Dialogue for the old and new fans...

From Planet of the Spiders part one, as it might be re-edited:

LUPTON: Not only a Doctor, but a woman Doctor. We do not want her here.
CHO-JE: We cannot shut out the world entirely, my brother.
LUPTON: Why not? You used to, in Tibet.
CHO-JE: All things pass away, as you will learn in your meditation. This world of samsara, the world of appearance, is the world of change.
LUPTON: Yes, but I came here to get away from the world. So did the others. We came here to find solitude.
CHO-JE: One day you will learn to walk in solitude amidst the traffic of the world.
LUPTON: It's still not too late to stop her coming.
CHO-JE: But it is. Mister Chibnall has already gone to the station to fetch her.


CHO-JE: We can but point a finger along the way. A man must go inside and face his fears and hopes, his hates and his loves, and watch them wither away. Then he will find his true self, which is no self. He will see his true mind, which is no mind.
SARAH: And that's what meditation's all about?
CHO-JE: Yes! The old man must die and the new woman will discover to her inexpressible joy that he has never existed.
SARAH: Well, good luck, mate.

From Chrissie's Transcripts Site, with alterations.
More musings on Doctor Who and national identity from me have been published at John Connors's Time Lines blog. I've written an introduction with more ideas at The Event Library, and the posts themselves are available at part two and part three.
Whatever next week's Doctor Who is like, it won't resemble too closely this fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith adventure, published in the TV Comic Annual 1976...
Part of the experience of dipping into old Doctor Who fanzines is seeing how fan prejudices were challenged by the experience of professionals. The editor of Celestial Toyroom (March 1980) reacted with some scepticism to a newspaper cutting from The People's Journal (Dundee) in which Katy Manning, seven years after her departure from the series, described Tom Baker's Doctor as "a rather serious, dramatic kind of doctor, whereas Jon [Pertwee] was a funnier character." At this distance, with the doubtful wisdom of age and with the benefit of hindsight, many viewings and DVDs, I can see what Katy means; but I'm not surprised that in a period when very few people indeed had access to video recordings to compare the performances, and with many of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society writing as if they spent their evenings prowling Soho, ready to apprehend Tom Baker for turning 'their' series into a comedy, the teenage (I think) editor doubts Katy's assessment.

Here's the article and picture, with a few addresses removed.
Behind the cut )
sir_guinglain: (ClaraEleven)
( Jun. 2nd, 2013 12:56 am)
He's off, then, after all, just when I had expected that he would be doing the 2014 series. If, as some sources suggest, this is part of a general relaunch which will try to restore momentum for the series after three years of reduced episode counts and allegedly troubled production, then good luck to it; though increasingly globalised television production, and the relatively small sums available in British television, have exposed Matt Smith to opportunities to develop his career away from the madman in a box.

Years and years ago, Steven Moffat pointed out that had Tom Baker played the Doctor in the television environment of 1999 or 2000, one would have been lucky to get three years out of him as the offers would have poured in and he would have been spirited away to a new project. Happily, Doctor Who is not a television backwater now, and let's hope it never is again; but it might mean that we are unlikely to see a run of more than three series for any future Doctor, even if more money can be found (and experience in arranging co-productions was an essential or desirable factor, I recall, in the recent recruitment procedure which led to Brian Minchin being appointed as the new non-writing executive producer).

The production office change what the Doctor looks like without consulting fans or the press; as ever, whatever Steven Moffat says about there being someone out there, unknowing, ends in Doctor Who are moments that have been prepared for. Change and renewal is more important than just going on living. It's far from being all over, so keep warm while the ancient ritual of new Doctor-speculation unfolds.
The new edition of 1975 serial The Ark in Space arrived this morning; and me being me, it was straight to the production information subtitles, a new set having been written for this release by Martin Wiggins, whose written commentary is rightly described in the notes as "a masterclass". The individual episode titles from John Lucarotti's version of the scripts are all in the public domain now (I've seen 'Puffball' and 'Golfball' mentioned before). Episode one was 'Buttercups', and I'll leave episode three unspoilered, though not for any particular reason. There are many quotations from Robert Holmes's graphically visual descriptive passages, full of suppuration, giant staring eyes, and in one case an earwig with a human face. I'd not realised that the Doctor's put-down, "Harry here is only qualified to work on sailors," is quite as rude as Robert Holmes probably intended it to be. Attention is drawn to the sources of The Ark in Space, including earlier Doctor Who stories, Invasion of the Dinosaurs in particular (though I don't think there was a reference to The Green Death), the Quatermass serials and the film Horror Express, a connection of which I had not heard and which now makes me curious about that film (edited to add: it's in the public domain, or at least it is in the United States; I suspect this is not true of other territories).

The new 'making of' documentary is excellent, demonstrating again that during Doctor Who's most successful periods everyone concerned understood the programme as a serious job of work. It's rewarding to see Kenton Moore talk about his portrayal of Noah and how recently it made him the epitome of cool among his grandsons' friends. Wendy Williams comes across as forthright and no-nonsense despite the obvious debilitating effects of a recent stroke; I'd not realised that she had been married to Hugh David, who was not only the director of The Highlanders and Fury from the Deep but at one stage down to play the Doctor before Verity Lambert replaced Rex Tucker as producer-designate. The only down side is that the makers of the documentary didn't source a copy of Futura Extra Bold for their mock-title sequences, lending those for 'Space Station, by Christopher Langley' and 'The Ark in Space, by John Lucarotti' the air of late 1980s BBC Video releases.
A public service announcement for followers of Doctor Who non-fiction and broadcasting history: the much-anticipated biography JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner by Richard Marson has changed publishers. It will no longer be published by Fantom, but by Miwk. Fantom are in the process of refunding all pre-orders made through them, and pre-ordering is underway from Miwk; the book will be published in May this year, rather than April. Miwk have also set up a Facebook page for the book.
I rewatched The Seeds of Doom earlier and am evidently not going to get to bed before I've written down some observations, so:Three asides )
I'm in the middle of a wholesale reappraisal of the contents of my flat, including my collection of VHS tapes. This has led to my playing The Invasion of Time, which works rather well as background to walking in and out of the room. One notices the strengths more: Castellan Kelner in the hands of the master of unctuous officialdom, Milton Johns, alternately conspiring against his president and grovelling to feed him jelly babies; the Outsiders' dismissal of Rodan's survival skills reducing her to tears and apologies; the scenes of chamber politics and close-ups which play to the theatrical roots of studio drama and given Tom Baker the chance to deploy a range of performance which he had little opportunity to do in Doctor Who; and Louise Jameson's domination of the location scenes in Outer Gallifrey, which redeem Leela from the burden of the leaden and belittling dialogue she is given to speak in scenes with the Doctor.

Yes, the Vardans are badly-realised, there are too many chancellery guards not paying attention to staying in character, and there are characters set up for usefulness - such as Gomer and Savar, whose discussion about wavelength fluctuations in part one foreshadows both the Vardans' source of power and their weakness - who are in the event underdeveloped. However, the first few episodes aspire with some success to dramatise some 1970s popular concerns - the source of political power and authority, and the limitations of the welfare state - though little effort is made to disguise the convenience with which the Doctor can stop and divert the action with an "apt phrase", which undermines the whole.

Some Doctor Who fans of the late 1970s and early 1980s were obsessed with Gallifrey, to the extent of wishing for a season entirely set there. We were mostly would-be technocrats then; but we'd all missed the message. The Invasion of Time is about the corrosive effects of a consensus of the highly educated, unable to stand up to ideas spread by broadcasting or brute force (and the Sontarans, led by a Cockney Stor, are here working-class warriors rather than the bachelor colonial officers they are elsewhere) without innovative thinking. The anticlimax is that the status quo ante is restored at the end, with the gimmick of the Demat Gun suggesting an epic which has run out of ideas.

ETA: There's also the confusion that Derek Deadman's Sontaran mask is noticeably different between the location film footage and the studio videotape scenes. In studio, the nose appears larger and narrower and the eyes are surrounded by dark make-up which doesn't appear on location. The effect is that Stor's genetic inheritance includes some of the vampire Count Orlok from Nosferatu; what this does to my class-warrior reading of the Sontarans is beyond the scope of this post.
The BBC announced today that the sale process for Television Centre has begun. Whatever the commercial arguments, this is a sad day for a generation who grew up with Television Centre at the heart of their collective popular imagination, though part of the existing structure is likely to survive as part of the broadcasting business in some form. The retreat of the BBC sprawl from Wood Lane has already begun, with the move of BBC Worldwide from Woodlands, just north of Westway, where the flags of Radio Times and Doctor Who once flew, and one wonders if the BBC logos have already been removed from the road signs further down Wood Lane.

In the meantime, this film is a record of the construction period made to inform BBC staff; it has a haunting, concrète soundtrack from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (John Baker?), provides glimpses of the buildings demolished to allow Television Centre to be built (mainly associated with White City stadium, I think, but including the old Wood Lane station on what was then the Hammersmith branch of the Metropolitan Line), and shows those curved corridors (built, it's said, because in those convivial days few BBC employees could walk in a straight line) taking shape, as well as the statue of Helios being elevated into place.

Doctor Who: Meglos )
These are strange times for those of us of a certain age, for whom a Doctor Who serial was not expected to live forever on DVD, but was instead to pass into the Elysian Fields of the novelization. Not only are BBC Books republishing six of the early novelizations in July, but in March next year they are publishing a new novelization, Doctor Who - Shada by Gareth Roberts, based on Douglas Adams's unfinished serial. This will be priced at £16.99, over three times as much as the reprints, and published in hardback, indicating that it's aimed at the same audience as those who bought (or were envisaged as buying) Michael Moorcock's The Coming of the Terraphiles last year.

What next? Doctor Who and the City of Death, for completists? (I'm sure Gareth could deliver a commercial product there.) Major surgery to make Resurrection of the Daleks make sense, and function as a novel? Anyone up to the challenge?
sir_guinglain: (Tom)
( Oct. 9th, 2010 02:21 am)
I've just finished reading Matthew Waterhouse's memoir of his Doctor Who experiences, Blue Box Boy. It's a mixed bag, probably most candid and self-critical when dealing with the author's childhood and adolescence, which is depicted as Doctor Who-obsessed to a degree which disturbs even this author. Despite Waterhouse being eight years older than me, there are many parallels, though I'd never have bought box after box of Weetabix and buried the cereal itself in leaf mould while searching for the elusive Sarah Jane Smith card in the box itself. His discovery of copies of Eagle and TV 21 abandoned by older siblings reminds me of an article in the Look-in Television Annual published in 1976, which left me in no doubt that I should have been born a decade earlier to enjoy TV 21 as it was published, though now I know that several Look-in staffers had worked on the earlier title and regarded it with affection.

The core of the book is Waterhouse's period as an actor on Doctor Who, plucked from a post-school stint in one of the BBC's cuttings libraries. Throughout, the reader is left conscious of how marginal Doctor Who was as an acting job in the early 1980s. Sarah Sutton's encounter with a former dance school friend who has joined Top of the Pops's Legs & Co. lodges in the memory. Additionally, Matthew's fanhood haunts him through the book, as Doctor Who personnel are baffled and horrified by its rising fandom. Paul Darrow makes several appearances, as Waterhouse remembers him often lunching with the Doctor Who companions when Doctor Who season nineteen and Blake's 7 series D. Plunged into the wash of the new series when invited to take part in DVD commentaries and convention signings, Waterhouse's final chapter finds him in the draughty halls of Milton Keynes, with Lalla Ward, Sarah Sutton and himself stabbing their marker pens into desks as long queues of new series fans wait to meet latterday Dalek operator Barnaby Edwards. In the meantime convention money has allowed Matthew to discover America, or at least sleep on the streets of New York at night, meeting Benny Goodman in a bar and fobbing off muggers with change rather than hand over his convention earnings.

Two decades after he joined Doctor Who, Waterhouse has few recriminations to make and is philosophical about his career, though this is not to say he is not occasionally catty, particularly about fans (who are often depicted in wild generalizations which nevertheless are possessed of some truth) and about BBC staffers of what's now a long-vanished age. He often chooses to describe his own feelings - as every reviewer has noted, in the third person - and leaves wider contextualization to the reader, depending on their own experience. This is part of what detaches private memoir from public autobiography: the personal as impacting on the personal, the author caught in events as much as or more than they shape them. Perhaps more than anything this is book is for anyone who, as Matthew Waterhouse says with characteristic self-deprecation, has spent too much time living in their own head.
There is not a lot I can say about this story which hasn't already been said elsewhere. Insights following a viewing last night included:

Firstly, the stylised costumes of the Sandminer crew very much remind me of sea creatures. This is ironic considering the sand which they are mining is part of a vast ocean of desert.

Secondly, it is a sign of how far my fan appreciation of Doctor Who has been recoloured by the internet that I wondered whether there was any Leela/Toos fic out there. There is an interesting dynamic established once Leela binds Toos's arm; the Doctor seems cheered by Leela adopting the role of nurse - "You can fulfil the traditional feminine role of the companion after all! You are welcome aboard my patriarchal TARDIS!" - but Toos seems to cling to Leela for much of the rest of the episode, suggesting a particular 1970s male view about women in command; I was reminded of Ronnie Marsh (BBC head of serials in the early 1970s) vetoing the casting of Susan Jameson as Morgan in Colony in Space because he thought the placing of a woman as head of a futuristic paramilitary command structure would automatically be read by the audience as an indication of unconventional sexuality.

Thirdly, the notorious colour-distorted image of David Bailie as Dask - is it meant to hide that he is Taren Capel or not? Yes and no. I think that it was anticipated that part of the audience would recognise him, perhaps the children who were more used to the visual language of television, and that the answer to the question would be held back until Taren Capel and the robots try to break through onto the bridge.

Fourthly, I remembered that when this first episode went out I was in a car heading back home from my grandparents. I remember looking at the dashboard clock as we passed the chemical processing wasteland next to the Gateshead western by-pass where the MetroCentre now is, and reflecting that I'd be lucky to get back to see any of the promised episode at all. I knew from the Radio Times that it was about robots of death, and was underwhelmed by what I saw when I switched on the television, which was the Doctor in a small room being smothered by a fall of corn flakes as the closing titles screamed in...


sir_guinglain: (Default)


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