Friday, January 15, 2010

A Critical Analysis of... The Fifth Doctor

Castrovalva
A fairty-tale palace of imaginary people ruled by the Master at the dawn of time? PAH! Tame, conservative DROSS with puppy-dog-eyes Davison as the handsome blond lead! Oh, how can anyone take an attractive, beautiful, young, moist, pink Doctor seriously? This isn't Babylon fucking Five, you know! Oh, I suppose it's not fair to judge an actor because I think he's too young? TOUGH! COZ HE IS! AND HE'S CRAP! And so are all his stories, so bland and repetitive, it makes me contemplate kicking the dog! Oh, Tommy B, where art thou when I need you!? There's precious little interest in a tale of the Doctor and pals in an Escher painting, is there? And the Master - again? Why can't he just put a cap in the Doctor's ass? How can he possibly be defeated by scum like Tegan or Nyssa?! You wouldn't get Khan from Star Trek being THAT pissweak! Honestly, they completely change the main character and format of the show and expect me to think it's INNOVATIVE? Adric's hardly in it!

Four to Doomsday
Ooh! Deep! It's all about the soul and stuff, just like Space: 1999! If immortality is so boring and soul-destroying, why the hell are we watching the Doctor anyway?! Thank Christ Tom Baker isn't ruining this boring story with jokes! HUMOR IS IMMATURE!

Kinda
Mystical bollocks about hippies being right and a not particularly memorable or dangerous evil being defeated with mirrors. Did that work in Nightmare on Elm Street? I think not. The story smells unpleasantly. Why the hell does it have a sequel? WHY, DAMN IT?!

The Visitation
A weak, hackneyed hodgepodge of the vastly-superior Android Invasion! You know 21 stories so far are about alien invasions? That's like 16% of all Doctor Who! Hello? OVERKILL! Does anyone REALLY care how the Doctor will defeat another bunch of alien wankers? Nothing of the Davison era even counts as "second rung of very good Doctor Who stories". Dammit, JNT, WHY DID YOU CUT OUT THE JOKES?! This is overlong and dull! And why the hell did you blow up the sonic screwdriver? Do they blow up phasers and tricorders in Star Trek because it made things "too easy"? No they did not, you madman! Oh, how I hate you!

Black Orchid
Wow, a Victorian age romance! It's like Jane Ayre or Rebecca or Wuthering Heights or Jamaica Inn and masks, lots of masks! See how much character Adric gets by stuffing his face at the buffet table and avoiding the rest of the cast, while Tegan sluts it up on the dance floor and Nyssa... is mistaken for someone else! BEST! STORY! EVER! In Season 19, anyway, the television equivalent of genital warts! No wonder Voyager rips it off... twice!

Earthshock
AWESOME! Badass Cybermen, Beryl Reid, dinosaurs AND THEY FUCKING KILL ADRIC! HOW COULD THEY? IN A FAMILY SHOW?!? A poor, innocent teenage boy! Why not Harry? Or Steven? Or Ian Chesterton? No one would care if THOSE losers bought the bullet, but ADRIC? A poor orphan with no friends or family like what most orphans tend to be? AND THEY KILLED HIM?! Total amazement city. And Briggs' ship runs on anti-matter warp drive. From Star Trek. That's just fucking wrong. Gene R should sue.

Time-Flight
Another dreadful boring rehash that isn't scary or frightening ending the season on an ignominous fashion no wonder everyone hates it oh god oh god entropy is starting to seep in this is death nell of Doctor Who just end it end it now please god make it stop please please please stop uninventive shit make it stop. Plus, it rips off that Shatner episode of Twilight Zone AGAIN.

Arc of Infinity
How is this possible! Someone from Space: 1999 writes a story... and it's shithouse. AGAIN! That just doesn't make sense! Clearly Doctor Who is just plain crap that cannot be saved. Next!

Snakedance
Not very original, not very exciting, thoroughly average and WHAT IS LON WEARING?! He looks like a drag queen. Admittedly a beautiful, seductive, unsettling drag queen that speaks deeply to my own perversions, but a drag queen nonetheless. Why couldn't the Mara be like Anaconda? I need the toilet.

Mawdryn Undead
Woo-hoo! The Brigadier! Treacherous Turlough! That guy from Sapphire & Steele (sic)! Something wipes that shit-eating grin off Davo's face! I was bitching about there being nothing but recurring characters in this year, but the Brigadier doesn't count because he's from the Pertwee era and automatically awesome. Turlough's not nearly as cool as Dr. Smith from Lost in Space! And if time travel's so dangerous, why didn't Bill and Ted blow up? Huh? That doesn't make ANY sense! All in all, I'd much rather watch Space: 1999.

Terminus
With its occupation with pain, suffering and disease, you might think this story is just a little bit on the grim side. But that's not Doctor Who, it's the TNG episode that ripped it off, even down to Nyssa's departure! That's right, tree-huggers! Oh, Nyssa... I don't hate her nearly as much as Mel (spit!)! And JNT sequelizing Season 16 - which he KNOWS I HATE!! - what a bastard! I think I'll start talking about the next story. Because I can. It's my book!

Enlightenment
Ooh, sailing ships in space. Only seen that, what, 700 times before! Losers. Zardoz is cool. Turlough is not. He should have killed the Doctor by now, snapping his neck when he slept. Oh yes, I saw Hartnell sleep once, so it's obvious Turlough should have done it, the moral-free asshole. In fact, I didn't even watch this story. I had Space: 1999 doing it all much better.

The King's Demons
Small potatoes. The Master is a retard, but the queen was in Space: 1999. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Space: 1999...

The Five Doctors
That selfish bastard William Hartnell had to go and ruin it all by dying, didn't he?! And then Pertwee and Troughton do the exact same thing! THE SELFISH BASTARDS! Oh, Tom Baker, why didn't you come crawling back in 83? What could you have been doing that would POSSIBLY be more important?! Oh, at least we got another rip off of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Hang on. Season 6b? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU PEOPLE ON ABOUT?!?!?

Warriors of the Deep
Yoyoyo! Doctor Who is in da house! All those underwater films like The Abyss, Deep Star Six, Endless Descent, Lord of the Deep, all WISH they were as good as this story! Yeah, Doctor Who be leadin the pack, ma homies! Kick Star Trek in the bollocks with their peace, freedom and democracy crap! THIS IS THE REAL STUFF! Anyone who says otherwise is lying because they have no soul.

The Awakening
Space: 1999 does more in an hour than this shithole manages. And it's set on Earth! That's 10 out of 16 adventures on Earth! HOW UNRELENTINGLY BORING! You'd never find the Pertwee era doing that! Infuriatingly unambitious, unoriginal, lazy and stupid! No, I DIDN'T watch it all the way through! I don't NEED to!

Frontios
Doctor Who is obsessed by the final fate of mankind. Well, it's done two stories about it. One of which I wasn't paying attention to. And they both had The Ark in the title. And the Tractators are just backward Cybermen when you think about it exactly the same way I do. And ripping off The Time Machine again. Ah. Nostalgia.

Resurrection of the Daleks
AWESOME! STAR WARS RIP-OFFS! ALIENS RIP-OFFS! Explosions! Death! Plague! Tegan finally pisses off! This is the best Dalek story EVER! Of course, it shows them as moronically stupid, pointlessly violent, easily-blinded foot soldiers who explode every few minutes... actually, maybe it's not the best Dalek story ever. But people's faces melt! FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!

Planet of Fire
And they've gotten rid of Turlough too! YEEEHAAAA! And in comes sassy Peri with her nasal whine and stupendous tits. Oh, if only they'd got rid of Davo as well! Peri is the freaking (wo)MANNN!!! Huh? Kamelion who?

The Caves of Androzani
It's just like Phantom of the Opera, only with machine guns! And Davo dies like a man unlike all the much better Doctors before him! The best bit is when Colin Baker appears and declares the past three seasons total shit! Applaud just superb observational skills, my friends! THE SIXTH DOCTOR SPEAKS FOR ME!!!! HE IS OUR MESSIAH!!!!!!

15 comments:

matt311 said...

Why have I never heard of this Muir tosser before reading your blog? With statements this batshit insane, he could easily be the Glenn Beck of Who fandom...

Youth of Australia said...

Well, he's only ever written one book which cost a fortune to buy. It's been ten years for a paperback reprint to be cheap enough for me to buy. At the time DWM dubbed it unreadable, so few if anyone has ever read it.

Youth of Australia said...

That DWM review in full...

IT'S DOCTOR WHO JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT - IN THIS STUDIOUS RETELLING OF THE SERIES' HISTORY FROM A US PERSPECTIVE.

Covering such well-trodden ground as the series' origins, morality, 'no sex, please' policy and special effects, A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television would surely be surplus to requirements in the UK. But it was never intended to serve a British audience. Published in North Carolina, its author, John Kenneth Muir, is American, and this guide is penned for his countrymen.

Doctor Who's passage on US TV has been difficult, its exposure less widespread than is usually thought. Muir, therefore, addresses his readers as newcomers - and one should defer to their judgement of the book's success. However, although it was never Muir's intention, I doubt it's a more interesting read to anyone other than a Brit; the Doctor is viewing the same Doctor Who, but his opinions are being interpreted from some strange parallel world.

Difference between British and American attitudes are drawn in Muir's analysis of what has kept Doctor Who from becoming a prime time success in the States. The BBC does not feature positively; nor do panicky US network executives, who prefer to see familiar faces. Unlike, say Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999, with its American stars, Doctor Who, with no such concessions, will be judged by its special effects alone - and Muir judges this factor, more than any other, has kept doctor Who from enjoying enormous popularity in America.

Continually, Muir plays Doctor Who off against various American series, stressing its seniority over all the others, repeating tirelessly that Doctor Who had thought that theme and tackled that idea first - and often, more daringly. Muir clearly enjoys shocking his audience into considering a sci-fi landscape which doesn't begin with Star Trek. Revealing the huge debt sacred American franchises owe Doctor Who, he retreats from implicating the series was consciously copied. Nevertheless, the essay "Doctor Who's Children" is prickly. Inevitably, the Borg of Star Trek: The Next Generation are compared to the Cybermen, and come across as highly suspect - particular when later, in The Tenth Planet review, the author imparts that, to his understanding, no creative associated with St:TNG has ever acknowledged them as a source of inspiration.

Youth of Australia said...

In "Morality and Meaning", Doctor Who is championed as embodying the American belief that liberty is obtained through blood, sweat and tears, and many parallels are drawn with the American War of Independence. The Sun Makers, therefore, becomes an examnation of the taxation which gave rise to that very conflict. The ide is followed through to a conclusion where the British themselves are compared to the Daleks!

It's this altered perspective which makes A Critical History so challenging. For a British Doctor Who fan assured of the programme's highs and lows, Muir's story-by-story commentary is a minefield. Doctor Who is turned upside-down in this section, which takes up a whacking three-quarters of the book's 500 pages. Season Seven is deemed "thematically shallow"; the series' black-and-white stories are judged its visual apex, whereas the direction of the mid-1970s productions is labelled conventional and the "unforgiveably dull" Roger Delgado's Master is dismissed, but the motivations of Ainley's praised; The Ark in Space is cheap-looking; Season 18 one of the least ambitious and interesting; Peter Davison's era is considered "unrelentingly boring", but Colin Baker's "riveting" and "adult"; Paradise Towers is one of the 20 best serials, whereas Ghost Light, if not the worst-written, is certainly the most poorly-exectued. All this is to only scratch the surface.

Throughout, Muir is much more concerned with themes and originality, and much less about a story looks, than his British counterparts. it's an approach which leads to more discussion of the underrated episodes than of the series' undisputed classics. However, he's often a little too stroppy about continuity - and, when commenting on missing material, shows a misplaced faith in the accuracy of Target novelizations.

As an imported hardback with, i presume, a limited print-run, the price is against A Critical History. But if libraries can be encouraged to stock it, or if the Lottery has smiled upon you, spending time with Muir will breathe fresh life into your view of a series you thought you had sussed.

matt311 said...

I wonder if he's gone on similarly-ranting tangents about the revived Who, like your friend Larry Miles...

Youth of Australia said...

As he hasn't published a word about Doctor Who for ten long years, I doubt he's going to any time soon. Besides, the massive success of NuWho in America means he has very VERY little to talk about now. Especially as RTD doesn't seem obsessed with copying Space: 1999 like all his predecessor apparently were.

But if you want a REAL psycho Who fan, there is none finer than Gabriel Chase...

matt311 said...

But if you want a REAL psycho Who fan, there is none finer than Gabriel Chase...
Ah, yes; I saw that post where you completely demolished his vitriol.

You do that a lot on this blog, don't you?

Youth of Australia said...

Well, I do other things, but few if any ever seem to notice them. I am defined by slagging others off.

...

And people wonder why I get depressed.

matt311 said...

It's fun to do, though...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Seems a bit worrying to me that DWM would call a work 'challenging' because the author has opinions that go against the norm.

In particular signalling out his disdain of Delgado but love of Ainley - I have a bit of that aspect myself, as I think the fact that Ainley is an unhinged but still genius enemy intent on killing the Doctor makes him a more dangerous and dramatic opponent than Delgado. It is, after all, the blueprint that RTD opted to follow. The more gentlemanly Delgado's main advantage from a storytelling perspective was that it was more plausible for him to keep coming back.

I guess the review answers questions about a few of the oddities, specifically since Space: 1999 is probably better known in the US than in Britain from my understanding.

Incidentally, was JKM going Tourettes in this section of the book or did you just feel the need to ramp it up a little in your summary? I like the way you've detailed any hint of inconsistency - "HUMOR IS IMMATURE" then "WHY DID HE GET RID OF ALL THE JOKES???" Lol.

Youth of Australia said...

Seems a bit worrying to me that DWM would call a work 'challenging' because the author has opinions that go against the norm.
I think it was trying to positive, as the issue's review trashed Edge of Destruction, Red Dawn and Heart of TARDIS all in a row and was trying to balance it out.

In particular signalling out his disdain of Delgado but love of Ainley - I have a bit of that aspect myself,
Odd as he bigs up Delgado at first and then seems to suddenly decide he's utter rubbish. And I've yet to see him say anything good about Ainley.

as I think the fact that Ainley is an unhinged but still genius enemy intent on killing the Doctor makes him a more dangerous and dramatic opponent than Delgado.
Oh yes. I mean, his last story has him portrayed as the Doctor and Jo's dodgy but loveable flatmate. He rescues her from a woman's prison in a scene clearly meant to be heartwarming. When any sane person would have made it a terrifying cliffhanger.

Incidentally, was JKM going Tourettes in this section of the book or did you just feel the need to ramp it up a little in your summary?
It's more compression. He's a lot calmer, naturally, but his hatred for the Davison Years cannot be hyped enough. Even the DWM review took the piss out of it (captioning a photo from Four to Doomsday where Tegan seems to be yawning, bored, with "This Critical History arrives from the strange parallel world of the American viewer, to whom the Davison era is 'unrelentingly boring'. Below: The Doctor's encyclopeadic knowledge of intergalactic contraflow systems holds Tegan enthralled")

I like the way you've detailed any hint of inconsistency - "HUMOR IS IMMATURE" then "WHY DID HE GET RID OF ALL THE JOKES???" Lol.
There's not much 'hints', he keeps changing his mind.

I mean, can you think of ANYONE who prefers Resurrection to Revelation? I know Eric Saward doesn't...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

think it was trying to positive, as the issue's review trashed Edge of Destruction, Red Dawn and Heart of TARDIS all in a row and was trying to balance it out.

You know, I'm not really sure whether I liked Heart of Tardis or not. I suspect the bits I hated and bits I loved balanced each other out into a complete plateau of opinion.

Didn't get why the hell the town went from a cardboard cut out 50s mid-West town from a B-grade movie to a carbon copy of Springfield halfway through the story... but there was probably some attempt to explain it, I'm sure.

Odd as he bigs up Delgado at first and then seems to suddenly decide he's utter rubbish.

Interesting - I thought Mind of Evil was a much better outing for the character than Autons. I probably need to see that story again but in my head it's an overlooked mini-classic.

I mean, his last story has him portrayed as the Doctor and Jo's dodgy but loveable flatmate. He rescues her from a woman's prison in a scene clearly meant to be heartwarming. When any sane person would have made it a terrifying cliffhanger.

Still only seen the first half of that story, but that scene did weird me out. Okay, having two characters announce he was in the story three episodes before he arrives in Colony was a headscratcher, but not even making it a moment when he shows up? Very odd. I think that ep had a strong cliffhanger, from memory - Pertwee trapped in a draining airlock?

"This Critical History arrives from the strange parallel world of the American viewer, to whom the Davison era is 'unrelentingly boring'. Below: The Doctor's encyclopeadic knowledge of intergalactic contraflow systems holds Tegan enthralled")

Lol! To be fair, I find it easy to understand why he would say that about the Davison era. Some of the direction is quite conservative and Saward was certainly a down-to-basics script editor in his first couple of seasons.

I mean, can you think of ANYONE who prefers Resurrection to Revelation? I know Eric Saward doesn't...

Well, I don't know as many fans to you, but it is a puzzling thought, that. I'm not entirely a fan of Revelation because I don't agree entirely with what it sets out to do. BUT I think Resurrection is a failure because I have NO IDEA what it's setting out to do.

Youth of Australia said...

You know, I'm not really sure whether I liked Heart of Tardis or not. I suspect the bits I hated and bits I loved balanced each other out into a complete plateau of opinion.
Quite similar to the DWM review that.

Interesting - I thought Mind of Evil was a much better outing for the character than Autons. I probably need to see that story again but in my head it's an overlooked mini-classic.
It's not bad, but the Doctor's an insufferable git for most of it (down mainly to the script seemingly written for the Second Doctor, so his desperate attempts to get the authorities to believe in him come across as bullying from the Third, who looms over everyone...)

Still only seen the first half of that story, but that scene did weird me out.
The novelization makes it even wierder, to the point you think the author's confused "Master" with "Brigadier"...

Very odd. I think that ep had a strong cliffhanger, from memory - Pertwee trapped in a draining airlock?
Yeah, I think that's it.

Lol!
Ah, DWM really had a bite to it before RTD came back and they had to deal with the general public...

To be fair, I find it easy to understand why he would say that about the Davison era. Some of the direction is quite conservative and Saward was certainly a down-to-basics script editor in his first couple of seasons.
Maybe. Rather like Ron Mallet, I feel medically disposed to disagree with everything he says.

I think Resurrection is a failure because I have NO IDEA what it's setting out to do.
Establish the Daleks are a complete waste of time, and that the Doctor's even worse AFAICT.

Cameron Mason said...

@ Jared


Didn't get why the hell the town went from a cardboard cut out 50s mid-West town from a B-grade movie to a carbon copy of Springfield halfway through the story... but there was probably some attempt to explain it, I'm sure.


I'd put it down to Dave Stone being Dave Stone.

His last two Benny books for Virgin used material from two original sci-fi stories he was work on, due to both books being last minute comissions.

The Mary-Sue Extrusion was originally to be written by Kate Orman ("Want to write another Benny?" "Sure, here's the title, get back to me with the contract"), by the time Virgin got in touch with her to actually wtie the book she was bogged down with EDAs and had to hand it on.

Return to the Fractured Planet was again a last minute job because Virgin decided that Tears of the Oracle wouldn't be their last Benny novel and wanted another three.

Amusingly, Dave Stone has self-published both (along with Ship of Fools with all references to Benny replaced with new characters and concepts.

His recent Benny novel for Big Finish The Two Jasons also reused material from Death and Diplomacy because he wanted to explore Jason's perspective of the Benny/Jason relationship and going back to the beginning was the best way to do it.

@ YOA

(down mainly to the script seemingly written for the Second Doctor, so his desperate attempts to get the authorities to believe in him come across as bullying from the Third, who looms over everyone...)


I know, and that the story currently only exists in B/W only helps to cement that feeling.

It's funny that Mind of Evil was Don Houghton's second story though, although given that we don't see the Doctor really dealing with figures of authority in Inferno perhaps he thought that how the 2nd Doctor did things would still work.

Cameron

matt311 said...

True, true, but didn't Mind of Evil also establish the Master's worst fear?

(That being, the giant towering Doctor laughing at him.)

I think it was nice for Davies to seemingly reference that in Last of the Time Lords (or, was it The Sound of Drums?), after all...