June 12, 2001
4:23 PM   Subscribe

Doctor Who returns. After the spotty Big Finish radio dramas, the Beeb have officially sanctioned a new Internet-only series of adventures with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, allowing listeners to vote on whether the series should return. But will flooding the BBC servers be the only legitimate way fans can get the show back on the air?
posted by ed (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know I'm practically alone in thinking the '96 McGann movie was just fine, even if certain inconsistencies annoyed the hell out of loyalists. It was promoted atrociously, dumped, and then intentionally trashcanned so it couldn't even be distributed on video or shown on other channels (e.g. some of the few PBS stations still airing older episodes) until certain rights expired. (I don't know the current status, but people were complaining for the longest time.)
posted by dhartung at 4:53 PM on June 12, 2001

The presence of Sylvester McCoy means tha vote is loaded question anyhow.
posted by Kino at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2001

boy do i wish i could just walk down the street and see tom baker. i'm jealous!
posted by saralovering at 7:10 PM on June 12, 2001

Tom Baker was in that horrible "Dungeons and Dragons" movie last year - playing an elf I think. Sad, in a lot of ways.
posted by GriffX at 7:52 PM on June 12, 2001

"A new Internet-only series"? I could have sworn I read earlier this week that the series had actually been recorded last October, but that the BBC decided not to run it... Yes, they're releasing it on the Internet, but it's not like they planned to do it that way, I don't think.
posted by m.polo at 7:57 PM on June 12, 2001

Doctor isn't Doctor Who without cybermen.

posted by holloway at 8:26 PM on June 12, 2001

dhartung you dissappoint me.

That movie just confirmed in my mind how there are somethings that should never be translated for the American market.

Doctor Who: "I'm half human"
Tosh! What is this Star Trek?

As a couple of British wags pointed out, if the Doctor is half-human, it must be the bottom half.
posted by lagado at 9:00 PM on June 12, 2001

Here's BBC Online's announcement on the same subject.

I'm of mixed feelings about this. The TV series had a marvelous run, and perhaps should be left as it was. Here in America, they run things to death. I hear they're about to do an hour long drama series called Smallville (linked elsewhere in MeFi recently) which will allegedly tell the tale before Superboy. Before that was the Adventures of Lois and Clark which was perpetually atrocious. The family series of the 1950s, which is admittedly ceremonious memorabilia, lies dated and shallow. Great heroic modern myths should have their day and then be allowed to retire gracefully. Doctor Who is in many ways far superior to even the original tales of Superman told in the 1930s and 40s in pulp comic fiction format. The imaginative and all-encompassing adventures of time and space were daring in their execution and while stoic and restricted by financial constraints, managed to do so much with so little.

There is a part of me who would like to see all the regenerated incarnations of the good doctor. Based on what I read in this FAQ, I fear the only thing that would really save Doctor Who and give it a rebirth would be to start from scratch, give the concept a major overhaul including "modernizing" the aliens and technology so it would seem less hokey and more trendy for a mainstream audience. However, doing this would simultaneously extract from the series the very things which made it so endearing and remarkable. A possible comparison would be the American tv show "Lost In Space" as compared to the recently released full length motion picture based on same. Sure, the movie looked good, but when compared to the original tv show it's like looking at apples and oranges. Though corny, the original tv show was best left alone and unmodernized.

I recall when I first saw Highlander 2, the sequel to the original great cult epic. The first Highlander movie is self-contained, and the "there can be only one" motif made any sequel unnecessary. However they attempted it anyway, and it then launched into other film sequels and a television show. I recall watching Highlander 2 and thinking it might have been a tolerable movie had they changed the names of all the characters and not purposefully used the name Highlander as a cash cow. Being a diehard fan of the original film, I find all sequels after it came almost sacrilege. However I'm in a minority. Obviously the Highlander franchise has amassed quite a following in its own right, even if I stopped following it personally long ago.

I'm sure a renewed Doctor Who would find its audience, and perhaps be even greater than its previous cult following. I'd want to give it a try if ever the series were revisited, but I'm afraid I just wouldn't appreciate the results, forever comparing them to the original great work. For the sake of the masses, I hope I would again be in a minority, and Doctor Who would go on entertaining audiences for generations to come.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:28 PM on June 12, 2001 [1 favorite]

If Doctor Who managed to squeeze out some rock solid stories for 26 years, then who's to say that it can't continue on?

Personally, I thought they made a big mistake with the whole half-human nonsense. McGann was not at fault, but the producers behind that terrible 1996 movie were. Eric Roberts as the Master? I mean, how desperate do you have to get?

If Doctor Who is to hypothetically continue, it must be inherently British in its approach. No pandering to a worldwide audience. Just simple British humor contained within a reasonably intelligent science fiction story.

The interesting thing about the Big Finish dramas is that, while the stories are fairly pedestrian nature, the amount of energy that the involved cast puts in is quite impressive. And it's a pity really. The BBC are sitting on a potential goldmine, but fail to realize the significance of letting a series essentially grow in its own microcosm. Besides, that's how it found its appeal in the first place.
posted by ed at 10:45 PM on June 12, 2001

I know I'm practically alone in thinking the '96 McGann movie was just fine

I thought it was fine, too. The "half-human" bit I saw as a device the writers/producers thought necessary to make the Doctor seem more as a hero figure for us Earthlings. My wife, who had never heard of the original show, thought it was odd that we would cheer on an alien. If he's half-human, then we have a claim on him and more of an emotional link, I suppose. The '96 show did have that bit where the Eye of Harmony was causing all the glass in the world to sort of start melting that I thought was ludicrous, but I *could* let that pass.

GallifreyOne says that the 96 movie will be released on DVD in August 2001. Producer Philip Segal has an audio commentary on "some of the changes he'd have made if he had not been strongarmed by FOX, such as the romantic aspect and the "Americanisation" of the program."

The public TV station in Kansas City where I grew up stopped carrying Doctor Who after the last Peter Davidson episode so I was really looking forward to a new series to see what had been going on. I hope the audio series catches on.
posted by stevis at 11:59 PM on June 12, 2001

Here's a potentially unpopular opinion but I feel the need to share. I would like, just once, to see John DeLancie play a Gallifreyan. Not necessarily The Doctor, but perhaps a fellow rogue. I think he'd have a field day. It'd just be fun to see what DeLancie would do. Were I directing him, my only request would be that he "not go Q with it." Beyond that, he'd get free reign.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:41 AM on June 13, 2001

The public TV station in Kansas City where I grew up stopped carrying Doctor Who after the last Peter Davidson episode...

I guess I should feel lucky that my public television station has been showing Doctor Who for a long time. If the last Peter Davison episode was the last one I saw, I'd almost be grateful...
posted by JDC8 at 5:19 AM on June 13, 2001

First of all, this isn't a new series of adventures. It's a 30 minute broadcast.

Second, all the character building that has been done in the New Adventures and the BBC's Eighth Doctor series could easily be taken as part of the new series.

If you take time and look back, there has been some real development towards something. Davidson's big heart was replaced by C.Baker's grumpiness. C.Baker's meanness was replaced with McCoy's cold calculating murder. And the developments in McGann's book adventures are quite intriguing.

Basically, the wonder that is Farscape gives me big hope that a new Who can and will work.

It's all about the stories anyway.
posted by Pinwiz at 7:16 AM on June 13, 2001

C'mon, Holloway - Cybermen?? What about the cranky saltshakers with the constipated voices? Daleks rule!
posted by Perigee at 10:49 AM on June 13, 2001

I was going to say: what about the Yeti, the Sontarans or the Ice Warriors? Or my personal favorite: the Autons, a mannequin alien race with detachable half of a hand that, when unveiled, exposes a secret weapon.
posted by ed at 12:27 PM on June 13, 2001 [1 favorite]

i remember the absolute trauma i experienced as a nipper in the late seventies when my older bro came home from school clutching an autographed DrWho book yelling that the Dr (Baker) had given it to him personally. We lived at an English army base in Germany and i guess they just got people like that to drop into school and see the kids when in town. Don't suppose they realized that tha rest of the kids siblings would be mentally scared for life by missing out on such an event.
posted by Kino at 5:05 PM on June 13, 2001

Perigee, Cybermen are scarier than Daleks.

I thought it was fine, too. The "half-human" bit I saw as a device the writers/producers thought necessary to make the Doctor seem more as a hero figure for us Earthlings. My wife, who had never heard of the original show, thought it was odd that we would cheer on an alien.

Look, stevis, I don't want to say anything not nice about your wife, okay?

From the article I linked to earlier:

"Part of the Doctor's strength is that although he isn't human, he displays characteristics more humane than his fellow Time Lords and an affinity for the planet Earth and its inhabitants. We don't need for this adopted father to have any more in common with us than that, and we especially don't need for him to develop a libido from thin air. "
posted by lagado at 7:40 PM on June 13, 2001

The half-human copout also seems to me to be one of the most pedestrian plot devices in science fiction. And I was vexed about this when I saw the TV movie. First off, what makes Gallifreyan physiology so goddam compatible with human phyisiology. It's as ridiculous as trying to cram a PCI card into a tiny screw. It just doesn't work.

You want a science fiction story: two randy alien lifeforms really want to get it on. But because of their distinct biological differences, they can't find libidinous pleasure.
posted by ed at 8:40 PM on June 13, 2001

lagado -
Ah! Okay, I'm sold.

Of course, there is always the other Timelord series that has been running nearly as long as Doctor Who, albeit on the big screen...James Bond.
1) He has had five bodies to date.
2) Each body has a different personality and way of carrying out his missions.
3) He served in the Navy in World War II, but looks mid-thirties by the time of "Goldeneye".
posted by stevis at 9:58 PM on June 13, 2001

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