Amph The OFFICIAL Doctor Who Episode Countdown - Nos. 3 & 4

Discussion in 'Community' started by halibut, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    While it is important in some genres such as sci-fi or crime drama that the plot also be carefully constructed and make sense, leaning too heavily on that just makes a boring story to me. This shift in tastes is a major reason why people often have trouble stomaching older genre shows or films. They have good stories, but it's difficult to care when the characters and portrayal of the characters is stiff.

    I think the best sci-fi balances these things but is still ultimately about the characters. For instance, I think one of the best modern sci-fi films is Gattaca, and the story and world in that is very possible and very well constructed. But the story isn't "a society where genetic engineering is standard oppresses natural-born people". That's just the premise, the world. The story is of Vincent struggling to break past his limitations.

    With Doctor Who I think it would have been particularly impossible to start up the show again with an incredibly plot-based focus. You pointed out that a new sci-fi show needs to hook you with an interesting story, and I do agree. But this isn't a new show. There were already 26 seasons worth of plots, not to mention a movie and countless stories in other mediums. There's just really no way to stay original and interesting without focusing on the characters and letting the story be driven by whatever's happening to them.

    Like I said, I can understand that this would be frustrating if you're interested mostly in plot, and I can see how sci-fi fans more than fans of other genres could tend to be. But it just isn't a realistic expectation. Modern TV writers just aren't going to focus on that, and we've seen that with basically every modern genre show.



    -sj loves kevin spacey
  2. MrZAP Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 5
    Who said I was talking about sci-fi or even genre shows? I think plot before characters should apply to everything in fiction, period. It's my idea of a one-size-fits-all way of things.

    Like I said, you want interesting and well-rounded characters, but they are tools for the plot. Not the other way around. A character can still seem believable and interesting while still being fully at the mercy of the plot. It's like if the character is caught in the current a huge river that is the plot. Maybe they can try some things to get to the shore or control their path, and maybe they'll seem like they're succeeding, but in the end they'll always head in the same direction, being swept up by the current. The best writers can have full control over the plot, and therefore know exactly what the characters will do if they do a certain thing, while making those characters fleshed out enough that it still seems like a unique action that seems natural for them to do.

    Like, say, in a magic act. The writer is the magician, and the main character is the lovely assistant, there to draw the audience- the readers or viewers or players or whatever- away from what they're really doing. I dunno how else to explain it, but to me that's what writing is all about.
  3. soitscometothis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2003
    star 5
    As far as I'm concerned, in a work dealing with an already established character (be it the Doctor, Spider-Man, or whoever), remaining true to the character is paramount; the plot must be in service of the character, not vice-versa. Over on Comic Book Resources you can read a lot of hostile opinions against Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis because of his tendency to bend characters to fit with his plots, regardless of whether the actions said characters are forced to take really make sense in terms of their established characters. IMO, it's pure ego on the part of the writer. When a writer starts to think that they are more important than the character they are writing, it's time to step away from the word-processor.
  4. MrZAP Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 5
    No, you misunderstand. The character does what's natural for them at all times, because that's the way they were developed, but you know ahead of time what they'll do when you're writing the story because you created the character and you know them inside-out. THAT'S what I mean, if it wasn't already clear. As it is, I tend to think more in terms of completely original creations and not established characters when I think of writing. Why would I want to write an established character that someone else created? I mean, unless it's an adaptation, which might be interesting, but then the story is already done and you're just translating it to a new medium.
  5. Mar17swgirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    I see you're not a fan of fanfic, then. :p
  6. MrZAP Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 5
    If it's well written and seems interesting, perhaps. I really want to see that story Matt Smith wrote about the Second Doctor.:p But no, I don't care to write it.
  7. Mar17swgirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
  8. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    You're presuming this is how everyone writes and I can tell you, that simply isn't true. And in my experience even some of the people working on the most plot-heavy shows still insist that story comes out of characters, not the other way around. The thing is, the more Aristotelian approach you claim as a writer doesn't work with television. Not with the much more serialized modern approach to television, anyway.

    Because the story of a show is continuous but the plot can't be. Unless it's a mini-series, Showrunners simply can't plan out everything that's going to happen from the beginning. A lot of them do have an ending in mind, but how exactly they get there is never known. That doesn't just go for genre shows but for all shows. Because the showrunners have no idea how many seasons they'll get. There isn't a single show out there where the showrunner has planned the entire thing from the beginning, not even The Wire, which is probably the most serialized show of all time. (Game of Thrones might wind up being somewhat of an exception if they continue to stick very closely to the books, although even they can't aim towards an end since the series hasn't been completed yet). This can be frustrating to fans because they seem to assume that a show can operate in the way you're talking about, with the plot being well constructed, edited and re-edited, and the book or series of books having a finite ending. In that case, the characters might be interesting, but ultimately vehicles serving the overall plot rather than deciding where it goes (I think Lord of the Rings is a fine example of that in literature). But that simply isn't how television is written. How could it be, when you have no idea how many seasons you'll even have on the air?

    Doctor Who is faced almost with the opposite issue now: past the first series of New Who, the showrunners have known the show will absolutely continue beyond their tenure. It's back to stay. So the only thing they can control, really, is the fate of the Doctor(s) they create, and it's not as though they know how long those actors are sticking around from the start anyhow. I think Moffat has probably planned the broad strokes of the Eleventh Doctor's time as well as clearly constructing individual seasons, but I don't know whether he's known all along how many years it would span. Even if it turns out he and Smith have secretly had an agreement all along to go a certain number of years with Eleven, it still wouldn't mean he'd have known all the directions the character would go along the way.

    Which ultimately is all part of why, for a good television show, the characters have to be the story. Because the plot simply can't be long-term. I should think Lost would have taught people that. For those who focused mostly on the plot, the show was incredibly disappointing (and perhaps the showrunners were partly to blame for letting some fans buy into the belief that it was about the plot). Because they had to just make it up as they went. That's what television writing is, and they were really lucky to at least have been able to end it on their terms. But I suspect the final seasons of Lost (irrespective of what people thought of the finale) only held up for those who were focused on the characters and how they dealt with things, how they grew and changed over time.


    Doctor Who[/
  9. Darth_Daver Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2005
    star 5
    As another demonstration of how I can see the same story more in terms of plot, Gattaca is about a murder mystery and how that affects his ability to keep his genetic inferiority secret. The murder's a stock plot, and only the subplot, with the main plot being his efforts to succeed and keep his secret with everything stacked against him. You couldn't have the film without the sci-fi trappings of genetic engineering. Admittedly that could all still be dull without the character's story, but you could also have quite a different character in the same setting and still have a good story.


    I'm hostile about Bendis stories because they're drawn out way too boringly long, and because that's at least partly due to too much character focus. The fact that it's out-of-character focus compounds this, of course.

    The big mistake showrunners make here is that they do still set up long-term plots, knowing full well there's a good chance they won't be able to deliver on them. One main plot a season is the obvious way around that, and it's what you most often get. Lost didn't go for that, and suffered because of it. Doctor Who is moving that way with the River Song mystery (but they did have an actual resolution), and the not-yet-resolved Tardis explosion. If that was hand-waved away as unimportant because it was more about how it affected the Doctor, that would be very poor writing. Writers who can't follow through on things like this should avoid starting long twisting plots and stick to something more episodic.
  10. soitscometothis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2003
    star 5
    I agree that too many TV shows try to hook viewers in with a big mystery plot, where too much dramatic weight is put on the clues the show hands the audience; the suggestion is that if the viewer studies the episodes carefully enough, he/she will be able to divine the answers to the whole mystery. And that falls apart when the viewer begins to suspect that the writers are making it up as they go along. I think it's natural to feel a bit betrayed at that point, particularly if a lot of these 'clue' episodes don't have much going for them except for some over-dramatised shock revelation the writer has pulled out of his @$$. If it's all about the journey and not the destination, you better not over-emphasise that destination. And in the case of Doctor Who, the show most definitely should be about the journey. I think Moffat is starting to place too much emphasis on a succession of mysteries who's revelations are increasingly less rewarding.
  11. halibut Ex-Mod and 2015 Celebrity Deadpool Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    34. The Sound of Drums

    14.18

    Harold Saxon becomes Prime Minister, and his reign of terror begins. But his dark ambitions reach beyond the stars...

    [image=http://images.wikia.com/tardis/images/4/4b/The-sound-of-drums.jpg]
    [image=http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091222163918/tardis/images/7/71/Gasattack.jpg]

    Lowest Score - 4
    Highest Score - 19

    The Empire Strikes Back of the Season 3 finale. Everything goes from bad to worse. Love John Simm in this one, and we really get the feeling that our heroes are all by themselves. One of my favourites of Season 3. And bonus points for gassing the Cabinet

    TRIVIA

    This is the first appearance of Gallifrey on screen since The Five Doctors

    In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine Russell T Davies stated that the eponymous drumbeat was not inspired by the opening bars of Ron Grainer's original Doctor Who theme tune (as many fans believed) but by his alarm clock which plays a sound similar to the aforementioned sound of drums when it goes off.


    33. School Reunion

    14.36

    The Doctor meets an old friend, Sarah Jane Smith, and Rose discovers the legacy of being a Time Lord's companion.

    [image=http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060429212057/tardis/images/f/f1/School_Reunion.jpg]
    [image=http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lpnzatK89H1qfik06.jpg]

    Lowest Score - 7
    Highest Score - 18

    Evil Giles! A fun romp with a nice look at what happens to a companion after leaving the Doctor. I don't know if this was the set-up for SJA, but it's a good one. And Mickey does well too. "I'm the tin dog". Class

    TRIVIA

    In one scene Rose and Sarah break up with laughter when the Doctor enters the room, after spending several minutes comparing notes on the Doctor. To get a realistic reaction, David Tennant wore a fake moustache (unbeknownst to the actresses) as he entered the scene. Their reaction was caught in one take.


    Rose expresses surprise that the Doctor had travelled with other companions, but in The Doctor Dances he states that he has "travelled with a lot of people".

    32. Turn Left

    14.45

    What if Donna never met the Doctor? What would the world have been like? Who would the Doctor have taken as his companion instead? An evil fortune teller wants to know and begins to rewrite Donna's past into a living hell.

    [image=http://images.wikia.com/tardis/images/1/16/TurnRight.JPG]
    [image=http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090215134506/tardis/images/b/bc/The_Doctor_is_dead.jpg]

    Lowest Score - 8
    Highest Score - 20

    Never really got this one. Not a fan of "What if" episodes. It adds nothing to the Whoniverse as it "never happened". So quite dull. Tate did well though

    TRIVIA

    Donna is told she can have her fortune told for free because she has red hair. This is a reference to Chinese culture, since red is considered very lucky in China

    The opening credits are reversed, showing the TARDIS moving in the opposite direction in the time vortex.


  12. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    I think The Sound of Drums might be my favorite episode in all of NuWho. John Simm overacts in the best way possible, things blow up, the Doctor's plans go horribly awry, the sheer stupidity of the voting masses is commented on, just... damn, man. It certainly helps that it's a ridiculously high note coming off an otherwise bland season, but I love it to pieces. Pity the follow up was so atrocious.
  13. AaylaSecurOWNED Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 6
    I love Turn Left and I love all alternate timeline exploration in TV episodes and movies. I don't really think that the fact that that timeline was invalidated makes it dull. Although I guess this may be an area on which character-lovers and plot-lovers split, since what fascinates me about alternate timelines is seeing how the same character reacts to a different set of circumstances. I also like the idea that all of the seemingly insignificant choices we make (or, in Donna's case, a significant decision whose significance was different from what she thought it was) can drastically alter our lives, and possibly the course of the entire universe. I think Turn Left would have been in my top 5 had I voted.
  14. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, I mean, that's the plot of Gattaca, but plot isn't really the same thing as story. The premise is the world, the plot is what happens in that world, but the story is the 'so what'? Why does it matter? Who does it affect and how? Ultimately the story is just 'what is the film really about'. The focus of the film is ultimately on Vincent and his struggles. It's not that we care about the society's ills so much as we care how they affect Vincent. Without the story, the plot wouldn't matter. There are tons of films that are plotted just fine, but are ultimately aimless because of uninteresting characters and no focused story to get into.



    As I said, I do think it's a trap showrunners can fall into, with Lost as the prime example. Personally it never really bothered me in that show because I wasn't overly curious about the mysteries and was satisfied with the answers anyhow. The answers usually wound up making more sense thematically and story-wise than they might have done logically. But I was so focused on the characters and overall messages to take away from the show that it didn't bother me. But I do understand why some fans got frustrated, because the showrunners did deliberately tease people about the mysteries, even though they knew full well that they had no idea where they were going with them. They figured they could make up suitable answers, and I think they did, but I understand why a lot of people don't think so. Because fans frankly devote a lot more time to the details and possible clues than showrunners could ever have the time or ability to actually deliberately plant in the show.

    I will say, though, that I think Moffat clearly already knew River's backstory when he took over as showrunner. I mean, he obviously knew she was the Doctor's wife even when he did Silence in the Library/Forrest of the Dead (although he's stated that in his mind she had previously/later met the Tenth Doctor, but obviously he didn't yet have the power to make that happen on-screen and that's a damn shame). He knew when he created the characters of Amy and Rory that they were her parents. And he planned both series 5 and 6 to have nicely serialized plots, IMHO. I get the feeling that he actually knows the things he's teased about simply because thus far he's paid off most of the things he's promised he would.

    Now, the TARDIS exploding... obviously I do hope we get an answer and it's not hand-waved off. And Moffat has definitely set up a large expectation surrounding the Fields of Trenzalore and The Question. Maybe those things will all be tied together. We shall see. As I stated earlier, I'm not sure if he knew exactly how long Eleven would be on the show when they star
  15. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    The whole cabinet scene ("It's a gasmask...") is awesome. I make no attempt to hide how much I love John Simm, and here is the best showcase of his unhinged, gleeful insanity in the whole show, I think. It might rub people the wrong way if they had a preconceived notion of The Master, but since I didn't have one, I just loved it.

    Hm, I'm not sure it would rank quite that high for me but it would probably be fairly high up there for me as well, for similar reasons. Sure an AU story doesn't add a lot plot-wise, but it definitely gives you a better look at the characters. I adore Donna, so seeing just how important she ultimately was not just to the Doctor but to the whole universe is great. In spite of her low self-worth, she's a very strong person and I think the most capable, self-less, and mature companion (despite surface appearances). But you don't always notice it so much when the Doctor's there. It's nice for her to actually get a chance to realize it.

    Also, I should note that this is the first episode where I have liked Rose unreservedly. In series 1 and 2, I liked her but always had varying degrees of annoyance with her. It was nice seeing her now more mature and without the Doctor around proclaiming her brilliant when she was being an idiot.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  16. soitscometothis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2003
    star 5
    SJ, you've attributed a quote to me that is not mine![face_shame_on_you]
  17. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Whew, lucky I had time to change it then, lest posterity misattribute as well! But what I said in response to that quote was also meant in principle as a response to your post, so do read it :p




    -sj loves kevin spacey
  18. Mar17swgirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    No need to despair just yet - AFAIK, David Tennant would return to do a multi-Doctor thing for the 50th anniversary if asked (and if indeed the BBC and Moffat would plan something along those lines) - throw in River (either as a supporting character, or even as a cameo) and Bob's your uncle. :D
  19. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Oh, I know we could still theoretically see them together on the 50th, and that would be lovely (I mean, I want as much of Tennant as possible during the 50th, and if somehow he doesn't show up at all I would be beyond shocked and enraged). But that would most likely be in the 'present' of the show. I just mean that Moffat has stated that some of the meetings River asked Ten if they'd had yet in the library were things that happened with River and Ten, not River and Eleven. Which would have helped an awful lot in explaining her interaction with him in those episodes if we'd ever actually seen that.

  20. Koohii Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Wow, I'm gone for a couple days, and there's a lot to reply to. Forgive me if I'm not in order.

    I also like multi-season/series arcs. Babylon5 was probably the best show ever for that. My problem with the cracks in time, though, is that they aren't mentioned at all in series 6. It feels like a totally abandoned thread. Like ending one episode on a cliffhanger, then starting the next one with no reference to what was happening or how they got out of it.


    Father's Day: meh. What really annoys me is that this episode firmly establishes that you aren't supposed to touch versions of yourself from different points of your own history. A point which is utterly ignored or outright violated several times since.

    Tooth & clay: the only thing I didn't like about this episode was the super wire-fu monks at the beginning, with the shift to gritty film stock effect. Other than that, a very solid story.

    Waters of Mars: after the horrible Planet of the Dead, this was a good solid episode. I tie it with The Next Doctor for good entertainment.
    Ah, Sount of Drums: the good Master story. It nicely mocks the DelGado-era moriarty Master, but plays into it. Like the Master just can't help himself. And he takes over the world...
    And the music for Gallifrey is probably the single best piece in the entire show since... well... Ever. I would certainly rank in in the top pieces of soundtrack or BGM I've heard in the last 10 years. It is, simply, brilliant.

    School Days: Probably the best tie in to the original series, bringing back two of the original series companions, showing what they were up to, and how Sarah Jane Smith went on afterward. Sadly, RTD threw in the "Companions romantic love of the Doctor" junk again. On the other hand, this episode formed the basis for the Sarah Jane adventures, which, even though it was targeting the kiddie audience, I thoroughly enjoyed, and found it much more mature than Torchwood.

    A friend pointed out this theory to me. What do you all think.
    "RTD: Doctor Who is now a soap-opera, whether you like it or not."
    "SM: Doctor Who is not a kid's fairy tale, whether you like it or not."
  21. Ulicus Lit'ari [Literature Forum Manager]

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    The Ten/River thing is kind of annoying. Their relationship was introduced in such a way that implied it was immutable. That it would always happen as River remembered it. Only... that no longer works.

    Ten and River meet. She both identifies him as "early days" and asks him if they've been through the crash of the Byzantium together. That "rings no bells". She's not remotely phased and moves on to questions about Asgard.

    The problem is... Eleven was there for the Byzantium and by the time he regenerates, it's going to be *anything* but early days for him and River. He knows her extraordinarily well. Yet we're supposed to think River could mistake Ten for a later incarnation?

    All I can think at this point is that Ten became Eleven before he was supposed to as a result of EoT. Which isn't so bad, really, as it casts his huge "I COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH MORE!" rage in a new light:

    He's pissed he's missing out on the Moffat seasons. :p

    As I recall from one of his interviews, he had the idea that Amy could be River's mother when he created her, but it wasn't something he decided upon until he started writing Season 6.
  22. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, the Ten/River thing wound up being confusing, I think because Moffat was fully intending to be able to show some of those stories with Ten. I can't really blame him that he never got a chance. Tennant has said that he was sorely tempted to stay on when Moffat laid out his plans for what was to come. But I'm guessing ultimately he had probably decided to leave with RTD and if he'd stayed on longer it would have robbed RTD of his chance to write Ten's death. But I have to admit, as much as I love Matt Smith, I still sometimes imagine what series 5 would have been like with Ten.



    -sj loves kevin spacey
  23. Mar17swgirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    Yeah, it's a pity we never got a series with Ten under Moffat's command... :(

    But then again, we can always assume that River and Ten had a couple of off-screen adventures between TWOM and TEOT - there's a quite a big leeway there.
  24. solojones Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    He said specifically the picnic at Asgard was with Ten, and then probably some others. It at least makes the Library meeting make a little more sense, though obviously the Byzantium reference doesn't make sense. It would have been amazing to have one series of Ten with Moffat, but I can understand why he wanted to go out with RTD as well.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  25. Mar17swgirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    It makes a bit more sense when you accept that, despite what River says in TIA, she and the Doctor DON'T meet in strictly opposite order (which is already true). She may know all his faces, but she may not know the order of the Doctor's incarnations. And just like Eleven in TTOA was reluctant to let River know how early it is in his time stream (his "fairly early" was rather vague), it could've been Ten's tactic as well, if he met River any time between Library and his regeneration - not to let her know exactly how much or how little he knows her.

    (I realise I am grasping at straws here... :p)