Friday, March 27, 2020

It Got Worse

I haven't felt much like writing about DOCTOR WHO in recent days -- even the parts of it that I still love, the parts of it that have been thrown on the ash heap by the BBC and the current showrunner. I can hardly even bring myself to watch my new Blu-Rays of the classic series. Why? Because it's a bit like having the corpse of a loved one still sitting in an easy chair in your living room three weeks after they passed on.

In a nutshell, DOCTOR WHO is dead. Burn the sets, sell the costumes, line up the coffins and prepare the eulogy. Throw the TARDIS into the Pacific. It's over.

Chris Chibnall has not just killed DOCTOR WHO. He's raped it, fucked up the ass, disemboweled it, poured acid all over the corpse and dumped the whole mess onto a rubbish tip for the crows to pick at.

So thoroughly and completely has Chibnall killed the show, that I honestly believe Nothing Can Save it Now. The only way to save it now is for the BBC to re-hire Peter Capaldi and give us an episode in which his Doctor is shown waking up from a Horrible Nightmare. And carry on from there with a completely new timeline.

Because a Horrible Nightmare is exactly what it has been. Series 11 makes the unmitigated disaster that was series 10 look like a playful romp.

Dear Chris Chibnall: If you hated the show this much, why in Omega's name did you accept the job as showrunner? WHY? Why have you done this awful, horrible, EVIL thing to a show and a fan base that never did you any harm whatsoever?


I honestly hope you catch Covid-19 and die a horrible, prolonged death in a respirator gasping for air. You did worse than that to DOCTOR WHO. I trust you'll be keeping a wide berth around the convention circuit, because you must know that there are fans out there who would be glad to do you up for killing one of the few Good Things in their lives.

Whatever possessed you? What made you think that killing DOCTOR WHO was a Good Idea?

What made you think you had the right to shit all over the work your betters, something that used to make Millions of People happy? Life is hard and we rely on certain things, things that we love, to get us through. And what did you do? You put a gun to The Doctor's head and pulled the trigger.

You were appointed to be a CARETAKER of the show -- and instead you did an Ed Gein on it.

Dear Chris Chibnall, there is a special place in hell reserved for you, asshole.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Who Knew? BOO "WHO."

And so, the new season / series of DOCTOR WHO is upon us: and the one thing that I never believed could possibly happen has happened: I don't give a damn.

This is the first time in the past six or seven years that I have not pre-ordered the new series of WHO from iTunes; and I have no expectation of ever ordering it in the future. I'll be following the reviews and I honestly hope that I'll see something there that will make me change my mind. But for now -- I'm sticking to my vow that the BBC will never get one more dime out of me for New DOCTOR WHO so long as that self-important prat and Moron of the Year Chris Chibnall continues as show runner.

Unfortunately, everything that I've seen in terms of news and previews has convinced me not only that Chibnall has failed to see the error of his ways, but that he's doubled-down and is determined to force-feed us his vision of the show whether the fans want it or not. If there was any doubt in my mind, the slogan that's been adopted for the new series is all that I need: "Space. For All."

The nauseating and heavy-handed "message" put forward by that slogan tells me that Chibnall is still more interested in promoting an agenda of inclusiveness than he is in telling great stories about interesting characters. He touted his first series on the show as "a great jumping-on point," but fails to understand that "a great 'jumping-on" point" is also a great jumping-off point.

Not that there's anything wrong with inclusiveness. But that's not why we watch television and that's not why we watch DOCTOR WHO. We watch WHO because we love the character, and because we love the weekly straight-shot of imagination that the show always provided until the egregious Mr. Chibnall took over.

Again I feel compelled to explain that I am not a hater nor even a nay-sayer on the issue of The Doctor's sex. Nor am I even against "message stories" per se, so long as that message comes out through a well-developed plot and interesting characters. As long as it's good DOCTOR WHO, I would be on board for it. And I even believe that, GIVEN BETTER WRITING, Jodie Whittaker could be good in the part.

But Chibnall has shown himself to be incapable of writing good DOCTOR WHO. He has shown himself to be incapable of creating characters that people can care about. In his one season on the show, the only positive I have derived from his work is that he's managed to make even the worst of past DOCTOR WHO look extremely good by comparison with the fake, heavy-handed, preachy garbage that he's served up so far. Yes, I can now look at the John Nathan-Turner era with new appreciation (and in the blu-ray reviews section you will see that I am doing just that).

I'm very grateful that DOCTOR WHO is a show that's been on the air for so long now that there's more than enough already produced that I can re-watch and enjoy for years to come. And this helps me be a little bit philosophical about it all: provided that he doesn't actually kill off the show (which could happen) WHO has been around long enough to prove that it can survive almost everything: including the braindead writing of Mr. Chibnall. The guy can't live forever, after all. Sooner or later, he has to fall off the damn planet.

Maybe then, just maybe, we'll get back the show that we still love, and that we wish was better-served than Mr. Chibnall is capable of doing.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019


UPDATE 1/6/20
Finished comments for all 8 discs in the Tom Baker / Season Seven Blu-Ray set.
UPDATE 12/2919
First thoughts on JON PERTWEE: THE COMPLETE SEASON FOUR and two other Blu-Ray releases are now up. Also updated news items.
UPDATE 12/2219
Added "new season" editorial on the front page. Also removed one post from the front page (it dealt with rumors now disproved).
UPDATE 12/1/19
Added specific remarks for Disk 5 of TOM BAKER: COMPLETE SEASON SEVEN, plus some hasty notes on other series' Blu-Ray releases in the News section.
UPDATE 11/9/19
Added specific remarks for Disk 4 of TOM BAKER: COMPLETE SEASON SEVEN, plus random notes for other releases.
UPDATE 10/13/19
Added specific remarks for Disk Three of TOM BAKER: COMPLETE SEASON SEVEN.
UPDATE 9/29/19
Added the "Odd Observations" page (see the sidebar), which seeks to recycle a number of pieces from the old site that probably ought not be recycled.
UPDATE 9/--/19
Added one mini-review to the Audio Adventures page, and added comments for Disk 2 ("Meglos") for the "Tom Baker Complete Season Seven" Blu-Ray.
UPDATE 8/22/19
Changed the color scheme for posts to plain ol' black and white, because I was tired of trying to make the colors turn out the way they were supposed to, and even more tired of the eyestrain. I may have to tweak the look of the whole site. Well, we'll see.
UPDATE 8/17/19
Added mini reviews for THE MUTANT PHASE (Davison) and THE EVIL ONE (Tom Baker) to "The Audio Adventures" page.
UPDATE 8/11/19
Added specific remarks for Disk One of TOM BAKER" COMPETE SEASON SEVEN.
UPDATE 7/24/19
Added a short and very basic review of the new Blu-Ray releases. I put this on its own page, accessible from the sidebar over there --> ...
... because it's my intention to add on and embroider this piece as I actually work my way through the disks and the sets. Yeah, wish me luck with that!
More to come... while months may go by between updates, rest assured this site is not dead! Perhaps a little green around the gills, but not dead yet!
UPDATE: 3/28/19
This week I added a new post here on the main page (just scroll down!) concerning series 11, and today I added a longish article, updated from a much shorter piece on the old site, ranking all of my favorite Doctors. It's been given a page of its own; you can access it from the PAGES menu in the sidebar!

It needs graphics. We'll see about that. Right now it's more important to write real content and just get that content online the fastest way possible.

Further updates... as they occur! Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

We Should Have Seen the Writing On the Wall

Before Peter Capaldi would agree to play Doctor Who, he first wanted to sit down face to face with show runner Steven Moffat and have a talk about the direction that the show was going to take. In [an approximation of] his words, he wanted to be sure that the show was going to be “the kind of Doctor Who that he wanted to play.”

Aside from the knotty issue posed by returning companion Clara Oswald (Capaldi, who has a daughter that age, wanted no part of a May/September flirtation, and hinted that this was a sticking point with the showrunner) we can assume that Moffat and Capaldi saw eye-to-eye and delivered a show that both agreed was the Who they wanted to deliver.

Hold that in your thoughts and flash forward three years. Moffat announces that series ten will be his last as showrunner — capping off a six-season run on the series that, despite the inevitable missed targets here and there, stands as a renaissance period for Doctor Who. Meanwhile, the BBC leaks that they have offered Peter Capaldi the option to stay on as The Doctor. Capaldi is silent. He remains silent throughout much of series ten, until he has the opportunity to do the same thing that he did three years earlier: to sit down face to face with incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall. He makes no statement on the subject, but  we can safely assume that his purpose is once again to learn what the new showrunner has in mind as he begins his tenure: to find out again if this iteration of Who is “the kind that he wants to play.”

We have no details of that meeting or how it went: Neither Capaldi nor Chibnall ever revealed what was said. But almost immediately after the meeting took place, Capaldi did a radio interview in which he casually dropped the bomb that series ten would be his last.

With twenty-twenty hindsight, and looking down the abyss at the deeply anti-intellectual, show-wrecking pile of preachy, social engineering tripe that was series eleven, it’s easy to guess that Capaldi took one look at Chibnall’s plans and immediately bailed out of the TARDIS, with or without a parachute.

Given how much press Capaldi’s avowed love of the show has gotten before, during and after his tenure, the implication is quite clear: the future of Doctor Who had been laid out before him, and much as he loved the gig, this was not a Doctor Who that he wanted any part of. It wasn’t a question of a single sticking point like Clara Oswald that could have been amicably resolved: the entire plan was wrong for him.

Fans that we are, who all love the show, we collectively went into immediate denial. Because we wanted the show to be good. Ignoring every sign of impending disaster, we applauded the announcement of Jodie Whittaker’s casting; as details began to leak and doubts began to creep in, we ignored those doubts and waited patiently with open hearts and minds:

… and then the Train Wreck happened. 

My argument here is that we should not have been surprised. Peter Capaldi loves Doctor Who and loved being Doctor Who — had Chibnall’s plans aligned in any way with his own feelings about the show, it’s nearly certain that he would have stayed on. And when the ultimate Doctor Who fanboy decided that it was time to abandon a sinking ship, we all should have seen what was coming.


Monday, November 26, 2018

An Open Letter to the BBC and Chris Chibnall

Ugh. With “KERBLAM!” I am now numbered among the viewers who are saying good-bye to their beloved DOCTOR WHO.

You’re going to try to blame it all on non-progressive, right-wing rednecks, but that doesn’t wash, at least not with me. I am so deeply liberal that I make American Democrats look like plantation owners. But I have standards. All Chris Chibnall had to do was to make us love the new characters and present us with exciting, arresting stories: and on both counts he has utterly failed.

You want to do “issue” stories? That is FINE by me. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and the wrong way is to make people feel like they are being LECTURED week after week. Raise the issue, ask questions, and let the audience decide for themselves. THAT is how you do issue stories.

You also DON’T do so very many issue stories that the show becomes “the Issue of the Week.” This is DOCTOR WHO fer crine out loud, you have all of time and space to choose from — and you’ve already knocked back the number of episodes you’re doing to the fewest ever in the current run. Out of ten episodes? ONE issue story a series is a GREAT PLENTY.

It’s lovely, on paper, to have a racially balanced TARDIS family. Lovely. But give us interesting characters that we can fall in love with — not this pack of utter non-entities, this TARDIS full of dull, shallow NOBODIES who vanish when you turn them sideways. You have to make us care enough to be sad if one of them died. You have FAILED.

A female Doctor? I’m one of those who said “It’s about time!” But for goddess’ sake, make her interesting! Cast someone who can bring some AUTHORITY to the role! Give her an edge! I was more than willing to give Jodie Whittaker a chance, but her Doctor is as bland and flat as stale tapioca pudding! She makes Peter Davison look like Colin Baker! She is utterly passive and dull. She is FAR more “white bread” than ANY of the white males who have played the part. I can easily think of half a dozen other actresses who could have brought some excitement and interest to the role, at least one of whom was actually mentioned in all the pre-casting speculation.

You guys were presented with a fifty-five year old unkillable Golden Goose — and STILL you have managed to kill it, in six episodes flat. Shame, shame on you all.

-- Thorn

Monday, November 12, 2018

Doctor's Lament

One of the oldest, most cliche plot devices, used time and again when the writers are creatively bankrupt, is to throw a pregnant woman into an already-dangerous scenario, making sure that she has a difficult childbirth under difficult conditions, preferably with a lot of screaming and heavy breathing. This ramps up the danger of the overall situation for Our Heroes, helps to prove that they are Good Guys, and in the end, when the danger has passed, it allows the writers to do that deeply hackneyed “New Life in the Face of Death” thing.

This is a plot device so ancient that it looks and moves a lot like Lon Chaney Jr. in full Mummy make-up. It has been done so often that you could throw Rocky Horror-style screenings of it and watch the audience recite the dialogue themselves while throwing toilet paper at the screen. It has been done so often that today, the only legitimate way to use the device is to parody it. 

And in order for it to work, even as parody, on Doctor Who, the writer has to bring a lot more inventiveness to this old chestnut than just switching ‘round the sexes. The scene, after all, is ripe for parody, especially on a fantasy show where all the rules about childbirth as we know them are neatly severed.

Chris Chibnall didn’t see it that way. His one “joke” (for it was played as such) was to establish that this time, the pregnant woman would be an otherwise-ordinary looking guy. Even with obvious complications from the sex reversal, the scene played out doggedly and reverently just as it has played out on on every other garbage TV show hundreds of times before, with every cliche intact.

It pains to use the word “garbage” in this context, but that is what Chris Chibnall is doing to Doctor Who. Despite all the evidence trickling in that this would be a dreadful season (especially including the “cliffhanger” from last year’s Christmas Special, which saw Chibnall exploding the TARDIS for the umpteenth time, and ejecting The Doctor into freefall for at least the third time — yawn), I had high hopes for this series. I was one of those who welcomed Jodie Whittaker with open arms, because I knew that she was capable of giving us a memorable incarnation of The Doctor if the writing was up to scratch.

And there it is. In order for the show to continue, the writing had to be at at least as good and as inventive as the best of what we were used to under showrunner Steven Moffat. But instead of giving us inventive, interesting, engaging scripts, Chibnall has been focusing his efforts on making a clean sweep of the TARDIS, and making sure that it looks a lot more like contemporary London than it ever has. Okay, that’s fine. But where are the stories?

The plots in these early efforts have been thin as canned chicken broth. So episode 2 was a parody of The Amazing Race: Russell T. Davies parodied modern TV in his first series of Doctor Who, and did it better. Episode 3 plunked us down in the middle of the Rosa Parks story — but did so in a trivial, patronizing and sadly over-simplified manner that approached a serious issue with all the depth of a sappy greetings-card. It is FINE to hold opinions and address modern issues, but for gods sake do it in a way that doesn't insult the intelligence of the audience.

Meanwhile, the new monsters Chibnall promised us have been sad rejects from The Terminator and The Muppet Show, while the new “family” of supporting cast onboard the TARDIS have utterly failed to make us love, or even like them. Attention has been paid to their skin color and social background, but no attention whatever has been paid to actually making these characters come to life.

No doubt the showrunners of Doctor Who have been under pressure to make the program Less White. But when Stephen Moffat introduced a black lesbian sidekick for his old white Doctor, he made sure that her character resonated all up and down the whole series and had a deep impact on how it developed and played out. We loved Bill Potts not only because of the qualities Pearl Mackie brought to her, but because Steven Moffatt put real thought into who she was and how her presence would impact the stories.

In no way has Chris Chibnall put that kind of effort into his iteration of the show. He has populated his ugly redesigned TARDIS with supporting characters that are straight off of the shelf, with bland, generic motivations and nothing to distinguish them as individuals. Turn them sideways and they disappear.

Earlier in the year, Chibnall was all over San Diego proclaiming that this would be a great “jumping-on” point for non-fans of the series. Perhaps he was right: no one can accuse him of catering to the show’s existing audience. But he neglected to remember what one of my friends told me; that a perfect jumping-on point is also a perfect jumping-off point. I paid for this series up-front, so I will faithfully watch all the remaining episodes and hope against hope that they will get better, but at this point in the run my heart is sinking into despair. 


Monday, October 8, 2018

DOCTOR WHO - Series 11 First Impressions

It's hard to go backward. 

I have seen the new Doctor Who... And ... it's merely OK. 

This issue is NOT Jodie Whittaker, the issue is NOT a female Doctor. I like Jodie just fine, and although it feels a little weird to be... "attracted" to the Doctor, that's not a problem.

The problem is that Chris Chibnall isn't half the writer that Steven Moffat is, and not even close to half. 

Folks who didn't like Moffat because he was to clever for them, folks who preferred the Russell Davies iteration of the show, those folks are probably going to be happy with the new series.

I am not.

For me, the best bits of the Davies years were the bits that were written by Moffat. His scripts were clever, challenging, and engaged with the show's basic concepts in timey-wimey ways that were never attempted before.
 Whereas Davies was content with simply contemporizing the old show and making its surface bright and shiny for a modern audience. Where Davies was a modern-day John Nathan-Turner, Moffat was more a modern Phillip Hinchcliffe. With Chibnall, we're back to a Doctor Who that is all on the surface, with no hidden depths whatever. 
That's the issue. I'm on board for the whole season, and who knows what it will bring, but if it doesn't start to offer more depth, than then this will be the last series I pay money for.