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"I think I speak for everyone here when I say, 'Huh?'"
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June 18 2006

(SPOILER) Doctor Who staffers talk Buffy. The author (and showrunner) of last nights (UK) Doctor Who episode -- which was basically about fandom and individuality wrapped in a genre context-- mentions the Buffy episode 'The Zeppo' in the MP3 commentary for the episode, as it shares many elements.

26 minutes in.

When I heard that the brilliant Peter Kay was going to be in last night's episode of Doctor Who I decided to grit my teeth and watch it, despite the fact that I'd promised to never endure another episode of that show again.

It's official. Not even Peter Kay, who can do no wrong in my eyes, is able to make that series even remotely watchable for me. I felt myself cringing all the way through it. How Doctor Who manages to gain such a loyal fanbase and have so many fans above the age of ten, I will never understand.

That episode last night was just ... bad! There was absolutely nothing about it that I can praise. Awful television.
As much as I love Peter Kay's stuff, I thought his performance last night was very poor. As for the show in general, I've found myself becoming increasing frustrated at how the show is clearly being aimed more and more at a younger audience.

I found it odd that they compare last night's episode to 'the zeppo', I never really noticed the similarities at the time, I was mostly thinking how much certain elements reminded me of 'storyteller'.
I thought it was probably the best episode of TV I've seen this year. The idea was people on the outside of things, using the internet and each other to connect over something -- in this case, The Doctor, combined with the aspect that those who touch The Doctor either get left behind or touch the darkness associated with him.

Also, it was focusing on characters purely on the outside of the usual focus. It was the 'Xander' episode of the series.

The idea that Elton didn't comply to the conformaty of life - get a job, get a wife, get a mortgage - but was happy without doing that was great, despite the stigma associated.

Plus, the line "Get a spade" in that context? Best line ever.
Well, each to their own. I thought it was brilliant. A really nice, funny riff on the nature of fandom with a couple of laugh out loud moments even if (as I mention on whedonesque.org) some of the comedy was a bit too broad for me (i'm thinking primarily of the Benny Hill-esque chase in the warehouse near the beginning). The line about their love life near the end and Ursula's oh, so English response ? Comedy fried gold.

Someone on the .org compared it to 'The Zeppo' and I reckon there're some similarities in that it's standing to the side of the main players and is poking self-referential fun at the show (though arguably unlike 'The Zeppo', 'Love and Monsters' never makes fun of the Doctor himself and also is much more overtly about the fans - though you could make a case that Xander stands in for us I guess, being the everyman).

I reckon it's much closer in feel to the SG-1 episode 'Citizen Joe' since it's basically a big sloppy thank-you kiss to the viewers that've made the show what it is (even if many aren't taking it that way ;) but still manages to stay (more or less) within the framework of the show.

As I say on the .org, Davies's best script, IMO and a definite contender for episode of the season so far ('Girl in the Fireplace' might just pip it for me personally).
"I thought it was probably the best episode of TV I've seen this year."

Seriously? Then all I can possibly imagine is that your television has been broken or you have had no electricity supply between January 1st and approximately 7pm yesterday evening because that was so far from being the best episode of anything, anywhere, that it is still making me physically cringe at the idea that I actually sat through it.

I'm usually able to find the good in series that I personally don't appreciate. I've even been able to raise one or two good points about Charmed over the years, but I'm at a total loss to see what you Who fans are getting out of it.

By the way, I did get the point of the episode. The whole "being on the outside, internet friendships, not conforming to society" idea. However, those basic themes have been done many times before, on many other shows and in a fashion that looked a hell of a lot less amateur than what I saw last night.

I won't press my opinion of Doctor who any further as I've said all I can on the matter and I'm well aware that the show has a lot of fans around here. Suffice to say, I'm not one of those fans and, short of an improvement in quality of about 1000 percent on what I saw last night, I never will be.

BBC, get in touch with Joss and bring on Ripper, for crying out loud! ;)
Uhm, yes clearly I had no electricity supply this year. Or, you know, I like different types of shows than you.
I haven't watched Love & Monsters yet, but just thinking back to The Zeppo... Xander would have made a pretty dece companion.
I really enjoy Doctor Who (currently rate it as my favorite show on TV, even beating Veronica Mars), but I wouldn't say last night's was the best episode ever. I also, wouldn't say it was the worst episode ever, or even a bad episode, 'cos there was a lot of stuff in there I liked, Elton, Jackie (never thought I'd say that), some of the dialogue was really good, and it had a really good story at it's core.

I think it would have been a much better episode if the absorbaloff hadn't been played for comedy, and if he hadn't been played by Peter Kay.

The "Zeppo" bits were great, loved the Christmas Day bit where he describes how he had to create a pulley device to get to his shoes without cutting his feet.

Anyway, I think anything would have been a slight dissapointment after the cracking 2 parter that preceded it.
Arcane, you need to tone the personal comments down. A lot. If you're genuinely interested in why Who fans like the show, you might take a look at the very healthy discussion thread over at .org. In any case, there's no need for sweeping insults. Thanks.
I found it odd that they compare last night's episode to 'the zeppo', I never really noticed the similarities at the time, I was mostly thinking how much certain elements reminded me of 'storyteller'.


Yeah, while watching the episode I definitely thought of the episode "Storyteller", with Andrew's video diary, talking about "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyres". :) However, I can now also see a lot of elements of Zeppo in it. We see an outsider's view of the Doctor as he battles monsters, just as Xander saw glimpses of Buffy's epic fights in that epsiode without him participating. Then Xander had a big adventure on his own just as Elton did without the Doctor.

Anyways, great episode that was really quite funny at times. However, at the same time, it's definitely not the type of thing that I imagine everyone would like. Especially that particular episode with it's off beat humor.
I thought The Zeppo as well when I watched it last night. The Doctor Who team tried something different last night, some of it worked really well, some of it didn't. I loved L.I.N.D.A. playing together as a band but the absorbing alien was a bit naff. And for all the amount of time David Tennant appeared on screen last night, I thought he gave his best performance since The Christmas Invasion. He does an amazing menacing vibe which series 2 hasn't picked up on much.
I'm quite undecided about Doctor Who. I have been watching both series and found some elements to enjoy but I was never struck by the feeling of genius that I witnessed when seeing Firefly for the first time, as an example.

I do think at times it can be very good, and there is a nice relationship between the Doctor and Rose, and some of the humour is quite nice. The appeal of the CGI and monsters, which varies between looking very shoddy and being quite impressive, is also worth watching.

However I just don't rate it anywhere near the level of Joss' work. The writing just isn't that intelligent and multi-layered, which can also be quite true of most of the characters. Sometimes the acting can be very unconvincing, although not too often, although I think Billie Piper is the main culprit here. Her enunciation can change quite often, and I just don't rank any of her performances alongside some of the best we've seen in the Whedonverse- compare SMG's devastated Buffy in "The Body" to Rose's when she tried to prevent her father's death, or having entered an alternate dimension where she didn't exist but her father was still alive.

Some of the plots can be quite nonsensical too, granted this may have happened every so often on Buffy and Angel but not so frequently and obviously.

I mean I think it's entertaining and fun to watch, but I just don't see why is is praised so much. I know a lot of people are fans here and I'm glad they can appreciate it, and I do, but just not as much as other people seem to do, and I wish that I was able to enjoy it that much. A couple of moments have really impressed me and been quite emotional, but they were few and far between.
I have not seen any of the newer Dr Who. I HAVE seen some older ones; back in the black and white days and also some of the late 1970s episodes with Tom Baker as the Doctor. They are entertaining but are not something I would re-watch multiple times. *shrugs nonchalantly*
I wouldn't compare Doctor Who to Buffy or Firefly, for the simple fact they're very, very different shows, I just take each episode as it is. And, of course, Billy Piper is not Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the material isn't anywhere near 'The Body' or the likes. That's simply because Sarah has years and years (and a daytime Emmy) of acting experience, and Billy Piper has... uhm... a failed pop career.

But I still enjoy Who. When it works, it works very well.
I began watching 'Dr Who' some forty years ago and I am very biased in its favour, something I readily admit, but I think it is as good in its own way as 'Buffy' or 'Firefly' (a show that I have to admit I am not a huge fan of), but I agree with gossi that these are very different shows.

I also think Billie Piper is excellent in the show and a big part of the reason for its success, just as she was in 'The Miller's Tale' and 'Much Ado About Nothing'.
OK, i'm listening to it and have come to the conclusion that RTD doesn't watch Stargate ;). He mentions 'The Zeppo' and 'Lower Decks' an excellent TNG episode (he calls it Below Decks but we know what he means) when talking about episodes featuring characters that aren't normally centre stage but he doesn't mention 'The Other Guys' an SG-1 episode which is exactly that (it revolves around a couple of scientists from the base that end up getting involved with one of SG-1's adventures). It's yet another in a long line of excellent comedic episodes from the Stargate creative team.

Previous to that Davies mentions that his original idea (from years and years ago) that inspired 'Love and Monsters' was for a guy who had lived through the history of Doctor Who so that they could intercut various scenes and references from episodes going right back to the start of the show. Well, hate to harp on it but that is pretty much exactly 'Citizen Joe' from SG-1 where a mysterious alien MacGuffin has connected Joe and Colonel O'Neill so that he's seen images from every mission they've been on (i.e. just like the fans) and become obsessed with the team and their secret world (just like the ... well, you know ;).

If he watched the show I think he'd have to have mentioned it. Unless he's worried about getting sued, I suppose ;).

Sure, Doctor Who's probably not as emotionally resonant as Buffy/Angel (unless, like me you've been watching since you were a toddler and even a few bars of the theme tune get the hairs standing up. In fact, daft as it may sound it's probably partly why I work in IT). Is it as well acted ? Maybe not (or at least not as consistently though I reckon Piper has been uniformly good throughout and occasionally outstanding). It's a different kind of show, much lighter in tone. It's an unfortunate fact (in one sense) that if every show had to be as good as Buffy or Angel to be enjoyable then there'd be pretty much no shows on TV that i'd enjoy. The trick is to enjoy things in different ways for what they are, not dismiss them for what they're not. That said, it's horses for courses and i'm certainly not trying to force anyone to watch or enjoy a show if they don't want to. Vive la difference.

(edited to make, y'know, sense ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2006-06-18 22:29 ]
To clarify above - I'm not saying Mrs Piper is a bad actress - in fact, I think she usually nails Rose very well. All I was saying is that I don't expect her to pull off a 5 minute one-shot like the beginning of 'The Body'. In 10 years? Maybe. And then she'll have been working in acting the same amount of time SMG had.
Just budding in to offer my opinion that nobody can do it as well as Sarah. 10 years and we'd still be talking about her....
I think one of the most important points about Dr Who is the history - many of us, like Saje, grew up with the show. Most Brits in their 40s or 50s probably cowered behind a sofa not once but many times, and that not only makes us fairly indulgent towards the show - we want it to succeed - but also we know the routines, the expectations. Imagine showing someone who'd never seen an episode of Buffy something like The Weight of the World - it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense.

I enjoyed last night's ep, though I saw a lot of both The Zeppo and Storyteller in it - but with the very British trick of showing in essence a bunch of losers without trying to pretend they weren't or casting pretty young actors in the roles (always a slight problem for me with Nick Brendon.) It was an interesting exploration of groups of outsiders and the way people create their own societies. Not Joss, but he's not working in TV just now. (*sobs*)
Do I have the impression that good has to be the same as deep? Is a rose not a rose if it does not think? This is art. Art is about beauty. What Beauty is can be studied in philosophy. That a horse of a different name.

And here I must clarify, my lords, I am nothing but a foreigner without any proper dominance of your language, so if this text appears to be arrogant, pushy or absolutist in its arguments... please, I apologize. I don't post very often while reading you a lot because of the fear that my grammer and vocabulary may betray my intentions, tone and sense.

Dr. Who is life embracing fun. (Why is the genuine sense of fun so underappreciated in comparison with layers? The older I get the more I appreciate fun for the very important thing it is.) Simple and straightforward space fantasy, with a hand of extraordinary actors, Tennant and Piper in the lead of that, great imagination, a lot of humor (very British, of course, something that, for some reason, does not fit to some people).

It's a fairy tale. A children's innocence full of sincerity and drama that resonates in everybody's soul. It's not The Body. But you don't need to cry before a camera half an hour to be good. I don't like Buffy for its layers and deepness of soul. I like it because it is good. Because it layers emotions. And that is art. It's about feelings.

The angst, the horror, the fear, the symbolism... All that, is the aspect of human condition that Joss choosed to portray. But there is wonder, and innocence, and morality, and pure happiness and pure sadness that are also part of human condition, and that's art too. And that's Dr Who. Love for life. That is one of the things I love about this show. One of many. It brings back the memory of the times I was young and felt that a story was an emotional journey and the heart was there to overthrow the reason. Because a thing did not need a ferreal logic to it, the important thing was its emotional rightness, and in its chaos, the chaos of the pure heart found its own echo. When a story was dream, with its own logic and nature. When one's intelligence was not feeling sorry for itself just because something did not make sense to it. Those were the times, all right. And what time is now? Now is the time I don't feel any need to hide under a mask of sense and significance, a moment where I don't have to explain my love for emotions and beauty behind the idea that these things actually have an intellectual content, a practical content. A Rose is a Rose, and sometimes they are played by Billie Piper and, sometimes, not. Who, incidentally, was not a bad singer, but is really a great actress, that gives her role such an easyness that, remembering Amy Acker, most people think it's not actually acting. Believe me, it is. But as I said, I am just a foreigner without any control of the language of the bard, and for any inconvenience, I do, also, apologize sincerely.
Thanks for that post, Darkness - I really enjoyed reading it. (I did edit a little for punctuation and spelling, but forgive me if I changed the meaning in any way - not my intention).
I like Who, I really do. I grew up with it, and god, I even ended up working on it during part of it's long run, but I have to say it's fun but not aimed at the likes of me anymore.

The stories and plots are aimed at kids and their families and I gave up a while back thinking it would have the kind of 'in deapth writing' that I've grown accustomed to with the likes of Joss.

I know that's an unfair comparison, but I can't help making it though. Joss has spolit me into wanting much more from a TV series these days, and sadly Who isn't that kind of show.

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