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Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion of your Nightmares
November 17, 2009 4:26 PM   Subscribe

The 21 Scariest Doctor Who Moments Ever, according to SFX magazine. Waters of Mars, which aired in the UK this weekend and airs in the US on December 20th, may add to that list. Meanwhile, in other formats, Michael Moorcock is writing a Doctor Who novel.
posted by Artw (84 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
And, um, no spoilers please.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on November 17, 2009


Blink.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:36 PM on November 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Hopefully this isn't spoilery, because it applies to most good episodes of Who. Parts of Waters of Mars really, really freaked me out. Others were just narmish.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:36 PM on November 17, 2009


"Blink" and "The Empty Child" both scared the hell out of me. Naturally, I watched them both alone at night.
posted by katillathehun at 4:39 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I always find the notion that adults could find Dr Who scary somewhat amusing. I love the show, have done since I was a kid, but even as a kid Dr Who never scared me. The show never takes itself seriously and before the Ninth Doctor came along was frankly more camp than terrifying.

The closest they got to evoking a sense of fear were the Tenth Doctor stories 'The Satan Pit' and 'Blink', but even then I wasn't exactly quaking in my boots. Really, if Doctor Who genuinely scares you, I think you're probably going to have trouble functioning in the outside world.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:40 PM on November 17, 2009


I kind of like the little bit they put in at the end of Blink, which was basically a series of rapid shots intended to make kids phobic of statues for life.
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Really, if Doctor Who genuinely scares you, I think you're probably going to have trouble functioning in the outside world.

Sure, okay. Or maybe you lower the bar a little bit for a show you love, and therefore allow yourself to be scared because it's fun.
posted by katillathehun at 4:42 PM on November 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


I forgot about Midnight! What an excellent episode. I adore the talking at the same time part, when she ends up ahead of him. Brilliant. And I can't believe "are you my mummy" isn't lower on the list. This is the worst part, in my mind.

I refuse to search you-tube for Blink clips, because I want to sleep tonight. But the video tape part is gold.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:45 PM on November 17, 2009


No 'Silence in the Library'?
posted by randomination at 4:45 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure who is actually responsible for creating an inexplicable delay between US and UK broadcasts of this program, but I would like to tell that person/entity, you suuuuuuuuuck.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:45 PM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


(I guess that should actually be "between UK and US broadcasts," but whevs, you know, fucking whevs)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:46 PM on November 17, 2009


I think you're probably going to have trouble functioning in the outside world.

It's true, I do. I can't even visit 1940s London anymore. Tragic, really.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:46 PM on November 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's kind of dumb too: Here's a show that explicitly appeals to people likely to seek it out and download it - let's delay it by a month before showing it on our US network.

That kind of thing goes both ways across the Atlantic, of course, but it's still of dumb.

At least it's not on Sci-Fi anymore.
posted by Artw at 4:48 PM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also: Michael Moorcock, people! Is that not getting an ooooooh! out of anyone?
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, you know those Angels that made #1? Let me tell you a story.

A bit ago I bought this statue at a garage sale as the base for some sort of future art project. I sent a picture to my ex-girlfriend who said "hey, now you're one of those people who owns expensive tv show memorabilia." I had no idea what she was talking about and she linked me to a video of clips from that episode.

I had to face that goddamn statue at the mirror for a week before I could put it up somewhere else.
posted by griphus at 4:51 PM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


No 'Silence in the Library'?

Oh god, yes. I forgot about that one. Astoundingly good episode. This and its second part, "Forest of the Dead," made me cry my eyes out in addition to being spooked as all get-out.
posted by katillathehun at 4:52 PM on November 17, 2009


I'm pretty psyched about the Michael Moorcock book, actually. And yeah, it's better to have it on a station that won't chop it down to make it an hour plus commercials (plus, this might just be me, but Syphy broadcasts in like the worst fucking sound ever. Either it's just some incredible surroundsound shit that my pitiful little non-HD-TV simply can't hang with, or -- as I suspect -- it's just terrible, terrible sound, but either way, it made Doctor Who and BSG much less enjoyable viewing experiences for me than they really should have been). Seriously, though, networks need to wrap their heads around the idea that they can't really region-code something once it's been released into the wild anymore, and act accordingly.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:56 PM on November 17, 2009


I don't usually get scared by Doctor Who, but I watched Blink after midnight while alone in my apartment, and I'm not ashamed to say I had a terrible time sleeping that night. I enjoyed Waters of Mars, but I don't remember any of it being particularly scary,
posted by rosethorn at 4:56 PM on November 17, 2009


Really, if Doctor Who genuinely scares you,

Oh, man back in the day, of a certain again, peeking out from behind the sofa, if was terrifying
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:57 PM on November 17, 2009


again = age.... Memories making my fingers tremor!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:58 PM on November 17, 2009


Hey! Who turned out the lights?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:59 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, does anybody know which of the Peter Davison episodes it was where these green aliens got totally eaten up by some crazy acid shit or something at the end and they spent what seemed like two hours screaming and melting and dying? It was like the end of The Devil's Rain, only with aliens. I was really traumatized by that in like 1986 or something.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:00 PM on November 17, 2009


Also - anyone know which Doctor Moorcock is going to write about? 10? Or is that something else yet to be revealed.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:08 PM on November 17, 2009


I always find the notion that adults could find Dr Who scary somewhat amusing. I love the show, have done since I was a kid, but even as a kid Dr Who never scared me. The show never takes itself seriously and before the Ninth Doctor came along was frankly more camp than terrifying.

I remember there was a Cybermen plot in the Seventh Doctor/Sylvester MCoy era, when I was about six or seven. My dad, thinking they must be the scariest thing ever for a kid, suggested I hide behind the sofa. Even at that age, I was thinking, "Erm, no. What? Serisously?" Doctor Who was always more ridiculous than scary, especially the reruns of Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker episodes.

Although, Blink is one of the recent ones I've seen and I admit to - if "fear" is too strong a word - a mild tingling of "suspense". However, the "look behind you" aspect of it is somewhat reminiscent of pantomime, and thus slightly less scary.
posted by Sova at 5:10 PM on November 17, 2009


I always find the notion that adults could find Dr Who scary somewhat amusing.

Okay, but the next time you have a nightmare about being chased/hunted/stalked by a seemingly unstoppable force, don't come running into Metafilter's bedroom for comforting snuggles.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:12 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, Sarah Jane Smith just couldn't catch a break.
posted by Iridic at 5:15 PM on November 17, 2009


I've never been into Doctor Who, but I can tell you that as a kid the credit sequence (that song!) freaked me out to the point that I would leave the room when it started. The rest of the show just seemed kind of cheesy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:20 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having seen Waters of Mars, I am left wondering where the scariness was.

I liked it well enough... but the actual promo clip was scarier than the show itself, which moved too quick to really build up much in the way of atmosphere or suspense.
posted by markkraft at 5:20 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This and its second part, "Forest of the Dead," made me cry my eyes out in addition to being spooked as all get-out.

Yeah, between all of the tragic separations and the freaking Vashta Nerada, that episode turns me into a basket case.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:28 PM on November 17, 2009


I think this post might be a double, since it was a post very similar to this one that made me check out Blink last time around. I watched it, then I made my wife watch it with me again, then we both made her parents watch it AGAIN. It was still scary the third time in a week.
posted by DU at 5:31 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've never been into Doctor Who, but I can tell you that as a kid the credit sequence (that song!) freaked me out to the point that I would leave the room when it started. The rest of the show just seemed kind of cheesy.

You're not alone in this.

I tend to be affected more by the subtler scares than the flashy ones -- the thing that is only SLIGHTLY askew creeps the hell out of me. Which is why "are you my mummy?" being asked through a gas mask was so affecting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:33 PM on November 17, 2009


The theme song scared me half to death in the 70s and 80s.

And may I just say: I saw this post on my borrowed ipod touch while in Barnes and Noble, and posted my last one-word post from there. Seeing scary Dr. Who made me say OMG BLINK! Ha didn't know it was #1 on the list. :)
posted by Hildegarde at 5:52 PM on November 17, 2009


Having seen Waters of Mars, I am left wondering where the scariness was.

I don't think it was really scary. There were just a few 'jump out and yell booga-booga-booga' type parts.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:57 PM on November 17, 2009


What? No Kandy Man? The unstoppable psychotic candy robot from The Happiness Patrol!

oh wait I thought this was the thread where we discuss the lamest Dr Who villains...The Doctor sprayed lemonade on his feet to stick him to the floor.
posted by robotot at 6:17 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


peeking out from behind the sofa

I've often wondered whether this is a planted memory for a lot of people. Most houses I've been in have the sofa against a wall, which would make it difficult to hide behind. I vividly remember hiding from Daleks behind a lounge - pity my father points out that we've never, ever had a lounge in a position that would make that possible.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:22 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apropos of kittens for breakfast, the incidental music on the new series drives me up the wall. Granted, I'm a bit hard of hearing, but they crank that stuff up so high I can hardly hear the dialogue. I'm sure Murray Gold is a lovely person and a wonderful composer, but could we please turn down the Doctor-rides-to-the-rescue triumphal march for every episode?
posted by orrnyereg at 6:44 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I've often wondered whether this is a planted memory for a lot of people. Most houses I've been in have the sofa against a wall, which would make it difficult to hide behind."

Well, they certainly mention the whole "behind the sofa" meme a lot, don't they?

Now, when I was a kid, Doctor Who was enjoyable, but still didn't qualify as truely scary.

For me, that part was taken by "In Search Of"'s considerably freakier, far more disturbing electronic music, and The World at War.

(I still watched them, though.)
posted by markkraft at 6:45 PM on November 17, 2009


And yeah, it's better to have it on a station that won't chop it down to make it an hour plus commercials

I'm pretty sure that BBC America as just as many commercials as SyPhy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 PM on November 17, 2009


I'm pretty sure that BBC America as just as many commercials as SyPhy.

They do, but (I think) have shown the specials in over-an-hour timeslots to accommodate them. Syphy just hacked the show down to 43 minutes or whatever so they could get in ads for Megashark Vs. Giant Octopus.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:49 PM on November 17, 2009


It's great that a few people have mentioned both Blink and Empty Child as worthwhile entries to this list. Both were written by Steven Moffat who will be the new show runner (read: lead writer and executive producer) after Russell Davies quits and, personally, I can't think of a better person to take over the role.

There's been some criticism levelled at Davies for his leadership of the new Who brand but I think he's done an excellent job of invigorating the Doctor for a new generation of kids and Water Of Mars was a gripping example of where his story of the Doctor has been going. Where else do you get a good sci-fi about the philosophy of ethics, time and humanity wrapped up in 1 hour action-adventure? All pretty high-brow stuff for a family programme at 7pm on a Sunday. I'd love these themes to be developed more; frankly I'd like Who to have a breakdown because that seems to be where it's heading, but then we've got a regeneration coming up and a very young (but competent actor) to take David's place, so I guess time will tell where the story is headed.

If anything Water of Mars shows, we're in for a great final few episodes and certainly an interest in future projects Russell Davies is involved in. The Doctor might be alien to us, but in recent series he's shown his human side to devastating effect. What's more scary? The boogey-man, or your own inability to prevent the death of your friends and loved one?

My personal gripe: they should tone down Murray Gold's score just a tad.

And my personal scare moment as a kid, for whatever reason, was the Peter Davidson episode where he's looking for an orchid and there's a deformed bloke pouncing around everywhere. That was a behind-the-sofa episode.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:52 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh the Krynoid pod bursting in Seeds of Doom scarred me for years. And I often wondered whether it inspired Alien.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:53 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing about the early eighties is that it was really good at using a plethora of completely fake "experts" to talk about things that scared the crap out of kids. You can still see a bit of that on the History Channel, but it's atmospherically far less disturbing.

Nowadays, all the phony "experts" seem to be on FoxNews, scaring the scrap out of adults instead.
posted by markkraft at 6:58 PM on November 17, 2009


When I watched The Empty Child for the first time, my husband was out and my daughter was asleep. There's the whole "mummy, mummy, are you my mummy" thing, and then the scene changed. But the "mummy, mummy" thing continued. And I actually had a moment of utter panic before I realized, as I'm sure you already have, that it was my daughter calling me from the other room.
posted by Ruki at 7:00 PM on November 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


SyFy actually managed to pull of a good episode of something lately, with a Stargate:Universe episode that actually reminded me a little of Blink.
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on November 17, 2009


All these later Doctors... !

Inferno sticks with me as being particularly freaky in parts.
posted by markkraft at 7:15 PM on November 17, 2009


Solon and Thanks: "Also - anyone know which Doctor Moorcock is going to write about? 10? Or is that something else yet to be revealed?"

Hey, why not ask Mike yourself?

Artw: ooooer, luverly. i shoonta but you ast
posted by mwhybark at 7:24 PM on November 17, 2009


I just want to say that as I scrolled the main page I quickly read this as "21 scariest doctor moments ever", and expected it to be either a list of things amputated by accident or "You have Ebola" 21 times. Carry on.
posted by Roman Graves at 7:25 PM on November 17, 2009


The first time I heard that theme song, I was in high school. Maryland Public Television showed Doctor Who at 11pm on Saturday, and they showed whole serials, be they 2-,4-, or 6-parters. But anyway, the first time I heard that music, i felt like I had been waiting to hear it my entire life. I think that was the music that was playing in the background while I was waiting to be conceived.

And oh, yeah: Weeping Angels FTW!!!
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:28 PM on November 17, 2009


If it's not Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, it's not Dr Who. Just so you know.
posted by taff at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


No mention of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy? I saw it as a kid, probably about when it was first broadcast on PBS, and I was scared of Doctor Who for years thereafter.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:56 PM on November 17, 2009


The decrepit Master in "The Deadly Assassin" always freaked the heck out of me.
posted by ...possums at 8:37 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]



I've often wondered whether this is a planted memory for a lot of people.


Not for me. Our sofa was almost always in the middle of the living room. I remember this because it was not only shelter from scary things like Krynoid pods, it was the vantage point for much of my formative television watching. I figured out at an early age that all the good stuff, like Dr. Who, was on way past my bedtime, so I would sneeeeaaak into the living room and hide behind the couch while my Mom watched. I would invariably get busted, because no matter how stealthy I was, if something scary or funny happened I would always make a noise.

If something really scary did happen, protocol was:

a) Hide behind the couch
b) Put a pillow over your head. If no pillow is available, use a blanket or towel
c) Put your fingers in your ears
d) Hum, or sing "LALALALALA"

Repeat until the coast is clear or Mom tells you to cut it out. Calling "clear" when the offending images or events are still in progress is considered an act of war and is grounds for physical retaliation, up to and including punching and kicking, but excluding pinching and hair pulling.

posted by louche mustachio at 9:24 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding Michael Moorcock:

I just so happened to be listening to Space Ritual when I opened this thread, so I am not so much thinking of what Moorcock's written version of Dr. Who would be like so much as I am imagining him reading it to me, in the manner of Sonic Attack. And I find that very funny.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:27 PM on November 17, 2009


Solon and Thanks: I forgot about Midnight! What an excellent episode.

I keep running into people saying that but I thought it was just dreadful. I thought that the writing was terrible. The way the characters behaved in that episode seemed really ridiculous to me. Especially if you compare it to the Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street which had similar themes. The latter really let the paranoid persecution develop but in Midnight it was straight from nice and normal to KILL IT NOW! KILL IT NOW!
posted by Kattullus at 9:38 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most houses I've been in have the sofa against a wall, which would make it difficult to hide behind.

Children are small. My house had the sofa against a wall and I had no problem scooting behind it (or under it) when I felt like it. You have to figure it this way: if there's enough room for a child's head, there's almost certainly enough room for the rest of the child.
posted by Ritchie at 9:59 PM on November 17, 2009


For reasons surpassing understanding, this is the first I've ever heard of the Weeping Angels thing. Just the concept is terrifying to me and, coupled with the two horrible little grainy stills in that article and the fact that I'm up, alone, in the dark at 6am on a windy Autumn morning means I'M FUCKING TERRIFIED TO TURN AROUND AND FUCKING TERRIFIED NOT TO. Thanks you guys.
posted by Jofus at 10:05 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


My personal gripe: they should tone down Murray Gold's score just a tad.

Oh dear lord, they should remove it entirely. Any sense of suspense or urgency the new series tries to build up is, for me, always utterly ruined by the accompaniment of the composer apparently rolling his face on an electric piano.

I feel that New Who has done nothing but pull what punches it had to throw since its inception, but I'm very much not in the target market, so I'll be in the corner wistfully wondering about the show it could have been if it wasn't saddled with all the BBC's hopes and ratings dreams for this or that saturday night. But I do think the angels from Blink would have been more effective if they hadn't switched into the vampire-from-Buffy face when they lunged.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:48 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


by the accompaniment of the composer apparently rolling his face on an electric piano.

I shall be using this little phrase as often and as loudly as I can for the next few weeks. It's a little poem.
posted by Jofus at 4:40 AM on November 18, 2009


Sonic Attack:

These are all signs of imminent sonic destruction
Your only protection is flight
If you are less than ten years old
Remain in your shelter and use your cocoon
Remember - you can help no one else
You can help no one else
You can help no one else
Do not panic
Think only of yourself
Think only of yourself
Think only of yourself

posted by ovvl at 4:46 AM on November 18, 2009


Surprised no-one has mentioned Human Nature / Family of Blood two-parter from series 3 of "New Who". OK, it doesn't have many moments of outright terror, but it's quite unnerving in places and downright creepy in others.

Firstly, the Doctor is not the Doctor. He's John Smith, a weak, indecisive, rather flaky human. Secondly, creepy scarecrows! Thirdly, ominous children (see also: The Empty Child). Fourthly, whole pathos element of the impending start of the First World War. Brilliant stuff.

The last-but-one scene of the Family of Blood sends shivers up my spine every time I see it. The Doctor is back, and oh yeah, he's mightily pissed off this time!
posted by afx237vi at 6:34 AM on November 18, 2009


The decrepit Master in "The Deadly Assassin" always freaked the heck out of me.
posted by ...possums at 11:37 PM on November 1


That whole episode was one of my favorites, mostly because of the Master as you mention, but also because of the entire sequence of the Doctor's mind plugged into the Gallifreyan master computer known as Matrix(watch through part 7/9). And yes, the computer was called the Matrix. You didn't really think the Wachowski brothers or William Gibson came up with that name, did you? There are more science fiction tropes that originate in one season of early Dr. Who than are dreamed up in all of Hollywood.

Another creepy guy was the cyclopian Jaggaroth in "City of Death" (featuring John Cleese and written by Douglas Adams). Another creepy moment was the ghostly and prescient Watcher in "Logopolis", who seemed hovered in the background around the 4th Doctor and his companions until triggering his regeneration at the end of that episode.

As for truly frightening moments, for me it was the first appearance of the unmasked Sutekh in "Pyramids of Mars", an episode that was scary for me (as a kid ) for a number of other reasons as well, including creepy killer mummies, who later turn out to be robots, who serve an immortal Egyptian god, who has a weird donkey head, who is actually an alien, who can set people on fire by touching them on the shoulder. Etc. It's a really good episode.

A great example of what made the original series frightening is this clip from the First Doctor episode "The Sensorites" (relevant portion begins at 3:47). This episode is not only great early Who, but is also classic golden era sci-fi. The shots linger, the pacing is slow and deliberate. The dread was in the unexpected. Absolutely anything could be going on on that ship, there's no way to know in advance.

While the Who reboot is good is its own respects, it leans more toward fast action than building suspense. "Blink" was a great episode, but it is cut so fast that you wonder if the original episode is another 40 minutes longer.

Too many people chalk up Dr. Who as camp because they are familiar with maybe the 5th through 7th doctors of the original series. The last season of the fifth doctor was the start of a slow downward spiral for the quality of writing on the show. The sixth doctor managed to pull off the formidable task of being completely unlikeable, and the seventh doctor was a joke. Sylvester McCoy is the Saturday morning cartoon version of Dr. Who. Every one of those episodes is, without exception, awful. "Delta and the Bannermen"? Kill me.

The original series is far more intricate and has more plot arcs than people give it credit for. For example, "Deadly Assassin" introduces us to the character Cardinal Borusa, who uses his political skill to cover-up the Master's crimes, and who over the course of a number of later scattered episodes helps to defeat the Sontarans, Omega, eventually becoming Lord President of Gallifrey. It is at this point that Borusa's true nature is revealed when he summons five regenerations of the Doctor to the Zone on Gallifrey to breach the Tomb of Rassilon and unlock for him Rassilon's key to immortality (SPOILER: which the doctor does, but only because he/they know that Rassilon's key to immortality was eternal imprisonment, because whoever wanted immortality must himself be evil). That story arc ran over the course of 7 years, from "Deadly Assassin" in 1976 to "The Five Doctors" in 1983. Eat your heart out JJ Abrams.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:03 AM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sunnovabitch. So the new Doctor Who's not going to run on the SyFy channel anymore? How did I miss the memo? We don't get BBC America, dammit! It's not right.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:18 AM on November 18, 2009


ooooer, luverly. i shoonta but you ast

I didn't know you were from the West Country.

As a bonus link, here's a 2003 interview with Mike Moorcock bythat mwhybark shared with me on Twitter.
posted by Artw at 7:50 AM on November 18, 2009


If you include spinoff series, Torchwood scared the living crap out of me with that last mini-series. Actually, so did parts of Waters of Mars, but not for the monstery reasons.
posted by medea42 at 8:05 AM on November 18, 2009


Chalk me up as thrilled that Moffat is taking over on the grounds that I've loved all of his episodes. I'll be really interested to see what he does with a whole plot arc, rather than a few episodes.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:09 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, so did parts of Waters of Mars, but not for the monstery reasons.

It was the fake accents, wasn't it?
posted by katillathehun at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2009


katillathehun: It was the fake accents, wasn't it?

Believe it or not, they interviewed the "Russian" guy on Doctor Who Confidential (a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary on BBC 3 immediately after the show was broadcast) and he actually is Russian! I almost spat my tea out. Same for the weedy American guy.
posted by afx237vi at 8:35 AM on November 18, 2009


If you want scary... and I mean real scary... you want best-Who-story-that-wasn't-actually-Doctor-Who you want playground legend The Nightmare Man Has some of the most effective monster POV stuff and is utterly terrifying. (well the first three episodes at least, until it's revealed that the 'monster' is SPOILER a fat bloke in a silver suit).

In my quest, using the magic of dvd rentals, to re-watch / catch up with some of my favourites from earlier years I've just started on The Children Of The Stones. I didn't see it at the time I was pretty much a BBC kid (plus I was probably too young anyway) but watching it now it's very unnerving as an adult. As a kid it would have scared me stupid. The threshold for what kids could watch was a hell of a lot higher that it is now... I mean just look at this.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2009


Believe it or not, they interviewed the "Russian" guy on Doctor Who Confidential (a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary on BBC 3 immediately after the show was broadcast) and he actually is Russian! I almost spat my tea out. Same for the weedy American guy.

I was more put off by the "Steffi" character. I'm not sure what that accent was supposed to be. I am a little surprised the Russian guy was actually Russian, though.
posted by katillathehun at 9:40 AM on November 18, 2009


There's a raw quality to some of the earlier scary moments that makes them somehow more disturbing than their later replacements. The Sontaran, for example, looks genuinely scarred and mutilated.

I think also, in earlier Doctor Who, the situations felt a lot less safe. People died more often. This may have been partly because of the way that episodes used to be made up of about six half hour chunks, each ending in a cliff hanger.

Another important change, though, was that there was much less emphasis on the Doctor being powerful - indeed, it's one of the big weaknesses in the recent series that it constantly has people talking about how great the Doctor is, how strong and wonderful and generally inspiring he is etc. etc.

It robs the series of a lot of tension and excitement and it makes the Doctor feel like something of a Mary Sue.
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:59 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The latter really let the paranoid persecution develop but in Midnight it was straight from nice and normal to KILL IT NOW! KILL IT NOW!

Yes, that always bothered me, too. A lot of the acting in that episode is very scenery-chewing. But it wasn't bad enough for me to dislike the episode (I thought Tennant did a very good job, and I liked the whole concept a looot. I handwaved away the silliness with their explication that the thing invades their heads, too.) But I could see how it would ruin the episode for others.

Another important change, though, was that there was much less emphasis on the Doctor being powerful - indeed, it's one of the big weaknesses in the recent series that it constantly has people talking about how great the Doctor is, how strong and wonderful and generally inspiring he is etc. etc.

The Waters of Mars does something really good & interesting with this tendency, I think, (it's basically what makes the episode good) so if you haven't seen it you should check it out. But yes, that would be my main criticism. The whole "tinkerbell jesus" moment 10 had a few seasons ago annoyed the hell out of me.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2009


I think also, in earlier Doctor Who, the situations felt a lot less safe. People died more often. This may have been partly because of the way that episodes used to be made up of about six half hour chunks, each ending in a cliff hanger.

True, but people died and were wounded in an almost predictable, almost formulaic manner. Traitors who sold out humans to aliens/the bad guys were themselves killed by the bad guys. Traitors who realize the error of their ways and try to undo what they've done die tragically or heroically. People who don't heed the Doctor's advice or warnings out of hubris are killed, people who ignore the Doctor out of curiosity are only wounded or captured. Note that Adric dies when he ignores the doctors' advice and stays behind ostensibly to help but mostly because he doesn't think the doctor respects him and his mind. Although he heroically saves earth, it was this transition from innocence to hubris that dooms him from the start of "Earthshock".

Scientists who listen to the Doctor's technical advice are always spared. Scientists who are officious administrators (what we today would consider corporate sellouts) are usually in on the nefarious plot or assist it unknowingly but for some personal career gain.

A great example of this is any of the UNIT episodes with the third doctor or the fourth doctor episode "The Horror of Fang Rock". The original series followed this formula so precisely that I often wondered if it was a product of some weird moral continuum promulgated by the BBC equivalent of US networks' Standards and Practices groups.

The rebooted series is much more action oriented, and consequently the deaths are more random.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2009


"I'm not sure who is actually responsible for creating an inexplicable delay between US and UK broadcasts of this program, but I would like to tell that person/entity, you suuuuuuuuuck."

"Sunnovabitch. So the new Doctor Who's not going to run on the SyFy channel anymore? How did I miss the memo? We don't get BBC America, dammit! It's not right."

So what's a good bittorrent client for my new(-to-me) Macbook?
posted by Eideteker at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2009


Azureus, if you're techy.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:23 PM on November 18, 2009


oh, and thebox.bz is your best friend in the world.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:23 PM on November 18, 2009


obiwanwasabi: I've often wondered whether this is a planted memory for a lot of people.

Maybe... one of my earliest memories is watching Dr Who and yes, hiding behind the sofa at a scary bit. And I remember remembering it (?!) before the Interwebs.... of course with false memories who can be certain of anything?

Details I do remember - it was John Pertwee era maybe 1982?, on ABC here in Australia; early evening around dinner time. Not daleks but something slimy or scaly. :)
posted by joz at 5:42 PM on November 18, 2009


Our sofa would usually be away from the wall facing the TV. Course, the TV would be tiny by todays standards so we'd want to be that bit closer.
posted by Artw at 5:44 PM on November 18, 2009


"Planet of the Spiders" was the first Who episode I ever saw, when I was eight or nine or so. Scared the crap out of me. I suspect it's why I have a slight case of arachnophobia to this day.
posted by EarBucket at 8:12 PM on November 18, 2009


Eidetaker: Transmission is the best for Mac OS that I've used.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:41 PM on November 18, 2009


True, but people died and were wounded in an almost predictable, almost formulaic manner.

You may very well be right - I'm not that familiar with the earlier series.

The rebooted series is much more action oriented, and consequently the deaths are more random.

One of the things that stands out to me about the rebooted series is the way that the deaths are often an excuse for some pretty forced overworked drama - almost like the people in charge of the series wanted to write something weepy rather than scary?

These things aren't mutually exclusive and any of the episodes written by Stephen Moffat are often both - but the ones by Russell T. Davies do seem a bit narmy...
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2009


I recently discovered this Alternate Universe Fan-made series, which I have to say is surprisingly well done, and more watchable than some of the actual shows.
posted by bingo at 12:15 PM on November 20, 2009


2001: A Who Odyssey
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:07 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm writing the new Doctor Who - Michael Moorcock
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:09 AM on November 21, 2009


Why Malcolm Tucker should be the next Doctor Who
posted by Artw at 10:04 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


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