RATING THE DOCTORS! The best and worst of Doctor Who: The Most Annoying Dr?!!

Who…. is The Most annoying Doctor Who?

Hands down it goes to Colin Baker.

Wait, I do like Colin Baker, I thought he had promise; however his take, the take that was forced on him of that character… playing the role of Doctor Who, like a pompous, prissy, screeching banshee, for most of his run, tends to grate rather than be great.

And how he could act like that while zooming around with one of the most attractive companions, the lovely Nicola Bryant as Peri, is beyond anyone’s understanding. :).

But really it’s no mystery, he was obeying the increasingly more erratic directives of producer John-Nathan Turner, to include the producer’s insistence on that abomination of a costume he wore.

John Nathan for my money, while he had some good decisions, his bad decisions outweighed the good… by far. And he made bad decisions with three ‘Doctor Who’ actors back to back, Tom Baker (Poor scripts, unbearable later companion in Adric, courtesy of John Nathan Turner), Peter Davidson (saddled with that unbearable companion, and just seasons full of pouty, frowning, unlikeable people… courtesy of John-Nathan and the writers) and finally Colin Baker (who had some intriguing episodes, but he was just such an annoying, bitchy harpie, that his performance soured even well written episodes).

So definitely Colin Baker was led down the wrong road in his directive on how to play the character, but I think after those initial episodes it’s very much for the actor to fight for the direction of the character and have a voice in how he wants the writers to portray his character. However, Colin Baker (seemingly) blithely followed orders, bad orders, and like anyone who does that, you end up holding the bag.

Hence he, arguably the actor most willing to please the producer, ended up being the first and only actor to be fired from the role of Doctor Who.

And what we are left with is less than two seasons of pretty annoying and frustrating ‘Doctor Who’. Which is too bad because Colin Baker’s introduction to the show at the end of THE CAVES OF ANDROZONI (which is really one of the best episodes of DOCTOR WHO, easily the best Peter Davidson episode, who unfortunately, like Colin Baker, was saddled with some awful episodes/writing) is fantastic. And I initially was willing to overlook Baker’s crazy outfit and had hopes for his Doctor, unfortunately Colin Baker’s Doctor never grew beyond that annoying, foolish affectation, and indeed it got worse with time.

But there are gems in these season’s despite Colin Baker’s tantrum tossing Doctor. They are:

ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN by Paula Moore, directed by Matthew Robinson- It’s a surprisingly dark episode, and quite epic, and has enough going on to keep the Doctor’s Annoying factor from going too high. In-fact it’s the coolest and most menacing/vicious the Cybermen have ever been.

THE TWO DOCTORS by Robert Holmes, directed by Peter Moffat- Robert Holmes was a writing God, and even lesser Robert Holmes writing, which this is, is more exciting and intriguing than just about anything else being written for the show. Yet another extremely mature, and slightly disturbing episode. Well performed, and impressive throughout.

And even the last two story arcs of that season, while flawed, are quite compelling and watchable,

TIMELASH by Glen McCoy, directed by Pennant Roberts

REVELATION OF THE DALEKS by Eric Saward, directed by Graeme Harper

I mean honestly, season 22, Colin Baker’s only full season as the Doctor (a truncated season, but he did all the shows) is the most well written the show had been in years, with the glaring (and unforgivable) exception… of the Doctor himself.

The show, responded to dire warnings, unfortunately with a whole season called THE TRIAL OF THE TIME LORD. Everything that was already bad about this new Doctor, this overlong story arc magnified a 1000 times. The single worst season in the 30+ year history of Doctor Who.

I think if Colin Baker had been allowed to play the Doctor, charming rather than churlish, it would have made all the difference.

However he was fired and that opened the door to Sylvester McCoy who is #1 on my next RATING THE DOCTORS post! How’s that for a tease?! 🙂

Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen (Story 138) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: The Two Doctors (Story 141) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

DOCTOR WHO: STATE OF DECAY Episode Review!

This review is for DOCTOR WHO: STATE OF DECAY, the 113th Doctor Who story aired.

Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy – Full Circle/State of Decay/Warriors’ Gate (Stories 112-114)

It’s an interesting episode, in that it has excellence right beside dreck, and walks a very interesting tightrope.

We’ll start with the dreck. This story has some significant problems, among them less than stellar or convincing performances by two of the actors playing the vampires. They just play it too camp.

Another acting problem is Waterhouse as Adric; he just exudes annoying brat, even more than most kid actors, you can tell he is irritating everyone around him, actors and viewers both. The producer’s decision to cast him as a companion was a sizeable mistake for season 18, a component in the poor ratings, and became an additional incentive for Tom Baker’s departure.

Add to those failings, not exactly impressive direction and relatively shoddy effects (that fall far short of such an ambitious story) and you have a conflicted episode of Doctor Who.

But all these negatives accepted, the episode has some notable positives, the onscreen chemistry between Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, which was variable, really was pretty fantastic in this episide. And I think that’s because the script lent them some beautiful, and witty exchanges, and they were very good with each other.

And Baker who often blows everyone else off the screen, sometimes even himself, gave a subdued, giving, almost understated performance, that allowed for Lalla to shine with him. Terrence Dicks really wrote them as a team, as equals, which is not something that often happened in Doctor Who (And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it needs to happen routinely, the show is called Doctor Who. But it worked very well in this case).

The two, Baker and Lalla, have never done a commentary together, but I think this would be the episode to do it on, they work that well together in this story.

Of course the story is the thing, and Terrance Dicks cobbles together an amazing script, that unfortunately the director, effects, some of the casting, and the budget… could not really capitalize on.

One of my favorite lines, is this inspired bit of writing:


Aukon: The guards must hold the tower to the last man.

Head Guard: My lord. We’re outnumbered. Unless you aid us we shall all be killed.

Aukon: (Comes down close into the kneeling guard’s face) Then… die. That is the purpose of guards. Go.

Wickedly cold blooded and brilliant. And well delivered by Emrys James, playing the lead vampire. He does a textured performance, as opposed to the other two, who just come off as camp.

So if you can forgive the failings, the strengths of this episode are worth a viewing. The story is strong enough that I would love to see it recast (though much of the charm of it is Lalla and Tom in those particular parts, in that particular time) and redone with today’s effects. I think it would shine.

Weighing the pros and cons, overall grade: C+.

CLASSIC TV reviews: DOCTOR WHO! STORY 13 – THE WEB PLANET !!!

This installment of IT WILL NOT BE TELEVISED we take the way back machine to the swinging and bloody early days of 1965, and look at a serial from season 2 of a little known (at the time) Brit show called Doctor Who! And the serial, the 13th Who Serial, is called THE WEB PLANET.

Onto the review:

SERIAL 13 THE WEB PLANET
Original Airdate Weekly from 13 Feb 1965- 20 Mar 1965
Doctor Who: The Web Planet (Story 13) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)


First let’s start with a bit of back-story. What was happening in the world over the six weeks, six Fridays, this serial went out on? Well The News during this Time is… all too human:

-The first US combat troops arrive in Vietnam. By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers are in Vietnam.

-In the Audubon Ballroom in New york City on 21 Feb 1965 El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (perhaps better known as Malcolm X) was assassinated before a crowd of hundreds including his pregnant wife, and 3 of his 4 children.

-18th March, 1965: A Soviet cosmonaut known as Lt. Col. Alexei Leonov exited the spacecraft Voskshod II for a short “spin”. He completed a somersault, and then proceeded to take pictures of space. This took place just days before the U.S. planned to launch its first two-man spaceship and becomes the first man to walk in space.

-18th February, 1965 : An avalanche and Glacial Slide caused the deaths of 26 miners who were removing copper ore from underneath a glacier in British Columbia.

-15th February, 1965 : It was proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II of England that the Maple leaf would become Canada’s new national flag symbol.

-20th February, 1965 : The Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon after sending back thousands of pictures of the lunar surface

-2nd March : The Sound of Music Premier 1965

-7th March, 1965 : Troopers with night sticks, shotguns and tear-gas grenades violently confronted 600 civil rights marchers during an attempted 50-mile march from Selma to the Alabama state capitol Montgomery.

-Optical Disk —– 1965 USA by James Russell – now Compact Disk CD / DVD

-The Supremes, “Stop! In The Name Of Love” rises to the top of the charts

So that’s a look at the world 46 years ago. And for a bigger kick to put that world in perspective, here are what things cost then (US prices):

Cost of a new home: $21,500.00
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.05
Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.31
Cost of a dozen eggs: $0.53
Cost of a gallon of Milk: $0.95
Federal debt: $322.3 billion

Average Income per year $6,450.00 (Needless to say this average income bought you a lot more more back then, than today’s average income of $39,423.00 is going to buy you. For one thing far more of today’s money is eaten up in taxes upon taxes, and most things have multiplied faster than income… ie stamps and petrol and the price of a house are nearly 10 times 1965 levels, while income is barely 6 times 1965 levels. So income is trailing inflation by nearly 50% overtime, and that’s not even accounting for various new forms of taxation. And just think, you thought this was just a Doctor Who review! 🙂 )

While the Brits may have been watching Doctor Who (and let’s be honest, very few of them were doing that), In the States the airwaves were packed with shows eating up the ratings from THE FUGITIVE to BEWITCHED to MAN FROM UNCLE to VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA to BONANZA to ED SULLIVAN to JONNY QUEST to popular music shows such as SHINGDIG. And 1965 would only provide more programs to keep Americans occupied.

It wouldn’t be till the late 70s, and Public Broadcasting’s increased efforts going across the pond for programming… that would introduce the States to this thing called Doctor Who. And indeed give the show the added funding to keep it running, when other BBC shows of the period had given up the ghost.

And being one of the few shows of the fantastic, Doctor Who offered a cross cultural appeal that continues to… stand the test of time. So to speak. 🙂

So without further ado the review of the 13th Doctor Who story, starring William Hartnell and written by Bill Strutton, produced by Verity Lambert, and directed by Richard Martin:

    EPISODE 1 OF 6

THE WEB PLANET- by Bill Strutton. More shockingly bad alien costumes. Dennis Spooner graduates to script editor. This is a mysterious but not particularly satisfying series opener. Unimpressively directed by Richard Martin. C.

    EPISODE 2 OF 6

THE ZARBI- Strange premise with more shockingly inept alien costumes. Here’s the thing, if you don’t have the budget to do something convincingly… then don’t do it. Not without interest, but those sets and costumes… uggh. C-.

    EPISODE 3 OF 6

ESCAPE TO DANGER- I do like how the Menoptra move. Very elegant. It was Richard Martin’s idea to have dancers play the Menoptra, and a great idea it was. Lacking their… grace, and performances, and strangeness I would not be writing this review. Roslyn de Winter, an Australian mime, was hired to choreograph the Menoptra’s movements and speech, and also plays the central Menoptra… Vrestin. For the actress to act through all that makeup is impressive… for all the actors actually. With this episode I became interested in the serial, in spite of its constraints. B-.

    EPISODE 4 OF 6

CRATER OF NEEDLES- You have to give this serial points for sheer imagination. So much creativity. If I was a kid, the target audience, I would have loved this serial. It is very well written, and passionately performed. And the flying scenes, and battles are quite lovingly staged. While as an adult I could ask for better costumes, effects, sets, what they pull off is still quite impressive. The strength of Doctor Who, being the same strength of The Simpsons or any good Pixar movie, it is layered, smart writing to appeal to both adults and kids. B+.

    EPISODE 5 OF 6

INVASION- From a serial I almost did not finish, when I saw the first one, this has really grown on me. Beyond the questionable budget it is quite a lovely fable, and also at times quite touching, and quite dire.

    EPISODE 6 OF 6


THE CENTRE- All routes lead to the center, as the Doctor and his Crew and the butterfly like Menoptra battle the Animus, an eater of worlds, at the center of all things. A strong denouement, for a surprisingly good serial. B/B+.

So in summation this six part series is not, when recalled, fondly remembered by most. That said its first episode, THE WEB PLANET, originally brought in 13.5 million viewers, the most of any Doctor Who broadcast of the 60s.

Doctor Who never brought in great numbers, but it managed to be consistent, and have a passionate fan-base. Which accounts for the longevity of both the original series, and the success of the new series. If you can get past the questionable first couple episodes, and go along with the conceits, I think you’ll find a serial that is surprisingly… fun. Overall grade: B/B+.

You can pick up the DVD using the link below AND support this blog at the same time! Say it ain’t so, Joe! 🙂 ! But seriously I only recommend things I myself own, and I appreciate any purchasing you do via this blog. Thanks!

Doctor Who: The Web Planet (Story 13) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Sources:

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/- Offers background info on this episode
http://www.listzblog.com- Nice overview of popular shows by period
http://www.tvparty.com/- More great overview of what’s hot in tv by year
http://oldies.about.com/od/60srockers/tp/topten1965.htm- A great overview of popular music by year
http://www.1960sflashback.com/- Helped with research on prices in 1965
http://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/AWI.html- more prices over time data
http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/- another great tool for prices over time
http://doctorwhoreviews.co.uk/N.htm- for a helpful scan, plus see it for another take on this serial. Good stuff.

Favorite New Generation Doctor Who Episodes

Well it looks like the research is in and here’s the list of the favorite New Generation Doctor Who Episodes. Working on a proper article but till that’s ready below is a sneak-peak. The first name is the writer, the second the director. Amazing that this show was able to keep such consistent quality while rarely using the same director. But I guess the consistency in look/feel between episodes is due to the music, cinematography, and editing that was consistent, used the same team, for large chunks of the show. Those stalwart camera/editing/music teams listed at the bottom of this article:

BLINK- Season 3- Grade: A+ Stephen Moffat Hettie Macdonald

THE EMPTY CHILD/THE DOCTOR DANCES- Season 1- Grade: B+ Stephen Moffat James Hawes

THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE- Season 2- Grade: B+/A- Stephen Moffat Euros Lyn

THE ARMY OF GHOSTS/ DOOMSDAY- Season 2- Grade: A- Russel T. Davies Graeme Harper

SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY/FOREST OF THE DEAD- Season 4- by Stephen Moffat ends up on a lot of people’s best of list. But not mine, I like it, but don’t love it. Instead I would recommend the claustrophobic Russell T. Davies MIDNIGHT where the Doctor is in a LIFEBOAT type situation. Pretty intense. Followed by TURN LEFT, also by RTD, which I initially wanted to dismiss as rubbish, but grew on me. Both solid B+.

Season 4, Episode 12: The Stolen Earth
Original Air Date—28 June 2008- Balls That’s what RTD has, huge, humongous balls. He thinks bigger than anybody else, no one but him would write a story this big. You have to admire him for that. Just for the sheer audacity of this episode, despite it perhaps not really achieving the grandeur it’s aping (feeling a bit contrived, which is a problem with most of RTDs’s big stories, for the last couple of seasons) it gets an A- for being crazy enough to make the attempt. Pt 1 of 2.

Season 4, Episode 13: Journey’s End- This episode is not a favorite but it is part 2 of the above, so it’s a package deal and needs to be mentioned. There are some spoilers so beware. Okay, there are a lot of great big ideas in this season finale, I mean making a reality destroying gun out of planets, that’s genius. But ultimately it is perhaps too many ideas, there is a fine line between blowing minds, and blowing the own fantastic rules of your fantastic fiction. The whole defeat of the Daleks, rang more than a bit hollow and anti-climatic, and add to that the whole towing of the planet, and it is “check please” time. But those are just symptoms, the real problem is it all just comes out forced and contrived. I like the places the characters are in by show’s end, it’s just the process of getting them there was… flawed. Contrived and forced, there is no better way to say it. So glad I saw it, but definitely some problematic writing. B. I think it was definitely a good time for RTD to step down as lead writer.

HUMAN NATURE/THE FAMILY OF BLOOD- Season 3- Grade:B+ Paul Cornell Charles Palmer

There is a line at the end of this two parter, about the doctor hiding in the skin of humanity to avoid a family of blood, that is possibly the best line that I’ve come across dealing with the doctor (a character that, let’s be honest started out as a bit of nonsensical kids tv/scifi fluff), and that is saying a lot, as a lot of good writing has gone into this character.

It completely encapsulates, what it really means to be the last Time Lord. The horror of that, and the majesty, and the contradiction of that. This seemingly innocuous and affable temporal vagabond and pacifist, who beneath his trappings of humanity, has that within, to make even stars… dim. Wonderful work by director Charles Palmer as well as writer Paul Cornell.

THE SONTARAN STRATAGEM/THE POISION SKY- Season 4- Grade:A- Helen Raynor Douglas Mackinnon

This 2 part episode does not typically get mentioned, but it is one of my favorite two-parters.
The Return of the ravishing Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones (“God, she’s well fit” as the Brits would say :)). Bill Gates 2.0. An Insidious Alien invasion, and cars as weapons. What’s not to love? This episode just worked for me, one of my favorite ones since BLINK. Well written and excellently directed. Great cliffhanger. And the second half is just as great.

THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER- Season 4- Grade:B+ Stephen Greenhorn Alice Troughton

Cinematography by
Ernest Vincze (director of photography) (as Ernie Vincze)

Film Editing by
Liana Del Giudice

Original Music by
Murray Gold

Cinematography by
Rory Taylor

Film Editing by
Mike Hopkins

More to come, and feel free to suggest your own favorite episodes.

Doctor Who: The Complete First Series (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: The Complete Third Series (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

TORCHWOOD: Children of Earth REVIEW

torchwood_origins_pic

TORCHWOOD:CHILDREN OF EARTH- I came into this mini-series having only seen one other episode of TORCHWOOD, the season #2 finale preceeding this series.

And that episode by itself was pretty darn bleak and impressive. But CHILDREN OF THE EARTH ratchets it up several notches, with the stakes being nothing less than the world itself.

I found it powerful, and wrenching television, with strong performances throughout. It’s the kind of emotional wringer that BABYLON 5 and FARSCAPE were very good at pulling off, primarily due to the tortured and terrific performance of their actors. And while CHILDREN OF EARTH perhaps lacks any single stand-out actor, all the actors turn in strong performances, and CHILDREN boasts a script, that while science fiction, is more grounded in the issues facing us today.

That and the sustained storyline aspect, creates a cumulative effect that makes for one of the finer hours of television I’ve seen in a while.

It’s not without missteps, what show is, but the few it takes are minor and lost in the numerous strengths of the mini-series.

So all in all easily the best BBC TV production I’ve seen.

If this series doesn’t touch your heart in places, it’s quite possible you’re in need of a new one.

Recommended. A-.