Ep 230: Rajendra Roy, The Doctor

hawkeye-pola.jpgRajendra Roy is the head film curator for MoMA in New York and we have a little discussion with him about what Television actually means.

John talks about The Doctor as one of the Greatest TV Characters of All Time.

Brett and John have an argument about politics that gets really boring but ends in a hilarious bit that makes it really worth listening all the way through for.

Don’t forget to let us know about your list of the greatest TV characters of all time.

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  1. David Boxcutter says:

    Thanks for the great discussion of The Doctor, John. As you say, we all appreciate Doctor Who in many different and personally evolving ways.

    It's probably no surprise that we feel differently about the latest season. I've found this season to be terribly forgettable and un-engaging, with the exception of the final two-part episode, and perhaps the first episode.

    Particularly, I found the Vincent Van Gogh episode to be very forced. In previous episodes of the “new generation”, encounters with historical figures (such as Queen Victoria and Shakespeare) have been fun and natural. But the Vincent episode seemed to be engaging in false reverence, being bookended by painful exposition of how great the man was. It was more of an excuse to feature Van Gogh than to build an enjoyable episode.

    But then, it segues into a fantastic two-part episode which brings back the epic battle of The Doctor and his nemeses. Don't multi-part episodes just put a tingle down your spine? Combined with a crazy multitude of wacky enemies.

    Say what you will about Russell T Davies episodes. Sure, they can be incredibly cheesy, but isn't cheesiness a huge part of the Doctor Who legacy? Shaky sets, bad fashion and eccentric music.

    One thing the new series hasn't been able to recreate properly is the Brigadier. There was something about those clumsy, hovercraft-laden , oh-so-British episodes that is lost in the current milieu that is more mercenary-marines than bumbling army.

  2. Hey David! I have a friend who loved the RTD-era who feels this series is missing something for her, but for me this is the first season of Nu-Who I've really enjoyed. I think it goes back to that idea of who we think the Doctor is. To me, Matt Smith's awkward, more asexual Doctor rings “true” to me in a way that David Tennant's (hetero)sexual action hero didn't. Also, there's been more small villages and graveyards this year, which is always a plus.

    But it all goes back, I think, to the idea that Doctor Who is actually a dozen or more shows running one after the other and if you're not enjoying the type of show it is now then – like Melbourne trains – there'll be another one along in a few years. Also, there's really no point getting too hung up on continuity.

    Incidentally, the UK ratings this year have been much the same as any season of Nu-Who yet they're being reported as falling, because the overnight figures for this series are being compared to the overall figures for previous years. It might be an interesting case-study for a future Boxcutters to look at how the number of viewers watching anything in the UK at time of broadcast has measurably shrunk in the last 5 years (moving to things like pvrs and the BBC's iPlayer).

  3. Also, I totally agree that any television program can be improved by the inclusion of a hovercraft.

  4. David Boxcutter says:

    I know. Hovercraft on TV might be even better than monkeys.

    I guess my tastes come from growing up with the Tom Baker era, and didn't spend much time watching earlier ones. I liked the McGyver-esque nature of Baker's Doctor, with all his gadgets and crazy vehicles. Love the Dr Who technical manual. I think there's something of that that draws me to the David Tennant Doctor.

    Not that I dislike Matt Smith's Doctor, he certainly looks the part and is a good actor. It's more the episodes themselves that haven't appealed to me. As I said, I found the Vincent episode to be a particular low-point. What are your thoughts on that episode?

    Speaking of hovercraft, when I watched the very first episode of New Who, I felt there was something not quite right about mobile phones being used in the show, particularly with such a central role. I'm not sure why. Apart from me being a phone-hating fuddy-duddy, perhaps it was that the mobile phone is a technology that seems almost too futuristic and amazing for the classic Who, that has now become mundane and commonplace.

    But then I think of the hovercraft. In Britain in the 60s and 70s, hovercraft were the hot technology of the day. In light of that, the mobile phone thing makes perfect sense.

  5. actualchad says:

    To me, this season has been the best of the new series. I thought Christopher Ecclestone was a great Doctor, but I never quite warmed to David Tennant, whom I found always seemed like an actor playing the character rather than being the character. My issue with the last four seasons has been the flat quality of the production. Something about the visual image always smacked of budget BBC TV productions of the 70/80s.

    This season's production values seemed to have reached a different quality. I don't know whether they're using different cameras and something, but the sets seem more realistic, the settings more lush and believable.
    The story-telling seems more mature and Matt Smith's portrayal is natural and engaging.
    This is what I wanted the new series of Doctor Who to feel like from the start.
    As for Vincent and the Doctor, I thought it was a lovely anomaly. I wouldn't want every story to be like that, but as a quiet counterpoint to the bluster of other episodes, it thought it was superb.

    Children of the Stones used to freak me out as a kid, but not as much as Sky. That shit was creepy.

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