The nominations for the Nebula Awards are out, including a nod to Steven Moffat and Doctor Who, with Blink nominated in the script category. What is perhaps a surprise though is the inclusion, alongside Blink and a selection of major film scripts, of the script for an internet only Star Trek fan film, with a nomination for the Star Trek: New Voyages episode World Enough And Time.
First off, for those of you outside the UK, the special episode has been posted to YouTube – well at least until it gets taken down again!
So I’ve just watched our little November snippet of Doctor Who in the form of Time Crash, this years Children in Need special. Now it has to be said that in the annuls of Children in Need there have been some real stinkers in terms of Doctor Who crossovers – Dimensions in Time anyone? But as with the special two years ago, this one has been produced by the current Doctor Who and fits into the established continuity, in this case it sits in the cut shortly before the end of the last episode.
This time round the mini-episode is written by Steven Moffat, who in the course of the seven minutes provides some laughs – including a couple of jokes about the celery, the glasses, and Belgium – a plot that vaguely makes sense that fits in with it’s point in the series, and even explains how the Titanic can crash into the TARDIS – something that caused much discussion in fan circles earlier in the year. He also manages to come up with an plot explanation as to how Doctor number five looks twenty-five years older, plus chucks in a stack of back continuity for the fans too. From a long time fan point of view it was great, and a good few were probably wiping away a tear at the â€œyou were my Doctorâ€? line at the end.
Hopefully it was entertaining for the non-fans and the new fans too – and of course hopefully raises a goodly amount of money for Children in Need too. If anything it certainly cements Steven Moffat as the best of the new series writers in managing to pull it all off. Incidentally, you can also check out the special behind-the-scenes video as well, where you can see several of the current team drop into total fanboy mode…
“To days to come…”
So after getting Doctor Who fans watching two years ago with the special post-regeneration episode, Children in Need are doing it again this year with another mini-episode called Time Crash. It also confirms the rumours floating around that Peter Davison would be appearing, which the announcement that the Fifth Doctor will be appearing alongside the Tenth – as shown by the official publicity shots released today.
Details of the episode are fairly slim so far, aside from the news that Steven Moffat has written it. He’s not without experience at this sort of thing either, as he also penned the Comic Relief special, The Curse of Fatal Death.
So the interesting question (for the fans at least) are whether this will actually fit in with the official stories. The previous special slotted in quite neatly, following directly on from Parting of the Ways and leading straight into the Christmas Invasion. Since the last episode left the action with what appeared to be a straight lead in to Voyage of the Damned it might be more difficult to slot it in. Having said that, it won’t have to try too hard to fit in compared to the first Children in Need special, Dimensions in Time which probably wouldn’t have made sense even if it hadn’t had about two minutes of the final episode cut…
Anyway, whether it is canonical or not, with Steven Moffat writing it should hopefully be pretty entertaining. Definitely looking forward to it.
Rather than going for a costume drama (although there are elements of this in flashback) or a modern updating, Moffat wrote a new story that, on the basis that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about a real person, explores what happens to a modern day descendant, Tom Jackman.
The structure of the storyline is in places non-linear, so at the beginning of the series Jackman has already discovered that he is transforming, and we initially see how he and Mr Hyde cope. It is only later that we see in flashback firstly how he first became Mr Hyde, and later how Mr Hyde was created – or more precisely how he wasn’t created. It isn’t until the final episode that the pieces slot into place, and indeed it isn’t until the big twist in the final scene that everything is resolved.
The series is really at it’s best in the final three episodes. The earlier episodes to some extent are putting the pieces in place. Episode two is probably the weakest of the series, but even then it is not ever really bad – the series is consistently entertaining.
If you missed it, it is certainly worth a look, and is worth picking up, now it is out on DVD.
So after a disappointing finale, and a couple of major announcements about the series, a number of fans can hear the sounds of Fonzie readying a pair of water ski’s… All of this is more amazing following on mere weeks from the triumphs that were Human Nature, Family of Blood and Blink.
So what has brought the turnaround? Firstly there was the finale of the series. As I said at the time, Utopia was about one thing, bringing back the Master, and once it got to that point it was pretty gripping. The following two episodes The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords were successively more disappointing with Last of the Time Lords being the first to poll more people being dissatisfied with the episode than liking it in the Behind the Sofa poll – looking at the table you can see Human Nature, Family of Blood and Blink polling 94%, 95% and 97% respectively.
Towards the end of this blog posting condensing the plot of the three series so far, there is a comment that sums things up well:
R. T. Davies: Hello. I am R. T. Davies and I am excellent. I apologise for the interruption, but I have run out of ideas on how to finish this storyline. Instead, I shall steal elements from Greek mythology, Superman, Douglas Adams, Batman, the Carry On films and …err… Flash Gordon and hope nobody notices the complete dog’s dinner I’ve made of what was, until I got my hands on it, a rather excellent series. Sorry. All sorted. Happy ending. I’ll be off now.
Certainly the big reset button resolution can work, although it is always seen as a bit of a disappointing cop out – the Star Trek Voyager episodes Year of Hell being a good example, however as has been pointed out numerous times on Behind the Sofa, things didn’t reset – time rolled back to the point where the billions of Toclofane appeared, but totally forgot the four that were there already. Alongside this, the whole Face of Boe/Jack thing doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of watching the previous appearances of the Face of Boe in The End of the World in particular.
Following on from this we had confirmation of the casting of Kylie Minogue in the upcoming Christmas special Voyage of the Damned. This produced some light-hearted puns in news stories based on Kylie’s hits, but nothing too negative – fans seemed to be used to a bit of celebrity casting at Christmas. However all of that was obliterated by the massive negative reaction to the news that last years bit of celebrity Christmas casting, Catherine Tate who played Donna, is to be introduced as a full time companion next year. The reaction seems to be almost universal – you only need to listen to this news item take a look through the angry comments on Have Your Say to establish that. A point raised by many of the comments is that in terms of recent guest stars there is another, much better possibility for a new companion in the form of Carey Mulligan and the character Sally Sparrow that she played in Blink.
Having said that, lets not forget that this isn’t the first negative reaction to a casting decision, nor accusation of celebrity casting. The choice of Billie Piper raise a few eyebrows back in 2005, and more notably there was a similar outcry to what has happened this week when Bonnie Langford was cast as Melanie Bush in the series back in 1986.
So is the show about to Jump the Shark? Although the last couple of episodes were disappointing, and the casting of Catherine Tate has come as somewhat of a shock I think not. Over the past three years it has become clear that although Russell T Davies should certainly get the credit for spearheading the return of the series, he is not the best of the writers. Perhaps because he does write the majority of the episodes, and despite the fact that he has produced some relatively good episodes in the past, he does seem to have been responsible for the majority of the absolute clunkers. Other writers such as Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat are the ones who have won the awards, but it is worth remembering that they are only contributing one or two episodes compared to the four or five that Davies produces. Rumour has it that Davies (along perhaps with David Tennant) will leave the series at the end of season 4.
The thing to bear in mind is that the programme has by many peoples definition already Jumpped the Shark and recovered. Although there is debate over the later Sylvester McCoy stories most people seem to think that the programme hit a low patch during the eighties, similarly shown by the falling ratings and ultimate axing of the show. Even before that there have been points where due to falling ratings it was in danger and radical changes were made, a prime example being in 1969 when amidst falling ratings and an unhappy star, Derrick Sherwin took the decision to make the next season earth-bound and brought in the characters and massive change of style of the UNIT era. Currently ratings look strong, and it remains to be seen whether the initial opposition this week translates into falling ratings next year. Even if that happens, the BBC have certainly discovered what a massive money-spinner a well funded Doctor Who can be, so I don’t doubt that if that happens the series will transform again, and like other era’s we’ll be looking back on the Russell T Davies era and looking forward to something else…