The Girl Who Died Podcast

(7 comments)

I'm joined this week by Kevin Burns, the American half of Pex Lives, to talk The Girl Who Died, the brilliance that is Maisie Williams, guns and frocks, Game of Thrones, and probably some other stuff. Download it here. Achieve enlightenment. Good work.

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dm 1 year, 5 months ago

Going forward, I feel like we should use Mayor Kevin Burns's full title in these podcasts.

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Riggio 1 year, 5 months ago

Listening to the podcast now. Your conversation about the respectability of Doctor Who really piqued my interest. I generally agree with you that Doctor Who works best when it pokes holes in people's attitudes of respectability. But there's something you and Kevin didn't quite touch on.

The popular perception of comedy as unworthy of respect. Prestige television is commonly associated with drama, and the commenterati, if you could call it that, never – or at least rarely – puts comedy in that category. So Game of Thrones gets to put fantasy in prestige television because of its pessimism and dour seriousness. And Battlestar Galactica's violence, intense drama, and serious, dark tone put science-fiction in the category of prestige television.

So for an American viewer interested in installing Doctor Who in the ranks of prestige cable television, it means being a descendent of The Sopranos or The Wire. Doctor Who would have to be bleak, intense, and constantly serious above all. So when Doctor Who spends an episode murdering guest characters and meditating on the angst of its leads, it matches this superficial model of prestige TV. But it doesn't match the actual nature of prestige TV, because Before the Flood wasn't good enough to be prestigious. And if every episode was of that quality, the season would be a failure.

Doctor Who is a show that needs a balance of humour and drama. I thought The Girl Who Died struck that balance expertly, with Mathieson's tight turn from the comedy of the monster adventure to the fallout of Ashildir's death. The superficial understanding of prestige television thinks you achieve it by making your show like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Mad Men. But you really make prestige television by making good art.

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Dadalama 1 year, 5 months ago

Silly? Really?

It's Doctor Who. One of the best episodes of classic who had a giant paper mache snake.

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Sean Dillon 1 year, 5 months ago

Another had a monster made out of candy, and yet another had an alien that looked like a penis. (No, not that one. Not that one either. Yes, that one.)

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Anton B 1 year, 5 months ago

The UK has a tradition of sneaking high drama and social commentary onto TV via comedy. Steptoe and Son in the 1960s was practically Samuel Beckett meets Harold Pinter. We also have a healthy habit of deflating pomposity in art with jokes. Sometimes from within (Damien Hurst, Banksy) sometimes as critique (sadly the still prevalent reaction to 'modern art' in the tabloids is mockery).

That Doctor Who has always attempted to provide humour, reflect social attitudes, explore new styles, speculate on the future and provide tea time entertainment for all the family is the secret of its success. All attempts to go gritty grimdark serious drama (usually combined with an over emphasis on Universe building, Canon and Continuity) have been doomed to failure.

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Dadalama 1 year, 5 months ago

Well, depends on your definition of gritty.

I find Warhammer 40k one of the silliest fictional universes out there.

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Dadalama 1 year, 5 months ago

probably not the right kind of silly for Doctor Who though :P

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