Monday, July 28, 2008

I Love Summer

As a child, summer was a time for playing in the garden, creating fantasy space adventures in my silver PVC inflatable landing capsule (Marshall Ward were out of Police Boxes…) or having a kickabout with my mates.

In later years, the summer months meant booze, birds and blasting rock music, and it was during one such summer that I and three college friends embarked upon a journey to the south of France to a resort known as Canet.

In preparation for this jaunt I picked up various reading material from the local newsagents – and happened upon Doctor Who Magazine.

The 1994 Summer Special was the first edition of the magazine in several years whose cover appealed to me, and wasn’t an awful publicity photo such as those seen on the cover of the monthly releases.

With a feature on the Seventh Doctor Cyberman adventure Silver Nemesis piquing my interest, I found myself hooked once more into the world of the Doctor, Time Lords, TARDISes and Daleks, after five years in the wilderness.

I’ve never looked back, and still get the warm shiver of excitement when I look at that 1994 Summer Special…

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time for a new Theme Tune?

We've been saddled with Murray Gold for 4 seasons of Doctor Who now, and with the incoming Grand Moff likely to stamp his own mark upon the series as much as RTD did, an easy cosmetic change is the Doctor Who theme tune.

The current version is nothing more than a facelift for the arrangement introduced in 2005, and it is long overdue a revamp.

Get rid of the strings - which are frankly sooo 1990s - and get back to the bassy, mysterious sounds of the 1960s and 1970s.

Recent BBC dramas like Life on Mars prove that while the use of pop music is important to place scenes in context, so commissioned incidental music is vital in developing tension and suspense. It's no coincidence that some of Murray Gold's best work on Doctor Who has bee in the Steven Moffat stories.

Whoever comes in to replace Gold - one of the series' greatest servants - needs to have a good look at where the series is in terms of incidental music and the use of pop tracks, as well.

Plus, they will need to be careful with their sound levels!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Musical Who

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The use of popular music in Doctor Who has been pretty limited over the years, and it has only been since The End of the World that we've seen contemporary pop in the show (Britney Spears' Toxic and Soft Cell's Tainted Love)... although this wasn't the case in 1970.

In the first episode of the Jon Pertwee debut Spearhead from Space, we were lucky enough to get a passage of Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well playing on a radio in the plastics factory. As far as quality music goes, this is top notch.

Fingers are crossed for more quality blues rock in future - as well as a new arrangement of the theme tune, which I'll cover next time...

Monday, July 14, 2008

What's Next?

Kasterborous is offering you the chance to vote for the Doctor Who stories to be featured in upcoming opinion and review articles.

A quick hop over to the Kasterborous Forum will reveal a poll that you can vote in - looking something like this:

First Doctor - 100,000 BC/Unearthly Child
First Doctor - The Aztecs
Second Doctor - The Ice Warriors
Second Doctor - The Invasion
Third Doctor - The Silurians
Third Doctor - Day of the Daleks
Fourth Doctor - Masque of Mandragora
Fourth Doctor - The Leisure Hive
Fifth Doctor - Castrovalva
Fifth Doctor - Earthshock
Sixth Doctor - Revelation of the Daleks
Sixth Doctor - Mindwarp
Seventh Doctor Audio - Death Comes to Time
Seventh Doctor Book - Human Nature
Eighth Doctor Audio - Invaders from Mars
Eighth Doctor Book - The Dying Days

One story from each Doctor will be featured, so make your vote count - you'll be surprised by the current standings...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Buzz Off you are, whoever you are, remember this - there's more to life than Doctor Who. It doesn't matter if you're a record producer, a magazine editor, a national frontist or some guy who once set up a website - each of us is capable of getting lost in the whole Whodom, but at the end of the day we've got to find some time on our own.

I mean, even TV producers can get a little bit lairy. Take friend Russell, who recently referred to obsessive fans as "mosquitoes".

He claims that a vocal minority is dominating fandom.

"They are not real fandom," Davies stated. "They are a core of mostly men who like to complain. Fandom is bigger and richer than that, and they are only about 1,000 people who give everyone else a bad name and build their life around a show."

Tell us again, Russell, what have you been doing for the last 5 years?

Seriously though, any popular show, book, movie, toy - whatever - has a movement of fans around it, each with a varying bunch of opinions. You've got to deal with it.

For instance - and this would be very presumptive on my part and only for the purposes of this example - if RTD was referring to elements on this website, or at worst me (!), it would be a simple matter to point out that everyone has an opinion, and a right to express it. To paint a very negative picture of a vocal minority of Doctor Who fans of being 1000 complaining blokes is irresponsible, and bloody immature.

As far as I am aware - and correct me if I'm wrong but I've been in online fandom for 14 years now - the most vocal segment of Doctor Who fans are found at the erstwhile Outpost Gallifrey. The forum of that site - the biggest Doctor Who discussion forum on the web - are renowned for their amazing ability to declare each successive episode of Doctor Who as "BEST EPISODE EVER!", unable as they are to apply any critical reasoning.

Plus there are several thousand members at that website, so the question remains - exactly who is RTD talking about...?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Blimey, what do I do now?

That's it then - nothing left to do but talk about Doctor Who, buy DVDs and Dalek Helmets and read the books (the old Virgin or BBC Books, anything pre-Ninth Doctor when they were "dumbed down" for kids. Never understood that - after all JK doesn't "dumb down" Harry Potter does she?) and graphic novels and listen to audios and reconstructions and...

Oh Doctor Who is on again!

And you know, we're very lucky - we've never had so much Doctor Who! Regardless of what your favourite medium is, whether its the whole text or just individual episodes or stories, Doctor Who is without a doubt one of the most interesting and deep fictional universes ever created. So it's no surprise that with just 4 new adventures to come before the next series, there is no chance of running out of Doctor Who.

On the other hand, its a good chance to unwind from Doctor Who, build a new website, find a new job, start a new career, write that book, build that greenhouse, put up those shelves, move that shed or go and get married - all safe in the knowledge that there'll be some more Who in a few months!

You can never be bored with Doctor Who!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The End of the Line

Pity the Donna. Initially an annoying, loud, OTT whinging bride, she soon won us over with her searching for the Doctor, encountering Romans, Ood, Sontarans, Agatha Christie and alternate realities.

And yet, it seems it was all part of Dalek Caan's game to rid the universe of the Daleks,his own race. He seems to have agreed with Dalek Sec in the end, albeit a bit too late.

Catherine Tate has been totally marvelous this season as Donna Noble. Prior to season 30, I had some interesting chats with various parties and we generally concurred that her presence was going to be the blight on the 2008 run of Doctor Who.

Instead she has enhanced it, and contributed a veneer of believability to a batch of episodes that in many ways have become formulaic.

At least, of course, Donna didn't die. She simply forgot everything, and will need to remain that way for the rest of her life.

So a massive thank you to Catherine Tate for a superb performance. I know she'll never return to Doctor Who, and is on stage at the moment, but my wife in particular would really love her to do another series of her character comedy sketch show.

It seems though that her career is going from strength to strength; on the back of 13 episodes of Doctor Who, it's easy to see why.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Buzz (and I'm not talking alien bees...)

So - the regeneration issue is the matter of massive discussion across the United Kingdom this week, with Doctor Who creating a buzz that I don't think has been seen since we were introduced to Rose, back in 2005.

To say that Russell T Davies has raised his game may be an overt criticism of his earlier Doctor Who episodes. What he has done, however, is turn on the style in a way that leaves Doctor Who fans as the first point of contact for the answer to "is David Tennant leaving!?!"

The Stolen Earth was classic Doctor Who in a way that we have rarely seen in the modern era - an expansive, jaw-droppingly realised space opera with, I think you'll agree, the Earth invasion to end all Earth invasions.

I hope under the Grand Moff we get a few more rogue scientist storylines to balance off the deluge of alien races wanting a piece of Earth that we've seen in recent years.

Back to the point, however: everyone I know wants to know what's going to be the outcome of the cliffhanger. Wives and girlfriends are formulating theories in notebooks and rewatching the episode on iPlayer or Sky+; everyone wants to know what's coming!

We'll all have to wait and see, whether we know, think we know, don't know or even don't care (yes, you!).

What is likely however is that the media attention will lead to a very good turn-out in front of the box on Saturday night, maybe even beating Rose - which would be a fitting end to the (regular) Davies era.