squirrelhaven: cartoon squirrels happy to have no souls (squirrels have no souls)
[personal profile] squirrelhaven
Okay, first off, I have to say a few HUZZAHs, because huzzah! We have a working satellite again! And I know, I owe comments to a few of you. But for right now, my Very Important Query:

Do I want to watch "Doctor Who"? (I mean the current iteration.)

A few weeks ago, the NYTimes had an interesting article about Russell T. Davies, the head writer for both the current "Doctor Who" and for "Torchwood." The article made both shows sound more interesting than I had previously assumed they'd be. It also profiled his past as a writer; evidently he created the UK version of "Queer as Folk" (which I've seen 2 episodes of, and really enjoyed, but alas, Netflix does not carry it so I've been unable to view the rest), and also wrote a film -- or, as it turned out, 2-part miniseries -- called "The Second Coming." Which D and I watched a few days ago, and it was really, really good. I'd been curious about it chiefly because it has obvious correlations to the book I'm theoretically writing (well, I'm really writing it, just not right now): an ordinary guy starts claiming to be the son of God, and people actually believe him, though his best friend isn't sure if maybe he's just crazy. And while it IS relevant to my book, it was also just a fantastically written drama, and extremely well thought through, and very well acted, and theologically fascinating. I'm hesitant to say more about it because I don't want to spoil it. But D and I were both sort of dubious going in, and then both completely engrossed and thoroughly impressed by the end.

So anyway, that's given me a lot of respect for this Russell T. Davies guy, who seems to be very good at writing believable, complex human characters, and also at taking high-concept material and thinking it through from all sides and doing surprising and very clever things with it. Yet I know next to nothing about Doctor Who, except that it has a long history with which I am entirely unfamiliar, and a reputation for cheesy production values. And I saw maybe half of one episode a few months ago (the Doctor was on a spaceship called the Titanic) and found it kind of charming but also kind of inexplicable.

I know some of you out there are quite the fans of the show, though, so tell me: do I want to Netflix the current series? Do I actually need to know the show's long history to appreciate what I'm seeing? Does the cleverness outweigh the potential cheesiness?

Date: 2008-07-15 04:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellen-fremedon.livejournal.com


You can jump right in to New Who season 1-- the Christopher Eccleston season-- without prior knowledge of the show; while there are layers you really do have to be an old-school fan to get, you won't miss them if you're not one. The new series has been consistently clever, often very well written, and much less cheesy than the old one. It is arcy, though, and you will want to watch in order.

(I would also recommend slotting in at least major episodes of the two spinoffs, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane adventures, into their proper places between seasons of Doctor Who, but then I am a fan and a completist; you don't really need either of them for any Doctor Who except the most recent season finale.)

(I can also recommend old-school Who to complement your new-school viewing, if you like the new series and would like to see more.)

Date: 2008-07-15 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kouredios.livejournal.com
I second this in a big way.

Date: 2008-07-23 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] squirrelhaven.livejournal.com
(forgive the late reply)

Don't hold back; what do you really think? Should I watch the show or not?

(Okay, enough snark. Season 1 is currently sitting in my netflix queue. I'll wait and see whether I like it or not before I ask for the complete Who concordance -- but I, too, tend to be a completist with stuff I really like, so if I enjoy it, I almost certainly will ask. Thanks.)

Date: 2008-07-15 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
Having seen one of the old episodes of the first season Doctor Who, I will say that it was really awful. Then again, the first season of Buffy was really awful too.

Date: 2008-07-15 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
It was back when I was in college, so I don't quite recall. I just remember the episode being very boring and having lots of bubble wrap garbage bags that was supposed to be something else.

Date: 2008-07-15 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellen-fremedon.livejournal.com
Was the bubble wrap green? If so, it was probably "The Ark in Space," which is rather forgettable.

Date: 2008-07-23 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] squirrelhaven.livejournal.com
See, and I would describe the first season of Buffy as unbelievably cheesy, but not awful. Not especially good, but it had glimmers of what would be turned into greatness in later seasons. Whereas "awful" suggests irredeemably bad.

That said, I recognize that everyone's mileage varies with this stuff.

Date: 2008-07-15 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heinleinfan.livejournal.com
David and I have started the new Doctor on Netflix and we are enjoying it.

David watched some of the original and knows a bit of the history; about the only thing I remember from the original is the noise the box makes when it's disappearing, the theme music, and the little robot dog thing, which is not (yet?) in the new series.

It is a bit cheesy, but so far I haven't felt that it was too over the top with the cheese, just cheesy enough to be enjoyable.

I'm not enjoying it as much as some other recommended sci-fi TV shows we've netflixed, like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, but I would say it's worth a try.

Date: 2008-07-16 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stealthmuffin.livejournal.com
shooty tin robot dog thing woo!

...Er. Sorry. I love my tin dog.

Date: 2008-07-23 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] squirrelhaven.livejournal.com
(forgive the late reply; the week got away from me)

Season one is now in the netflix queue. I'm not necessarily expecting brilliance, but I'm curious to give it a try.

Date: 2008-07-16 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellinor.livejournal.com
Yes, there is no question in my mind that you want to watch Dr. Who. You can easily start with the new round of stuff, wherein Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor -- I didn't watch what came before and don't feel like I missed anything. You may even be able to start later, but I have no great jumping on ideas.

As for Torchwood, it's a tossup whether you want to watch it or not. I like it, but I recognize that it's pretty much all about watching pretty people be omnisexually flirtatious in a science fiction environment. I do not expect it to be "quality television." It's a show that [livejournal.com profile] slinkling might like, is what I'm saying.

The Sarah Jane Adventures should be avoided unless you are looking for a mockery target. Which is what I use it for, and it's good for that, but I would never actually dream of recommending it to anyone.

Date: 2008-07-23 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] squirrelhaven.livejournal.com
Season one is in the queue, and I'm curious to see it. I'm curious about Torchwood too, but one thing at a time.

It's a show that slinkling might like, is what I'm saying.

Somehow that's not surprising. And I'll, uh, pass that along to her.

Date: 2008-07-16 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stealthmuffin.livejournal.com
Hmm...I would have to say a qualified yes.

Season 1 is fantastic. (And yes, that is so the word for it.) There are a few remnants of the production values -- a couple of the Big Green Monsters of the week (which may be neither green nor big nor technically monsters) do sometimes appear a little, well, rubbery. And there are several points where you have to turn off all the parts of your brain that understand how science works. Season 2 has a few more of these, plus a Doctor whom you either love or hate. (Personally, I'm edging closer to disliking him -- not the actor, the character. "Lonely Angel" my ass.) Though that's probably because of Season Three, which I found to be wildly uneven. At least to my tastes.

So watch season 1, and if you like it, try season 2 as well. After that, well, you'll know what you like and don't like about the show, so you'll have a better sense of whether season 3 will push the right buttons for you.

Also, I'd highly recommend [livejournal.com profile] ellen_fremedon's guide to old school Who.

(Dalek icon used just because.)

Date: 2008-07-23 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] squirrelhaven.livejournal.com
Season one is in the queue now. I'm curious to see whether this is the sort of thing I get totally addicted to, or the sort of thing that earns a "meh" and I let it go after half a season.


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