Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Modern Dr. Who (Part Two)

The Dr.Who that I remember always had some campiness about it. But the sci-fi material was to die for, especially if you only had the three big networks and Channel 17 (sometimes) and PBS.

So, to some extent, a new Dr. Who series should not have too much difficulty being better than the original material.

Well, yes and no.

It really depends on what an individual viewer liked most about the original series. Monsters, high sci-fi, campy sci-fi, historical themes, mythology of the Time Lord universe...you never knew what to expect.

To that end, the current material keeps you on your toes. It has even won some serious sci-fi awards. We have everything that any classic fan might have loved (the presence of Tom Baker excluded) and more. Plot threads that hold entire seasons together, one-offs to give the viewer a break from the building and expanding mythology, cameos from classic characters, modern science themes, and a Doctor who is on a serious god-trip, possibly resulting from severe emotional instability.

One problem I see however, which is common in far too many sci-fi stories, is the inclusion of too much modern human elements: a cell-phone that receives and sends anywhere in time or place, a typical key that is "more" than a key, the apparent need to keep going back to the same time and place (a budgetary decision perhaps?), and the Doctor is proving to be responsible for more and more events in human history. Also, the historical/classic horror jaunts seem a little too obvious: a werewolf that is not a werewolf, a ghost that is not a ghost. There is even an episode spoofing modern game shows and other t.v. entertainment.

These stories are fun and quirky but far too typical. They are not poorly done, just unnecessary.

Some of the stuff that works though, works very well. Captain Harkness is too awesome and can completely steal the spotlight in any episode that portrays him correctly. However, I think the producers made a mistake by taking away his time/space toys and allowing the character to be hijacked into the poor spin-off Torch Wood. He would have been great in a solo spin-off with him trekking about the universe through time and space, getting into all sorts of troubles that only a true con artist can get out of. But, we were given Torch Wood instead and Captain Jack Harkness lost his tools of trade.

Since this post is getting long, I'll stop here and come back to pros and cons another time.

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