Friday, August 29, 2008

Festival Prize

Once again, Doctor Who has been named as the top show of 2008. The highest profile industry event on the British calendar is of course the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

It was at that event that the series won Best Programme of 2008, for the second year running.

And of course, the award adds to the ridiculous tally of trophies that Doctor Who has received since 2005.

doubt whether anyone outside of BBC Wales is keeping a tally, but on an
average of 12 a year (which includes the rather vulgar ceremonies of
rags like TV Quick) we reckon Doctor Who has chocked up between 45 and
50 awards for acting, writing and various aspects of production as well
as being the nation's most loved show.

That's a pretty good comeback, but also testament to how the show is part of the British cultural fabric.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Don't Have Sci Fi

This Bank Holiday weekend hasn't exactly been boring for me... but if it had, I would have been kicking myself that I don't have the Sci Fi Channel.

With hours of Doctor Who - including some real classics - padding out the regular programming, I would have been made up for the weekend, with pizza and beer and vodka all on the menu.

As it turned out, a few minor disasters from the middle of last week overspilled onto this weekend, leaving me to bemoan minor disasters and a lack of the Sci Fi Channel in my wing of Kasterborous Towers.

Now I don't want this to turn into one of those "isn't it wonderful" gushes, but how far have we come now that Doctor Who can make up a weekend of programming on Sci Fi, and a comic and actor can appear on a popular Friday night comedy panel show dressed as the Fifth Doctor without anyone batting an eyelid?

The whole Russell T Davies era has been like a parole, a reintegration back into society for Doctor Who.

I've recently been researching my family tree, and was astounded to discover that there was very few diagnoses for the myriad of now-identified mental disabilities and conditions in Victorian times. As a result pariahs were commonly identified and cast into workhouses or Bedlam.

This is in many ways what happened to Doctor Who between 1989 and 2005, give or take a few weeks for compassionate leave in 1996. Dismissed as unsound of mind and character, the show was carted off to asylum, from where it was soundly mocked and derided. It's purpose was lost.

Yet the show never really changed that much; several key themes from season 26 were continued 16 years later in season 27, notably the notion of the companion being such an important character.

So next time when we see a weekend of Doctor Who, or young children wandering around conventions with their parents, we should avoid thinking along the lines of "remember when..."; instead celebrate a 16 year moment of national lunacy being swept under the carpet in much the same way as 1980s Doctor Who was.

Oh and realise - as I now have - that having Sci Fi isn't that important.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Who On Demand

Sat watching The X Factor this evening (wiping away the tears of laughter inspired by some of the hopefuls), I realised that here we are, in the middle of the year and there's no Doctor Who until Christmas.

Saturday nights are of the light variety type until then, and there isn't even a series in 2009 to look forward to!

This got me thinking to exactly how we organise our lives around Doctor Who. For instance one Friday every month I venture into town to buy Doctor Who Magazine. I also spend a lot of time collating news for Kasterborous as well as planning articles and reviews.

Many of us of course spend 13 weeks a year looking forward to Saturdays. Suddenly however there is nothing to look forward to for at least 18 months - short of some specials - and the whole dynamic of Saturday night and in fact the calendar year is going to be unrecognisable until season 31.

So what is the solution?

As angry as I was at the news of a "gap year", it's a good time to take stock, and sit back. There's a universe of Doctor Who out there that doesn't exist solely on television - books, audios, toys, fan productions and of course Doctor Who Adventures and Doctor Who Magazine.

It doesn't have to be a gap year - make it a Who On Demand year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hi Lo Silver Lining

The Times Literary Supplement - bastion of what is good and what is not and if you disagree you're some sort of imbecilic pleb - has deemed a review of the Tennant-starring Hamlet necessary.

This is the Times' fourth review of Hamlet. It's also the one that would most likely put you on the back foot:

television role as the Time Lord Doctor Who and as Hamlet has dominated
media coverage – and ticket sales – as an irresistibly unlikely coupling of
high and low culture.

That's right - the day after a report declares the north of England as worthless, the Times then tells us that if you don't do Shakespeare you're a proponent of what they call "low culture".

That they also include Doctor Who in this description is particularly bewildering. That there is a high and a low is also rather puzzling.

Dismissing a universe of alien foes and friends and wonder and deceit and redemption is, however, nothing more than snobbery. Small minded, self-absorbed demeaning snobbery and frankly in this day and age, with a fractured society and increasingly remote elite, the Times have done an injustice not only to one of the most successful fictional worlds ever created, but to their own credibility.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Village Green

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.News of The Sarah Jane Adventures second series conclusion - which features Sarah Jane and Luke thrown back in time to a 1950s village fete - reminded me of an interesting point.

Since nuWho returned, we've had fat green aliens, fat green aliens and Catherine Tate providing frivolous, and at times unnecessary comedy. We've had space opera, base under siege, TARDIS acrobatics and regenerations, returning friends, foes, future companions and whispers...

...but we haven't had a mysterious English village as seen in The Daemons or The Android Invasion.

Nice to see then that The Sarah Jane Adventures is attempting to level things out. We haven't even had a real village in Torchwood, just a small town or that bizarre cannibal episode that is better off forgotten.

So there's one thing on the list of stuff to look out for under The Grand Moff. Scary villages.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Opinions? Everyone has one...

Scottish comedian and comedy actress Elaine C Smith has a column in The Sunday Mail. She doesn't use the space very wisely.


Here, let's see:

I'VE never watched Dr Who since I was 10 and was petrified by the Cybermen.

don't really get the obsession but I am a big fan of David Tennant and
I understand why he is refusing to sign Dr Who memorabilia while
playing Hamlet for the RSC.

He knows most of it will end up on eBay and making money for professional autograph hunters.

McGregor did the same when he was in Guys And Dolls but the stage door
was queued out with Star Wars geeks. What is it with sci-fi fans? Why
do they get so obsessive about it?

I suppose the truth is out there.

By her own admission, she doesn't "get it" - so why waste her and the paper's readers' time writing about it?

As for Mr Tennant refusing autographs - well I haven't seen it printed anywhere that he was behind the decision. Ms Smith would do well to note that his co-star is the face of two major US sci fi franchises over the last 20 years, and it's more than likely that both stars agreed with the RSC that this decision should be made and announced.

Jeez, would someone pay me to ponce in front of a keyboard for five minutes to fill a bit of space in their Sunday rag? Looks p*ss easy from here...