Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 53 (Queer as Folk)

(47 comments)

I was going to go with this, but I realized I didn't actually
know what Google's policies on "adult content" were. Oh
yeah, NSFW and all.

When talking about The Scarlet Empress I suggested that there was an aesthetic of hedonism represented in the book that was a viable alternative to the paranoid excesses of the 1990s. Then, last post, I made some off-handed comments about abandoning ethics in favor of aesthetics. So I suppose this is a decent time to put my cards on the table, since the turn in question is a pretty massive one. And, more to the point, one that’s broadly germane to what the blog is doing through here.

It has escaped few readers’ notice that the tone of the blog has shifted as we’ve approached the present day. Since we’re now lagging the present only by about thirteen years, the lens of history has grown somewhat less clarifying. Put simply, it’s easier to talk about the movement of historical forces when your subject is 1969 or 1979 than it is 1989, and it’s harder still in 1999 or 2009. The game is still being played. If I say that the idealism of the 60s utopians gave way to the bleaker youth culture of punk and its descendants, well, that’s easy. No points on award for that. But if I start talking about what the culture of 1999 gave way to it means I have to declare a defining cultural milieu for the present day. Which, you know, how to be completely irrelevant in one easy step, that one.

But I’ve got to peel off the Band-Aid brand adhesive bandage eventually, and so we may as well. There is at least one shift left to be had in utopianism between 1999 and the present day. There’s a shift in paranoia as well, of course - two of them, really. But those are easier to track. Look for a big news event and you can find a shift in paranoia. The shifts in utopianism are altogether trickier. But equally, you can clearly see that we’ve had one because Doctor Who in 2005 is unlike what you’d have expected Doctor Who to be just six years earlier. We’ve already seen the technical transition to how to do Doctor Who, and for the most part that’s done: there haven’t been a lot of major jumps in the aesthetics of television since the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, things are getting a bit stagnant on that front. (Though actually, people have won Oscars for achievements in cinematography less bold than the camera-as-unreliable-narrator tricks in Day of the Moon)

But the philosophical transition is altogether more complex. Because there was something surprising about Russell T Davies’s Doctor Who when it showed up in 2005. And it struck a chord we didn’t expect, or even quite realize, could be played. And if 2005 was the first time that chord hit the mainstream then Queer as Folk in 1999 was the first time it was properly played. It wasn’t unprecedented, of course. Nothing ever is. You can see exactly where Davies’s influences came from here. The Virgin frocks he worked with on Springhill, his own earlier work, the nature of his love of Doctor Who, all of it goes methodically into the hopper that leads us here. But it was revelatory. It was the moment when the approach crystalized. Where you could see what this new thing was.

It wasn’t the moment that it was clear how big it would be. It took time to develop. In a lot of ways, this is the last time we get to use this advantage. It’s the last time we go into a seminal moment with the luxury of seeing how it played out. Now we know how massive Queer as Folk was to the history of Doctor Who. Before it was just a curiosity about it. If this blog had existed in 2001, the Queer as Folk entry would have still existed, but only because it was where to explore the importance of gay fandom in UK Doctor Who culture. These days we know better - we recognize just how big a breakout it was. The next time we hit something important like this, where its importance is that it’s the Kemble of an eventually larger river, we’re going to miss it, having not yet reached the the point where we can realize its significance.

Queer as Folk is unabashedly about hedonism. One of the monologues in its first episode makes this explicit: “That’s why you keep going out. There’s always some new bloke - some better bloke, waiting just around the corner.” It’s a show about casual sex and the Canal Street scene. But hedonism is nothing terribly new. Indeed, the Grant Morrison-style aesthetic that we’ve just spent the last week and a half critiquing is based on a sort of hedonism. But what’s different about Russell T Davies’s hedonism, and this is going to be an utterly unsurprising observation for anyone who’s been following this blog for a while, is that it is a hedonism based on the material.

Actually, that might be more surprising than I give it credit for, if only because the alternative sounds so odd. What would hedonism be if not material? Isn’t the nature of hedonism material? I mean, what else is one going to seek pleasure in? And yes, this is true. So let me expand - it’s hedonism based on the socially material. Unlike Morrison’s approach, which too often vanishes into an egotistical solipsism, Davies starts from the world and works on the act of drawing pleasure from it. In a very literal sense - Queer as Folk is in part inspired by his near-fatal overdose in 1997, an event he wove into the narrative in the third episode, killing a supporting character in a heroin overdose. As much as Queer as Folk is a celebration of the hedonistic excesses of the Canal Street scene, it’s a wary celebration written by someone who was, in practice, taking his leave of that scene.

The fallout from Phil’s death in episode three provides one of the most interesting aspects of the series. Phil’s funeral (and can I just say how weird it is to write those two words) provides a moment where his mother asks, quite cuttingly, if he’d still be alive if he were straight. And Davies lets his mother win that one. The series admits that it is, in fact, the nature of the gay club scene that killed Phil. This is followed by a deliciously poignant scene where Vince and Stuart go to Phil’s flat to clean out his porn stash so that his mother doesn’t see it. Which, again, has a strange ambivalence to it, tacitly admitting the fact that there is a sense of shame associated with this scene. Vince points out that Phil’s mother knows he’s gay, but as Stuart says in reply, it doesn’t matter how accepting your family is. That’s not the point.

And yet the overall tone of the show still embraces Canal Street. From the ecstatic, bright lights of the opening credits to the angelic choir that backs it to the way in which, for all his magnificent bastard ways, Stuart is made to be the character the audience absolutely adores. He’s an absolute amoral ass, but the show simply does not give the audience leave to hate him and his excesses. The series is realistic about the limitations of the culture it celebrates, but that doesn’t make it any less of a celebration.

And in hindsight, there turned out to be something very powerful about that. The idea that, when everything was weighed up, in a perfectly honest assessment of the world, hedonism might be the best option was, it turned out, terribly interesting. There’s a certain elegance to it as a utopian idea. Davies makes major progress towards this, as I said, by basing it in the idea of material social reality. The hedonism he ultimately embraces comes out of people, in the plural, and out of the relationships between them. Much of Queer as Folk is based on working through the implications and contours of Vince and Stuart’s friendship, and of Stuart’s, for lack of a better word, duty towards Nathan. It’s thoroughly concerned with the way we exist and relate to one another. This isn’t Grant Morrison’s hedonism of declaring yourself to be a rock star unilaterally, but one of finding joy within the world that we have.

So what we have is a collectivist hedonism. Tie this to a notion of sustainability and we start to have something genuinely interesting. Not without its problems - it’s terribly privileged and middle class, but anything coming out of British television is going to be. We can build out from it, certainly, into a more thoroughly and successfully utopian vision. And it’s very much where my moral allegiances fall. I think aesthetic objects that make people happy are the point, and that you don’t really need to extend further than them and their propagation to end up with a system that does everything ethics does. Yeah, you need a few patches like a belief in universal aesthetic judgments, but look, it’s just not that hard a lift.

The more interesting question, for my money at least, is why it’s such a compelling view. The simplest answer, I think, is that it’s startlingly liberating. Hedonism means that it’s OK to be happy. Messages to the contrary are, of course, a primary tool of repressive regimes, along with the accompanying claim that you ought to be happy, or that happiness is somehow a choice. Which it plainly isn’t. Doing things that make you happy is, but being happy isn’t, and there’s a substantive distinction there.

But it’s a powerful message in terms of Doctor Who as well. Vince Tyler is, obviously, a character we need to talk about a bit - a shy and slightly awkward Doctor Who fan. But in many ways what’s most interesting about him is that he’s functional and self-aware and OK with that. There’s a glorious catharsis in the second episode paying off a decade of fan resentment as he gushes about how frustrating it was in the Sylvester McCoy era when Doctor Who was on opposite Coronation Street. Which isn’t just a snarky rejoinder to Michael Grade’s declaration that nobody in Britain watched both shows (a declaration that needs to be taken in context with his delightfully tone deaf claim that Doctor Who fans don’t have girlfriends), but a joyfully fun moment of depicting an odd and slightly perverse sort of fandom without apologies. The fact that Vince likes both Coronation Street and Doctor Who isn’t the joke. The fact that this is why the girl he’s talking to fancies him is almost the joke. But the real joke is that it makes total sense - that the fact that someone like Vince would enjoy Coronation Street and Doctor Who is completely obvious despite the supposed opposition of the two shows.

And there’s something to the way Vince unabashedly loves Doctor Who. Not that he’s without his snarky opinions. Paul McGann doesn’t count and all. But there’s a pure and unbridled joy to it. Which is something that, in 1999, fandom was in serious danger of losing sight of: the fact that if Doctor Who isn’t making you happy then there’s no point to it. And that being made happy by Doctor Who is OK. You don’t need ironic detachment. You can have it if it makes you happy, but you don’t need it. Perhaps the funniest and best scene in the entire series is the cut between some strikingly explicit gay sex and Vince watching the end of Episode One of The Pyramids of Mars and rewinding it to quote along with “I bring Sutekh’s gift of death to all humanity.” As if they’re comparable actions. Because, of course, they are.

That’s Queer as Folk’s moral, if it can be called that. Watching Doctor Who can be just like having anal sex with a fifteen-year-old while drugged out of your mind on dog worming tablets.

I understand people who can’t get behind that about as well as I understand people who don’t like children’s panto J.G. Ballard.

Comments

John Callaghan 4 years, 9 months ago

I suspect you're being provocative, but I'll bite:

"It’s terribly privileged and middle class, but anything coming out of British television is going to be."

Something of a sweeping statement; after all, only the Sith deal in absolutes.

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Jack Graham 4 years, 9 months ago

It's not sweeping enough. It's too casual. The issue is far too lightly and easily dismissed.

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ferret 4 years, 9 months ago

"the Kemble of an eventually larger river" - lets hope the Varga plants don't wash downstream.

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aralias 4 years, 9 months ago

I'd also like to ask basically... what this means in this context. The obvious one... that QaF shows a privaledged lifestyle with no thought for those who aren't... seems bizarre, given that we're shown Vince's mother being unemployed (he buys her food and stuff and he himself lives in a tiny shit flat, while Stuart, admittedly, lives in paradise, but always as a contrast).

Also QaF has this lovely little bit of deflating self-knowingness:

Nathan: Donna, you don't know her! You don't know anything! Cos you're straight! Right? You're part of the system! Right? You're part of the fascist heterosexual orthodoxy!
Donna: I'm black. And I'm a girl. Try that for a week.

I know you did RTD as interested in council estates as part of the NAs, but I think there's more of that here. Along with the joy, as you say, and the important and difficult relationships with people you love - which I think is really the main thing that RTD brings from QaF to Who :)

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Jesse 4 years, 9 months ago

if I start talking about what the culture of 1999 gave way to it means I have to declare a defining cultural milieu for the present day. Which, you know, how to be completely irrelevant in one easy step, that one.

Speaking of historical perspective: When you get to 2011, you should do a Pop Between Realities entry on your own blog.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

Let's hope they don't get lost.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

"That’s Queer as Folk’s moral, if it can be called that. Watching Doctor Who can be just like having anal sex with a fifteen-year-old while drugged out of your mind on dog worming tablets. I understand people who can’t get behind that about as well as I understand people who don’t like children’s panto J.G. Ballard."

"Dog-worming tablets" is too vague.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 9 months ago

It's all we get, I fear - Stuart wakes up the next day and curses out the woman who sold them to him, saying something to the effect of "that wasn't E. I bet that bitch sold me dog-worming tablets again."

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 9 months ago

Certainly - Davies goes a long way towards blunting and acknowledging his privilege, and he does a very good job of it. But it's still very much implicit in his entire project. It's not a major failing, I don't think, but surely one worth acknowledging.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 9 months ago

"You don’t need ironic detachment. You can have it if it makes you happy, but you don’t need it."

Yes. <3

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Ununnilium 4 years, 9 months ago

That said, two problems with this entry.

First, I don't really see the comparisons to Grant Morrison here. I mean, counterculture and everything, but it feels like QaF and Morrison are running along parallel tracks that don't really need to intersect.

Second, I'd say that hedonism isn't quite "it's okay to be happy" - the problem with hedonism is that it conflates happiness with pleasure. The two are distinct - pleasure is one way to happiness, but not the only way, and you can most definitely have pleasure without happiness. (Speaking of Morrison, if there's any point to the whole de Sade arc in Invisibles, it's pointing out how Salo makes that point explicit.)

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Ununnilium 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't mind lightly dismissing the problems of privilege if the creator in question is doing their damnedest to look past them. When we've got so many who don't, I'm not eager to come down hard on those who do.

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spoilersbelow 4 years, 9 months ago

If it's animal drugs, could he mean Ketamine, perhaps? It's both a popular veterinary anesthetic and club drug, or at least it was back in 1999. Not used for curing hook or ringworm, though...

Also, I find myself comparing your remarks here to something David Foster Wallace said back in his 1993 essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" :

"The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows." http://jsomers.net/DFW_TV.pdf

"You don’t need ironic detachment. You can have it if it makes you happy, but you don’t need it."

This, x &#8734

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spoilersbelow 4 years, 9 months ago

x (infinity symbol), rather. Stupid html...

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Dr. Happypants 4 years, 9 months ago

"Watching Doctor Who can be just like having anal sex with a fifteen-year-old while drugged out of your mind on dog worming tablets."

Philip, you have one of the best blogs on all the Internets.

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Jesse 4 years, 9 months ago

It might not fit people's memories of the era, but irony-bashing was huge in the '90s. Indeed, you can see the recognizable form of the modern anti-ironist essay emerging by the '80s, often among people who don't exactly have clean hands. (One of the earliest examples of the genre that I've seen was an attack on David Letterman that ran in, of all places, Spy magazine.)

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spoilersbelow 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm not sure if "Happiness is doing what we find pleasurable and therefore we should do what makes us happy" and "Pleasure causes happiness, so we should always do what is pleasurable" are equivalent statements.

Phil seems to be aiming at a more Epicurean hedonism, which, despite the term's modern reputation, was initially aimed at a simple life full of small pleasures that can be repeated without consequence. Sure, it might be wonderful to get blitzed and fuck, but you need to deal with the hangover, the possible STDs, the social implications, needing to plan a day of recovery, etc. Whereas, if you like watching Doctor Who, you can watch one episode, then another, then another, then have something to eat, then go to work because it enables you to watch more Doctor Who, go for a run because running feels good even though sometimes it hurts, etc. And if Doctor Who doesn't make you happy anymore (because of a bad TV movie, perhaps), then you can move on to something else. There's no Levine style "There are NO bad Doctor Who episodes" fanaticism.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 9 months ago

spoilersbelow: Damn. Prescient.

Jesse: Yeah, but bashing irony is difference from sincere enjoyment.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 9 months ago

That's fair - I was basing my objection only off the more modern meaning.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

I thought Phil was going deeper still, because in context of QoF, it's not just doing what makes "you" happy, but doing what makes "us" happy that defines a "socially material hedonism." It's explicitly relational -- and hence inclusive, as opposed to the individualist rock-star mentality.

Also like what you say about running. Going after what brings us happiness often entails not actually feeling pleasure much of the time. It's like writing -- I get tremendous joy out of writing, but only after it's done; the actual work can be quite painful. What I like most, though, is sharing my stuff with others, and being a part of their writing process in return.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

Not having seen QoF, what kind of privilege actually seeps through the work?

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Jesse 4 years, 9 months ago

Jesse: Yeah, but bashing irony is difference from sincere enjoyment.

Oh, certainly. I was reacting to the David Foster Wallace extract, not to Phil's point.

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Andy 4 years, 9 months ago

I worked in Liverpool around the time of QAF and somebody stole a load of piperazine citrate to sell in the clubs. It is a dog wormer but, as far as I know, doesn't have any other effects.

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David Anderson 4 years, 9 months ago

I think you're moving too quickly in equating Doctor Who in general with hedonism. It must be significant that in the scene as you describe it the character is watching Sutekh 'gift of death' and winding back in order to repeat Sutekh. Not so much equating hedonism with Doctor Who as equating it with Sutekh's gift of death. So the claim is that hedonism is a form of the death drive. And indeed, that in winding back and replaying, the death drive is an attempt to arrest and escape from narrative. Not so much an enjoyment of life as a rejection.

I think something of the same thing explains why, to my mind, Midnight is Davies' best script for Who, the one that carries conviction as opposed to pouring on sentiment in the hope that conviction will follow. (Children of Men carries conviction too.)

(Also, would I be wrong to think that the section of Who fandom who think Pyramids of Mars is the best ever Who story is largely pro-gun and out of sympathy with Phil's views on children's panto J.G.Ballard?)


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encyclops 4 years, 9 months ago

Isn't "being the creator of a television series" the outcome of a pretty standard kind of privilege to begin with? Surely the number of TV shows that are not in some way the product of what we call privilege are countable on one hand?

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encyclops 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think Pyramids is the best ever, though it's easily in my top 20. I'm not "pro-gun" in any meaningful sense. I also don't really know exactly what "children's panto J.G. Ballard" is alluding to (a reenactment of Crash using Big Wheels and Pokemon band-aids?).

So based on this anecdotal data & sample size of one, yes, you're dead wrong. :)

I do think this hedonism thread is promising, especially given the way the new series portrays danger as fun (which it can do because we "know" it's not likely to be fatal for the TARDIS crew) and given the general joy it takes in "oh my god we're BACK and look at all these toys we can play with!" But I agree with you that (based on the description; I've always wanted to see this show but haven't gotten around to it) the particular scene and line of dialogue here was probably intended to be ominous rather than jubilant.

"Midnight"'s great. I need to watch it again.

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Archeology of the Future 4 years, 9 months ago

There's a strong thread in british drama of making narratives about marginalised groups 'meaningful' or 'politically committed'. It's a good and noble tradition, but it has, in its way, created a set of narrative conventions that reduce characters to morals. They might have a bittersweet story, or a morally vengeful story or a tragic story; but all only work because we know the drama exists to present something that is a moral call. The characters are seldom allowed to be 'alive'.

What Queer as Folk does, by basically bringing frock and romp together with a hitherto marginalised group who were often entombed in particular narrative shapes (unrequited love, doomed by prejudice, emancipated by monogamy, destroyed by the seedy) is allows a load of gay characters just to be characters. Which is incredible. They aren't all making a socially conscious point, or fighting the long war against oppression. They're just being.

Which is ultimately more radical than being set up as moral objects with a narrative circumscribed by others polemic ideas.

The amazing thing it does is not to make gay life 'normal' but to show gay characters who're characters getting on with having dramas that result from who they are and the world they find themselves. Not archetypes, not political symbols or moral warnings. Queer as Folk is not about gay issues, it's about people who are gay.

There's a hedonism there too, saying that it is ok to watch a popular drama about gay people and enjoy it because its good, not because you are paying lip (eye?) service to 'the cause'.


(I really hope Phil tries to tackle Shameless, which is structurally a romp and like Queer as Folk subverts accepted political expectation)

Queer as Folk was a watershed moment and changed a lot of people's lives.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

"Children's panto JG Ballard" refers to Paradise Towers.

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Daibhid C 4 years, 9 months ago

I also don't really know exactly what "children's panto J.G. Ballard" is alluding to (a reenactment of Crash using Big Wheels and Pokemon band-aids?)

A reenacment of High Rise using drama school "teenagers" and hilariously cute killer robots, IIRC.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 9 months ago

Hmmmm, yes, very good point.

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Dr. Happypants 4 years, 9 months ago

When I saw the Sutekh bit on QaF, I was reminded of the old-timey poetic equation of orgasm with death, that La petite mort, John Donne kind of thing. Of course the death drive and the sex drive are inextricably tied; sex is, biologically, why we die. Eros, Thanatos, and so forth. So, not necessarily anti-hedonic, so much as...fraught.

Plus, and this is important, it's hilarious. And that's hedonic all in itself. And that's another wonderful thing about QaF: while it certainly shows us the destructive side of that gay scene, it doesn't become polemical about it, and shows us what pleasure people can take from it too. It's a very genuine kind of engagement with a certain kind of experience, done with consummate artistry.

Much like "danger" in modern Who, which is all great fun until someone gets a mindwipe.

Death is ultimately the price we pay for *everything*...in QaF and Doctor Who, I see Davies as trying to take this unassailable fact about existence and make the best of it.

Midnight is what happens when he fails.

QaF is really a marvellous piece of work; you cannot believe how excited I was to hear that RTD, of all people, was going to be the one to revive Doctor Who...

...And for all that I plan to complain bitterly about some aspects of his tenure as showrunner when the time comes, I still think RTD is a fantastic writer whom I admire immensely. When he's on, good lord is he *on*.

(I also love Pyramids and hate guns.)

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

The other side of equating sex and death is that it paints *death* as an ecstatic experience. Quite.

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ferret 4 years, 9 months ago

I think the main thing about the "dog worming" tablets line is it's meant to be funny, which it is.

That they might have no actual affects other than de-worming you (and I can vouch for this - I have a quite mad inlaw who deworms her kids periodically), it's a funnier line than if it were "dog painkillers".

Knowing RTDs work I think he'd happily sacrifice accuracy for hilarity any day of the week.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

Okay, so there's really no way to get high off of dog-worming tablets, is that what you're telling me?

;)

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Arkadin 4 years, 9 months ago

To go completely and utterly off topic, I just read "A Big Hand For the Doctor" and I'm curious what people think of it. It's an entertaining enough story, but a very odd take on One--he's far more proactive and heroic than he should be pre-Unearthly Child, he thinks of himself as a pacifist (so much for nearly smashing a caveman's head in!) but act like more of an action hero (he gets into a cane-fight with a pirate). He makes references to past adventures in a way that suggests he's been doing this for a while. Amusingly, Colfer refers to him as having two hearts and remembering his mother--I would love to see the flame wars this would have caused on Gallifrey Base! (from a distance) It's unmistakably a case of reading the new series, with its attendant pacing and storytelling approaches, back into the old, and very much a story about "Doctor Who" rather than "the Doctor" (IE a cultural icon rather than a character with a particular life story and development arc)--it's a shame he wasn't actually called that; "A Big Hand for the Doctor" felt like a slightly smarter version of a TV Comic strip.

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Anton B 4 years, 9 months ago

I also wouldn't want to hijack a particularly good post and subsequent comments thread but I too have just read Colfer's 'A Big Hand for the Doctor' and thought it was terrible. IMO Possibly the worst Doctor Who story ever written. I instantly deleted it from my kindle after posting a review on Amazon to make sure anyone thinking of giving it a go would take note. I'm concerned now for the quality of the rest of the 50th anniversary offerings if that was an indicator of quality.

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J Mairs 4 years, 9 months ago

"Put simply, it’s easier to talk about the movement of historical forces when your subject is 1969 or 1979 than it is 1989, and it’s harder still in 1999 or 2009. The game is still being played. If I say that the idealism of the 60s utopians gave way to the bleaker youth culture of punk and its descendants, well, that’s easy. No points on award for that. But if I start talking about what the culture of 1999 gave way to it means I have to declare a defining cultural milieu for the present day."

...which has made me wonder, as we get closer to the modern series, what you intend to do for your Pop Between entries. There are some obvious things to look at, such as the Doctor Who-alikes made by ITV and the BBC and 'Lost' - but do you have a rough gist of what programmes or events you're going to cover as we move close to the present day (and are you willing to give us some idea of what they are? ;) )

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Dan Abel 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm really hoping for Coupling, as its occasionally timey-winey, and there is a quite wonderful rant about cushions. But I guess that it arriving soon if its arriving at all.

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Aaron 4 years, 9 months ago

I would bet good money that Coupling is covered.

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

Surely LOST has been an influence on Who in particular, not to mention wide swaths of modern television in general. (And, not coincidentally, LOST was influenced by Doctor Who, too. Particularly Moffat's '96 short story.)

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Dan Abel 4 years, 9 months ago

Lost? I mean I only watched the first episode (in a Wisconsin bar), but, really? Influence of least realistic desert island plane crash ever? *grin*

Slightly more seriously, perhaps we see different things in modern Who, can you tell me more?

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ferret 4 years, 9 months ago

It's definitely time to stop trying :-)

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jane 4 years, 9 months ago

What, you want me to go back and watch it again?

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Ed Jolley 4 years, 9 months ago

I think something of the same thing explains why, to my mind, Midnight is Davies' best script for Who, the one that carries conviction as opposed to pouring on sentiment in the hope that conviction will follow. (Children of Men carries conviction too.)

Children of Men or Children of Earth? Are you talking Torchwood or P.D. James dystopia/the (very) loose film adaptation thereof?

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BerserkRL 4 years, 8 months ago

Happiness is broader than pleasure, because we (rightly) care about more than what we experience.

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Steve H 4 years, 8 months ago

"Stuart is made to be the character the audience absolutely adores. He’s an absolute amoral ass, but the show simply does not give the audience leave to hate him and his excesses."

I can see where you're coming from but interestingly the only people I've ever come across who like the character of Stuart are people writing critical analysis of the show and drawing wider philosophical conclusions from it.

In contrast, I don't know anyone else who liked Stuart. They may laugh at him and like one or two aspects of his character but on the whole they tend to think of him as a bit of a shit who they wuldn't trust an inch. I think it's tempting to shy away from admitting that Vince is the character the audience most adores because it seems too obvious. He so obviously nice that, if we admit it, we worry that we aren't being sufficiently insightful.

But it's the simple truth. However much anyone may salute in the abstract a hedonistic lifestyle to the detriment of other people, I doubt that they ever really believe it or would like Stuart if they knew him or would want to be like him.

Because Stuart is arguably as messed up as Vince by his lifestyle. RTD has said that he thinks Stuart is the most admirable character because he's the most honest. But that's not true. The suggestion is that Vince is less honest because he isn't "out" at his workplace and often subordinates the pursuit of hedonism to family commitments and simple lack of confidence. But Vince is "out" to his family. Stuart by contrast is "out" to everyone except his family which is maybe more dishonest. He uses hedonism as an escape from life, not as a way of embracing it.

Stuart has no real friends except for Vince whereas Vince has friends and family who are loyal to him.

I too don't quite understand what Phillip means by his "middle class" reference. I can only think it works if he means that a collectivist hedonism is middle class. The characters and settings of QAF are however resolutely working class. Even Stuart with his glitzy lifetsyle is working class made good. Canal Street in QAF is the weekend escape from the dreariness of working class life.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

I've finally, after only 15 years, gotten a chance to watch Queer as Folk all the way through, and I shared your bewilderment about the appeal of Stuart for a while, until I realized:

Stuart is the Doctor. And Vince is his companion.

More here, on the off chance that anyone ever reads this comment: http://encyclops.com/doctor-stuart/

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