more of a writer than a producer, or writer/producer. The producer will work a narrative to conform to his or her budget. The writer/producer will write a story or preliminary draft to fit within the confines of the budget, but the writer just goes mad, writes everything down, and, as I say, he doesn’t care for the consequences of either overreaching or failing to explain everything away.

“It almost feels like the end of a show, the end of a series, and it would be, but for the presence of Rose to keep us viewers connected, and this happens in the Doctor Who-ni-verse often; he closes a door and opens a window in the form of David Tennant, who is my personal favorite as The Doctor, but Eccleston is a fabulous primer for the reboot. What Eccleston builds, Tennant improves upon. He uses Eccleston as a springboard and his manic energy, humor, and anger compliment the tenth doctor.”

Bronwyn and I have already recorded our thoughts about the second series, introducing David Tennant to the world as the Tenth Doctor, and that episode will premiere in April (sorry, big back-log here in BlissVille). We will continue on and review more series as we have time, so I hope you’ll join us.

Questions? Comments? blissville1870@gmail.com

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