Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 65 (Fandom Redux)

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This will be review for some people, but the blog’s picked up a fair number of new readers since hitting the new series, and some recap is thus in order. But let’s talk about orthodox Doctor Who fandom, shall we?

T-Zero in Doctor Who fandom is May of 1976, which is when the BBC officially recognized the Doctor Who Appreciation Society (DWAS) as the official fan group, succeeding the Doctor Who Fan Club, which had been around since the 1960s. From DWAS came the first wave of pro-fans: David J. Howe, Jeremy Bentham, and John Peel are the most recognizable names. And many of them became instrumental in the meticulous documentation of Doctor Who. Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke turned to them for The Making of Doctor Who, and most of the early reference books to the series came out of their work.

The thing is, their tastes in Doctor Who were… idiosyncratic. DWAS president Jan Vincent-Rudzki wrote one of the most legendary reviews of a Doctor Who story ever as he tore into The Deadly Assassin for its numerous supposed violations of past continuity. The irony, in hindsight, being that The Deadly Assassin was sufficiently good that it obliterated most of the faltering prior continuity about the Time Lords and became the standard piece of continuity, making Rudzki’s tone of outrage more than slightly farcical. Later highlights included John Peel declaring in all seriousness that City of Death, one of the most beloved Doctor Who stories ever, with a script largely by Douglas Adams, was “pure farce” with characters “so stupid as to be unbelievable,” and described it as “continual buffoonery.” Fandom was particularly history focused (it’s notable that Peel ended his review with “Come back, Pat Troughton, all is forgiven…”), and viewed the present day of the series as a falling off from some great ideal in the past.

Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, the BBC took fandom seriously. The changing nature of television in the late 70s/early 80s meant that Doctor Who’s family-friendly Saturday teatime slot was dying, and it got moved to a schedule befitting a soap opera in an attempt to create a male version of a soap targeted to its existing obsessive fans. John Nathan-Turner made the savvy in theory if misguided in practice decision to actively court fandom, revamping the Doctor Who Weekly comic magazine into a professional quality version of DWAS fanzines TARDIS and The Celestial Toyroom. Results were mixed - audience research techniques were too primitive in the late 70s/early 80s to realize that fandom was not in fact coextensive with “people who watched Doctor Who,” and despite basically having the right idea Nathan-Turner and his production team proved inadequate to the task of creating what was, for the early 80s, essentially an entirely new model of television.

The thing is, fandom wasn’t representative of the whole audience, nor even of the whole audience of dedicated fans. Gareth Roberts has written of his profound alienation from DWAS upon getting his first issues of their newsletter, which savaged the series as it existed in the late 70s because, as he puts it, “they believed that Doctor Who should be more like something called ‘the Barry Letts era’, whatever that was. I didn’t know who Barry Letts was.” Roberts was a ten-year-old fan who liked Romana and K-9, and DWAS as it existed failed spectacularly to account for that category of fandom. Roberts didn’t renew his DWAS subscription. Instead he grew up and became one of the major architects of Doctor Who’s future.

But that’s the future. Back to 1980. Upon taking over the series that year, John Nathan-Turner took one particular fan, Ian Levine, onboard as an unofficial and uncredited continuity adviser to the series. This proved a spectacularly bad idea for reasons the blog has covered at length. Levine is a short-tempered man who is quick to grab credit when things go well and quicker to shift blame when they go poorly. He has rather more money than is entirely appropriate or necessary, a vision of what Doctor Who is and should be that is idiosyncratic even by the standards of DWAS, and no patience whatsoever with anyone who doesn’t share that vision. The result is unfortunate, and there is no way to spin his direct involvement with the production of the program as anything other than an unmitigated disaster.

Why was he brought on? Likely because he was reasonably well-known to the BBC, having been a vocal agitator in the period where the practice of junking old episodes of Doctor Who ended, and spent a few years effectively running the effort to recover missing episodes. As with everything involving Levine, this is contentious - he claims a higher total of missing episodes than is entirely fair. In practice he ran the recovery effort, and so anyone who found a missing episode in the earliest years of the search - when most of the missing episodes were found, since it was the point when anybody realized there were any missing episodes and that this was a problem - came to him with it. This led him to have a finger in a lot of finds just by virtue of being the guy at the other end of the phone. It’s also worth noting that Ian Levine remains the only documented case of someone holding a missing episode in secret and not telling the BBC. Still, he was known to the BBC and had worked with BBC executives in the course of missing episode recovery, and so was the natural choice to bring on in an attempt to engage with the fandom that was intended to be the primary audience of this new weekday evening Doctor Who.

Levine, incidentally, is widely considered to be who Victor Kennedy in Love and Monsters is based off of. And by “widely considered” I mean that you’d have to be out of your skull to think that Davies didn’t have Levine in mind when creating that character. But more on that Wednesday.

As mentioned, the bold new approach to Doctor Who failed. The reasons are numerous: a profusion of poor episodes, a paucity of good ones, declining budgets, and a particularly hostile climate at the BBC. The turning point came an episode after The Five Doctors, at the start of 1984, as the story Warriors of the Deep was deemed in hindsight unfit for transmission. Warriors of the Deep was a particularly blatant bit of fan service, bringing back the Silurians and the Sea Devils from the Pertwee era and giving them a team-up. It was also terribly scripted and poorly shot, resulting in an infamously bad story. But in many ways what is most telling about Warriors of the Deep is that it existed - that is, that it was genuinely believed that bringing back two monsters unseen in over a decade was a good idea for the sake of it, and that this single-handedly justified the story.

This coincided almost perfectly with the fallout from Longleat, where, in 1983, a two-day Doctor Who exhibition brought a shockingly large number of fans, many of whom were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were other Doctor Who fans who, well, to be perfectly blunt about it, were nothing like Ian Levine. And this led to Doctor Who fandom in its second form - a somewhat snarky counterreformation that was immediately vindicated when the series in its Ian Levine inspired form crashed and burned, leading to a wealth of finger-pointing and recrimination.

And this is the key thing to realize about Doctor Who fandom in the UK. As an organized activity that went beyond the narrow confines of the officially recognized DWAS it essentially only existed in the period when the show was being actively cancelled. To say that this fact left scars on fandom is an understatement. Equally, however, that generation of fandom became somewhat significant, to say the least. The monthly fan meetups at the Fitzroy Tavern for drinking and bitching were attended by a wealth of important people who went on to write for the show, including such marginal figures as Steven Moffat. And a generation of fans who started writing for the Virgin book line during the wilderness years eventually ended up, you know, running the thing - in the first season only Rob Shearman hadn’t ever written for Virgin, and he’d written for a different fan line during the wilderness years.

The thing is, as much fun as that era of fandom was and as much influence as it had, it was an era of fandom defined first and foremost through the adversity of being fans of an unpopular and widely mocked show that was off the air. And even though a segment of that fandom brought it back and made it a hit, this generation of fandom had, in some instances, some difficulties adjusting. Particularly the portions of that fandom that were somewhat more in line with Ian Levine when it came to the world.

Levine still haunts fandom, for what it’s worth. Those who have followed the missing episode rumors without being hugely aware of Doctor Who fan politics were likely surprised when large amounts of the story hinged on whether one particularly excitable Doctor Who fan believed the rumors, but that’s Ian Levine for you. Likewise, the rushed announcement of Matt Smith’s departure was largely because Levine leaked news of Smith’s departure, though Levine’s investment, characteristically, was his outrage at further delays to the production schedule, which, for him, amount to moral abominations. And he’s far from the only fan of the sort that is probably, in hindsight, better kept indoors and away from polite company. That’s the nature of Doctor Who fandom - a motley collection of oddballs from all walks of life, some of them perfectly ordinary sorts who happen to really like a television program, and others who are… a bit broken and in need of a place who will take them.

What’s important to realize, then, is that there remains a portion of Doctor Who fandom for whom the new series is… difficult. Who didn’t want to be fans of the most popular show on television. They wanted to be fans of a marginal cult show that nobody liked, because, quite frankly, that was safe and pleasant. There are lots more who were overjoyed to see Doctor Who back and actually quite good, but there are people for whom the transition was genuinely awful. It’s instructive to look at rec.arts.doctorwho (aka RADW), the Usenet newsgroup that had been one of the primary vectors for Doctor Who fans to congregate in the early days of the Internet, and remains active to this day. Let’s specifically look at Love and Monsters, that having been a story that upset this particular type of fan more than most.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about RADW’s reaction to Love and Monsters is its odd obsession with the Sylvester McCoy era, to which it was repeatedly compared. “Jesus, what is this? Sylvester McCoy era dross??” asked one poster, while another suggested that “the last two episodes were worse than even the worst of McCoy story. L&M was RTD's Happiness Patrol and Fear Her was his Paradise Towers,” further proclaiming that “RTD has done nothing for Doctor Who except ruin it after 18 episodes which is fewer than JNT needed,” while insisting that the TV movie would have provided the template for a series just as successful as Davies’s revamp.

This may require some context. The early aughts were not a great time for the Sylvester McCoy era, which had enjoyed a long popularity in the 90s, but, following the TV movie, was largely reacted against. That’s neither here nor there - the rise and fall of various eras in fan esteem is of intellectual interest to all but the most dedicated of fan historians. What’s significant is that Love and Monsters, which was the 15th most watched television program in its week, should be compared in the first place to a then nearly twenty year old era in which the show’s highest chart placing was 71st, and where for some stories it didn’t even chart high enough to make it into the ranked figures. Because in 2006 the Sylvester McCoy era was, for a particular segment of fandom, the embodiment of bad Doctor Who, and it was important to complain bitterly about it even while making sure to be clear about how awful the new series was.

Because this is what people seriously believed that Love and Monsters was. Here are some of the more revealing statements, quoted mainly for what they demonstrate about the people making them.

“The X-files at its worst was still played and written in a believable manner but almost every minute of the RTD series is played and written as pure PANTOMIME. There is no similarity between the CRAP RTD has come up with and the X-files. Even the worst self parodies in Stargate SG1 and Farscape were never played as pantomime or written so unbelievably, even the one where Crichton became a cartoon, or the one where a 50's B-Movie style TV Sci-Fi series was made based on the original SG1 adventures, but in the new RTD series almost every single story has been written as a joke. He's turned the show into laughingstock.”

(In response to someone observing that Ursula is played by Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films): “To notice this I would have had to watch the Harry Potter movies. I think this explains why so many people on this NG [newsgroup] seem to like the new DW series- if you watch any old shit aimed at children, then you probably don't know any better.”

“That sucked so hard, it sucked every last iota of goodness out of the universe, leaving nothing but a blistered, suppurating wasteland of darkness and pain.”

The assumptions underlying these posts are profoundly revealing - that the problem with the new series is that it’s watched by people who enjoy “trash” like Harry Potter, that the worst thing the show could possibly be is silly, and, of course, the extreme and comical (admittedly perhaps willfully so) image of a television episode so bad that it can destroy all pleasure in the universe. Which, actually, might just as easily not have been exaggeration given some fans.

It’s also important to realize that the wilderness years were still recent. The Eighth Doctor era and the Ninth Doctor era actually concluded the same month, with the final Eighth Doctor Adventure coming out in June of 2005. The Big Finish line continues to this day. 2006 feels like we’re well into the new series, and we are, but nobody who had lived through the wilderness years  had forgotten about them, and the sudden change in what Doctor Who was as a cultural object was still dizzying.

Even today, though, these fans exist. You can find plenty on GallifreyBase, the current largest Doctor Who forum, should you be filled with enough self-loathing to go looking. They’re a distinct minority of fans, but they’re there and loud. And in the most recent poll on the subject (back in 2011) Love and Monsters had 17.83% of posters rate it as a 1/10, the single largest voting block. (Though notably, 218 people rated it from an 8-10, and over half of those polled rated it “very good” or better, while only 186 rated it from a 1-3. It is an episode that is hated loudly, but not universally. This, however, is a progression in opinions - a poll run by Doctor Who Online at the time had over half of the voters rating it 1/5, and two thirds rating it either 2 or 1.) But it’s in many ways more instructive to look at people in the endless “classic series vs new series” debate threads who continue to insist that the new series has ruined Doctor Who.

As bizarre as many of these declarations are, and they are completely bizarre, it’s worth stressing that this is completely understandable. For people for whom their love of Doctor Who was defined by its marginality, the mainstream is a hostile and scary place. And for those to whom being a Doctor Who fan was a cause of mockery the idea that Doctor Who is serious business becomes an odd refuge, regardless of its relationship with fact or reality. Which is to say that I do want to highlight these fans and point out the myriad of ways that they’re wrong, but I don’t want to do so out of any sort of malice or desire to laugh at them. Rather, it’s important to grasp what Doctor Who fandom, or, at least, a portion of the fandom that had existed during the wilderness years, was like. Especially before Love and Monsters, a story that is, after all, about those fans.

Comments

Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

I remember reading one comment from one poster on what-is-now the Doctor Who Forum which was just seething with bitterness and rage about overhearing one person talk about how much she liked the new series when, according to him, he'd previously heard her talking about how much she hated the old series. It was genuinely unsettling. I mean, I can understand the appeal of a niche when the mainstream seems hostile and frightening to cope with, but goodness, there seem to be a distressing amount of people involved in fandom(s) who seriously need some kind of help that ultimately a TV show can never provide, no matter how seriously it's taken.

It's pretty telling that out of those example comments, two of them feel the need to also rubbish some 'competing' science fiction / fantasy text that was actually popular when Doctor Who wasn't. It seems like there's a segment of fandom (especially from this time) that is consumed with some kind of weird mixture of preening pomposity and crushing insecurity when it comes to 'rivals'.

And the sheer terror of PANTOMIME! (dun-dun-DUNNNN) as well. As if pantomime is the absolute worst thing that Doctor Who can be. Which, okay, panto is generally by nature a bit rubbish and campy, but 90% of pantomime is a hell of a lot more fun than the vision of Doctor Who too many of these people seem to have.

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Andrew 3 years, 8 months ago

Indeed, RTD, said at the time Love & Monsters was broadcast, knowing full well that the last thing some fans want to do is look at themselves ...

"Could you imagine - if this is going after transmission - what certain Doctor Who fans are saying now - about a chase with a steaming bucket? I think there'll be a few more steaming buckets flying about the place now... Oh to be online tonight... I'll be in the jacuzzi!!"

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Alex Antonijevic 3 years, 8 months ago

I always felt I was "doing it wrong" when Love & Monsters was one of the highlights of Series 2 for me. It was probably about this time that I started becoming aware of fandom, rather than just talking about it with friends who also liked the show.

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David 3 years, 8 months ago

I remember watching L&M on transmission and hating it. But then I'd enjoyed everything else in series 2 up till that point (with some reservations about The Idiot's Lantern, most of which were the ones you had in your blog entry). On a rewatch a few years later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that much of the episode was really very good, with only the Scooby Doo chase sequence at the beginning grinding my gears for the first 40 minutes or so (I know it's meant to be from Elton's POV, but it just looks like David and Billie pissing about).

But the ending, from when Victor unmasks himself in the office, still doesn't work for me. What was a rather lovely quirky story about a marginal group suddenly veers off into "Look at how silly we're being!!!" especially when it transpires one poor unfortunate's head is, presumably, where Victor's backside is. "You don't wanna know," the person says in a bizarre TV-land way, which is a slap in the face for in-story credibility. And then Victor leaps over a desk in speeded-up film and we have Elton being chased by a fat green man in a thong. And, yes, the sequence looks crap. It's got nothing to do with comparing it to the Classic series, it just looks crap on its own merits. Having invested in all the characters in this drama, it's very hard to make the leap to "Ha ha, I'm just watching a bit of telly!" ... only to then have to go back to the drama immediately afterwards. (And the shit "Klom!" joke is just an extra kick in the balls.)

And Elton keeping his girlfriend as a head in a paving slab - with some nudge nudge wink wink reference to their relationship continuing - throws up lots of moral quandaries that RTD clearly doesn't want to think about. But it left the episode on a very queasy note for me, and I wasn't the only one.

For me, Love & Monsters is an episode that was inches away from being one of the sweetest episodes in New Who (it clearly has vicious swipes at fandom, but why should I care about those?), and then threw it away for stupid hijinks with the Absorbaloff and an ending which I'm sure RTD found gigglesomely controversial and cheeky but which comes across as tasteless at worst or ill-conceived at best. Notably, when RTD responded to people who didn't like it, he said "They're the sort of fans who think UNIT should come in and sort things out." No, I just want some consideration to the idea that a young woman in 21st Century Britain is no more than a head stuck in a paving slab and entirely dependent on her boyfriend for everything - especially considering if Elton shows her to anybody else, well, yes, she probably would be taken away by mad scientists.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 8 months ago

I was going to save this for the relevant story, but I feel it fits in here better. The polarised reactions of fandom to specific stories irritate the hell out of me, not when they diss something I like (that's their opinion, and we should all have opinions) but when they claim their subjective view as objective fact ("that episode WAS the worst"), that if you have an alternate opinion you're an idiot, and (touched on by Phil) that the story was SO utterly bad it has probably shortened the life of the Universe.

Anyway, I scoured the Rate thread on Outpost Gallifrey after the transmission of the Series 4 finale and collected them together in one long document that for me contains both the worst extremes of fandom and the redeeming warmth of the "normal" fan. Named appropriately after the Simpsons' Comic Book Guy.

http://www.spacewarp.co.uk/who/WorstEpisodeEver.htm

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David 3 years, 8 months ago

For what it's worth, the Androzani.com crew - who in general have written, in my mind, the most balanced and enjoyable reviews of New Series Who - pretty much sum up all of my views on L&M in a much more successful manner!

http://www.androzani.com/love.shtml


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David 3 years, 8 months ago

And I probably should have saved all this for your actual post on L&M - but I'm not around later in the week to see it "live!" I just don't quite like the idea creeping in that the only people who disliked the episode were sad fans and that they only disliked it because they were the people getting mocked in it. There are other, perfectly legitimate reasons not to like a piece of television. (Which I know you know yourself - the way you're discussing it just fits into your wider narrative at this time.)

I wasn't even aware of fandom when I was growing up as a fan! I just collected the books and videos and thought, "These can't just be getting released for my benefit - there's probably a wider audience out there, and maybe one day I'll meet some of them..."

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 8 months ago

A strong post, Dr S, and cleverly timed as well.

I think the desire to figure out where certain fans have seemingly headed so far into left field in their approach to the show is an excellent one, mainly because of how obviously self-destructive I find the amount of sneering distaste a large number of more general sci-fi and fantasy fans seem to have for a small sub-set of Doctor Who fans. For a group of people who so often come together over a love of forms of storytelling that for decades existed "out of the mainstream" to start throwing metaphorial rocks at various stripes of Doctor Who fans as being the really sad and pathetic ones suggests no-one remembers being mocked at school the day they showed up with an issue of DWM or a Babylon 5 VHS tape (substitute one's own minor traumas here, of course).

It changes the argument from "let's all just do our thing" to "why doesn't anyone see that our thing is perfectly normal; it's those people who are the nutballs", which ends up reinforcing the idea that there is some kind of socially unpalatable areas of interest (you know, other than criminal/immoral acts). It's just it's, like, totally not us, yeah?

All of which makes it important to try and figure out what might explain such reactions, and work out to what extent they're a problem. I'm generally not a fan of trying to impute motivations to large groups of people, but as an effort to sketch out possible explanations for a general attitude, this post is very welcome.

(All that said, I really dislike "Love and Monsters", not because it mocks a certain type of fan, but because it comes of as exceptionally mean-spirited and hypocritical. Both in interviews and through his scripts, Davies to me never came across as making the point that some fans needed to realise that other approaches to Who were as valid as their own favourites, so much as that his approach was better than theirs, and if they didn't see that they were idiots.)

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sorrywehurtyourfield 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd say that the factionalisation of Doctor Who fandom has become hugely amplified and complicated more recently by the fact that the new series itself has progressed onto its second distinct era, and we often see a divide between Davies fans and Moffat fans who identify as mutually exclusive.

I have a large number of friends with whom I went to university in the late 2000s - average twenty-something general-interest geeks - whose first introduction to Doctor Who was the Davies era, and who now utterly despise the Moffat era. And in that very specifically fannish way where you realise you hate something, but keep torturing yourself by continuing to watch it . Quite regardless of my own feelings on the matter (I have sympathy with some complaints and rather less with others, but not wishing to derail this discussion...) the sheer force of hatred directed at a mere TV show - and from people who are not anonymous internet people but instead people who I know to be very pleasant company most of the time - is something I've come to find just a little bit frightening.

The thing that I find fascinating is that these are newcomers who were not around for any of the trauma of cancellation or the Wilderness Years, and as Davies fans can hardly be accused of having Levine-esque tastes. They are, however, demonstrating precisely the kind of history-focused nostalgia and declinist paranoia that you identify. It makes me suspect that this is simply an aspect of fan psychology that transcends specific contexts, and one that becomes particularly acute for a show that so regularly switches writers/producers and creative visions.

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Adam Riggio 3 years, 8 months ago

The relation between marginality and the mainstream is something that matters a lot to me as a Doctor Who fan, but I seem to have the precise opposite reaction to the stereotypical Wilderness Years fan. I'm within a year of Phil's age, and discovered (and loved) Doctor Who for the first time when I was about five years old. When Canada's children's cable channel first started, they filled their airspace with a lot of old British sci-fi shows, the most remarkable of which was Doctor Who. This was early 1988, and they started with what were then the current episodes: Sylvester McCoy. To this day, I still have an affection for him and his take on the character. Only Matt Smith's Doctor has surpassed McCoy's in terms of that affection, for personal reasons I'll get to when we get to the Smith era.

But the weird thing is, lots of people at my school liked Doctor Who. Not everyone, but enough that I could have a circle of friends in my primary school who would have seen some of it (there were so many episodes, YTV would play it weekday afternoons, just in time for me to get home from school. They kept playing the show for a few years after cancellation, then around 1992 or 1993, they stopped. The show had disappeared, and even though it still held an important place for me, I largely forgot about it. Then I saw the TV Movie in 1996, which inexplicably stank (I didn't yet know enough about how TV functioned to say why it stank, but I know stank when I see it). But a year later, I got the internet and discovered the online communities. Though I wasn't interested in talking to anyone on it, and mostly just read about the missing episodes, refreshed my existing memories, and started looking into the novel lines. But I never discussed this with anyone I knew, because it was a ropey old sci-fi show that had been off the air for years, and I was 14 years old. I had trouble making friends at this time in my life anyway, and knew that talking about my Doctor Who fandom (though I was into many other things too) wouldn't help that. Even among my nerdier friends, Doctor Who wasn't a discussion topic. We were excited about the big events, like devouring news about the Star Wars prequels, which in 1998 we knew were going to be some of the best sci-fi adventure films ever in the cinema.

But then it came back. And it was really good. And it was an enormous success. And every other major sci-fi franchise was either in the toilet (Star Wars), growing sadly tiresome (Stargate) or was a pathetic shell of its former self (Star Trek). Though I had my issues with it sometimes (like Love and Monsters, which I didn't fully get until about the third time I watched it), it was still the first piece of sci-fi that I ever got into, or loved. It was back, it was brilliant, and it was bigger than it had ever been before. And it's only gotten bigger. I have no qualms or reservations with this. I love this! I hooked up with my last girlfriend over our mutual love of Doctor Who. I can talk about Doctor Who in the general public, people will know what I'm talking about, I'll often meet other fans, and people are usually damn impressed by my dvd shelf. Doctor Who fans who went through or who grew up in the Wilderness Years should be ecstatic today. Our ropey old sci-fi show has regenerated and conquered culture.

We won.

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Chadwick 3 years, 8 months ago

I've felt similar to Dr Who fandom over the years. There's only so much negativity and loathing toward something they supposed to be fans of I can take. Particularly obnoxious are the "Baker/Hinchcliffe/Holmes Only" section who, understandably, hold that era up as a high point but go further and trash any other era as rubbish in comparison. I look at that episode of Junior Points of View from 1985 and see the kinds of fan that ended up giving Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell the licence to kill the show.

I dislike Love and Monsters, but not because of any relation to fandom or critique thereof. Like a lot of RTD stories, this one had a great premise, began intriguingly and had a couple of interesting guest stars but was let down by an awful 3rd act and one badly pitched guest role. Peter Kay, arse talking, eyeball rolling and fellating paving slabs. There's a specific thing The Doctor does which I think is wrong for the story, but that's for the appropriate blog entry. However, the episode is a classic example of RTD over-egging his pudding with too many concepts of dubious value thrown into the mix.

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Froborr 3 years, 8 months ago

I belong to a lot of different fandoms at various degrees of participation, and I have noticed that Doctor Who fandom really does have a particularly large or vocal (hard to tell which sometimes) contingent of "I hate this and will watch it without fail so that I can continually reaffirm my hatred" anti-fans. The only places I see comparable numbers are webcomics and mecha anime. Which... I have no idea what they have in common that would cause this? The only common feature I see is that all three are basically rooted in postmodernism. (Well, mecha anime weren't originally, but anything made after 1996 is either influenced by or reacting against the postmodern as hell genre-redefining Neon Genesis Evangelion.) But then, there are other postmodern works or genres where this contingent isn't as large or loud (Princess Tutu fans, for instance, are the sweetest, most positive people you will ever meet, all twelve of them), so I don't think that's it.

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Jesse 3 years, 8 months ago

if you watch any old shit aimed at children, then you probably don't know any better

On the rare occasions that I venture into Gallifrey Base -- I blame the commenters on this blog for making me curious about it! -- I'm struck by the people who use phrases like "aimed at children" and "childish" to describe anything playful or funny, even when (as with Love & Monsters or various Moffat-era episodes) the episode is clearly rather sophisticated. What makes it worse is that these tend to be the people who think the show should be more like Warriors of the Deep, which is childish in the worst sense of the word. I try very hard to understand the perspectives of people different from me, but I can't quite get my head around a worldview that amounts to "Your experimental approach to television is kiddy stuff. Please give me something more mature, by which I mean the monsters I liked watching when I was a boy."

Anyway. I think Love & Monsters is by far the best Davies-penned episode of the series, and I look forward to your comments on it.

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Jesse 3 years, 8 months ago

Meanwhile, here's a little something I wrote back before I'd even heard of Ian Levine (or, at least, before I realized his name was significant).

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jane 3 years, 8 months ago

I recall a similar schism in the Buffy fandom towards the last couple years of that show -- not that many people were praising Buffy to high heaven at that point, but that some were now actively voicing their displeasure with the current product, especially in relationship to its earlier years. Like Who, the production team behind the show had changed: with Whedon's spinoff Angel in the works, Marti Noxon was promoted to supervising producer, so it was easy to wax wroth about the show's shortcomings without fully implicating its divine creator.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm certain this is because when these people first saw Warriors of the Deep they actually were children. Another side of Who fandom is the willingness to compare two television programmes with 30 years between them. You wouldn't consider this valid with anything else on TV, yet with Dr Who it is deemed acceptable...ironically only when pointing out how obvious it is that the older programme is actually better than the modern one.

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Steven Clubb 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm constantly amused by someone who "stopped watching" the show the Christmas before last, but has somehow managed to watch and comment on every single episode since then.

He's also complaining bitterly about the new Lone Ranger movie being too "realistic", so he's kind of delusional.

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Assad K 3 years, 8 months ago

I find it interesting that opprobium seems to be reserved solely for those people who trash NuWho while holding up Lett/Hinchcliffe etc as standards to which the show should return. In my experience (well, as long as we are just talking about the internet) there is an at least equally strong and vocal contingent that will insult OldWho and people who like it. If anything it might be even larger - after all, Dr Sandifer notes that web traffic has increased considerably with coverage of NuWho. This was a group of people who often believed that anyone who disliked NuWho disliked it not because they may have issues with the narrative style or the story or the characterization - but that any dislike is solely based on being homophobic or being trolls living in their parents basement and unable to relate to other human beings or talk to gurlz. And let me state, they are as adamant about their idea of Dr Who being the 'right' one as .. well, Ian Levine, probably, because we ALL think we are right (as SpaceSquid and David note, though more eloquently).
I am surprised, though, to hear that the TV movie could conceivably be held up as a template for future Who, given that it had that smooch, and the half-human 'revelation'.. and let's not get into the Masters impressive new abilities.
I share Chadwicks and some other views as having a more-negative-than-positive view of L&M, and for similar reasons, but like them will await Wednesday.. which means I better rewatch the episode again today!

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

I'll save overall comments for the actual entry, but I want to note: My immediate reaction upon transmission to the Scooby-Doo sequence was "Awesome!"

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

It changes the argument from "let's all just do our thing" to "why doesn't anyone see that our thing is perfectly normal; it's those people who are the nutballs", which ends up reinforcing the idea that there is some kind of socially unpalatable areas of interest (you know, other than criminal/immoral acts). It's just it's, like, totally not us, yeah?

Quoted for truth.

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd go beyond "fan psychology" and say this is a general human thing; there's always a faction who will blame the new thing for not being more of the old thing, even when the old thing came to a clear and distinct end. It's easier to delineate in fandom, because, really, one function of fandom is figuring out which things you like and which you don't.

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

I dunno. I don't think there's really that much trashing of Old Who by New Who fans, because they feel pretty much zero pressure to watch it if they don't like it. They've got something that satisfies them - or, if they don't, it's Moffat's fault. Sure, there's a few who will do so just to piss in someone else's eggs, but at that point you're in the straightforward troll category.

By comparison, Old Who fans who don't like the new series are more likely to seek something they hope will satisfy them in it, and come away without that satisfaction, or with it mixed with something they don't like.

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

And now I'm wondering exactly how organized fans have to be to be "fandom".

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't think I've ever seen a New Who fan say in any seriousness "Classic Doctor Who Doesn't Count".

Although that might be the best thing ever for a Gallifrey Base signature.

Of course that would be blatant trolling. And "Wrong".

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Steven Clubb 3 years, 8 months ago

Then there's the common human misconception that because they dislike something, that means it's bad. A tendency that gets amplified a thousand fold in fandom.

As I mentioned elsewhere, there's a particular fan I enjoy watching because he hates Moffat and goes about listing all the ways Moffat is messing up Who... many of which were qualities very much in affect during the RTD years which he enjoyed. Seems Moffat is putting too much sexual innuendo into Who, while he seems to have been out of the room every time Jackie Tyler opened her mouth.

Fans are funny that way. When you spot one of the bat-shit crazy ones, just sit back and enjoy their ramblings, because there's absolutely no point in interacting with them.

There's plenty of people who can communicate their opinions (negative and positive) without sounding like a gibbering idiot, and they're the ones who are fun to talk to because they often open your eyes to things you didn't notice on your own. The knee-jerk brigade's inability to see anything good or decent in the things they dislike make their opinions fundamentally worthless.

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Chris Andersen 3 years, 8 months ago

I've always had a soft spot for L&M because I thought it really was rather sweet in its portrayal of the misc. people who had contact with The Doctor over the years. Let's call them proto-companions: people who, but for a failure of timing, might very well have journeyed with The Doctor and gotten a blast out of it. You have to imagine that for every person who does get the chance to travel with him, there are hundreds who would have done so as well if given the opportunity.

But you are right that the ending spoils the overall rating of the episode. The girlfriend on a slab may have been RTD's idea of a cute joke, but I just found the whole concept seriously disturbing. Either bring her back in full so Elton could have a real girlfriend or kill her off.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I feel like I'll end up making this point a bunch later on but...

Who are we to say that her life and their relationship is any less valid? Isn't that kind of abelist? Just because you and I might not want to live like that doesn't mean it's not a state Ursula could live in happily.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

So Fandom.

A few months ago (when series 7 was getting started) I was very excited. Very, very excited. I was refreshing youtube channels for episodes of “Pond Life”. I was very much head over heels psyched for Doctor Who’s return. I was not a commenter here yet, nor did I have any friends that were remotely as in to Doctor Who as I. So I went down to Gallifrey Base.

I was on there from the start of “Pond Life” to “The Angels Take Manhattan” and it made me miserable. I found far more people being negative about the show than were being positive. I could see people giving high ratings to episodes, but the comment threads were brutal. In the end it was affecting my ability to enjoy the show, so I stay away. The only places I discuss Doctor Who are with close friends or here. Occasionally io9, but I find that they get fairly negative fairly quickly. Also I disagree with Charlie Jane Anders (who does their Who coverage) a fair bit so in general I don't engage.

Doctor S, are you ever going to address the Fandom you've developed in a blog entry? It seems like you're part of the story now.

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Steven Clubb 3 years, 8 months ago

I post a bit on some of the side boards because there's loads of cool folks over there, but the new episode threads are just a cesspool thanks to a relatively small handful of folks.

It's strange, because I rarely have trouble finding cool people to talk to Who about everywhere else.

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Assad K 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, I may be wrong but.. well, we're talking about a paving slab and a human. I'm not sure that there can be a comparison with a human being, even a quadriplegic. For instance, Elton can't exactly invite people over, or take her out with others.. or, indeed, explain what the heck is going on. Stephen Hawking is far better off than Ursula in her final state! There's a pretty clear blowjob joke there, but of course Elton can hardly reciprocate. And if, someday, Elton finds that sleeping with a paving slab is not a very comfortable arrangement.. what then???? I know, this is probably wayyy overanalyzing the situation, but just call me Ian Levine then.

Maybe all this would be better saved for Wednesday. :)

By the way, are you suggesting that perhaps Borusa was not actually punished in his ultimate fate..? ;)

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elvwood 3 years, 8 months ago

I was in the happy position of not caring about DW when it came back, so avoided the angst of the fans at the time. Indeed, I had no idea there was such a thing as fandom! I became a viewer with The Christmas Invasion, and gradually got more and more into it. I had strong opinions, but no communication with others. I was given Mark Campbell's The Episode Guide, but that was about it for finding out what other people thought (other than friends and family).

Eventually, though, in 2010, I discovered Gallifrey Base. I dived into reading loads of different things, including the review threads. And you know what? It was horrible, filled with all the bile that Theonlyspiral and others have been talking about. It nearly put me off GB; but luckily I figured out there were other areas where this didn't happen (well, hardly ever). The marathon section has loads of nice people interacting thoughtfully. The trading forum has helped me catch up on a lot that I've missed. And even the review threads aren't too bad if you stay away from TV. So I guess what I'm saying is, yeah, it can be terrible, but don't have one, monolithic vision of the whole site.

Heck, I doubt I'd have found this blog without it!

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Alan 3 years, 8 months ago

This. I didn't hate L&M because it was meant to be a funny episode. I didn't hate L&M because the second half featured a lot of disturbing body horror. I hated L&M because it had a lot of disturbing body horror that it wanted me to laugh at. I mean, the LINDA crew were a bunch of very nice likeable people and they all died in what I considered to be a very horrific way, except for the girl at the end who "survived" as a sort of concrete sex toy for her disturbed boyfriend. And that was framed as a happy ending!

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Spoilers Below 3 years, 8 months ago

Ian Levine's other contribution to the fandom can, unfortunately, be seen only in snippets and pieces he's released over the years. Because of the comical, Scrooge McDuck-esque amount of money he has, he would regularly hire Doctor Who actors to come over to his house and film scripted episodes that hadn't ever made it to production, based on his theory that "There are no bad episodes of Doctor Who".

He released a trailer for 12 of his productions, and, well... It's nice to know that Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred, and Nicholas Courtney were getting work in the mid-90s and early 2000s. They possess an amazing, absurdist charm that can only be truly experienced after a couple glasses of wine and midnight has struck. Watching an older McCoy wearing an approximation of his costume slouch through a long continuity discussion with the guy in charge of the Yeti, or a bunch of South Park-style cut up photographs of Roger Delgado and Colin Baker wrestling on top of a radio tower is a sight to behold. Exposed to the light of day, well... Some of the animated reconstructions of missing episodes aren't too bad, Mission to the Unknown especially.

Needless to say, Levine and I disagree about what Doctor Who ought to be. His vision of the show can be experienced here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUS9c8Ovs6c&feature=youtu.be

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I would have to be familiar with the episode in question to say whether or not Borusa was punished.

And lets save this for tomorrow. I have some good thoughts and I don't want the L&M thread to be short. Which it might be (/sarcasm).

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, I find all the "sex toy" stuff a seriously stretched reading. It's just one line! (Yes, a line that probably would have been better not to have been in there, but.)

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Alan 3 years, 8 months ago

For what it's worth, I stopped buying Marvel comics cold turkey after the Civil War crossover event, but I still follow various comics spoiler sites so I can stay abreast of what is happening continuity wise and also remind myself why Marvel will never see another dime from me. That said, I don't make a point of trolling Marvel forums to articulate some seven years after the fact why I think Civil War was the worst thing ever in the history of Marvel Comics. I'm self-righteous but not petty.

Also, I distinctly recall following the Usenet group for ST: Voyager when it was on, not for any discussion of the show which was awful but for the snarky reviews by haters would watch each episode several times in preparation for long and lovingly written posts about how bad each episode would be.

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

I find it difficult to see how the negative reactions to the innuendo at the end don't come down to "disabled people shouldn't have sex because able-bodied people find it icky". Elton and Ursula seem to have a happy relationship, regardless of her severely damaged condition. Why all the hate?

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Assad K 3 years, 8 months ago

Theonlyspiral.. THE FIVE DOCTORS!!!
:O

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Froborr 3 years, 8 months ago

+50 "Hell yeah!" points for referencing Henry Jenkins, and another 30 for the adjective "Phildicksian."

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sorrywehurtyourfield 3 years, 8 months ago

Whoa. Mind blown..

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Assad K 3 years, 8 months ago

Seeing Levine and Saward in the documentaries on the DVDs make me want to yell at the screen. Sorry, but they do!!! Not necessarily because of what they say, but.. ergh.

However.. Philip Hinchcliffe.. my God, what en elegant looking and sounding fellow! I want him at every dinner party I ever have!

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 8 months ago

I've seen new series fans generally interested in the classic series, but sometimes put off by the production values and screaming.

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Alan 3 years, 8 months ago

To American audiences (and especially American audiences that didn't grow up with it), most of OldWho is unwatchable. It has nothing to do with story lines or whether there are or are not classic monsters or the performances of the actors. It is entirely due to the fact that (as Phil has noted repeatedly) current audiences having grown up after Star Wars and its sequels simply will not tolerate sci-fi that appears shoddily made. For what it's worth, almost nobody watches Buck Rogers or old BSG either. Classic Trek is the only pre-Star Wars show for whom modern fans hold any reverence and that show's production values even in 1969 were vastly better than DW could have maintained for any length of time at any point in its original run due to the expense involved.

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Spoilers Below 3 years, 8 months ago

I first watched Warriors of the Deep on VHS in one sitting, on a huge flat screen TV owned by some friends my spouse and I were house-sitting for, which is exactly how it wasn't designed to be seen.

You could see everything that was wrong with it, from the hastily thrown together sets to the wonderful/horrible Myrka costume electrocuting Ingrid Pitt while she attempts to kung fu it to death. It was enjoyable for the same reasons Plan 9 from Outer Space is. It also had Turlough going for it, but that's hardly responsible criticism on my part. Would have helped if they could balance the background music with the speaking parts, because the Silurians and Sea Devils are almost completely inaudible. My spouse couldn't understand why they were making a big deal out of these two monsters coming back, since they don't seem to be doing anything, and the plot about the foreign agents is much more interesting, a statement I agree with.

I have an incredibly high tolerance for bad television provided it's doing something interesting or laughably bad, but this is not what I'd want Doctor Who to be. But I'm glad it's there to point to and say "Really, this is what you want the show to be? The Abzorbaloff is too silly, but a lumbering green two-man horse costume isn't?"

(Of course, the response of "No, they both stink..." is one I don't have a great response to, but...)

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

Sweet Jesus.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

Do you read any comics Alan or was Civil War it forever?

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Alan 3 years, 8 months ago

Holy crap! Ian Levine IS the Absorbaloff!!! Sweet tap-dancing Christ, how could any sentient being put that garbage up in a public place for anyone to see and not feel humiliated by it?!? I've seen Youtube videos made by children with their Doctor Who action figures that are better made than that!

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Assad K 3 years, 8 months ago

Those are unfortunate comparisons, Alan.. because really, Buck Rogers and BSG are utter shite - with dramatically better production values than Dr Who. If it's not stories or monsters or performances, all that's really left is production values. I don't really know if Classic Trek has dramatically better production value than Classic Who - upto a point. What else can we compare that's out there - Outer Limits? Twilight Zone? Logans run? I am actually blanking on US sci fi TV in the pre-BSG so forgive me.. I don't know if Who from the 60s is so much inferior to TZ's sci-fi productions. After the SW/BSG appearance, of course, things pull apart much further, leading to the oft quoted 'one episode of TNG had the budget of one season of Sly McCoy', and of course Earthshock came out of the desire to try to match American TV. And.. hm, now I've lost my point.

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 8 months ago

Like others here, I have had some negative experiences with fandom, although I don't think I've actually interacted with them except for a brief time I was on Reddit. I usually just see comments and they make me upset. I think I've progressed past the point where I can look at my era objectively, so I don't bother anymore.

Two interesting points: the creation of "bad episodes" and "good episodes" as if you can't question it. Phil's covered these already, of course. It would be really nice if one could watch Doctor Who without preconceived notions or feel like they should slag off "Love & Monsters" and "Fear Her" and hold Earthshock high...I did find that there is probably a good and bad reading of each episode so I've given up rating them. I just know how I feel about them, which I find much more interesting. I liked "Fear Her"! I love "The Rings of Akhaten"! I don't get what's so great about "The Doctor's Wife"! (Disclaimer: I don't think there's anything wrong with the episode - although I did have some problems with the ending at first - but I just can't get into as much.) I'm far more interested in each person's Doctor Who journey.

I also have an aunt whose boyfriend watches Syfy (and now BBCA) obsessively, and so I guess they've watched Doctor Who from the revival's beginning. Two years ago (2011) when I had gotten into the show, my dad brought it up and she said, "I don't like the new guy. I liked the other two better." I was a bit sad but I kept quiet, because I had only just started watching Eccleston and Tennant. The next year she says the same thing and I frowned and my younger brother was like, "We like him!" (Matt Smith's Doctor is pretty much a part of our family at this point.) This year when she said it I finally blew my top although I didn't say anything really coherant. (My brother, who was more calm, just said, "How do you not like him?")

And that's what fandom made me scared of...when I wear my shirt that has the logo and the TARDIS on it and people say, "Cool shirt!", I'm terrified they're going to question who my favorite Doctor is and not understand. (That said, I've found that young American fans are much more accepting of everything in the show, though they are quite meme-happy.)

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HarlequiNQB 3 years, 8 months ago

As someone who works on a popular franchise (video games, not TV) I know what it's like to be on both sides of fandom, and I also know that Doctor Who is certainly not alone in this "the old ones were the best" fracturing of the fan base, but Who has been around for a long time, so there's vastly more 'old ones' for people to love (or hate) than there are in more recent franchises, and also, given it's current popularity, more fans.

That said, the franchise I work on is itself pretty postmodern, so I guess it does tie into your theory.

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David 3 years, 8 months ago

Iain - As explained already, there's surely a difference between a disabled person and a person who is now a paving slab with a face? Perhaps not morally, but practically? Should a relationship end, a disabled person can still move on and live a life elsewhere. The options for a sentient paving slab in 21st Century Earth are very limited. And should their relationship be absolutely fine, you still have the fact that Elton's going to have to keep her in hiding or allow only a limited number of friends to see her - ones who aren't liable to rush off and tell the papers, or start a rumour that eventually gets the army or even - yes! - an organisation like UNIT or Torchwood involved!

Now, you may say this is all pointless chat. We're speculating on the possible future relationship of two entirely fictional characters. But in a way, this is just it - RTD has just chucked in this development as a glib way to end an episode on a laugh, in which the continuing relationship is nestled within a blowjob gag (as if that's the only problem such a relationship might throw up, eh boys and girls - "How are they gonna do it?") It's always struck me as a bit distasteful. The lack of thought is displayed in, as also mentioned, the fate of the people absorbed, whose absorbtion is partly treated as a laugh - "Trust me, you don't want to know," - or entirely forgotten about (as presumably they're all finally killed when the Absorbaloff explodes).

This might be the point. Maybe it's all a bit of a sick joke, or at the least a very dark one. RTD isn't beyond killing off nice people who don't deserve it - Voyage of the Damned is built around such a notion. But if it is such a joke then it's incredibly mean-spirited and so Your Mileage May Vary. For myself, I just don't like it. The episode up until the last 10 minutes is wonderful, until the tone starts veering all over the place.

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Assad K 3 years, 8 months ago

That was a tad painful to see...
Though it does have Downtime - novelized by Marc Platt, or adapted from a novel by Marc Platt? - and hm, Death Comes To Time.. that was kinda official, weren't it?

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David 3 years, 8 months ago

I dunno, maybe it's just because I'm a playwright, and in theatre there's less "throw lots of stuff into a melting pot" and more "choose a theme or a situation and analyse it thoroughly for drama." There's more of a school of thought that if you're going to bring up something potentially quite serious - like the relationship between a man and his paving slab! - then you actually examine the consequences of it; you don't just throw it in in a somewhat glib manner at the very end. And, really, the rest of Love & Monsters does stick to a relatively simple story and examines it thoroughly. As I've said already, I really like it up until it starts going silly with the reveal of the Absorbaloff.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

As an aside to HarlequiNQB: SR3 is the greatest open world game of all time. Don't listen to the haters. I have played it through twice and likely will again soon.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I've never seen the Five Doctors. I've read a summary and the blog post here, but never watched it. I think I'd have to watch it before I feel qualified to talk about whether or not Borusa is properly punished.

David: There are plenty of plays that raise issues and never adderess them fully. The episode isn't about themes of relationships between the differently able: It's about fandom. Throwing it in as a lark seems perfectly acceptable.

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David Thiel 3 years, 8 months ago

Holy crap. I did not know that existed. Must've been nice to be able to ring up Lis Sladen and have her pop by the house to perform in character.

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Nyq Only 3 years, 8 months ago

//Doctor S, are you ever going to address the Fandom you've developed in a blog entry? It seems like you're part of the story now.//

Wouldn't we need to become more self-righteously obnoxious to be a proper fandom? "Worst psychconrongraphic exploration of Blake's gnostic syncretism EVER!"

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 8 months ago

Hey, I'm a young American! Well, I admit I have quite a bit of tolerance for it and find it interesting...however, I don't think classic Who fans can always get away with the "they didn't have the budgets so they couldn't lean on that has a crutch, so the writing's better" line. I mean, some of the classic serials have really drawn-out and silly plots when you look at them because of the format of long serials. I mean, I love Invasion of the Dinosaurs, but it's quite far-fetched. (And, y'know, there's Tomb of the Cybermen, which Phil has covered in detail already.)

By the way, my larger comment disappeared at the bottom of the page...could it be reinstated, please? Thanks.

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 8 months ago

Also, other reasons new series (particularly American) fans are put off watching the classic series: the sheer amount of it, missing episodes, not knowing where to start, and availability of the episodes themselves.

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HarlequiNQB 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Theonlyspiral :)

I am in the odd position of being a huge fan of the property I work on, as are many on the team, but it's always nice to hear that others appreciate it too :)

I think I'm safe in saying that if you enjoyed 3 you're going to like 4. I know I'm greatly looking forward to playing it at home :)

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

I think I could bring myself to forgive Ian Levine almost anything if I knew that he actually had piles of gold coins in a room in his house and body-surfed them at every opportunity. While quacking.

As for Philip Hinchcliffe, Assad, I couldn't agree with you more.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

That sucked so hard, it sucked every last iota of goodness out of the universe, leaving nothing but a blistered, suppurating wasteland of darkness and pain.

Okay, a simple "wrong" would've done just fine.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

when they claim their subjective view as objective fact

If any of us seriously believed, all the way down, that aesthetic judgments couldn't be objective, why on earth would we be here discussing this stuff?

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

I've been gradually enjoying the new series more and more as it's gone on, but I'd say it wasn't until a few months ago (!!), when I happened to watch "Time-Flight" and "The Runaway Bride" back to back, that the differences between the old show and the new jumped sharply into focus and I really understood how different they were. I got it intellectually, but it didn't hit home emotionally until then. It doesn't really surprise me that fans of one have difficulty making the leap to the other; it surprises me more that it happens at all. Their priorities are almost fully inverted and if you grew up with one of them (I started at 8 with reruns of Pertwee and Baker, and lots of noveli{s,z}ations), one is probably in your DNA, making it all the harder to see two faces instead of a vase. But so, so rewarding.

I wonder if Doctor Who is in a very specific sweet spot that gives rise to attitudes about it (and attitudes about attitudes about it) that you don't see with other SF franchises? Like I wonder if Star Trek fandom is so big that it stands out a lot less that there are fans who complain about every episode but still watch them? Whereas with this show it seems to stand out a lot more because, until 2005, fandom (as opposed to "the people who watch the show") WAS so much smaller? I might be talking nonsense; I don't tend to get too deep into TV/comic/movie fandoms (though I spent a lot of time in various music fan communities for a while) so maybe this really is a unique phenomenon.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

the television viewer "cannot write anything on the screen of his set"

Sez who? I've got my markers right here.

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

Why wouldn't we be?

I mean, if you allow that anything can be even partially subjective (beauty? the appeal of a specific song? whether a moment in Doctor Who moves you to tears?), isn't it all the more interesting to compare reactions and try to understand them? Is the only reason to discuss anything that you believe there is a singular truth about it that you'd like to discover?

I realize this is your life's work, and I don't want to hijack the thread, but I don't understand why you'd assume subjective opinions (assuming you believe they are possible, which you may not) wouldn't be worth discussing.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

Classic Trek is the only pre-Star Wars show for whom modern fans hold any reverence

Twilight Zone is definitely another. Partly, I suspect, because it's shot so beautifully that dodgy special effects become less noticeable.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

I would also note that most American OldWho fans first saw OldWho after seeing Star Wars, through Tom Baker reruns on PBS.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

We should start arguing about which was better, the Troughton era of Sandifer or the McCoy era of Sandifer or ...

Tennant-era Sandifer is ruining the Eruditorum!!!

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I preordered it as soon as Steam gave me the option. I loved the super powers in SR3's DLC so 4 giving more of what I want is excellent. I'll stop hijacking and gushing now.

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Froborr 3 years, 8 months ago

Also, if the television viewer is using an old CRT, he can stick American "cheese" slices to the screen by tossing them at it just right.

This has nothing to do with anything, it's just the only use I've been able to find for processed pseudo-cheese.

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Froborr 3 years, 8 months ago

Oh, I agree you definitely get "the old ones were best" fracturing in any fan base. What I find interesting is people who keep watching something they hate, so that they can hate it. For instance, I loved the first three Star Trek series (especially DS9), so when Voyager started I watched it religiously. It was terrible, so after a dozen episodes or so I stopped. I briefly started rewatching again around the time the Borg showed up because my brother insisted... it was still terrible, so I stopped again. When Enterprise started up I checked out reviews, saw that people whose opinions I respected all hated it, and never bothered to watch it.

I can only really see two explanations for this phenomenon. The first is that these fans actually like what they're watching, but for whatever reason don't feel comfortable admitting it, so they pretend to hate it. (This would be how I watched She-Ra when I was six.) The second is that they feel "fan" is a prescriptive label--that they will lose their status as fans if they stop watching, and it's too much a part of their self-image to let go of it, so they keep watching a show they hate.

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prandeamus 3 years, 8 months ago

I'll say it now, in advance of Wednesday's posting. What makes L&M unpleasant to me is the whole paving slab thing. Not just the sly implication of oral sex ... although that feels wrong in a kids show. It's that the Doctor makes no attempt to write the wrong. It just feels lazy.

And the way the Doctor riffs on variations of "absorbaloff" sounds cruel to the kid who thought it up. Just use the name, for pity's sake. It's not that it mocks fandom (it's a celebration of fannishness, and that's fine). I just feel that it's rude to the audience in some way.

The scooby-doo corridor thing also does not work for me, but it's forgivable.

Lots of good things to see tho, I like the cast and it's an interesting alternative view of things. But the bad points outweigh the good ones.

I look forward to Wednesday's redemptive reading.

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Abigail Brady 3 years, 8 months ago

I feel the need to defend Colin and Nicholas by pointing out that's not them, but sound-alikes. (Well, not even sound-alikes).

Don't know what Sly was thinking, though.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 8 months ago

"Shit, my taxes are due?"

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George Potter 3 years, 8 months ago

I've been a fan since '79, but American. It was never a thing to be mocked when I was growing up, because few people saw it and those who did tended to like it. It was just one of those things some kids talked about. I was 17 when it was canceled and was really enjoying the McCoy era. I got into the tape-trading scene (having a good supply of classic episodes in the highest quality I could tape them) and from there into usenet. I loved reading about the novels, which were sold nowhere and far too expensive for me to import, and watching people argue about the novels. The creative groups were very nice and welcoming to new people.

Even on the main discussion group there were really cool people. I once participated in a group read of some lost Hartnell's where a bunch of folks all read an episode each night and commented on it the next. There were some very knowledgeable people there who knew about the director's style and how FX were achieved at the time who made the whole thing better, a sort of imaginary Condidential.

But that was just in corners. The rest of rec.arts.dw was a great swirling affray -- the time war, as each eras extremist fans decided to battle to ascendancy (of what I'm not quite sure). And almost all of them hated McCoy, who by the time of my longest foray there ('99-'02), had become a cartoon devil, the creature who destroyed the show. If you liked him or his era, or Andrew Cartmel or any of the writers, to any degree, you were a 'pro-McCoy troll.' I kid you not. But it was worth reading for folks like Jon Blum and Kate Orman and Charles Daniels, and quite a few more, who were all great. They defended the McCoy era eloquently and well, with great humor and bite.

And, as negative as GB is, it's really not on the order of what rec.arts.dw used to be. GB is actually pretty well modded and nastiness kept to a minimum. usenet was a free for all. I stopped going there completely after some really horrible posts when JN-T died, for example. GB is mostly just tedious. I still go there for the fiction community and I read a few threads that involve people I know will pretty much agree with me and would argue the same case. It's just easier.

For all I know, the McCoy Flame Wars rage on still. Maybe some things really are timeless.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I like to think that all Sandifier after the TV Movie is a different blog and doesn't really count! ;P

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Nightsky 3 years, 8 months ago

Alan, I wouldn't go that far. I learned to love SF with crap production values thanks to an adolescence misspent watching MST3K. I suspect I'm not the only one.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

"How bad could it be?"

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

Sylv's performances here are interesting. In the crap animation with Sophie Aldred, his voice acting is excellent, the only time in this whole sorry trailer that anyone manages to bring depth and meaning to the tedious dialogue. But in the live action sequences, he visibly doesn't give a toss and his performance is not so much phoned in as rolled up, suffed in a bottle and chucked into the sea from a desert island.

I guess it's the difference between doing a vocal performance in a recording studio with a professional friend and colleague, and finding yourself on stage with a set of delusional incompetents who would need three years at RADA to reach the level of amateur.

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

Sandifer must go!!!!

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

This may be one of the many places where the strong early influence of 2000AD of Davies is evident. That kind of darkly humorous whimsy would be par for the course in Judge Dredd, to say nothing of DR and Quinch.

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

With Doctor Who, it's all the more likely that the show you dislike now will turn into a show you love at the next change of showrunners, or Doctors, or even as soon as the next episode.

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David Thiel 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't feel as if I fit neatly into any of the categories of fandom being discussed here. I'm very much an old-school fan, yet I could not abide the paths taken when fandom took over during the "wilderness years." I love the hell out of the new show, but I have serious reservations about the Moffat era. I fall between the stools no matter how you arrange them.

I'm an American who first saw the show at 11 years old in 1975, when the first three series of Pertwee were syndicated on WTTW in Chicago. I eagerly sought out Target novelizations and tried in vain to assemble a coherent history of the program in the days before Jean-Marc Lofficer. The height of my fandom was during the JNT/DWM era, but even then I only had a vague idea of what the larger community was up to. Heck, until I started reading this blog I only knew of Ian Levine as a name of someone who was kinda connected to the show somehow.

On one hand, I'm enough of a grognard that I really did think "Warriors of the Deep" sounded like a great idea until I saw it. On the other, I cannot deny that the new series is better than the original in just about every way.

During the RTD era, I was more than willing to forgive the deus ex machinas for the sheer joy of not only having "Doctor Who" back, but wildly popular as well. And I not only didn't mind the silliness, I embraced it for shucking off the misguided attempts of the "wilderness years" to turn "Who" into a dark, adult franchise.

In the present, I find myself becoming less enchanted with "Who." I had very much looked forward to Moffat taking over the show, until he actually did it. He's made some questionable design choices, indulged in timey-wimeyness to the detriment of coherent plotting, and allowed the Maryest of Mary Sues to dominate the narrative. On some level, it bothers me that for many American fans, this is "their" Doctor. And I dearly wish that Moffat wasn't overseeing the 50th anniversary; we could've had 13 episodes and "The Eleven Doctors."

All of that said, I don't follow my peers in damning the show in its present form. I stay with it, enjoying the parts I like, trying to ignore those I don't, and knowing that the one constant of "Doctor Who" is that nothing stays the same for very long.

In the end, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think that I'm any of the people being described here.

Though the Absorbaloff sucks.

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 8 months ago

I will never regret Matt Smith being my Doctor. I mean, whatever reservations you have about the stories, he still gives a great and often touching peformance. (I still remain hopelessly enchanted because it makes me ridiculously happy.)

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elvwood 3 years, 8 months ago

I wrote a comment explaining how the blog should be run in order to take it back to it's original glory days, and he deliberately removed it! I bet he'll blame Blogger too. He's running it into the ground, and it'll be cancelled any day now. Mark my words.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 8 months ago

I can't wait for Moffat to take over.

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David Thiel 3 years, 8 months ago

To each their own Doctor. I don't dislike Matt Smith, but it's hard for me to disentangle his performance from the context of the stories in which he appears. He's clearly the right Doctor for this era, for good and for ill.

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David Thiel 3 years, 8 months ago

HarlequiNQB, may I assume that you are also in the Champaign-Urbana area?

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 8 months ago

Oh yeah, I understand. I just had to say something :)

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, I don't think purely subjective opinions are possible, no. Opinions are factive in form. I agree that there are variations, but I don't think variability = subjectivity. (The fact that this jacket is too big for Chris but too small for Robin is a perfectly objective fact.) But unless these variations were specific variations within shared genera, I'm not sure there'd be much to talk about.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

On a more serious note: YouTube is modern technology's way of enabling viewers (and by viewers I mean both the makers and the audience of YouTube videos) to scribble on the screen.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

When is Levine going to take over?

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Corpus Christi Music Scene 3 years, 8 months ago

I think to blame Moffat for the scheduling and the shortage of episodes is wrong . It should be clear by now that the BBC is no longer giving DW the support it used to do in spite of how popular it has become worldwide . A simple comparison of the two eras:
Davies/Gardner ( yes she deserves full credit) : Confidential,Totally DW, 2 animated adventures , 2 spin-off shows , 2 shows specifically designed to fill the slot when DW was off the air (Robin Hood / Merlin). Moffat:Staggered schedules ,and an unexpected gap-year (2012).We could have had a fourth season with Smith if the BBC would finance DW in the manner it deserves.

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ferret 3 years, 8 months ago

I demand a whole book for John Hurt's Doctor, or this entire project is worthless

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William Silvia 3 years, 8 months ago

It's perfectly write to blame Moffat considering that he's running two shows, yet he doesn't seem to have time to edit a single script in the one that's getting one sixth the amount of episodes per year that it used to.

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Josiah Rowe 3 years, 8 months ago

Guess you weren't able to get access to the old Outpost Gallifrey forums... Pity, as that's where the action, for better or worse, really was in 2006. Still, the rec.arts.drwho quotes you found do show the animus of fandom well enough.

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Corpus Christi Music Scene 3 years, 8 months ago

And again I would say this has more to do with BBC sixth-floor number crunchers than Moffat himself.

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James V 3 years, 8 months ago

19-year-old American film student here, with the biggest shelf of classic Who DVDs out of anyone I know. The end results of special effects aren't nearly as interesting to me as the processes by which they're achieved. I'm in love with the craftsmanship and artifice of film/television, and classic Who helped foster that love.

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matt bracher 3 years, 8 months ago

I went to University from 1987 - 1992, but when I got deeply into the C.S. department is murky. But I got involved with r.a.drwho just as the series came to an end or ended.

Those were the first five years of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", and over on *that* newsgroup there was obvious acrimony. People's geek cred was challenged, probably also their parentage, people were rude and nasty, and a few people were disgustingly misogynistic. These people were obviously the minority in the newsgroup, but their trolling set an overall tone.

One memorable statement: "Son, you're the first person I've put in my kill file. And I use the word 'person' lightly" (probably paraphrased, but tone is intact). That came from one of the people who WAS constructive, and who was just tired of the viciousness.

I don't remember anything of the sort for "Who". As a matter of fact, I caught on late that the series *had* been cancelled -- probably because the BBC never did cancel it. It had come back from hiatus once, so a few probably remembered that. It wasn't until I saw the first New Adventure in the campus book store that I realized something different was going on.

My strongest memory was finding someone's timeline out on Usenet. It ended several Doctors earlier, and I checked with people on r.a.drwho about whether the original author (whose contact info didn't work) was still around. The consensus was no, so with a reasonably clear conscience I set about expanding his work with a copy of Lofficier's Programme Guide.

And I got flak for it. But even the rudest was at least constructive. I'd left a few things intact that Lofficier disagreed with, and added a few new errors of my own. But at least the discourse was *civil*.

Sad to think that the dynamics I saw with "Star Trek" have ported over to our new series. Most of it I'm blissfully unaware of, and I'm thankful.

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

The one thing I think we can be certain of is that whatever people may believe about the nature of what they believe, there will always be plenty to talk about. :)

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually, there's quite a few people who will indeed go for "old" science fiction series. It requires learning to "read" them, is all, and not everyone's willing to put in the time to do that; but there are quite a few who are, and not just with Doctor Who. Somebody is buying those box sets, after all.

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Ununnilium 3 years, 8 months ago

If the Hobbit movies have any positive long-term effect on the culture, at least let it be that Sylvester McCoy never has to do anything like this ever again.

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Darren K. 3 years, 8 months ago

Clearly the daily posts aren't working.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 8 months ago

This is the best thread ever. Thank you.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 8 months ago

I guess I probably believe too strongly in the subjectivity of experience, which probably informs my opinions too much. Of course like anyone else I'll still come out of a movie and say "that was crap" or "OMFG how awesome", but if I then encounter someone with the opposite view I'll totally accept that they have an alternate opinion and let's discuss it. I don't say they're wrong to think the opposite to me, and I don't deride or verbally abuse them for voicing their opinion. Online fandom often does, and that's what riles me.

For example "Eastenders" and "X-Factor" is often held up on the forums as "drivel that inexplicably gets better ratings than Who." I don't believe such shows are drivel. They're not what I would choose to watch, but a significant amount of the British public do watch them and enjoy them, and who am I to say they're morons for doing so?

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Spacewarp 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, we did win didn't we? That's the second most important thing since Doctor Who came back - the fact that I am no longer considered weird for liking it. The first most important thing of course being that Doctor Who came back.

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Froborr 3 years, 8 months ago

And since no discussion of Usenet and angry fan schisms is complete without referencing The Original Flame War:

Balrogs have wings if and only if they want to. All Ainur are shapeshifters except those who have the ability permanently or temporarily removed, and the only Ainur we know of to whom that happened are Morgoth, Sauron, and the wizards.

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Spacewarp 3 years, 8 months ago

It really is down to how the BBC is strapped for cash these days. UK Conservative Governments are anti-BBC for many reasons. As a State-owned/run/funded organisation it goes against traditional Tory values of "reduce the State", and its impartiality (required by its Constitution) means that it often has to criticise Government as well as give equal air time to opposition views. Combined with a few disastrous f***-ups over the last few years, this was enough for the Government to freeze the BBC's License Fee from 2010 to 2016. This has resulted in a net reduction in funding of 16%. Unfortunately no matter how well overseas sales of Doctor Who does (and merchandise), it is very difficult to plough this income back into programme-making, which can only really be funded by the License Fee.

The BBC loves Doctor Who and is doing all it can afford, but it can only do so much and it has the entirety of BBC output to look after as well.

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Dan 3 years, 8 months ago

Are you sure that's the real reason Spacewarp? Wouldn't more Dr Who pay for itself with DVD sales etc etc? The contradictory statements last year between Moffat and - was it the controller of BBC1 - about the amount of programming that would go out this year makes you wonder what is going on.

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Jesse 3 years, 8 months ago

As a State-owned/run/funded organisation it goes against traditional Tory values of "reduce the State"

I was going to be a smartass and post that the BBC was formed under a Tory government. But I just checked and saw that technically, it was born on the last day before the Liberals left office.

The Tories were in power when the first broadcast was transmitted, though.

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David Thiel 3 years, 8 months ago

Ah, I was unaware of the money pressures at the BBC. I can relate, I work for a PBS station in America. We're always getting our funding cut by someone.

I was taking Moffat at his word when he explained the late start of Series 7.1:

http://doctorwhotv.co.uk/moffat-on-series-7-autumn-move-28246.htm

Was that just spin?

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David Anderson 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure what you think you're discussing if you think aesthetic opinions are purely subjective. Take an uncontroversially subjective opinion: my daughter is the cleverest (without being precocious) and most beautiful baby in the world. Now there's nothing there to discuss: it's not even that there's no chance of anyone persuading anyone either way; simply nothing that I could say in support of that opinion would be relevant or explain it beyond the obvious.
In so far as you're discussing some aesthetic artifact you're going beyond merely subjective taste: you're commenting on features of the artifact that are relevant to an aesthetic judgement which the other person could also notice or take into account. When you've done all that, subjective taste certainly comes into it. But you can't discuss subjective taste.

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HarlequiNQB 3 years, 8 months ago

You may indeed David, because I am. :)

Since I'm here, and sort of back on subject; Since it's now revealed that the franchise of which I speak is Saint's Row, there are an awful lot of people who loved 2, hated 3 yet still state they have a preorder for 4 despite it straying even further from the version of the game they loved. I don't know why this is, though I suspect that it may be that despite it being 'not as good' they still had enormous fun with 3, but just wish it was more like 2 and are really vocal about it. Maybe that's the same for Doctor Who - they still enjoy it, because it is usually very enjoyable, but perhaps hate it for not being enjoyable for the same reasons they loved it before.

From the other side of it (the non fan side), you have to pick your battles, and you can never be all things to all people, so you just have to do your best at the battle you've picked and hope it works for the maximum number of people.

Also, don't read the comments. You never read the comments, and if you do you have to pretend that you don't because otherwise you'll go mad. ;)

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storiteller 3 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if the idea that people "only come to Doctor Who as younger viewers" still holds with the new show. Personally, I know my husband and I only started watching Who in the last few years, in our late 20s, and are now big fans. Similarly, most of the American fans I know are the same way. Is this true in the U.K. as well or is this just an American phenomena with the new show being broadcast on BBC America?

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C. 3 years, 8 months ago

I recall looking at OG when "Rose" first aired (as the US hadn't gotten it yet) and I swear by my decaying memory that one of the very first "live" reaction posts was "It's too fast. It's too fast--SLOW DOWN." Also that the Graham Norton applause snafu was evidence that the show would be cancelled after the first series.

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storiteller 3 years, 8 months ago

Twilight Zone is definitely another. Partly, I suspect, because it's shot so beautifully that dodgy special effects become less noticeable.

Also, Twilight Zone relies on special effects far less than Who. Most of the episodes hardly show aliens, relying heavily on the "ordinary made strange" that Phil talks about with Who. In addition, I think it's easier for modern fans to get into than Classic Who because it follows the old school SF short story format. Because each episode is stand-alone and much shorter, it makes it far less intimidating to even begin. Also, if the episode is terrible, that was only a half-hour wasted and you can move on to another.

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

David, there's plenty there to discuss, if that's a sincere opinion you hold (adjusting for hyperbole) and it's based on observation rather than paternal duty, and if you're talking to someone who's actually interested in babies. Since I'm not, it's hard for me to come up with good examples of what you'd actually want to discuss, but presumably she's done some clever things, or she has some qualities that make her beautiful, and I'd imagine there are parents who would probably talk at length with you about those things.

I quite agree with you that there are "features of the artifact" to discuss, but the impact those have on us as appreciators of the artifact is typically at least partly personal, not an inexorable conclusion based on those features.

For example, Dr. S seems to dislike "Inferno" because of the parallel universe plot; I love it because of that plot. The substance of what we're discussing is the same -- a feature of the story -- but the reason we're discussing it is that it makes us feel differently. Is one of us right to enjoy it, or the other wrong? If not, that's all Spacewarp is objecting to, whether or not the term "subjective" is technically applicable. If so...really?

For the record: I agree that "Inferno" would be stronger if the parallel universe excursion proved critical to rescuing "our" universe. I don't agree (and maybe he wouldn't claim) that this structural flaw is an insurmountable obstacle to enjoying the story. If the importance of this element isn't a matter of "subjective" determination, what's the right term?

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David Anderson 3 years, 8 months ago

A subjective judgement is by definition one that is not based on observation but based on the observer. When we're arguing whether something is objective or subjective we're arguing about how much of it is based on observation and how much of it isn't.

If I express a pure subjective judgement you learn about me as the observer, but nothing about what I've observed. And contrariwise about a pure objective judgement if there is such a thing. Most judgements are mixed more or less, which is where the controversy comes in.

If all aesthetic discussion came down to was 'I like this', 'no, I don't like it,' discussion wouldn't get started. If all that were going on was expressing the effects that particular elements of the story have on you then there's no engagement with each other. At the end, certainly we can say that we weight certain factors differently, or that for individual reasons we can or can't enjoy certain elements, but at that point there's nothing to do but agree to differ.

(Phil doesn't dislike Inferno: he just thinks its average. Or rather from what he says, he thinks its a lot of brilliant moments that don't amount to anything greater than the sum of its parts.) If Phil says that the parallel universe is structurally irrelevant padding, then there are ways of disagreeing with that: you can say that actually there are links that he's overlooking, or that he's looking for the wrong sort of structure because there's a spectacular structure of the sort he likes in Tooth and Claw, or so on. But if you say, "I agree, I just don't think structure is as important as you do", that's an agreement to differ: a discussion stopper. There's nothing to respond to there.

What I think one can say is that the grounds on which Phil finds Inferno merely average are not those on which he defends some Davies-era stories like Tooth and Claw.

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David Thiel 3 years, 8 months ago

You may indeed David, because I am. :)

Ha! I'm about a mile from you. I'm massively behind on my games-playing, having only acquired a PS3 last year; SR2 is next in my queue.

From the other side of it (the non fan side), you have to pick your battles, and you can never be all things to all people, so you just have to do your best at the battle you've picked and hope it works for the maximum number of people.

Also, don't read the comments. You never read the comments, and if you do you have to pretend that you don't because otherwise you'll go mad. ;)


You've pretty much summed up my whole career. Except that I don't have the luxury of not reading the comments.

But you're right, all you can do is to make the best decisions you can and try to make most people happy most of the time.

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encyclops 3 years, 8 months ago

1. It's very interesting to learn about people as the observers. You might even say that's mostly the point of these kinds of discussions, since many of us are already pretty familiar with the observed (having watched it over and over again on VHS or DVD).

2. Most of these discussions are not going to end with one party changing their minds about whether they enjoy a particular story or not. The pleasure, and often the pain, of them comes from trying on the other party's glasses to see the story from a new perspective. It's possible you'll enjoy a story a bit more or less given the insight, but it's not guaranteed that you'll get the same kicks out of that viewpoint as the other party does. So yeah, eventually the conversation does almost always end with "let's agree to differ" -- and you hope it ends, because holy shit, some of those conversations NEVER seem to end -- but that's not the point. The point is what you discuss along the way.

3. I know you said "if," but that's not what I was saying (or intending to say), and I think it makes a difference. What I think is that in this particular story, this particular structural flaw is a minor issue in comparison to what the parallel universe actually allows us to explore. It's not hard to imagine the small rewrites it would take to fix it, and in fact as I think Phil pointed out, people frequently DO imagine them, allowing their memories to cheat them into a retcon. I suspect that similarly close examination of a lot of RTD-era stories would reveal similar priorities (emotional rightness trumping structural integrity). Yes, absolutely we're talking about stuff we can sorta-kinda-objectively observe about "Inferno," and yes, we'll probably still end up feeling more or less the same way at the end, which doesn't mean the journey of discussing it was wasted.

4. It DOES mean that the school of thought that says or implies "your taste is inferior to mine" is a waste of time and space. And one of the things I love about this blog is that -- aside from the occasional tongue-in-cheek comment -- neither its writer nor its commenters are prone to that sort of stupidity.

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Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Is there really anyone who demands that the show be more like "Warriors of the Deep", though? Or rather (since, yeah, there's probably at least one person who's demanded just this) even a reasonably sizeable number of people demanding this?

I mean, there's a whole load of people who won't be happy until the show is exactly as it was when they were watching in 1976 or 1983 or whenever, I'm not disputing that at all. But "Warriors of the Deep"? Even the hardcore "let's-make-everything-like-the-classic-series" types generally seem to agree that that one was a load of old cack. In my experience, it's usually the Hinchcliffe era that people are desperate to return to.

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Jesse 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, I cited Warriors of the Deep because Phil mentioned it. But I was referring broadly to the Bring Back My Favorite Monsters crowd, whether or not they liked that particularly bad returning-monsters story.

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Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

I think with the popularity of the new series it's more common for people to start entering Doctor Who fandom at adulthood (to take one example, a lot of people probably start watching the show with their kids, and then maybe get interested in the old stuff and go back to it), but at the time of writing I think that it was a lot rarer for someone to be introduced to the classic series as an adult and become a fan of it.

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David Anderson 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't think I'd follow a discussion that was billed as random people tell you about themselves. Not even random Doctor Who fans tell you about themselves. Maybe that makes me a bad person.
A classic is said to be something that you can always see something new in whenever you return to it with a new perspective. If one's ever so familiar with a particular episode that there's nothing new for someone to draw your attention to then to that extent it's not an especially good episode.

I would agree with your second paragraph. But I'd interpret it differently: the things you see from the different perspective are features of the episode you hadn't noticed before from your perspective. ('Insight' has metaphorical connotations of more accurate perception, surely?) What I would say is that in so far as purely subjective factors can be isolated, they're not open for discussion and there's no journey to be had, not even one that ends in agreement to differ.

I agree that saying raw taste is superior or inferior is a waste of time. The exception to that is where taste is actually based on underlying philosophical beliefs or patterns of thought that can themselves be argued about.

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Nicholas Tosoni 3 years, 8 months ago

Um...If you say so.

I myself am kind of like the Zen Master of "Doctor Who" fandom. I don't really get too riled-up about anything--I've tried, but it never lasts.

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Daibhid C 3 years, 8 months ago

Can I share the story that largely shaped how I see the Stop Having Fun Guys contigent of Doctor Who fandom?

It was the mid-nineties. I had just purchased the latest DWM, and had flicked to the letters page. And someone was complaining about the previous issue having a free Big Finish CD with interviews and (I think) a complete mini-drama, because "only children's comics have free gifts. Serious magazines do not." They went on to directly compare the CD (with, I would guess a RRP of £19.99) to the free chew-bar on the front of that week's Beano (RRP 10p).

And the reason this sticks in my mind? Because on the same trip to the newsagent, I had also purchased the well-known children's comic New Scientist, which that week had a free booklet about quantum physics.

So whenever I hear someone talking about Non-Silly Doctor Who That Grown-Ups Aren't Embarassed To Watch, I automatically assume that this person has no idea what being grown-up is actually like, and that there's no point in it if you can't be childish sometimes.

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Daibhid C 3 years, 8 months ago

I got involved with r.a.d.w. around '98 by which time, sadly, the dynamics were firmly in place. I remember actually *using* the phrase "You're the first person I've put in my killfile", during one of the Pertwee/McCoy wars.

ISTR one argument in which I, rather mildly, said "That argument surely works just as well the other way round", and was accused of flaming the person who made the original post, by suggesting that whatever he'd said about the McCoy era might also apply to the Pertwee era. That, I think, was the point where I gave up arguing, and just abandoned threads where ... not even where flamewars had started, where the perennial flamewar had spread.

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Daibhid C 3 years, 8 months ago

I should probably add that when I refer to discussions on radw after 2001, I actually mean radwm, since I dropped the original group like a hot potato once the moderated group existed. My goodness, being able to refer to McCoy without instinctively flinching was like a breath of fresh air, although the Thread About The Books That Would Not Die got a bit wearing.

Discussion on radwm of any kind seemed to drop off over the past couple of years, though. When my news.individual.net Usenet subscription ran out earlier this yeat, I didn't bother renewing it.

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landru 3 years, 8 months ago

I hate to be this guy, but what episode did Ian Levine keep?

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landru 3 years, 8 months ago

Oh lord, fandom. This and a few other places are the only sites I visit. I like dealing with adults. I've had experiences with fans that have made me not want to watch the series. I always come back, but still ... that's bad. So, I've withdrawn myself from it (for the most part.) I've found them too exclusive for normal people. And then you have kids who love Torchwood in the mix and it gets weird.

I did do some tape dubbing for Loose Cannon because I wanted to help the "nice" fans and they were always grateful.

I still don't know what episode Levine kept for himself. All I know is I can't stand to hear his voice. I might be able to like L&M now. lol.

I came to the show on PBS in about 1981-2. It was not cool to spend Saturday night watching PBS, let me tell you. My birthday is Nov 23. I've always credited the novelizations as the beginning of my academic pursuits.

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