A New, New Doctor Who

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So… how wrong was I, buying into all that Kris Marshall stuff?

I guess I should really stop trying to predict things…

Anyway, Jodie Whittaker is going to be the next Doctor. Yeah, it isn’t going to be David Harewood or Maxine Peak, but I am going to explain why Whittaker’s casting is a good thing for Doctor Who.

Long term readers (and potentially podcast listeners?) know how I feel about the last few seasons of the show; it has been repetitive, boring, poorly written and, despite one or two highlights, has been pretty shite to be honest. I liked bits and pieces of Capaldi’s last season in the TARDIS but on the whole it and the other Moffat-run seasons have really started to tarnish the good name that Russel T. Davies battled to rebuild. The show has really needed freshening up for a while, which we should be getting through the teaming up of the critically acclaimed Chris Chibnall (new head writer) with the first female Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.  If I am being totally honest, I didn’t think the new show runners would have the balls to rock the boat during their first season in charge, but considering the declining ratings and increasing fan resentment to the show (fucking sonic sunglasses), I am really not surprised to see them roll the dice.

Whittaker has a solid film back catalogue including the very enjoyable Attack the Block (which you should go and watch if you haven’t), as well the critically acclaimed Black Mirror. Most importantly though, she worked with Chibnall on Broadchurch (which I haven’t watched, I was probably too busy being disappointed by Supergirl, but I have heard very good things about it).

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We really shouldn’t be surprised by the choice, I think I was too distracted by Olivia Coleman picking up the sonic screwdriver to consider Whittaker, but this choice means that both the actor and the writer knows what each other are about, hopefully avoiding any clashes like those between Moffat and Capaldi.

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I would like to see Chibnall write Whittaker a Peter Davison-style incarnation of the Doctor, and by that I mean I want the character to be relatable and enjoyable to be around, but stand-offish enough to avoid any romantic relationship like those seen with David Tennant. The traditionalist will be pissed enough already to see a female Doctor, let alone one that want to bone a human (Tactfully put, Ben- Lewis). If Supergirl has shown me one thing, putting a romantic interest in the show from episode one can undermine the strength of a female lead, leaving her a fawning mess rather than the badass we know she is.

To sum up, this is only a good thing for the show, taking a gamble on a Female doctor will give it the vital breath of fresh air it really needs. Besides, Whittaker has proven herself to be a strong and versatile actor, and her good working relationship with the new head writer promises to produce good things.

I am definitely looking forward to the next season.

-Ben

 

Dr Who Review: Under the Lake

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Lewis: Dr Who?

Ben: Well, I don’t think it was a bad as episodes one and two; not great, but not the worst.

Lewis: Yeah, you know what? I actually really enjoyed this one.

Ben: I thought it was ok, I won’t lie and say I really enjoyed it though. Looks like the Sonic Sunglasses are sticking around though.

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Lewis: I wasn’t happy about that… I groaned when he slapped those stupid things on. But as for the rest of the episode, I just thought it was quite a nice, interesting story that didn’t try to be or do too much, it didn’t try and be some kind of 45 minute blockbuster. We haven’t had a story where the Dr and Clara just turn up somewhere and help some people for a long time.

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Ben: Yeah, I thought it was a nice idea too, and I agree it is about time we just had an adventure. I do feel it was a bit over-stretched though with it being two 45 minute episodes. One hour-long or two half-hour ones would do it justice without dragging it out too much.

Lewis: Ah you see this was definitely more like my kind of pace; it wasn’t jumping about, rushing through certain moments or just being generally uncontrolled. It did feel a little slow at points, but I think it was definitely one of the more well-crafted episodes we’ve seen for a long time. And it really was quite tense at times.

Ben: I take your point, I also liked that they weren’t afraid to kill people off, but I did groan at the cliff-hanger ending. I just feel that the story would be better served by being written as an hour long episode… but I guess you can’t change the agreed running time, so I suppose I’d rather it be done over two episodes than rushed over one.

Lewis: Yeah exactly, and so much of Dr Who is rushed these days. Speaking of killing people off, what did you think about the crew?

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Ben: Well back before the reboot a story would run over four half-hour episodes which definitely allows for development without it feeling rushed or dragged out.
As for the crew, I thought they were ok, just a bunch of relatable, normal people.

Lewis: Yeah, and surprisingly enough they seemed far more intelligent than the UNIT members shown in episode one…
Speaking of that, the writing was a hell of lot better this episode too; it was actually witty this time instead of just trying to be. I especially liked the que cards.

Ben: Urgh, how did UNIT become so stupid? Toby Whitehouse was the writer for this episode, and the script/story was much better than the Moffat disaster.

Lewis: Well, it wasn’t so much a disaster as it was a disappointment…
Didn’t Toby Whitehouse write Being Human?

Ben: He did indeed, which is another cracking series. He has written a few other good Dr Who episodes like ‘School reunion’, which was brilliant.

Lewis: Which one was that?

Ben: The one where Sarah Jane came back.

Lewis: Ahhhh, yeah, that was a good one. He’s certainly got a history of quality. I also like the way he’s structuring this story; the cliff-hanger was fairly obvious, but it means that what we see next will be a prequel, which is definitely a slightly more interesting way of doing things.

Ben: It was definitely interesting, and I do want to see what happens next (or before, since it’s a sort of prequel). Would it not set up a paradox with the Doctor going back to change the future which would mean Clara would never get there to see ghost doctor?

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Lewis: Well… It depends on what theory of time/travel this story is following.
He’s not actually altered anything in the past outside of himself, he is still following his own timeline, so what they know as the world’s past (the story’s past) is (when he goes back in time) his present. He’s still brought Clara to the base, and he’s still gone back in time leaving her there, it’s just he’s then gone on to become a ghost, and the two events have ended up coinciding…

I can’t really explain it in text… so here’s a fun little graphic to explain-

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Ben: Ok I believe you.

Lewis: That wasn’t exactly a coherent explanation, was it?

Ben: No it made sense, I think.

Lewis: Anything to do with time travel is usually complicated, especially when you have an idiot like me explaining it. Anyway, all in all I’m pretty happy with this episode. It was a little slow-paced at points, and it’s not exactly a fresh idea, but it was fun to watch and a lot better than the previous episodes.

Ben: I agree.

Lewis: Excellent, great input Ben

Ben: I agree

Lewis: You forgot the full-stop

Ben: I realised as soon as I sent it. I am ashamed. We can put it back in when we edit.

Lewis: It’s ok, I might edit one in.

Maybe

Ben: Please and thanks.

(Ha, didn’t do it. Someone looks a little foolish now, don’t they, Ben?)

The Minimum Effort Podcast Ep.7: The Greatest Dr Who

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Lewis, Ben, and Pete (again) discuss the pros and cons of each incarnation of the Doctor, and who they think deserves to held above the rest as the “Greatest Doctor” of them all…

Have a different opinion to us? Or do you agree? Leave a comment and let us know who you think deserves the title!

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Doctor, Doctor, give me the news

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Benportrait1I am sorry for my lack of writing, but I have a job now. Yes my friends I have a job, I get paid for it and everything. Granted I am sticking labels on boxes, which isn’t the most arduous task in the world, but at least I am earning money.  In case you were wondering about the title of this piece, isn’t about Robert Palmer’s 1979 hit ‘Bad Case of Loving You’ (this gives you an insight into my musical taste), rather, it’s about Doctor Who.

I don’t think there is any doubt in my mind, or in fact in the mind of anybody who knows me, that I am a Doctor Who fan, I do have DVDs. I am an unashamed fan of Doctor Who and always have been. In fact there have been entire days at University dedicated to watching the Sci-Fi hit. As a result I think I have earned the right to comment on the show. And as we build up to the new series I can’t think of a better time to get things off my chest.  Are you ready? Are you sure? Here we go.

First things first, I want to start with the previous 3 seasons which saw Matt Smith taking the lead role as the Time Lord from Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. The team behind the 11thincarnation of the Time Lord had an almost impossible task following the departure of many people’s favourite Doctor (I want to add here that he isn’t my favourite) David Tennant. And also the loss of Russell T. Davis. The previous head writer and master mind in bringing Doctor Who back to life.

In my opinion, the team behind seasons 5 to 7 of (read in a sarcastic voice, I will be coming back to this) ‘New Who’ almost failed. Starting with the first episode ‘the 11th hour’, which was a nice idea but was, in my opinion, poorly executed, which was an all too common occurrence in seasons 5 and 6. To my shame, I blamed Smith for the poor quality of the new series.

I think this was because Matt Smith played the Doctor in a very similar way to his very popular predecessor, and as a result comparisons were made and Tennant’s doctor was better in every way. Smith accentuated the crazy and eccentric surface layer provided by the 10th Doctor. David Tennant built on his predecessor Christopher Eccleston’s performance by teaming the bitter (the guy just lost his planet, he had every right to be pissed) 9th Doctor with his own eccentricity, providing a very Funny Doctor on the Surface while maintaining deep emotions, providing audiences with a very likeable and relatable character. Smith failed to carry out any real character development. Instead he focused on accentuating the barmy surface. To me the 11th doctor didn’t have any depth of emotion and as a result didn’t become at all likeable until the loss of Amy and Rory. Only at this point did Smith develop his incarnation of the Doctor’s emotions. It was only then did I begin to enjoy watching Doctor Who again. It wasn’t until the end of series 5 that I saw the real issue with the new Doctor’s tenure.

Following the departure of Davis, the quality of the writing seemed to take a real nose dive. The group of writers providing the story lines hadn’t changed much, so who was to blame? Steven Moffat, that’s who. It almost seemed that Moffat was too lazy to properly edit the scripts, allowing dull and stodgy lines to seep into every episode.

In the rare case there was a decent story, my mind immediately jumps to the one with the Daleks in World War II London, it was ruined by some pretty woeful casting epitomised by Karen Gillan. I can’t even say or type her name without scowling. The Scot was dreadful and I really do mean dreadful, failing in almost every case to say a line of dialogue without sounding like she should really be presenting the lottery. In all honesty, the obnoxious Colin Baker (the 6th doctor) and his screaming companion Peri, portrayed by Nicola Bryant, are more likable than Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond.

Moffat had an unhealthy obsession with River Song, a character of his own creation, and I was desperate for him to let her death in the Silent Library stick. However the new head writer decided he would drag the character into every possible story. Giving her a really dreadful link to the companions of the time and her own catch phrase. Kingston’s delivery of dialogue was almost as bad as her on screen mother’s (Gillan again). The character became more of an irritant than anything else. Also, the whole conceived on the TARDIS meaning she gained Time Lord traits is, for want of a better word, absolute Bollocks.

However by the end of Smith’s time as The Doctor, the irritating characters had finally departed, either through death or by the touch of a Weeping Angel. The writing team seemed to have settled into their new roles, producing some good story lines. Which were portrayed well by the competent pairing of Smith and his new on screen assistant, Clara (Jenna Coleman). I do still have one remaining bugbear with the ‘New Who’ (I hope you can still read the sarcasm). It’s that the companions, assistants or whatever you want to call them, are always given a back story that is followed throughout their time on the show. I can list them if you want;

Rose – Bad Wolf

Donna – Doctor Donna

Amy – The Girl Who Waited

Rory – the Last Centurion

River Song – The Doctors Wife/ Killing the Doctor etc.

Clara – That Whole recurring cycle of death thing

When these back stories work, like ‘Bad wolf’ and ‘Doctor Donna’, they are brilliant and worth having in the show to add something extra that links the episodes together. This is also down to the T. Davis factor and his undoubted ability to create a story. However the recurring stories under Moffat have been odd and confusing in most cases. In Rory’s case it seems to be put in just to actually get him involved, as throughout the previous episodes of season 5 he may as well not be there. I think this underlines Moffat’s skills and short comings. He can write a brilliant one off story, ‘Blink’ being a prime example, but as a head writer I don’t think he is up to scratch. The back story isn’t needed to make a good series. Looking back to the original Doctors Whos there is only one recurring story, which is during the 6th Doctors tenure ‘The Trail of a Time Lord’, and the less said about Colin Baker’s irritating incarnation the better.

My Favourite Doctors are Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy. I do like a dark Doctor. One of the reasons I like the original episodes… Wait, before I continue, here is a bit of a tangent rant for you:

Not ‘Classic Who’… This is another thing I really dislike about modern TV. These irritating groups of people who call themselves ‘fan girls/guys’. Get a life you sad people. I am talking about the kind of people who spend hours poring over Tumblr laughing at gif files from Doctor Who episodes and will go out and ‘cosplay’. Why can’t they just watch it because they want to? Why do they have to shout out to the world that they are a fan? These are the people that have coined the terms ‘Classic’ and ‘New Who’, and that is why I dislike them and their ‘Fandom ways’.

Anyway back to the original point. I like the original Doctor Who episodes because the Doctor is a more Distant Darker Character. None of this Kissing malarkey which Paul McGann did in the Doctor Who film. I didn’t think the steampunk Doctor Who effort was half bad. It was a bit stupid, but I would have liked to have seen it continued in a series as was planned. I am very excited about the upcoming series, no matter what you may think. In a recent BBC interview Peter Capaldi described his 12th Doctor as not being ‘User Friendly’. Music to my cynical ears. I hope that Capaldi takes elements of the darker, more distant older Doctors while still making the character his own and up to date to ensure that the program grows in popularity.

-Ben