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November 6, 2006

“Doctor Who” Explains Modern Media Consolidation To You
Posted by Patrick at 11:25 AM * 120 comments

DOCTOR: You mean that…thing’s in charge of Satellite Five?

THE EDITOR: That “thing,” as you put it, is in charge of the human race. For almost a hundred years, mankind has been shaped and guided, its knowledge and ambitions strictly controlled by its Broadcast News—edited by my superior, your master, and humanity’s guiding light, the The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. [Confidingly] I call him “Max.” […] If you create a climate of fear, then it’s easy to keep the borders closed. It’s just a matter of emphasis. The right word, in the right broadcast, repeated often enough, can destabilize an economy, invent an enemy, change a vote…

ROSE: So all the people on Earth are like—slaves?

EDITOR: Well, now, there’s an interesting point. Is a slave a slave if he doesn’t know he’s enslaved?


EDITOR: Well now! I was hoping for a philosophical debate. Is that all I’m going to get? “Yes”?


EDITOR: [Laughs] You’re no fun.

DOCTOR: Let me out of these manacles and you’ll find out how much fun I am.

EDITOR: Oh, he’s tough, isn’t he? But come on. Isn’t it a great system? You’ve got to admire it, just a little bit.

ROSE: You can’t hide something on this scale. Somebody must have noticed.

EDITOR: From time to time, yes. But the computer chip system allows me to see inside their brains, where I can see the smallest doubt, and crush it. [Grins] So the rest just carry on, living the life. Strutting about downstairs and all over the surface of the Earth like they’re so individual. When of course they’re not. They’re just cattle. In that respect the Jagrafess hasn’t changed a thing.

ROSE: What about you? You’re not a Jagro, uh, belly…

DOCTOR: Jagrafess.

ROSE: Jagrafess. You’re not a Jagrafess. You’re human.

EDITOR: Yeah, well, simply being human doesn’t pay very well.

ROSE: But you couldn’t have done this all on your own.

EDITOR: [Laughs] No, no, no. I represent a consortium of banks. Money prefers a long-term investment. Also, the Jagrafess needed a little hand to, um, [whispers] install himself.

(From The Long Game.)
Comments on "Doctor Who" Explains Modern Media Consolidation To You:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:41 AM:

That was the first season of Doctor Who I ever liked.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:50 AM:

I'm still bummed that Eccleston left.

#3 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Although the name "Max" suggests Robert Maxwell, I'm sure he was supposed to be Rupert Murdoch.

Bush might not be Hitler, but Murdoch *is* Goebbels.

#4 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Been catching up on DR WHO, Patrick? If so, try your best to avoid spoilers for the final two eps of season 2 (which means not going to the Sci-Fi channel website section on the show, among others). I somehow managed this and so
got the full effect of the "Holy Shit!" moment at the end of the penultimate episode.

#5 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 02:37 PM:

I'm still bummed that Eccleston left.

Serge, it's all explained in this video (YouTube). I think it will help you to at least understand his reasons.

#6 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Honestly, before the recent revival, I always regarded Doctor Who as one of those things you had to grow up British to fully appreciate. But the new stuff is fun and often startlingly affecting. (The Eccleston episodes, at any rate; I haven't yet got to the second season of the post-revival show.)

#7 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:15 PM:

I never could get into Dr. Who, back in the day. And all of a sudden, here I am, completely jazzed for Friday nights. Who would have thought?

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Thanks, Howard. I'll have to go check that video when I'm not at the office. I understand that Eccleston left because he didn't want to be forever associated with the Doctor. Meanwhile I read somewhere that he'll be in the new version of The Prisonner.

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:33 PM:

On Friday nights, I record Dr. Who and watch Battlestar Galactica live.

The former is the antidote for the latter.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:15 PM:

No kidding, Stefan. My wife has given up on Galactica because of the unrelenting despair. One might ask her what else she expects from a story about the extermination of humankind. She'd then point to characters like Jerry Orbach's Brisco who copes with ugliness thru gallows humor.

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Howard... I did go see that video about the REAL reason for Eccleston's departure. What can I say but coughgagsplutter?

#12 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:36 PM:

I wouldn't describe BSG as unrelentingly depressing; there are too many examples of the enduring quality of the human spirit, victories of resolve and tactical ingenuity, touching moments of genuine affection and hopeful gestures. Those moments are all the more affecting against the undeniable bleakness of their situation. Also, it's some of the best and most daring social commentary on television anywhere right now, and both worth watching on those merits and (I suspect) destined to be hailed on those grounds when it becomes part of the history of this time.

That said, I often do the same thing Stefan does, or some equivalent (given that I'm rarely home on a Friday night), for much the same reason.

I quite enjoy the job that Tennant is doing, but it's not the "Wow! Yes, that's it exactly!" response that Eccleston engendered.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:46 PM:

True, Skwid. Still, I believe that some people would fall into gallows humor in BSG's situation. I guess it was the show's conscious decision to stay far away from any kind of humor. And who am I to argue with success? Meanwhile, last night, Sue and I watched our DVD of Firefly's 2-hour pilot episode. God, how we miss that show.

About Tennant's Doctor... I like him, but nowhere near as much as Eccleston's. Not sure why. Sue thinks he's too young. My problem may be that he reminds me of Jim Carrey. Oh well. Too bad they couldn't get Paul McGann back.

#14 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:50 PM:

*heavy BSG spoilers*

BSG is suffering from the same problem as LOST right now, although to a much smaller degree. I personally (as of episode 305) don't have the slightest bit of hope left that any of the overarching mysteries will ever be explained (how could Number 6 appear to Gaius all the time? Why do the toasters want to be loved so much? What's the significance of the hybrid baby? Why are there only 12 models of skinjobs? Why does the paper on Galactica have rounded corners? ;P), or at least if they will be explained, the explanation will raise twice as many new questions. It feels like all the show does is move from one McGuffin to the next. New Caprica was a perfect example of this. Sure there'll be repercussions, mostly for the collaborators, but it seems the only reason why they settled there was so the toasters could come and create a metaphor for Iraq. Morally and ethically the show disappointed me a lot. It started very nice; it seemed to be truly gritty and dark and full of relevant and interesting questions; meanwhile it's just a random switching back and forth between extreme barbarism (the "circle", the suicide bombings) and almost superhuman goodness and forgiveness and trust (Adama sending the Sharon-bot as his liason, President elementary school teacher taking the former terrorist as her vice president because he's just such a nice guy...) None of it is credible anymore, and because of that the intended shock effects don't shock anymore. When the circle flushed that guy out the airlock in the beginning of episode 305 all I thought was "another traitor out the airlock, great". It's a real pity, I think.

Also, they need to talk less and blow up Cylons more.

The depressing aspect was good while it worked. This, too, has become tired and unbelievable to me, so it merely bores me at this point.

The best thing on TV right now is Veronica Mars anyway.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:55 PM:

Since SciFi broadcasts the Doctor, BSG, then the Doctor again then BSG again, last Friday I watched BSG first, then the Doctor, without recording anything.

I dance to the theme music from the Doctor. Goofy 60s acid dancing. Way fun. If anyone saw me...unless it was the Boy...I'd be embarrassed to death, which is really a good test for Just Letting Go.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Do you miss Captain Jack, Xopher?

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Of course! He was charming, hot, and bi. What's not to like?

#18 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:01 PM:

how could Number 6 appear to Gaius all the time?

According to Ron Moore's commentary (on the miniseries I think, or one of the early episodes), Gaius is hallucinating that Number 6. Which raises its own set of questions. But that seems to be the official explanation.

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:11 PM:

And Caprica Six hallucinates Gaius. I think their minds got blended when they both died in the nuking of Caprica. Ever notice that Gaius is caught in the same blast that kills Caprica Six, and the next time he turns up he's unharmed and trying to get on the last shuttle?

She shielded him with her body, some say. Really? From a nuclear blast? Duck and Cover brought to new levels of absurdity, sez I.

#20 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:21 PM:

I did a little digging and found this article on the creation the Doctor Who theme music.:

The Doctor Who theme (composed by Ron Grainer, published by Erle Music/Warner Chappell) is one of the most recognisable pieces of television music ever written. It is also one of the most original in terms of its execution, being created as "pure" electronic music.

A History of the Doctor Who Theme

Can you believe that it's over 40 years old now? (The orginal version at least)

I agree with my parents, who have watched Doctor Who since the '70s. They say this new version of the theme song is good, but not as good as the older Tom Baker Doctor Who music with the heavier rock feel to it.

#21 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:23 PM:

I believe Kim Newman's word for Captain Jack was "omnisexual". Isn't there a spin-off with him in it? (Captain Jack, I mean.) How's it going, then?

I miss Eccleston bunches. His Doctor had a way of smiling that would reduce me to a puddle of happy tears. He just sorta nailed that aspect of the Doctor which got summed up in Father's Day something like this: "An ordinary human being--that's the most important thing in the universe." It was like everything he saw, he thought was a miracle. Tennant, meanwhile, is fun, but he doesn't have that same sense of epiphany.

Also, in re: BSG Spoiler #126, how come no one makes people ejected out the airlock actually explode anymore? Douglas Adams I can give a pass to, but isn't BSG supposed to be all gritty realism and crap like that?

#22 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Yeah, Nicole, there's a spinoff with Jack. I believe it's called Torchwood, and it hasn't been broadcast in the US yet.

As for the exploding...I think it's because they've realized that explosive decompression really wouldn't happen. Last I heard that concept had been debunked, but I haven't checked Snopes or anything.

#23 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:35 PM:

Re: Gaius hallucinating Six and vice versa and duck and cover. Excellent point, and one I was going to raise as well, since it exemplifies another problem I see with this kind of writing. See now both the explanation that Gaius and Six are seeing hallucinations of each other in their mind and any possible explanation of how Gaius survived the nuke (maybe it was just 550 tons of plain old TNT, like Kim Jong... no wait, that was a fizzle) are instances that reek of explaining away a mess that shoddy writing left behind. I seem to remember that there was exchange of valid and real information between 6 and Gaius in at least one instance, which immediately damages the hallucination theory to the point that it would take yet another theory of "how they communicate" on top of the hallucination explanation to make it stick together. Patchwork. My take on it? 6 appeared to Gaius because it LOOKED cool. Also they probably thought they'd come up with some sort of explanation eventually. Personally I found the scenes in which Gaius was ACTUALLY talking to hallucinated-6 but then coughed or did something even more silly to explain his utterances to the REAL people around him the most embarrassing moments of an otherwise very embarrassment-free series.

And the nuclear blast thing? Clearly a case of cool visuals winning over logic. If you're close enough to ground zero of a nuke to have your windows pulverized in such a way, you are not going to live.

Unless, of course, Gaius is one of the missing models that "we don't speak of". But that would be silly, wouldn't it?

And Re: Nicole, #21: please do correct me if I'm wrong but the Smart Scientists told us that people would NOT explode when ejected into space, right? Maybe this is one of these rare cases of fact eventually winning over fiction, like space was silent for a moment in 2001 (and then again in Firefly ;)). Now they just need to stop making bullets strike sparks, have people fly 15 meters when hit by a handgun bullet, make computers stop playing that "beepbeepbeepbeepbeep" sound while displaying search results... oh frack it, fact has a long way to go.

#24 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:36 PM:

Torchwood is up to episode four. I'm not sure how it's doing in the U.K., but I can confidently say, after seeing two and a half episodes, that it will never be shown on U.S. TV. It's too racy for Sci-Fi, and no other network has any reason to run it.

Actually, BBC America might, but seeing as they're just now talking about running season one of Doctor Who, they won't be looking at Torchwood for years.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:41 PM:

About BSG making things up... I got the sense from the original mini-series that all 12 colonies were all located within the same star system. I thought OK, but why then do each and every cargo and/or passenger ships have a jump drive? Then the show changed its mind, I think.

#26 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 06:01 PM:

Anyone who wants an extensive discussion of people blowing up when ejected from airlocks: the reasons why not should find a Farscape discussion board and look into episode threads for "Look at the Princess" part 2. On the old Dominion board at the debate raged for days and was finally settled by someone calling NASA.

Either Dr. Who or BSG would benefit by being shown with Farscape, to my way of thinking. But I'm sort of an absolutist when it comes to science fiction television: there's Farscape, and then there's all the other stuff.

#27 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Also, about "Torchwood:" some of my fannish friends are swearing that it is the single best television program ever (or since Buffy season 3) and apparently the ratings are very good.

I'm hoping it will be shown somewhere in the US soon. Sadly, SciFi has gotten terribly respectable since "LEXX" went off the air.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 06:12 PM:

Meanwhile, near the end of Firefly's pilot episode, we have Zoe asking Mal the following:

"Requesting permission to have my husband tear my clothes off, captain."

"Work, work, work," says hubby as she drags him away.

Like I said before, God, how I miss that show.

#29 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Personally, I read 'The Long Game' as a satire on the BBC news department by the drama one, and 'Bad Wolf' has a very funny go at Light Entertainment too.
Tennant grew on me over the course of the season. Worth watching them all. 'The Idiot's Lantern' is another good media satire episode, and 'the Girl in the Fireplace' is a perfect bit of writing.
Torchwood has some promise, but the script isn't up to the (very high) Dr Who standards yet, though I did like the 'CSI Cardiff' gags in the opener.

#30 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Serge at 28:

I started watching Firefly as a way to assuage the pain of Farscape's cancellation; it led within days to watching Buffy and Angel. In the end, that left me with three shows to mourn over (Buffy, not so much: can't see where an eighth season would have gone).

I'm enjoying Dr Who and BSG, but I'd trade them both for a full season of Firefly, preferably pre-movie.

#31 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:04 PM:

25: as far as I remember, 12 habitable planets in one system is way beyond unlikely (even with terraforming). Hell, just one earth-like planet is very, very unlikely. There's a wonderful show on German TV called "Alpha Centauri" in which an astrophysicist tackles a different topic from space each weak in a 15 minutes, no special effects, no computer graphics episode. He just stands in front of a black board and talks. It's really awesome. One episode I remember was about just HOW unlikely it was for Earth to form the way it did. If I remember correctly, one thing that was involved was a very heavy object passing by our newly formed solar system and sweeping away a good number of asteroids and other small debris that otherwise would have continually bombarded earth and made the development of life impossible.

But that is what I'd call external logic. I don't mind if Sci Fi series break external logic a little bit. Internal logic, however, is where it gets problematic. The 6/Gaius thing is an example of the show making up a rule and then failing both to explain the reasoning behind it AND to stick to it (assuming the rule was at first "Gaius can see 6/6 can see him but they can't talk".

I love the new Dr Who too, btw; Girl in the Fireplace and The Doctor Dances (I forget what the first part of that two parter was called; the empty child? I think so) are both awesome. It's time Steven Moffat did something again after those three awesome seasons of Coupling. What is that I hear you say? A FOURTH episode of Coupling? Without Jeff? Right, that's like making additional episodes of Ally McBeal without Ally.

#32 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:15 PM:

I've seen the first three episodes of Torchwood and, like Jen Pelland, I seriously wonder whether it'll ever been shown on US television, cable included.

It's not that it's all about sex (it's not), but when sex is part of the story, they don't hedge.

#33 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:08 PM:

I was never comfortable with Eccleston. He looked like a thug, he didn't sound right*, and as it turned out he went into the job knowing he was going to bunk off after a single season. I've got used to him in his episodes now, but for me he will always be Placeholder!Doc. Tennant is better. For one thing he respects the role.

*By which I don't actually mean he didn't talk posh. Several of the Doctors had non-"standard BBC" accents. Eccleston just didn't sound believable as a Time Lord.

#34 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:08 PM:

I've been following the new Who, but I've also been getting into Heroes. Lots of mysteries, but much faster moving than similar shows.

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:17 PM:

Zander, lots of planets have a north.

#36 ::: Michael Maggard ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:33 PM:

(Studiously not noting that episodes of BSG, Dr. Who, & Torchwood appear within a day of their broadcast on usenet in news:alt.binaries.multimedia.svcd & like newsgroups)

The BBC & SciFi has taken to mining their productions with concurrent the-making-of features. What used to be saved for the Premium Ultimate Latinum DVD Collection is now a weekly companion Dr. Who/Torchwood “Confidential” program. SciFi channel has something similar with the Producer of BSG, Ron Wood, recording a series of behind-the-scenes & running commentaries for podcast.

In both cases they give the fan base more material to revel in, as well as supplying much background information. Thus we learn the intricacies of costuming Dr. Who, the fun of playing in a Dalek, and why BSG jumped forward a year. Indeed for those interested in television storytelling the BSG commentaries are remarkably candid.

For the casual viewer they’re non-starters. However for those who can’t get enough they’re wonderful treats.

I confess I’ve not yet sat down & actually watched a BSG episode while playing the podcast (helpfully synchronized with beeps for the commercial breaks) but even the casual semi-listen while commuting has been a treat. The bf tells me that the Dr. Who Confential eps are what really hooked him onto the show and got him interested in the Torchwood series

And yes, after watching the first few eps of Torchwood, I’m liking them but wondering what sort of butchering will be required to show them without offending US sensibilities. Half-nekked, half-costumed, pumped-up, greased-up men groping and flipping each other (something I’m generally a fan of!) in mock combat under the eye of alien costumed “divas” is somehow SciFi Channel appropriate, but omnisexual quips are likely too much.

#37 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 09:03 PM:

JESR #30: [..] Buffy, not so much: can't see where an eighth season would have gone [..]

Here's Seth Green's take, with Sarah Michelle Gellar's assistance: Robot Chicken - Plastic Buffet (via YouTube). The whole episode is 9 min 45 sec; this particular parody runs starts at 4 min 39 sec and runs to 5 min 57 sec.

#38 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 09:12 PM:

...this particular parody starts at 4 min 39 sec and runs to 5 min 57 sec.

#39 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 10:29 PM:

He looked like a thug, he didn't sound right*, and as it turned out he went into the job knowing he was going to bunk off after a single season.

From the scuttlebutt I've heard, that's just not true. He'd gone in for the long haul, and something happened between him and the BBC, and suddenly, out came the BBC press release saying he'd only planned to be there for one year. There are various theories of what exactly went wrong, but I'll leave those to Google.

#40 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:26 PM:

The fourth episode of Torchwood was the first that I really enjoyed. The other episodes had their moments, but this was the first one that really worked for me (until the end which left me puzzled).

I don't get any pay cable channels so I don't know what they're like. But it's hard to see Torchwood on an over the air channel or a non-premium cable channel in the US. This is a show that definitely takes advantage of being aired after the watershed on the BBC. If it did air in the US, I suspect it would be edited first.

#41 ::: Lee Whiteside ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 01:27 AM:


According to a producer I talked with involved with selling Dr. Who to SciFi, they have already committed to picking up Torchwood. I think it would match up better with Galactica than Doctor Who. Other than a few swear words, there isn't anything on Torchwood that was worse that some of the stuff they got away with on Lexx (although SciFi did censor it at times). SciFi will be cutting about 7 minutes out of each Torchwood episode anyway.

With Dr. Who getting about 2/3 the ratings of Galactica at about 1/10th the cost to SciFi, I'd think they'd be more than willing to give Torchwood a try.

Lee Whiteside

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 02:40 AM:

My first thought was "7 f***ing minutes!".

Then, US TV... Of course they can't show that.

#43 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 03:39 AM:

Rob Hansen @ 4: Me likewise, and yes -- that's a moment to avoid being spoiled for if at all possible. It made me laugh with surprise and delight.

Joe J @ 20: Sorry, but "rock feel" does not mix with that theme music. For my taste, the only two good versions that have ever been done are the original Ron Grainer/Delia Derbyshire and the new Murray Gold. (Well, okay, both of those actually exist in multiple incarnations, but....)

#44 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 07:31 AM:

I'm so pleased that they went back to the original Doctor Who sting for the new series. Andy didn't believe me, so I hit Google and played him the First Doctor's theme song sting, then the Fourth Doctor's. Winner: me. And the orchestral swells...the new theme gives me chills.

#45 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:10 AM:

PNH: I've seen the first three episodes of Torchwood.

Being set after season 2 of DR WHO, it contains some spoilers for that season. If this is important to you, you might want to skip episode #4.

#46 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:21 AM:

I'm so pleased that they went back to the original Doctor Who sting for the new series.

What sent me over the moon was watching the closing credits to the second series and:

1. Seeing that they credited David Tennant as "The Doctor." (They credited Eccleston as "Doctor Who." Blasphemy!)

2. Hearing that they restored the B section to the theme.
(Of course, the full orchestral treatment, by itself, is pretty cool.)

#47 ::: Jasper Milvain ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:51 AM:

If you're going to talk about the Doctor Who theme music, someone has to mention Delia Derbyshire.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 09:18 AM:

Half-nekked, half-costumed, pumped-up, greased-up men groping and flipping each other..

Sounds like a perfect match for the Skiffy Channel, Michael. After all, didn't they use to show wrestling on Tuesday nights right after Eureka? Speaking of which, I hope the latter comes back, and I also hope they make Matt Frewer drop the fake Australian accent, or whatever that accent is supposed to be.

#49 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 10:24 AM:

I've just been watching various downloaded clips of Doctor Who titles (mostly from TV Ark). The one that disappoints me most is the Paul McGann version. Ten years ago I thought it was wonderful - beloved theme meets orchestra at last, and it starts with the middle section for a change - but compared to Murray Gold's version it sounds like what a chat show studio orchestra might play when the Doctor came on stage to be interviewed. Utterly tame.

The BBC site used to have a clip of the Eccleston title graphics set to the original 1963 music - which I think they actually thought of using - but I can't find it any more.

I also seem to have once downloaded a clip of the opening titles of "Vengeance on Varos" (a mid-80s story) played backwards, but I have no idea why. Was there supposed to be a hidden message in it?

I wish Torchwood's theme music was anywhere near as good.

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 10:27 AM:

Eleanor wrote: the opening titles (...) played backwards, but I have no idea why. Was there supposed to be a hidden message in it?

Ohw Rotcod?

#51 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Ow, rot cod!

(that really does sound painfully smelly)

#52 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 12:23 PM:

Alas the script writers of Torchwood seem to have derived their scientific education from watching bad TV drama. Still, next week's is written by P J Hammond (creator of Sapphire & Steel) so we live in hope. Actually it reminds me a lot of that show (as does the new Who) because they value a good "image" over something that actually makes sense. I would be fine with this if they didn't keep calling it science fiction.

#53 ::: Anthony Ha ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 02:26 PM:

#14: The best thing on TV right now is Veronica Mars anyway.

Yes. I mean, I always hesitate before making such statements, because who the heck has time to follow more than one or two TV shows? But still. Yes.

#54 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 02:33 PM:

#46: Of course, they credited Bill Hartnell, Pat Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker (until season 17) as "Doctor Who". I was glad to see the proper credit in the new Season 1, and I was disappointed by the reversion.

It is great to have the middle-eight back. If only BBC announcers would restrain themselves from gabbing over it!

#55 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 03:07 PM:

Well, this thread has informed me of something useful, which is that I would be much better off spending my money on importing a Region 2 boxed set of Torchwood than upgrading the cable package to get the SciFi channel. This fits nicely with my prejudices, so I am pleased. :-)

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 03:33 PM:

I wonder if they ever thought of approaching Sean Pertwee to play the Doctor.

#57 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 04:58 PM:

#54: Iain Coleman: Yes, I realize this. However, with one exception, WOTAN in The War Machines, no one, in the entire history of the show, ever refers to him, during the show, as Doctor Who. (Puns don't count.) They always refer to him as The Doctor. In the case of The War Machines, I remember reading that they got lots of hate mail when WOTAN refered to him as Doctor Who.

So I appeal not to tradition, but accuracy.

#58 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 05:32 PM:

On BSG: Regarding the Six in Gaius' head, up until the episode "Downloaded," I'd always believed she was the delusion of a fantastically brilliant but deeply damaged mind. So far as I know, she'd never produced any information Gaius couldn't have deduced himself, if you accept that he really is as smart as his reputation holds him to be. "Downloaded" changed that, when it showed that "Caprica Six" saw a non-corporeal Gaius in exactly the same fashion that he had always seen her. The "chip in the head" and the "Gaius is a Cylon" options have always seemed like impractical Red Herrings to me, and since the above mentioned episode I've had as my favorite theory exactly what Gaius' Six suggested in this past week's episode. The importance of the existence of active divinity in this series is often overlooked, IMO...

#59 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 05:32 PM:

I always wanted Stephen Fry as the Doctor, or possibly Eddie Izzard.
When I saw the first episode, I wished for Mike Ford to mash it up with Dylan Thomas to give us 'Under Torch Wood'. Sadly no Mike, but Verity Stob had a go.

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 05:36 PM:

Alan Rickman as the Doctor.

#61 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 06:00 PM:

As someone who watched the first episode of Dr Who on first transmission, I really liked Chris Eccleston - mad, maybe bad and definitely dangerous to know (so like Tom Baker) - plus a physical presence. I guess it was the black leather jacket and tee shirt. You just know he has Motorhead on his iPod. Tennant is altogether lighter, probably into Buddy Holly but definitely hero material.

However, Torchwood is entirely different and puts a huge smile on my face. And no, Capn Jack isn't so much onmisexual as omniverous. Lock up your sons, daughters and sheep. If the writing gets anywhere near the standards of the last episodes of both Who series, we're in for a treat. I'm looking forward to the one where Capn' Jack gets his hands round the Doctor's pencil neck . . .

#62 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 06:58 PM:

I have to admit that I've about given up with Torchwood. A useless mob that seem to cover up plot holes by running around a lot. I'll give next week's episode five or ten minutes, but if there's more pelting about instead of, y'know, doing some research on the alien kit they've found over and above jabbing buttons randomly...

... Sorry, my disbelief suspenders seem to have gone baggy in the wash.

On the other hand, the approaching SF season on BBC4 should be good. Wyndham play an' all.

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Serge, that's inspired.

But...BEN BROWDER!!!!!!!

Wow, he'd make a great Doctor. And his series is about to end.

#64 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:07 PM:

Xopher...really, most of the time I'm with you, did you smoke that made you think Browder would be a good Doctor, because I want to avoid it!

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:09 PM:

How about Claudia Black, Skwid?

#66 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:20 PM:

Serge, there is absolutely nothing which cannot be improved by the addition of Claudia Black.

For proof, see "Hercules, the Legendary Journeys" where she plays Cassandra.

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:29 PM:

Oh, right, JESR, that was Claudia Black in "Hercules". Still, much as I agree with you about her simple presence improving things (the now ho-hum StarGate being a recent example), and even though it is my understanding that it'd be feasible for the Doctor to have a female body... It ain't gonna happen.

#68 ::: Kim ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 12:35 AM:

Awww, I did have a strange sort of soft spot for the Jagrafess. Must've been the character design and the excellent company it kept in Simon Pegg.

I liked Eccleston's doctor a lot, too, in large part because he *wasn't* what I expected. Watching Tennant's first season (which I looked forward to quite a bit once I found out it was happening -- Tennant is adorable and it was exciting to have a long-time Who fan in the role), there were definitely times when I wistfully imagined the same episodes with Eccleston's Doctor instead (especially around the "Impossible Planet"/"Satan Pit" arc).

Torchwood is coming along...OK. It definitely benefits from being enjoyed with a good stiff drink.

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 12:37 AM:

Dave Bell, #42 (hmmm), the seven minutes excised would be for commercials.

#70 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 03:56 AM:

Rob Hansen @ 45: I actually get the distinct impression that they're being careful not to spoil the big moment at the end of "Army of Ghosts"; Torchwood has what I would consider only minor spoilers for "AoG" -- though of course mileage in that regard varies quite a lot.

#71 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 01:59 PM:

If we were to have a female Doctor, I think Ms. Black would be far from the worst candidate for the role. I'd rather have an actress I wasn't familiar with so she could settle into that slot in my consciousness with less friction, but I think she could portray the right blend of attitude and humour (extraneous "u" added in honor of the subject at hand...yet omitted from its appropriate place in this parenthetical...go figure).

#72 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 03:34 PM:

Re: female Doctor; ever see The Curse Of Fatal Death? A “blessed by the BBC” parody, it starts with Rowan Atkinson as The Doctor, Julia Sawalha as his companion, and Jonathan Pryce as The Master. In the course of the skit, The Doctor regenerates several times (Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant), and finally taking the form of Joanna Lumley. Who then finds The Master now quite appealing and roguishly handsome, and they stroll off together arm in arm.

The video includes a few other Doctor Who skits from other British comedies, including French and Saunders.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Rob... That sounds almost as silly as Atkinson's A Blackadder Christmas Carol where he plays Ebenezer Blackadder, one of the nicest man in London. Then on Christmas Eve, he meets Robbie Coltrane as the Ghost of Christmas Past who had knocked on the wrong door, thinking this was the place of the other Ebenezer. It goes downhill from there, with him getting visions of his nasty ancestors and galactic-empire-ruling descendants, and finally having a disastrous meeting with Queen Victoria and Jim Broadbent as her hubby.

#74 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Serge, the video tape is worth having for the extras, but you can check out the Rowan Atkinson skit via YouTube: Part I and Part II. I thought Atkinson did a credible job; he was apparently considered for the part at one time. And Jonathan Pryce was an excellent Master.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Thanks for the tip, Rob.

#76 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 04:54 PM:

That reminds me, I always wondered, did the Master resent the Doctor so much because he never finished his Ph.D ?

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Kevin, who or what exactly was the Master, by the way? I never saw the old show nor do I think he's shown up in the new series, not in the episodes I've seen anyway. I don't remember much from the late-Nineties American movie except that Eric Roberts was gleefully evil, with lines like: "Life! It's wasted on the living!"

#78 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Gleep. I was a huge fan of the Master - I have all the episodes of his that I could get on videotape from when Dr. Who ran on the New Jersey Network in the 1980's. It's the bearded bad boys in black thing; gets me every time.

I wonder if those tapes have disintegrated yet....

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Susan... Was the Master a renegade Time Lord or something else? As for tapes on the verge of disintegration, I know how you feel. Winter is coming up, which mean we're about to watch our tape of MST3K's The Day The Earth Froze and that tape was made in late 1992.

#80 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 05:23 PM:

The Master was a renegade Time Lord.

The original actor, who played the character in the John Pertwee era, was a gas.

As I recall, he was turned into a crispy critter and -- having run out of regenerations -- in the Baker era appeared as a cowled Voldemort like lich. He was hot to get his hands on The Doctor's mojo so he could regenerate into a new body.

Eventually he did find a way to regenerate and went back to being his sinister mustachioed self. The actor was pretty good.

#81 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Susan, depending on what's on them, it's possible those tapes could be of interest to the Dr Who Restoration Team. There are a lot of missing early Hartwell & Troughton episodes of Dr Who, see:

but there are also Pertwee episodes for which they only have black and white copies. However, they have in the past successfully lifted the colour off NTSC tapes that American viewers have taped off air and used this in colour restorations. The first episode of the story 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' only exists in b&w for instance, as does every episode of 'The Ambassadors of Death'. If you or any other US viewers have any of these on tape I'm sure they'd be delighted to hear from you.

#82 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Serge @ 67, Skwid @ 71, Holy cognitive dissonance, Batman! Now every time I look at the Doctor, I'll wonder how it would be if Claudia Black was playing the role. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily a non-confusing thing.

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Now every time I look at the Doctor, I'll wonder how it would be if Claudia Black was playing the role.

Larry, I'll try not to think of Tennant wearing the same tight outfit Claudia wore on SG1 before she became a regular.

#84 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 06:09 PM:


I don't think I have anything rare - the Master didn't appear all that often, and most of what I could get was later (4th-5th) Doctors. I remember looking at this back in the mid-1980s. I certainly don't have any Hartwell or Troughton episodes.

#85 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 06:27 PM:

Just realized I forgot to add the link before. Serge, read all about the Master.

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 08:49 PM:

Thanks for the link, Susan.

#87 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 09:49 PM:

Susan, we watched Doctor Who at the same time!

And I think WLIW ran it as well. One station cut the 5 episodes together, the other showed them back-to-back with the credits and overlaps intact.

Happy memories!

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Goodness, Susan, the Master looks like me after a tough day at the office. A really tough day.

#89 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Oh, yes, WLIW did run the Doctor as well as NJN. Being limited to what I could pull in over the airwaves, the channel 21 offering was much less snowy.

#90 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 01:43 AM:

Nancy & Larry -

Okay, now for the real question:

Did you also watch Dark Shadows on NJN back then? Those few years (1981-1986) were the only time in my life I've really watched television, and all of it was reruns.

#91 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 07:44 AM:

Susan: never expected you'd have any Hartnell or Troughton's on tape but thought you might possibly have a few Pertwees. Oh well, it was worth asking.

#92 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 09:25 AM:


99% sure I don't; I don't think they were rerunning those at all in NJ. But I'll check when I get a chance.

#93 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 09:32 AM:


As a kid, my TV watching was limited by what my parents would allow, and my dad liked the Doctor. I have never seen Dark Shadows.

#94 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Followed up the wikipedia link (@81); I'd heard of the missing episodes, but there was a lot there I didn't know.

My prime Doctor Who viewing had been in the 80's, when the local PBS station started with Tom Baker episodes presented as “movies” (the half-hour episodes edited together) at 11:30pm on Saturday nights. These proved popular, and they kept up with the new Doctors as they appeared, as well as eventually showing all of the available early episodes.

However, apparently sometime in the late 70's they had been showing the half-hour John Pertwee episodes at 4:30 in the afternoons. A co-worker of mine at that time described a bit of an episode; when he was unemployed he had been watching the series. This might have been far enough back, that if he had made tapes, they might have been useful for that reconstruction effort... but home VCRs were still an expensive rarity then. Tapes I made in the 80's have since gone moldy and were discarded.

My first exposure to Doctor Who came from a few weeks during a summer vacation spent in a cabin in Ontario, with no reading material except for the Classic Comics edition of The FBI Story, and the Gold Key edition of Doctor Who and the Daleks (which of course I probably read 20 times at least). So when my friend described this man and his blue box that was a time machine, I knew what he was talking about...

One of the delights of the Rowan Atkinson parody I linked to earlier, was how well they captured the look and music of the Tom Baker era episodes.

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 10:46 AM:

Rob... Among fans of the series, where does the American movie stand? If it stands. I thought it was OK, but then I had never seen any episode of the 'real' Doctor shows.

#96 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:01 AM:

Serge, I can't speak authoritatively... I don't think they're highly regarded, but among the people I know, Doctor Who in any media is a treat. One of these guys is lobbying the people at the Dryden Theater (at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film) to put the Peter Cushing Doctor Who movies on their program sometime.

The Gold Key comic I was describing had been adapted from the first Peter Cushing movie. I had been tempted to take it with me at the end of that vacation, but we were guests at that cabin (most likely the comic would have fallen by the wayside by now, anyway).

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:04 AM:

How was Cushing as the Doctor, Rob? Based on everything I've seen him in (including one of my guilty pleasures, 1976's At The Earth's Core), he'd have been good.

#98 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:25 AM:

Cushing was a good Doctor, in the Grandfather mode. And because it was Peter Cushing, I think it's loaned a luster to the movies they wouldn't have otherwise. I have to wonder if the movies would have been lost in the dustbin by now if it had been a lesser actor (lesser, in the sense of “less of a celebrity”).

I'd like to take another look at the second movie, Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD. From what I recall, the Daleks' human accomplices (the Robomen) all wore something that looked like iPods; this was how the Daleks controlled them.

#99 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:30 AM:

the Daleks' human accomplices (the Robomen) all wore something that looked like iPods

Which means that the Daleks really are ruled by Steve Jobs?

#100 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Perhaps he just does their design work. The Dalek “bumps” on their transport cases look a little ornate for Apple industrial design, but the egg-shaped iMac G4 has a family resemblence to the Dalek dome & eyestalk. And the guy that thought a one-button mouse was the best answer might think a plunger on the end of a stick was a good user-interface.

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Where does that put Bill Gates, Rob?

#102 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:44 AM:

I think Bill gets the Cyberman franchise.

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Do the Cybermen crash fairly frequently? ("No, I do NOT want that upgrade to my O/S.")

#104 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:54 AM:

This might be why each one comes installed with an embedded technician.

#105 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 02:24 PM:

The Master - Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto, stage name Roger Delgado was the definitive Master (pacem those who floundered in his wake Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beevers and Anthony Ainley) Those eyes, that beard, that twinkle of malign authority to make you think it was the Doctor who was the renegade Time Lord. Of course he was so much more effective in black and white, like Dracula.

If they were to bring him back - and why not? - how about Rufus Sewell? Favourite in this household would be James Marsters (but to get his full, fruity goodness as my daughter puts it, the storylines would have to tend towards Russell Davies' normal, more adult themes - a Doctor for the kids and another Doctor for us grown ups!) Nathan Fillon might be interesting and, of course, Christopher Ecclestone would be outstanding as the Master.

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 02:56 PM:

Rufus as the Master? Come to think of it, Alan Rickman might be better as the Master than as the Doctor.

#107 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 08:29 PM:

I just found the entire Paul McGann movie on YouTube, in 9 segments each around 10 minutes.

I haven't seen this since its first BBC showing in 1996. It made me want to give my then-WIP's protagonist amnesia. (Poor protagonist - he's got enough else to deal with without that! Fortunately I came to my senses.)

I've changed my mind about the music; I like it better than when I commented on it upthread.

#108 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 11:37 PM:

Susan @ 90 - Dark Shadows was way too much of a soap opera. I think I watched it once or twice and completely rejected it. Maybe if I saw it now, I might think differently.

#109 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 03:41 AM:

Just watched Curse of Fatal Death and was interested to note that it was written by a Hugo winner.

#110 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Larry @ #108:

Dark Shadows was a soap opera. It never pretended to be anything else.

#111 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 12:50 PM:

Rob Rusick: One of the delights of the Rowan Atkinson parody I linked to earlier, was how well they captured the look and music of the Tom Baker era episodes.

The music was actually genuine old Doctor Who music, lifted from the soundtracks of genuine old Doctor Who episodes, since they didn't have the resources to commission a new score.

(The sets I believe were built specially, although I gather the TARDIS and Daleks were borrowed from somebody's fan film project.)

#112 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2006, 01:31 AM:

Hello, just popping in to say that--somehow I failed to get that people-not-exploding memo, while I was fact-gathering in the scientific fields. Damn it. There are still some feet to shove in my mouth yet!

i iz embarrassed

Thank you for educating me, and I shall go forth and seek further education. I knew I could count on you guys!

#113 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:20 AM:

[posted from]

#114 ::: Stefan Jones sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:28 AM:

link exchange request indeed!

#115 ::: Serge sees Dalek spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 01:45 AM:

Exterminate! Ex-ter-mi-nate!!!

#116 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 12:28 AM:

#116 is obvious spam. Exterminate!

#117 ::: Lanie Book ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2018, 05:20 AM:

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#118 ::: Buddha Buck sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2018, 06:18 AM:

spam @117. There appears to be spam remnants at @113 as well.

#119 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2018, 01:29 PM:

I want to thank whoever spammed this, because the OP on this is remarkably prescient. And relevant. And all those other good things.

Thinking of Zuckerberg as The Editor right now....

#120 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2018, 06:09 PM:

Washington Post headline in today's newsfeed:

Elon Musk’s nightmarish warning: AI could become ‘an immortal dictator from which we would never escape’

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