Why I like what I like in Who

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Paul Cornell

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Jan 6, 2003, 3:26:14 AM1/6/03
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I thought it'd be an interesting exercise to go one level down from what I
like and don't like, and try and work out what the elements are that I like.

For a start, I've realised in my watchthrough that I don't care about
special effects. The appearances of the Tythonian ambassador, the Kinda
snake or the Web Planet insects don't matter to me. Which means I find
those stories: ends after three episodes and has a terrible shape; is
perfect; and is an interesting and rather exciting exploration,
respectively. As a kid I mentally made all monsters better, anyway.

I do, on the other hand, find I care about production design. So that, for
me, is the one area where Hinchcliffe triumphs. The lighting and props and
costumes are usuallly perfect, and it's a shock when they're not. Williams
has slightly better script values, but hasn't got the money or the right
people to work the sets as well, so things look a bit tatty quite often.

I don't care about cute 'fannish' moments or what the actors think. They're
just there to service the scripts. So 'The Daemons' cuts little ice with
me. Good leads make a vast difference: look at Davison's ability to make us
think anything's important. But they're inside looking out.

Direction is often good when it's invisible, so I tend to only notice the
bad, like Richard Martin's dull, cardboard approach or later Ron Jones.

The scripts for me are the most important thing. And script editing is the
most important part of that. I like plots that flow logically, characters
that we're properly introduced to and get to know, and for the plans of
villains to make sense. Terrance is the master of all this, and quietly
sorts everything out from Seasons 6 to 11, for which he still doesn't get
enough credit. Eric Saward, at the other extreme, can't seem to write or
script edit properly, with all logic going out the window in favour of a
series of big moments, sometimes shocking, sometimes fannish.

My all time lows in my watch through are all from moments where the script
failed: The second half of The Daleks, which seriously lets down the first;
The Celestial Toymaker, which is just a lot of dull games; The Ice Warriors,
the stupidity of which is illuminated, not overshadowed, by a fine cast; The
Wheel in Space, which is Saward before its time; The Android Invasion, which
makes no sense even moment to moment; The Visitation, in which the Doctor
spends three episodes retreating from an android with a gun, and the
villain's plan makes no sense except because he's a Doctor Who villain; most
of all The Invasion of Time, which is written so amateurishly that a great
first episode gets mauled by the rest of it, and put together in a very
slapdash way.

My one exception to the above is The Edge of Destruction, which has quite a
good script, but is made in an awful way. And for some reason, I can't see
past that on this one occasion.

Anyhow, I'd like to hear how you stack the elements now.


kor...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 6, 2003, 3:54:33 AM1/6/03
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In article <avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>,
Paul Cornell <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:

[...]

>My all time lows in my watch through are all from moments where the

>script failed: [...] most of all The Invasion of Time, which is written


>so amateurishly that a great first episode gets mauled by the rest of

>it, and put together in a very slapdash way. [...] Anyhow, I'd like to

>hear how you stack the elements now.

I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
It has no end of splendid moments - all those exchanges between the Doctor
and Borusa - and really rather good cast; but I really just like it
because I always have. Watching it again is like visiting an old friend.
What a soppy old thing I am, letting my built-in shock-proof sh*t
detector* switch itself off like that. :-)

Kate Orman <kor...@zip.com.au> http://www.zip.com.au/~korman/
"I have no idea what that meant." - Dot Warner

* Mr Hemingway said every writer needs one of these.

Cameron Mason

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Jan 6, 2003, 4:40:09 AM1/6/03
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Paul Cornell <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message
news:avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk...
<snip>

> My one exception to the above is The Edge of Destruction, which has quite
a
> good script, but is made in an awful way. And for some reason, I can't
see
> past that on this one occasion.

Susan's scissors stabbing frenzy really disturbs me for some reason - it's
an unsettling moment.

Nothing else in Doctor Who scares me now - oh to five years old again!

Cameron
--
I explored the ashes of Gallifrey and found a lump of TARDIS.

http://members.fortunecity.com/masomika/

http://members.fortunecity.com/jpcovers/


jb...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 6, 2003, 5:54:54 AM1/6/03
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In article <avbnqo$kv7$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:
>In article <avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>,
>Paul Cornell <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:
>>My all time lows in my watch through are all from moments where the
>>script failed: [...] most of all The Invasion of Time, which is written
>>so amateurishly that a great first episode gets mauled by the rest of
>>it, and put together in a very slapdash way. [...] Anyhow, I'd like to
>>hear how you stack the elements now.

>I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
>affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
>It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
>It has no end of splendid moments - all those exchanges between the Doctor
>and Borusa - and really rather good cast; but I really just like it
>because I always have. Watching it again is like visiting an old friend.
>What a soppy old thing I am, letting my built-in shock-proof sh*t
>detector* switch itself off like that. :-)

It's a little bit like being married; you love this one because you have
*always* loved this one. Even if the reasons you love it have turned
into completely different ones from when you started out.

Definitely I think familiarity plays a part in why I still love Doctor
Who, and the things in particular which I still love about it; it's my
native mythology, indeed in some ways my native language. Whenever I come
across a new literary technique, or style, or a particularly memorable
work, my magpie mind is always twittering away in the background thinking
"I wonder what I could do with *this* in Doctor Who..."

But I suspect there's still more to it than that. I'm thirty years old
now; I've been a fan for more than two decades. About *two thirds of my
life*. And that proportion is only going to increase as it goes along. I
know my reasons for loving Who now are quite different to what they were
when I was twelve; the question facing me is, are they still the same as
when I was twenty-four?

And so I'm hesitant to respond to Paul's wonderful essay with my own first
thoughts. I can recite the opinions of the twenty-four-year-old me at the
drop of a hat. I've sung the same praises for years on end, fought the
same defensive battles, to the point where today I'm not sure how much of
it is feeling and how much is habit. But for this discussion I want to
look at what I can say I love *today*. Of course, to do this I'll have to
figure out who I am today, and that's a messy question at the best of
times.

Familiarity is only half the answer. When it comes to TV Who, our
perception of everything about it is so different from when we first
encountered it, that it's almost *un*familiar. Over the years we've wrung
every last drop of surprise or suspense out of each individual episode.
We no longer see it as anything like the form of storytelling which was
once its primary purpose. Who is no longer a drama, it's a litany. Even
a dictionary. But at the same time, that process of digging deeper, of
replacing astonishment with insight, has been a major part of what's kept
me interested over the years. It's startling how much underlying
cleverness, or how much of the surrounding world, can turn up in Who if
you only look at it long enough. The surprise is no longer so much what's
around the next bend; it's what's *inside* there.

We're now in a really weird position as fan analysts (fanalysts?); about
half of the Who out there, the TV half, has been mined so deeply that
we're almost out of insights and new ideas. But much of the other half
hasn't even been looked at twice -- because there's such a high-volume
flow of new material in those areas, which hasn't even been looked at
*once* yet. I think I've reread one old book and replayed one old audio
in their entirety in the past year. The sheer speed and pressure of the
Who firehose pushes us back towards looking at the series just in a
surprise-suspense-drama way. And when it comes to surprise-suspense
storytelling or emotional drama, I have to accept that Who is rarely
anywhere near the state of the art.

And partly I'm worried that there aren't as many insights to be gained
even in the barely-examined material. With the NAs, I dug so deeply the
first time, in the first flush of my second wind in fandom... I'm not
sure whether further digging will be able to reveal more content and
subtlety, or just expose their limitations. I know there definitely are
books and audios which stand up to close scrutiny... but there are also a
lot of Kleenex stories -- one blow and away. I honestly don't know if the
time it takes to replay "Project: Twilight" or reread "The Janus
Conjunction" (neither of which I have anything against, BTW, they're just
the first two I glanced at which I didn't see as iconic) will be worth it.
I don't understand this. Over the years I've been able to find
interesting undercurrents and things worth analyzing in "The Twin
Dilemma", for God's sake; why am I worried about running dry in far more
competent hands?

This sounds like a crisis of faith. The strange thing is, it isn't. My
faith in, my love for, Doctor Who is undimmed. When I read "Camera
Obscura" or listen to "The Chimes of Midnight" or watch "Snakedance", I
have no doubt I'm touching greatness. I'm just wondering whether the
greatness still comes from the ineffable coolness of Sylvester McCoy at
his most gently odd, the perenially skewed approach of Tom Baker to
practically everything, the moments when Patrick Troughton suddenly
becomes the most magical man in the world, vivid direction and elegant
scripting... all the things I've sung the praises of in the past... or
whether these touches of performance and production, like much of the vast
range of storytelling, have faded to become just details within a greater
and vaguer whole.

For my latest Who project, which hasn't been formally announced just yet,
I've been trying to grasp that whole. The things which have engaged me
about the Doctor and his world now have been abstracts: whimsy, passion,
humanity, imagination, rightness, horror and healing. The details which
bring these about are crucial, but I have more consciousness now that they
are all in service of an effect, one beyond familiarity. At thirty, with
so much of life ground down into specifics -- paychecks, clients, goals
and commitments -- the abstracts are what sustain me. What keep me aware
that there's more out there.

And these can slice through the familiarity. When I read "Camera
Obscura", it didn't just evoke the NA's, it *was* the NA's -- suddenly
they were once again a living, growing, unfolding thing, working both on
the surface levels and the deep ones. When I listened to "Chimes of
Midnight" late at night, one lobe was savoring the delicious black comedy
while the other was hanging on every quiver-inducing word. And seeing
"Snakedance" is like holding a carefully-cut jewel in your hand... not a
perfect one, but one which sparkles from the inside out.

The nearest equivalent I can think of to savoring good Doctor Who is
actually the Brian Wilson concert I went to a few weeks ago, where he
played the entirety of "Pet Sounds" and quite a few numbers from "Smile".
The magic came because the band didn't just faithfully recreate the
atmosphere of these old masterpieces, down to the last bass harmonica or
banjo; it was that they added just enough swing and oomph to the songs we
all knew by heart that they re-energized them, made them mean what they
meant all over again. The effect was like seeing the Venus de Milo get up
and dance.

Or "Camera Obscura".

Or "Chimes of Midnight".

Or looking at my wife again and seeing her for the very first time.

Regards,
Jon Blum
(Dear God, I haven't posted one of these long rambling bluminations in
literally years. Thanks, Paul, you still inspire me!)

jb...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 6, 2003, 6:41:17 AM1/6/03
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In article <avbusd$mom$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <jb...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:
>The nearest equivalent I can think of to savoring good Doctor Who is
>actually the Brian Wilson concert I went to a few weeks ago, where he
>played the entirety of "Pet Sounds" and quite a few numbers from "Smile".
>The magic came because the band didn't just faithfully recreate the
>atmosphere of these old masterpieces, down to the last bass harmonica or
>banjo; it was that they added just enough swing and oomph to the songs we
>all knew by heart that they re-energized them, made them mean what they
>meant all over again. The effect was like seeing the Venus de Milo get up
>and dance.

>Or "Camera Obscura".

>Or "Chimes of Midnight".

>Or looking at my wife again and seeing her for the very first time.

Followup to this: immediately after writing this, I went into the next
room and gazed at Kate -- eyes shining, violins playing, the lot.

She saw me looking at her, grinned, and immediately started doing very
silly things involving hand-puppets and a sort of Goon Show nonsense song.

I think this says rather more about what makes Who continue to appeal than
any of my previous married-life metaphor did!

Cheers,
Jon Blum

RH

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Jan 6, 2003, 7:06:14 AM1/6/03
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Cameron Mason <masomika@SPAM_GOES_IN_HEREmpx.com.au> wrote in message
news:3e196d47$0$7813$afc3...@news.optusnet.com.au...

> Susan's scissors stabbing frenzy really disturbs me for some reason - it's
> an unsettling moment.

Well, if we're talking about scares... The four-year old me completely
failed to cope with the terrors of a larval Wirrn raising up on its hind
parts in _The Ark in Space_, and, as a result, I wasn't allowed to watch
Doctor Who for another few weeks (I picked it up again at part 2 of _The
Sontaran Experiment_).

> Nothing else in Doctor Who scares me now - oh to five years old again!

Nah, four for me. Year of the Wombles, mate. : )

--
Ron Hines
"I no longer even have any clothes sense... Self-pity is all I have left."


Charles Martin

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Jan 6, 2003, 10:50:57 AM1/6/03
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In article <c91j1vkj0kr9e4ok8...@4ax.com>,
Steve Freestone <stevefr...@DIESPAMMERS.ntlworld.com> wrote:

> On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 02:54:33 CST, kor...@zipworld.com.au wrote:
>
>
>
> >I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
>
> >affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
>
> >It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
>
>
>

> If thats the case how does Time and the Rani stand up now???? LOL.

At last, an interesting post from Mr. "Freestone."

For me, Time and the Rani has not aged well at all. I was excited to see
it the first time because it was the first new Doctor story, and we all
get excited about those.

Even then, I had to actively look past the pratfalls and dodgy video
effects to enjoy the story. I was seeing it with a group of about 100
people keep in mind, and the group dynamic really works its magic in
those situations.

On repeat viewing later, the music, sloppy direction, weak plot and
over-indulgent sequences really started to get to me. There are parts
here where McCoy is nothing short of embarrassing, though again this
being his first story you have to cut him a LITTLE slack. Either he got
told to play it like a show for little kids, or he just decided that's
what he wanted to do (one look at the set and costumes -- and that giant
brain prop -- might have convinced him he was still on a kid's show).

There are still bits of TatR I like -- Kate O'Mara's impression of
Bonnie never fails to amuse, even if she DOES look like Lucy Ricardo!

I like seeing the doll Mel in that spinning bubble trap -- at the time
it was a "WOAH!" video effect, now it's just fun to torture Mel. :)

I'll probably buy it on DVD at some point, but that's only cuz I'm a sad
completist loser.

Would be nice if one of the DVD extras on that story was to replace the
soundtrack "music" with something a bit more updated. Or retro. Anything.
--
Cheers,
_Chas_
Moderator, rec.arts.drwho.moderated
non-spammers can write to chasm at mac (dot com)

Charles Martin

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Jan 6, 2003, 12:07:45 PM1/6/03
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In article <avbv83$e6nsj$3...@ID-104854.news.dfncis.de>,
"David A McIntee" <david....@btopenworld.com> wrote:

> Sometimes I just like a mood- I love The Android Invasion. Yes, it's crap,
> the plot makes no sense, the acting is variable, the monsters are rubbish,
> etc. But it just feels so much like an Avengers episode that I get a great
> kick out of it.

Android Invasion is a guilty pleasure of mine as well, for exactly the
same reason. But it *is* rubbish, it's just lovable rubbish.

Finn Clark

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Jan 6, 2003, 12:48:19 PM1/6/03
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I was thinking along similar lines recently... not always in relation to my
Who tastes, though sometimes.

For a start, as a Doctor Who fan I appear to have trained myself not to see
special effects. In fact I almost prefer "so bad they're entertaining"
creatures like the Taran Beast to more highly esteemed creations like the
Terileptil. This might be a factor in why I was left slightly cold by Peter
Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. Visually it's stunning... and I didn't
care. Seeing all these wonderfully crafted images almost made me slightly
tetchy, wanting to see what was happening with the *story*.

Whereas with something like the Harry Potter books, my critical faculty
turns off. I adore them uncritically and simply can't understand how anyone
could think the second book is weaker than the first (or whatever). For me,
they're all The Story Of Harry Potter. Which is kind of a long way around
to the conclusion that for me, it's the people. I think a story is about
its characters, the challenges they face and the choices they make. Jo
Rowling has created people I adore, with enemies I want dead or at least
mortally embarrassed (her talent for creating deliciously hissable bastards
doesn't get enough notice IMO) and so long as these people keep having
exciting adventures I'll keep reading 'em. The stories *are* the
characters. *That's* why I can't differentiate between the various Harry
Potter books in my mind.

So coming back to Doctor Who, the only absolute turn-off for me is an actor
who's just taking the piss. That's what sinks a fair bit of the Graham
Williams era for me. If I can't believe in the character they're supposedly
bringing to life, the show around them dies too. But given that, almost
anything goes. I like wit, I like intelligence (and not just in the ideas
or craftsmanship, e.g. I adore Christopher Bidmead's incidental characters
'cos they give the impression of having brains) and I like whimsy. I like a
story that's going somewhere and is driven by its characters, which is why
I'm turned off by something like Time's Crucible. And I'm sometimes charmed
by particular actors. (Watch enough Peter Cushing movies and you'll realise
that the man was a god upon this earth, no matter that he makes a bit of a
hash of Doctor Who.)

Jonathan Blum mused:

> there are also a lot of Kleenex stories -- one blow and
> away. I honestly don't know if the time it takes to replay
> "Project: Twilight" or reread "The Janus Conjunction"
> (neither of which I have anything against, BTW, they're just
> the first two I glanced at which I didn't see as iconic) will be
> worth it. I don't understand this. Over the years I've been
> able to find interesting undercurrents and things worth
> analyzing in "The Twin Dilemma", for God's sake; why am I
> worried about running dry in far more competent hands?

I think part of it is the joy of Doctor Who as a TV show. I came to Who as
a series of Target novelisations and so I'm plugged into the whole epic saga
as a modern myth, the 20th century equivalent of Norse eddas. However on TV
there's always something to charm you. If the script's dire, there's always
an actor putting in a delicious performance. Or brilliant incidental music.
Or a well-edited scene. Or (says he, getting into real fannish territory) a
bit where you marvel at how well something transcends the BBC conditions it
was made under, despite the fact that it's not actually particularly
noteworthy in itself.

But a book is the undiluted Word From On High... and if the On High in
question hasn't been blessed with the muse, there's not much else to enjoy
apart from the words on the page. Audios are a bit of a halfway house -
performed, but with fewer distracting incidental factors than you'd find in
a visual medium.

That might be one factor in why I don't think "trad" stories work well in
print, incidentally. Apart from the fact that the TV show itself was never
"trad" as we understand it in the first place, I think a novel probably
needs more depth to compensate for being far more narrow [1] than you'll
find in even a fairly moderate TV production.

[1] - I'm not sure "narrow" is the word I'm looking for, but I can't think
of a better one off the top of my head.

Finn Clark.

Pete Galey

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Jan 6, 2003, 12:50:58 PM1/6/03
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jb...@zipworld.com.au wrote in message news:<avc1j0$n94$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>...

> >Or looking at my wife again and seeing her for the very first time.
>
> Followup to this: immediately after writing this, I went into the next
> room and gazed at Kate -- eyes shining, violins playing, the lot.
>
> She saw me looking at her, grinned, and immediately started doing very
> silly things involving hand-puppets and a sort of Goon Show nonsense song.

Awwwwwww! :-) I hope I have a wife like that in five years...

To me, Doctor Who is about holding hands with your best friend as you
walk forward into the unknown, feeling fear melt into something closer
to exhilaration, because you know that whatever happens, you'll both
have someone to catch you. Or, as one of Neil Gaiman's characters once
said, "you followed me into death because I needed you."

Pete

... and silly hats. I've noticed that about the show.

--
"I hear there's been a major update over at Bipedal Giraffes."
"Then is doomsday near." www.peeet.btinternet.co.uk
Rosencrantz and Hamlet, Hamlet by William Shakespeare*
* not really

John Pettigrew

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Jan 6, 2003, 2:53:25 PM1/6/03
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On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 09:50:57 CST, the incredibly cute, pink and fluffy
Charles Martin <rub...@bollocks.org> thumped away at the keyboard and
came up with this:

>In article <c91j1vkj0kr9e4ok8...@4ax.com>,
> Steve Freestone <stevefr...@DIESPAMMERS.ntlworld.com> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 02:54:33 CST, kor...@zipworld.com.au wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>> >I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
>>
>> >affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
>>
>> >It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
>>
>>
>>
>> If thats the case how does Time and the Rani stand up now???? LOL.
>
>At last, an interesting post from Mr. "Freestone."
>
>For me, Time and the Rani has not aged well at all. I was excited to see
>it the first time because it was the first new Doctor story, and we all
>get excited about those.

I have always, and still do, LOVE this story.

I found McCoys pratting about to be engaging and hiding an inner
darkness - remember that the poor fellow was on the fringe of
regaining his faculties when the Rani pumped him full of amnesiatic
drugs!

The story is a bit simple and has weak Pip'n'Jane dialogue but it's a
fun romp and there are more than a sprinkling of magic moments - the
Doctor's sadness at discovering the skeleton of the dead alien.

And I'm probably the absolute ONLY individual who still gets a shiver
down his spine when seeing that pre-credits teaser! I know it was
only McCoy in a wig but I just think it works so well. Honest!

I thought the direction was quite decent for the actual story and
sets. I just love Time and the Rani.


Regards,
John Pettigrew - our....@blueyonder.co.uk

"When it's spring again, I'll sing again, Talons of Weng-Chiang..."
Visit my VHS and DVD covers gallery maintained by Cameron Mason at:
http://members.fortunecity.com/jpcovers/

Glenn Langford

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Jan 6, 2003, 4:17:57 PM1/6/03
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In article <avbusd$mom$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, jb...@zipworld.com.au
wrote:

> In article <avbnqo$kv7$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au>

> wrote:
> >In article <avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>,
> >Paul Cornell <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:
> >>My all time lows in my watch through are all from moments where the
> >>script failed: [...] most of all The Invasion of Time, which is written
> >>so amateurishly that a great first episode gets mauled by the rest of
> >>it, and put together in a very slapdash way. [...] Anyhow, I'd like to
> >>hear how you stack the elements now.
>
> >I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
> >affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
> >It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
> >It has no end of splendid moments - all those exchanges between the Doctor
> >and Borusa - and really rather good cast; but I really just like it
> >because I always have. Watching it again is like visiting an old friend.
> >What a soppy old thing I am, letting my built-in shock-proof sh*t
> >detector* switch itself off like that. :-)
>
> It's a little bit like being married; you love this one because you have
> *always* loved this one. Even if the reasons you love it have turned
> into completely different ones from when you started out.

{snip}

I always enjoy hearing/reading about why people love the things they do
in Who - I think it's marvellous how one person's BMW is another
person's VW.

I've just never been able to analyse it that way. I agree with the last
point of Jon's I quoted: I like Who because I *always* have. I don't
really know why, I just do. The only self-analysis I've ever done simply
involves the way it makes me feel. If I feel good about it afterwards,
then it was something I enjoyed. In that way, I agree with Kate's
"suspicion" about favourite stories - essentially, she's saying she
likes them because they make her feel good.

To take one of the quoted examples of this thread from Paul, The Android
Invasion - I totally agree that it makes no sense, but I love it! It has
a cool "feel". And that's as far as I ever have, and have needed, to go.
Some of my absolute favourites, such as Image of the Fendahl, The Mind
Robber, The Time Warrior, The Five Doctors, Ghost Light, Survival,
Talons, and the King's Demons (try it in Rocky and Bullwinkle voices,
it's hilarious) are favourites because they feel really cool, and also
usually because they make me laugh for some stupid reason (see King's
Demons!)

And yeah, Jon, I know what you mean about the sock puppets. Francis the
talking mule lives...!

--

--
lan...@zip.com.au

Paul Cornell

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Jan 6, 2003, 4:38:45 PM1/6/03
to
Glenn Langford wrote in message ...

>In article <avbusd$mom$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, jb...@zipworld.com.au
>wrote:

>To take one of the quoted examples of this thread from Paul, The Android


>Invasion - I totally agree that it makes no sense, but I love it! It has
>a cool "feel". And that's as far as I ever have, and have needed, to go.


One really can't argue with that. I suspect that I may have rose tinted
nostalgia goggles on for Castrovalva, which, I think, may be worse than I,
erm, think!

I think Dave's ordering of priorities, with visuals much higher than for me,
is actually the way a normal audience watches TV. But perhaps they'd quite
enjoy laughing at a 'bad' Who monster, when a fan audience squirms at
anything remotely 'silly'. To the latter, even deliberate comedy used to be
something to be a little wary of, although that's a trait that's largely
vanished recently, possibly in the face of several well-made comedic books
and audios.


Tan Coul

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 4:41:15 PM1/6/03
to
On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 09:50:57 CST, Charles Martin <rub...@bollocks.org>
wrote:

>In article <c91j1vkj0kr9e4ok8...@4ax.com>,
> Steve Freestone <stevefr...@DIESPAMMERS.ntlworld.com> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 02:54:33 CST, kor...@zipworld.com.au wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>> >I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
>>
>> >affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
>>
>> >It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
>>
>>
>>
>> If thats the case how does Time and the Rani stand up now???? LOL.
>
>At last, an interesting post from Mr. "Freestone."
>
>For me, Time and the Rani has not aged well at all.

Hmm, I like it as well now as I did then.

Mind you, that wasn't a whole lot ;-) Sylvester had a few nice
moments, such as when he doffed his hat to the skeleton, but they were
overshadowed by such elements as the tedious dragging-out of the
traditional clothes sketch and the clumsily-executed pratfalls.

Similarly, Kate made a charming (if rather oversized) Mel, but could
do little with some of the most tortuous dialogue ever to grace a Dr
Who script. And while the bubble was a nice effect, the insects
weren't - for every positive there were just too many negatives to be
comfortable.
--
Colin B.
I touch the fire, and it freezes me...

Nate Gundy

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 5:00:08 PM1/6/03
to
"Paul Cornell" <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message news:<avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>...

[Lots of really good stuff snipped]

> I don't care about cute 'fannish' moments or what the actors think. They're
> just there to service the scripts.

And, occasionally, improve them*. ;-) Still, agreed. Script first.


*That is, with excellent delivery, not actorly re-writes!

Nate Gundy

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 5:01:36 PM1/6/03
to
SO. "Why I like what I like in Who".

I like Tom Baker because he's the perfection of the geeky adolescent
ideal. Not pretty. But funny. Intelligent. Knowledgable.
Competent. Off Beat.

*Successfully eccentric*. He probably ruined the social/sex life of
many a young man who tried to emulate him.

I agree about the Hinchecliffe Production design. From my American
Child of the Nineties perspective, it's funky without looking
incompetent.

Why I like Sylvester McCoy: One thing that irritated me about Tom's
Doc, and indeed all the others, was that they seemed to rely *way* too
much on luck. Now, of course, in real life, we all rely on luck more
than we probably like to acknowledge most the time. But this is
fantasy. We're talking about the Ideal (anti-) Hero, in my mind.
This guy's supposed to be *a genius*. And more than human.
Universe-savvy, if you will. And yet still be a bit of a goof.

Sylvester started out the goofiest of the lot. And he had a
question-mark pullover! If you lined all the Doctors up in a row and
showed them to a laymen, Sylv would probably look the least
impressive.

And yet the 7th Doctor could *cook*. He *knew* his shit. He was a
goofy little guy with a funny accent, and yet he was one of the most
dangerous forces in the Universe. In my mind, a wonderful
combination.

Jokes: Sometimes I think Doctor Who just wasn't funny enough. Clever
enough. Frankly, City of Death shouldn't have been high point of Who
wittiness. It should have been the average, dammit. Even dark stuff
like the Deadly Assassin and Ghost Light (both of which I love) should
have had better jokes.

What we needed was the Wit of Douglas Adams, the Discipline of
Terrance Dicks, the Atmosphere and Color of Robert Holmes/Phillip
Hinchcliffe, and the Scope of Andrew Cartmel ALL ROLLED INTO ONE.

And perhaps that's what I like most about Doctor Who. That there's
still so much to aim for because of all the potential it's shown.

Cheers,
Nate Gundy

Brett O'Callaghan

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Jan 6, 2003, 5:10:04 PM1/6/03
to
"Paul Cornell" <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:

>I thought it'd be an interesting exercise to go one level down from what I
>like and don't like, and try and work out what the elements are that I like.

I'm an SF guy. It's the literature I like most. So, if I see a
Doctor Who story with a great central *idea*, I'll forgive almost
anything in terms of other dodgyness. Production values, effects,
performances - all nice, but give me an idea.


Byeeeee.
--
Gadzooks - here comes the Harbourmaster!
http://www.geocities.com/brettocallaghan - Newsgroup Stats for Agent

kor...@zipworld.com.au

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 5:42:38 PM1/6/03
to
In article <pdoj1v0drblkp5hki...@4ax.com>,

Brett O'Callaghan <brettoc...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>I'm an SF guy. It's the literature I like most. So, if I see a
>Doctor Who story with a great central *idea*, I'll forgive almost
>anything in terms of other dodgyness. Production values, effects,
>performances - all nice, but give me an idea.

Amen to that! It's not often that Who in any format comes up with a
genuinely new SF idea, but even a borrowed one will do - as when in "Seeds
of Doom" Sarah Jane says of plants attacking people, "But that's
terrifying", and the full import of basis of the story comes home to you.

Fans are usually more concerned with other issues than the SF concept in
any given story - which is as it should be, but it would be interesting to
identify the idea in various tales. "Time and the Rani", getting a bit of
discussion at the moment, has a lot of pseudoscience, but also one genuine
concept - the idea of linking up genius' brains to do superscience. it's
not exactly a new idea - doesn't something similar happen in Pohl and
Kornbluth's "Wolfbane"? - but it's there.

Dan Keloid

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Jan 6, 2003, 6:07:26 PM1/6/03
to
"Paul Cornell" <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message news:<avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>...
> I thought it'd be an interesting exercise to go one level down from what I
> like and don't like, and try and work out what the elements are that I like.

I find myself in agreement with much of what you say. Special effects
are never an issue with me. I love violent horror movies and can
appreciate Tom Savini, Rick Baker or Rob Bottin's special effects, but
I'm equally in favour of what someone once called (when referring to
Herschell Gordon Lewis's shockers) 'amateur night at the butcher's
shop'. On a lighter note, I'm prepared to accept the Sensorites,
despite their absurd feet and inability to tell each other apart by
sight. If the viewer can't let go and stop interrogating the programme
for likelihood and realism they'll never have any fun with it.

My priorities are:

1) compelling, convincing and committed central performances

Tom Baker carries me through so many otherwise mediocre stories
(Underworld, Android Invasion, Power of Kroll, for instance) that I'd
say star quality is essential to my enjoyment. Likewise Pertwee (who
even makes silly old sausages like Time Monster and Three Doctors
watchable). Troughton's charisma comes and goes, and this fitfulness
beaches a few of the stories we're still able to see (Dominators
especially). Hartnell however is always compelling - I dislike The
Gunfighters but when he's on the screen I can forgive its other
irritations. Davison got there in the end, Colin Baker huffs and puffs
but tries too hard and I honestly don't think Sylvester McCoy had it
one iota during his time as the Doctor and this fatally wounds the
stories of that period for me.

2) menacing atmosphere

This comes down to an amalgamation of writing, directing and acting.
I'll go along with any old tosh if it's conceived, directed and
performed in such a way as to build a sense of danger and jeopardy.
Android Invasion, which is a dog's dinner script-wise, works because
the first couple of episodes are wonderfully tense and creepy,
building such a momentum that later absurdities are steamrollered.
That's not to exclude humour, which I'll come to - but I really want
to believe that something's at stake and that the characters are
plausibly responding to the danger they're in. Nitwit heroics that
fail to credit the horrors are a cop-out, for me. Ace's attitude to
Daleks for instance.

3) Verbal wit/Doctor-companion interplay

The Doctor's blithe claims of hobnobbing with historical figures, his
absurd non-sequiturs, his ability to prick pomposity with a quip, his
childish outbursts, the occasionally sparkling interplay with
companions (Zoe, The Brigadier, Sarah and most of all Romana 2). The
pre-postmodern stuff, basically. Later on it's often as if the writers
were sitting up and begging for laughs, with the Doctor as their
ventriloquist's dummy. Pip and Jane Baker's laboured dialogue for
Colin Baker being the worst offender.

4) Monsters

Sorry, I know the Ian and Barbara historicals are fabulous, and The
War Games too, but add a shambling blob of fibre-glass with pincers
and an aerial sticking out the top and I'm happy as a pig in
Dragonfire...

5) Location shooting

Not necessarily loads of it. Preferably 16mm (mind you, Robot looks
horrible but Sontaran Experiment looks great - why is that?). Every
time The Mutants leaves those over-used interior sets and goes down to
the misty planet-surface you get a breath of fresh air (so to speak)
that gives you the strength to plod through the story. Curse of
Peladon is great but I wish it had some location work, maybe some cave
stuff or a castle exterior (nice model shot notwithstanding).

6) Music

I could go on and on about the relative merits of 60s, 70s and 80s
music in Doctor Who. Suffice to say I can go as far out as Malcolm
Clarke's stuff (maan) but Keff McCullogh should never had worked
outside of corporate training vids.

Dan Keloid

Steve Traylen

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 7:22:52 PM1/6/03
to
On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 15:38:45 CST, "Paul Cornell"
<paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:

>One really can't argue with that. I suspect that I may have rose tinted
>nostalgia goggles on for Castrovalva, which, I think, may be worse than I,
>erm, think!
>
>

Yeah I know what you mean. Castrovalva is quite simply the greatest
ever episode of Doctor Who ever made. Yet it's incredibly embarrassing
showing it to someone else.

Steve

Steve Traylen
Denver, Colorado
home.att.net/~steve.traylen/

Glenn Langford

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 7:59:28 PM1/6/03
to
In article <avd4ae$2p3$1...@news7.svr.pol.co.uk>,
"Paul Cornell" <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:

> Glenn Langford wrote in message ...
>

> >To take one of the quoted examples of this thread from Paul, The Android
> >Invasion - I totally agree that it makes no sense, but I love it! It has
> >a cool "feel". And that's as far as I ever have, and have needed, to go.
>
>
> One really can't argue with that. I suspect that I may have rose tinted
> nostalgia goggles on for Castrovalva, which, I think, may be worse than I,
> erm, think!

But that's it in a nutshell, each story/audio/book is as good as you
think it is - to you! (Personally, I *love* Castrovalva!)

> I think Dave's ordering of priorities, with visuals much higher than for me,
> is actually the way a normal audience watches TV. But perhaps they'd quite
> enjoy laughing at a 'bad' Who monster, when a fan audience squirms at
> anything remotely 'silly'. To the latter, even deliberate comedy used to be
> something to be a little wary of, although that's a trait that's largely
> vanished recently, possibly in the face of several well-made comedic books
> and audios.

I still remember laughing at the zipper down the back of the Marshmen in
Full Circle. Comedy is in the eye of the beholder.

--
lan...@zip.com.au

Steve Freestone

unread,
Jan 6, 2003, 9:21:15 PM1/6/03
to

On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 09:50:57 CST, Charles Martin <rub...@bollocks.org>
wrote:

>In article <c91j1vkj0kr9e4ok8...@4ax.com>,
> Steve Freestone <stevefr...@DIESPAMMERS.ntlworld.com> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 02:54:33 CST, kor...@zipworld.com.au wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>> >I'm starting to have the awful suspicion that, for me, long standing
>>
>> >affection, nostalgia, or pleasant associations outweighs actual quality.
>>
>> >It's true that IoT is a padded mess, but it's one of my favourite stories.
>>
>>
>>
>> If thats the case how does Time and the Rani stand up now???? LOL.
>
>At last, an interesting post from Mr. "Freestone."

Yet more flame bait.
And this time from a 'moderator'.

.

kor...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 7, 2003, 1:32:33 AM1/7/03
to
In article <o25k1v04qcvfkdk5m...@4ax.com>,

Tan Coul <unwillin...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>On Mon, 6 Jan 2003 09:50:57 CST, Charles Martin <rub...@bollocks.org>

>Similarly, Kate made a charming (if rather oversized) Mel

Reading this with half a brain, I thought it referred to my performance in
the play at Q Who. Truth is, I could pick my teeth with Bonnie Langford.

Andy

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 3:34:56 AM1/7/03
to

--
- Andrew
Steve Freestone <stevefr...@DIESPAMMERS.ntlworld.com> wrote in message
news:tivj1v8s8b5n2b6cq...@4ax.com...


Relax, if you think it's bait, then just don't bite it. It's easy to express
your dislike of McCoy era stories without getting canned. As I posted in
RADW, I'm no fan of that era either, but I try and keep a level head about
it. There are plenty of other embarassing moments in the show's past - the
latter years aren't the only ones.
> .
>


Steven Kitson

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 8:24:58 AM1/7/03
to
In article <avbm5o$h13$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>,

>I thought it'd be an interesting exercise to go one level down from what I
>like and don't like, and try and work out what the elements are that I like.

It's a long time since I watched any TV 'Doctor Who', but there is one
point I thought I'd make...

>I don't care about cute 'fannish' moments or what the actors think. They're
>just there to service the scripts. So 'The Daemons' cuts little ice with
>me. Good leads make a vast difference: look at Davison's ability to make us
>think anything's important. But they're inside looking out.

On the other hand, bad acting can destroy a great script, and this is one
of the biggest barriers I have to enjoying any TV 'Doctor Who': there
always seems to be about half the cast who either are just dire, or have
decided that this is their opportunity to lark about in between visits to
the BBC catering van. and that just completely prevents me from getting
into the production. I can't believe in them or their characters or their
world, can't take any of it seriously.

--
If you were the girl next door, I'd move.

Steven Kitson

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 8:25:08 AM1/7/03
to
Glenn Langford <lan...@zip.com.au> wrote:
>But that's it in a nutshell, each story/audio/book is as good as you
>think it is - to you! (Personally, I *love* Castrovalva!)

That's the kind of subjectivism, though, which stops anything ever
improving: if there's no 'better' or 'worse' then there's nothing to aim
at, you just do something and chances are someone will like it.

You have to keep in mind that 'I like this' is no the same thing (not even
close to) 'this is good'.

Steven Kitson

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 8:25:17 AM1/7/03
to
David A McIntee <david....@btopenworld.com> wrote:
>Story and performances are tops. Possibly performances most of all, as TV is
>a visual performance medium. Story's most important to the books, since I've
>yet to hear anyone say "well, your story was crap, but I enjoyed myself
>because it had a nice typeface."

(You're mixing quality and enjoyment there).

I would often think that a story was crap but not care if the writing was
good: if on every page there was a phrase or a sentence or a thought
expressed in a novel, amusing, enlightening, or just plain right way.

To me that's the most important thing of a books: characters and story
come second.

I wish I could remember who said 'good writing says something you've
always known but never been able to put into words'.

kor...@zipworld.com.au

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 3:30:22 PM1/7/03
to
In article <sVz*fl...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

That's true, and more fans should remember it. But there's no reason we
have to watch, listen to, or read everything in critique mode, all the
time*. And Glenn's right - ultimately, there's no objective way to judge a
story's elements. Which is good, because otherwise you'd just program a
computer to do the writing for you, and gentlemen, we'd be obsolete.

Kate Orman <kor...@zip.com.au> http://www.zip.com.au/~korman/
"I have no idea what that meant." - Dot Warner

* It's pretty much impossible to turn off that critical faculty - when Jon
and I watch Who, we have to keep pausing to discuss it!

Jim Vowles

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 3:50:13 PM1/7/03
to
jb...@zipworld.com.au wrote in message news:<avc1j0$n94$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>...

At very least, it seems an entirely believable and accurate depiction
of your married life, from the bits of it that I've seen. :)

As one of my friends said, "Some folks seem made for each other. We're
just not sure on which planet."

You're right, though, about the continuing appeal of the timeless
things to re-inspire us. Classics are those things that stand up to
the battering of deconstruction, criticism, and re-interpretation over
the years.

-Jim

Jim Vowles

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Jan 7, 2003, 3:52:22 PM1/7/03
to
"Paul Cornell" <paulc...@owlservice.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message news:<avd4ae$2p3$1...@news7.svr.pol.co.uk>...

> Glenn Langford wrote in message ...
> >In article <avbusd$mom$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, jb...@zipworld.com.au
> >wrote:
>
> >To take one of the quoted examples of this thread from Paul, The Android
> >Invasion - I totally agree that it makes no sense, but I love it! It has
> >a cool "feel". And that's as far as I ever have, and have needed, to go.
>
>
> One really can't argue with that. I suspect that I may have rose tinted
> nostalgia goggles on for Castrovalva, which, I think, may be worse than I,
> erm, think!

I'll be watching it this Saturday, so I'll be sure to let you know. :)

> I think Dave's ordering of priorities, with visuals much higher than for me,
> is actually the way a normal audience watches TV. But perhaps they'd quite
> enjoy laughing at a 'bad' Who monster, when a fan audience squirms at
> anything remotely 'silly'. To the latter, even deliberate comedy used to be
> something to be a little wary of, although that's a trait that's largely
> vanished recently, possibly in the face of several well-made comedic books
> and audios.

Well, some folks did have trouble with the poodles, but I'm a JRR
Tolkien fan from way back, and they didn't bug ME any. :)

-Jim

Jim Vowles

unread,
Jan 7, 2003, 3:55:00 PM1/7/03
to
"RH" <rh...@saintly.com> wrote in message news:<avc30q$rd1$1...@newsreader.mailgate.org>...

> Cameron Mason <masomika@SPAM_GOES_IN_HEREmpx.com.au> wrote in message
> news:3e196d47$0$7813$afc3...@news.optusnet.com.au...
>
> > Susan's scissors stabbing frenzy really disturbs me for some reason - it's
> > an unsettling moment.
>
> Well, if we're talking about scares... The four-year old me completely
> failed to cope with the terrors of a larval Wirrn raising up on its hind
> parts in _The Ark in Space_, and, as a result, I wasn't allowed to watch
> Doctor Who for another few weeks (I picked it up again at part 2 of _The
> Sontaran Experiment_).
>

I was eight (at most) when they showed it here in Maryland (on Channel
45, during Captain Chesapeake's show), and it scared the living piss
out of me. Needless to say I made sure to visit the loo first when
watched it recently on DVD, and found the bugs & transformation a bit
less disturbing than I did in 1978...

-Jim

Zebee Johnstone

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 6:32:50 AM1/8/03
to
In rec.arts.drwho.moderated on Tue, 7 Jan 2003 07:25:17 CST

Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>
> I would often think that a story was crap but not care if the writing was
> good: if on every page there was a phrase or a sentence or a thought
> expressed in a novel, amusing, enlightening, or just plain right way.
>
> To me that's the most important thing of a books: characters and story
> come second.

I think I'm the same. I judge a book by the re-reading potential,
and if it's only the story, then that's nil. I already know whodunnit.


>
> I wish I could remember who said 'good writing says something you've
> always known but never been able to put into words'.

No idea, but Dorothy Sayers says something similar. "A "poet" so-called
is simply a man like ourselves with an exceptional power of revealing
his experience by expressing it, so that not only he, but we ourselves,
recognise that experience as our own."

Not as pithy, but the same thing :)

It's not "yes, that's what I always say" but "Ah! I now have the words
to say something that I didn't really realise I knew"

She was talking about it as capital A Art, as distinct from small a art.

I dunno that DrWho does that for me though. I enjoy somethig like "The Also
People" for the images and turns of phrase, for the whimsy and the steel,
but I dunno it's Art in Sayers's sense.

Zebee
(testing different server to see if this makes it in)

Paul Cornell

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 6:51:32 AM1/8/03
to
Nate Gundy wrote in message
<54973f51.03010...@posting.google.com>...

>SO. "Why I like what I like in Who".
>
>Why I like Sylvester McCoy: One thing that irritated me about Tom's
>Doc, and indeed all the others, was that they seemed to rely *way* too
>much on luck. Now, of course, in real life, we all rely on luck more
>than we probably like to acknowledge most the time. But this is
>fantasy. We're talking about the Ideal (anti-) Hero, in my mind.
>This guy's supposed to be *a genius*. And more than human.
>Universe-savvy, if you will. And yet still be a bit of a goof.

>What we needed was the Wit of Douglas Adams, the Discipline of


>Terrance Dicks, the Atmosphere and Color of Robert Holmes/Phillip
>Hinchcliffe, and the Scope of Andrew Cartmel ALL ROLLED INTO ONE.


I keep finding posts here that I agree with completely. There really ought
to be a net icon or phrase for that!


Cameron Mason

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 7:07:13 AM1/8/03
to

RH <rh...@saintly.com> wrote in message
news:avc30q$rd1$1...@newsreader.mailgate.org...
> Cameron Mason <masomika@SPAM_GOES_IN_HEREmpx.com.au> wrote in message
> news:3e196d47$0$7813$afc3...@news.optusnet.com.au...
>
> > Susan's scissors stabbing frenzy really disturbs me for some reason -
it's
> > an unsettling moment.
>
> Well, if we're talking about scares... The four-year old me completely
> failed to cope with the terrors of a larval Wirrn raising up on its hind
> parts in _The Ark in Space_, and, as a result, I wasn't allowed to watch
> Doctor Who for another few weeks (I picked it up again at part 2 of _The
> Sontaran Experiment_).

The first time I watched Inside the Spaceship/Edge of Destruction/two part
filler using the TARDIS set was just after it was released on video, so I
would have been about 17 at the time.

It still scares me - I think it's a combination of the direction, Carole
Anne Ford's acting and the incidental music that does it.

> > Nothing else in Doctor Who scares me now - oh to five years old again!
>
> Nah, four for me. Year of the Wombles, mate. : )

I remember seeing the Wombles movie once...

Cameron
--
I explored the ashes of Gallifrey and found a lump of TARDIS.

http://members.fortunecity.com/masomika/

http://members.fortunecity.com/jpcovers/

Cameron Mason

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 7:08:40 AM1/8/03
to

William December Starr

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 7:09:10 AM1/8/03
to
In article <avbv83$e6nsj$3...@ID-104854.news.dfncis.de>,

"David A McIntee" <david....@btopenworld.com> said:

>> of all The Invasion of Time, which is written so amateurishly that
>> a great first episode gets mauled by the rest of it, and put
>> together in a very slapdash way.
>

> To be fair, they didn't have much choice about it... Unforeseen
> circumstances and all that.

I haven't heard this story. (Or I have and I've forgotten it, sigh.)
What happened?

-- William December Starr <wds...@panix.com>

Geoffrey D. Wessel

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 7:26:04 AM1/8/03
to
On Tue, 7 Jan 2003 07:25:08 CST, Steven Kitson
<ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:

>Glenn Langford <lan...@zip.com.au> wrote:
>>But that's it in a nutshell, each story/audio/book is as good as you
>>think it is - to you! (Personally, I *love* Castrovalva!)
>
>That's the kind of subjectivism, though, which stops anything ever
>improving: if there's no 'better' or 'worse' then there's nothing to aim
>at, you just do something and chances are someone will like it.

Erm...so how do you *empricially* determine what a good DOCTOR WHO
story is? Where's Newton's First Law of Stories?

>You have to keep in mind that 'I like this' is no the same thing (not even
>close to) 'this is good'.

Well, OK, true. On Wednesday nights at 9pm here in the States "This is
Good" = THE WEST WING, whereas "I Like This" = FASTLANE, and despite
how stupid and idiotic and DUMB it is, I still find myself watching
the latter! (of course, now FOX is moving this to Fridays, therefore
completely ruining the analogy)

--- Geoff
- ATYPICAL HISTORY
- Charity Anthology benefitting Camp Awareness for Autism
- Due out November 2003
- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/atypical_history

Glenn Langford

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Jan 8, 2003, 7:26:09 AM1/8/03
to
In article <avfkm2$hm4$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, kor...@zipworld.com.au
wrote:

> In article <sVz*fl...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
> Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
> >Glenn Langford <lan...@zip.com.au> wrote:
>
> >>But that's it in a nutshell, each story/audio/book is as good as you
> >>think it is - to you! (Personally, I *love* Castrovalva!)
>
> >That's the kind of subjectivism, though, which stops anything ever
> >improving: if there's no 'better' or 'worse' then there's nothing to aim
> >at, you just do something and chances are someone will like it.
> >
> >You have to keep in mind that 'I like this' is no the same thing (not even
> >close to) 'this is good'.
>
> That's true, and more fans should remember it. But there's no reason we
> have to watch, listen to, or read everything in critique mode, all the
> time*. And Glenn's right - ultimately, there's no objective way to judge a
> story's elements. Which is good, because otherwise you'd just program a
> computer to do the writing for you, and gentlemen, we'd be obsolete.

Yeah, it is true. I guess the other thing I was trying to say was that I
*like* most of what is *good* and some of what isn't. I think a lot of
people would get jack of a series that churned out quantity instead of
quality. I know a few authors of non-DW stuff who've tried for the
former and lost their readership damn quickly!

--
lan...@zip.com.au

jb...@zipworld.com.au

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 7:33:37 AM1/8/03
to
In article <avgsqa$pjd$1...@panix1.panix.com>,

"Invasion of Time" was another of those last-minute replacement scripts
thrown together at speed when an author's submission was unusable. David
Weir had a story which involved an ampitheater the size of Wembley Stadium
filled with killer cats. Erm, check, please.

(Personally I think "Invasion of Time" is bloody amazing under the
circumstances.)

Cheers,
Jon Blum

Glenn Langford

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Jan 8, 2003, 7:40:03 AM1/8/03
to
In article <sVz*fl...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:

Subjectivism does not rule out objectivisim - you've missed the point of
my argument by only quoting that one line. I do both - there are some
things I *know* are crap, but I like them anyway (Five Docs springs to
mind) and there are some things I know are brilliant, and I like them
too (Ghost Light). On the contrary, there are some crap things I don't
like (Timelash) and some good things I really don't (can't think of a DW
example at the moment, but the movie Thin Red Line comes to mind).

In the end, I don't keep watching/reading for the latter two, I keep
watching/reading for the former two. And while they outweigh the latter,
status quo.

I think this is what Kate with Time and the Rani and Paul with
Castrovalva were also trying to say.

--
lan...@zip.com.au

Glenn Langford

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Jan 8, 2003, 7:41:49 AM1/8/03
to
In article <v4x*Wj...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:

Try *not* taking it seriously, and see how you go! :-)

--
lan...@zip.com.au

JerryD

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Jan 8, 2003, 7:42:38 AM1/8/03
to

> "Invasion of Time" was another of those last-minute replacement scripts
> thrown together at speed when an author's submission was unusable. David
> Weir had a story which involved an ampitheater the size of Wembley Stadium
> filled with killer cats. Erm, check, please.

The other thing of interest is that the original script called for Tom
Baker's regeneration, didn't it?

> (Personally I think "Invasion of Time" is bloody amazing under the
> circumstances.)
>

Well, it's fun, anyway. :)

Steven Kitson

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 8:23:19 AM1/8/03
to
Geoffrey D. Wessel <gdwe...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>On Tue, 7 Jan 2003 07:25:08 CST, Steven Kitson
><ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>>Glenn Langford <lan...@zip.com.au> wrote:
>>>But that's it in a nutshell, each story/audio/book is as good as you
>>>think it is - to you! (Personally, I *love* Castrovalva!)
>>That's the kind of subjectivism, though, which stops anything ever
>>improving: if there's no 'better' or 'worse' then there's nothing to aim
>>at, you just do something and chances are someone will like it.
>Erm...so how do you *empricially* determine what a good DOCTOR WHO
>story is? Where's Newton's First Law of Stories?

You don't. But just because you can't define something doesn't prove that
it doesn't exist. But we can discuss what's good and bad and come to a
consensus which, hopefully, reflects reality (even if we can't actually
ever know the reality).

jb...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 8, 2003, 8:34:38 AM1/8/03
to
In article <h-A*Le...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>You don't. But just because you can't define something doesn't prove that
>it doesn't exist. But we can discuss what's good and bad and come to a
>consensus which, hopefully, reflects reality (even if we can't actually
>ever know the reality).

I kinda got the sense a lot of us came to radwm to *escape* attempts to
nail down a consensus about what sucked! :-)

Regards,
Jon Blum

David A McIntee

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Jan 8, 2003, 8:37:13 AM1/8/03
to

"Steven Kitson" <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote

> >Story and performances are tops. Possibly performances most of all, as TV
is
> >a visual performance medium. Story's most important to the books, since
I've
> >yet to hear anyone say "well, your story was crap, but I enjoyed myself
> >because it had a nice typeface."
>
> (You're mixing quality and enjoyment there).

Not really - I'm pointing out that on TV there are differences chances to
judge quality, where in a book the writing's everything.

> I would often think that a story was crap but not care if the writing was
> good: if on every page there was a phrase or a sentence or a thought
> expressed in a novel, amusing, enlightening, or just plain right way.

Yep, that's why I like David Eddings's books even though they're
hypocritically unoriginal. (hypocritically because he always says he hates
fantasy and despises the way other writers do things- then does them all
himself, but with better dialogue)

--
--
"Oh go away, repress someone else."

http://www.btinternet.com/~david.mcintee

Redemption 03- Blake's 7/Babylon 5 convention. 21-23 February 2003
http://www.conventions.org.uk/redemption

Vote Baal in 03, and let every serpent have a paradise.

Currently reading: LA Requiem (Robert Crais)

M A P P Y

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Jan 8, 2003, 1:28:19 PM1/8/03
to
On Wed, 8 Jan 2003 06:07:13 CST, "Cameron Mason"
<masomika@SPAM_GOES_IN_HEREmpx.com.au> wrote:

>I remember seeing the Wombles movie once...

The one with Bonnie Langford in it? :)


MAPPY
"His brain sometimes stops working" - Chiyo, Azumanga Daioh

kor...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 8, 2003, 2:05:39 PM1/8/03
to
>Geoffrey D. Wessel <gdwe...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>>Erm...so how do you *empricially* determine what a good DOCTOR WHO
>>story is? Where's Newton's First Law of Stories?

>You don't. But just because you can't define something doesn't prove that
>it doesn't exist. But we can discuss what's good and bad

We certainly can, and that's well worth doing. Just because it's all
ultimately down to opinion doesn't mean there's no value in discussing the
elements of stories, how they work, and how well they work.

>and come to a consensus which, hopefully, reflects reality (even if we
>can't actually ever know the reality).

Thankfully, while fandom is good at producing conventional wisdom, it's
lousy at producing consensus. :-)

To me, it's dull and pointless to argue about what's good and bad in Who.
When I did my literature course, no-one wasted time on that - we assumed
the books etc in question were worth discussing, and so instead of sitting
about trying to decide which ones were good, we talked about what was
actually in them! What they were about, how they fitted into a period or a
movement, and crucially, how the words worked on the page. The Who
equivalent would be (for example) talking about specific lines, shots,
music, and performances in "The Curse of Fenric" and how they create a
certain atmosphere, rather than taking a vote on the story's popularity.

Glenn Langford

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Jan 8, 2003, 2:18:58 PM1/8/03
to
In article <gc9n1vcffjv69l37i...@4ax.com>,

"Geoffrey D. Wessel" <gdwe...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, 7 Jan 2003 07:25:08 CST, Steven Kitson
> <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>
> >Glenn Langford <lan...@zip.com.au> wrote:
> >>But that's it in a nutshell, each story/audio/book is as good as you
> >>think it is - to you! (Personally, I *love* Castrovalva!)
> >
> >That's the kind of subjectivism, though, which stops anything ever
> >improving: if there's no 'better' or 'worse' then there's nothing to aim
> >at, you just do something and chances are someone will like it.
>
> Erm...so how do you *empricially* determine what a good DOCTOR WHO
> story is? Where's Newton's First Law of Stories?

And my point is: why do you want to? If you enjoy it, leave it at that.
If you want to analyse *why* you enjoy it, fine, but that shouldn't
lessen your enjoyment of it, or really make anyone else like/dislike it
any more/less.

> >You have to keep in mind that 'I like this' is no the same thing (not even
> >close to) 'this is good'.
>
> Well, OK, true. On Wednesday nights at 9pm here in the States "This is
> Good" = THE WEST WING, whereas "I Like This" = FASTLANE, and despite
> how stupid and idiotic and DUMB it is, I still find myself watching
> the latter! (of course, now FOX is moving this to Fridays, therefore
> completely ruining the analogy)

A good example (despite my not having seen Fastlane down here!). I adore
the West Wing, but this has nothing to do with the fact that it is
generally thought to be a "good" show - I can see for myself that it is.
Whereas I think 90210 is crap - but that didn't stop me watching it for
four years. :-)

--
lan...@zip.com.au

Simon Bucher-Jones

unread,
Jan 8, 2003, 3:29:26 PM1/8/03
to
What scared me in Who, the fungus growing on Jo Grant's arm in Planet
(I had to listen to it from the next room) and not watch, and the
Krynoid - watched upstairs on a black and white portable TV while
suffering from slightly hallucinary scarlet fever. [I rewatched the
video recently and by turning the colour off, I got a real shiver....]

What I love. Too much to specify. A genuine sense that "everything
matters" that "good is possible" and that ideas, wit, and humanity (in
its broadest sense) will triumph over the bullying of an increasingly
inhumanised cosmos.

That "knowing about things" isn't stupid or nerdy. The importance of
truth, and never for a moment beliveing you know more than you do. The
special responsibility of Scientists. The Ends never justifying the
Means.

The towering mad villainy of the original Davros, the plots that work,
and
many many great authors in the book line from Paul Cornell to
newcomers like Lloyd Rose, Mags Halliday and my esteemed recent
collaborator Kelly Hale, and Lawrence of course. And audios like Spare
Parts and Holy Terror that stand as high as any Who anywhere. And the
strength that enables spinoff lines to stand longer than any other
show: Bernice, and (I trust) the Faction ;-)

Simon Bucher-Jones

Steven Kitson

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Jan 8, 2003, 4:27:00 PM1/8/03
to
In article <avi4cm$2tc$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:
>Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>>Geoffrey D. Wessel <gdwe...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>>Erm...so how do you *empricially* determine what a good DOCTOR WHO
>>>story is? Where's Newton's First Law of Stories?
>>You don't. But just because you can't define something doesn't prove that
>>it doesn't exist. But we can discuss what's good and bad
>We certainly can, and that's well worth doing. Just because it's all
>ultimately down to opinion doesn't mean there's no value in discussing the
>elements of stories, how they work, and how well they work.

I agree with that all, except the central bit. I don't think it is all
ultimately down to opinion. But even though you're wrong, there's no reaon
we can't discuss elements etc.

>To me, it's dull and pointless to argue about what's good and bad in Who.
>When I did my literature course, no-one wasted time on that - we assumed
>the books etc in question were worth discussing, and so instead of sitting
>about trying to decide which ones were good, we talked about what was
>actually in them!

Well, yes, because presumably they had been picked because they were worth
discussing!

(Maybe this is a lack in literature courses. Now I'm studying modernist
literature I'm studying the best, and most worthy of discussion. Perhaps
there should be courses in crap books in which the student sees, in
effect, how not to do it. Because one of the best ways to learn what does
work is by contrasting it with what doesn't, I know I find that when
reading.)

But that implies that all works are equally good and equally worth
discussing, that they all make equally good use of their medium, which is
simply not true.

And when the canon you study hasn't been picked out for you by your
tutors, the first thing you have to do when faced with a body of work is
what they do when thinking, say, 'what texts should I include on this
course, from the whole range of modernist texts available to me? What best
represent the ideas and techniques which I am interested in
investigating?'

'Doctor Who' is not only not new, it's still ongoing, so that
wheat-from-chaff process hasn't happened yet.

kor...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 8, 2003, 4:59:33 PM1/8/03
to
In article <sXo*91...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>In article <avi4cm$2tc$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:

[...]

>>To me, it's dull and pointless to argue about what's good and bad in Who.
>>When I did my literature course, no-one wasted time on that - we assumed
>>the books etc in question were worth discussing, and so instead of sitting
>>about trying to decide which ones were good, we talked about what was
>>actually in them!

[...]

>But that implies that all works are equally good and equally worth
>discussing, that they all make equally good use of their medium, which is
>simply not true.

"Good" and "worth discussing" aren't the same thing. We discussed trashy
true crime books in one course. We didn't waste time arguing about whether
they were good or bad, or how good or bad; we looked at how they were
written, and why. I'd love to see less of the former and more of the
latter in fandom - less quibbling over validity, more awareness of the
specifics of the stories.

Cora Buhlert

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Jan 8, 2003, 5:40:59 PM1/8/03
to
JerryD <def...@clone.ca> wrote in message news:<3E1C3985...@clone.ca>...

I have never quite understood why so many people dislike "Invasion of
Time". Okay, it is padded (what six-parter isn't?), it looks cheap and
it doesn't make very much sense. But the performances of Tom Baker and
the guy who played Borussa alone make this one worthwhile.

Cameron Mason

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Jan 8, 2003, 7:43:39 PM1/8/03
to

M A P P Y <darkday...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1o2p1vk3268f74ocl...@4ax.com...

> On Wed, 8 Jan 2003 06:07:13 CST, "Cameron Mason"
> <masomika@SPAM_GOES_IN_HEREmpx.com.au> wrote:
>
> >I remember seeing the Wombles movie once...
>
> The one with Bonnie Langford in it? :)

Yes.

JerryD

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Jan 8, 2003, 8:21:37 PM1/8/03
to

>
>
> I have never quite understood why so many people dislike "Invasion of
> Time". Okay, it is padded (what six-parter isn't?), it looks cheap and
> it doesn't make very much sense. But the performances of Tom Baker and
> the guy who played Borussa alone make this one worthwhile.
>

The performance of Tom Baker makes anything worthwhile. ;)
except that Dungeons and Dragons movie.

Geoffrey D. Wessel

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Jan 8, 2003, 8:44:46 PM1/8/03
to

Hear hear.

I once tried to have an Intellectual Discussion about HENRIETTA STREET
on the OG forums. It worked for a while, but as is wont to happen, it
degrades into continuity and Gallifrey. Which was explicitly stated as
a goal in the thread to NOT get into.

And Kate, i have JUST the perfect book to ask about how and why it was
written, but dammit, nobody's read it yet due to not being published
for another 2 months! ;-)

Cameron Mason

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Jan 8, 2003, 9:33:36 PM1/8/03
to

Simon Bucher-Jones <SBUC...@HOTMAIL.COM> wrote in message
news:783f8f29.03010...@posting.google.com...

> What scared me in Who, the fungus growing on Jo Grant's arm in Planet
> (I had to listen to it from the next room) and not watch, and the
> Krynoid - watched upstairs on a black and white portable TV while
> suffering from slightly hallucinary scarlet fever. [I rewatched the
> video recently and by turning the colour off, I got a real shiver....]

I (stupidly) followed my parents advice and stopped watching Doctor Who from
Seeds of Doom Part One through until The Sun Makers...

Cameron
--
"Do-do suckmeov nice-and-quick out in the corridor!"
- Rowan Atkinson
http://members.fortunecity.com/masomika/

http://members.fortunecity.com/jpcovers/


kor...@zipworld.com.au

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Jan 8, 2003, 10:35:29 PM1/8/03
to
In article <avieij$5kf$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:
>In article <sXo*91...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

>"Good" and "worth discussing" aren't the same thing. We discussed trashy


>true crime books in one course. We didn't waste time arguing about whether
>they were good or bad, or how good or bad; we looked at how they were
>written, and why. I'd love to see less of the former and more of the
>latter in fandom - less quibbling over validity, more awareness of the
>specifics of the stories.

Hit on a concrete example over the washing up. Say you wanted to discuss
the huge influence of Von Daniken on Who. You'd be examining the concepts
used in stories, rather than their direction or padding quotient or
whatever, comparing them to Von Daniken's and similar writings, popular
beliefs and thinking at the time, comparing different approaches to the
basic chariots-of-the-gods idea in different stories, and so on.

(If you've read Joanna Russ' extremely funny analysis of anti-feminist SF,
that's another example where worrying about the quality, rather than how
and why the stories were written, would just get in the way. :-)

Steven Kitson

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Jan 8, 2003, 11:14:21 PM1/8/03
to
In article <avfkm2$hm4$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:
>In article <sVz*fl...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

>Steven Kitson <ski...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>>You have to keep in mind that 'I like this' is no the same thing (not even
>>close to) 'this is good'.
>
>That's true, and more fans should remember it. But there's no reason we
>have to watch, listen to, or read everything in critique mode, all the
>time*.
>* It's pretty much impossible to turn off that critical faculty - when Jon
>and I watch Who, we have to keep pausing to discuss it!

One of the ways I judge things is how well they can make me suspend
critical judgement... I reckon that if something can draw me into itself
so well that I stop even noticing the editing and music and acting it must
be doing something right.

> And Glenn's right - ultimately, there's no objective way to judge a
>story's elements. Which is good, because otherwise you'd just program a
>computer to do the writing for you, and gentlemen, we'd be obsolete.

That's a philosophical can of worms, for another time...

Solar Penguin

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Jan 9, 2003, 1:43:02 AM1/9/03
to
My first post in the mod group. Hope it works...


kor...@zipworld.com.au wrote:
> In article <avieij$5kf$1...@zipperii.zip.com.au>, <kor...@zipworld.com.au> wrote:
>
>
>>"Good" and "worth discussing" aren't the same thing. We discussed trashy
>>true crime books in one course. We didn't waste time arguing about whether
>>they were good or bad, or how good or bad; we looked at how they were
>>written, and why. I'd love to see less of the former and more of the
>>latter in fandom - less quibbling over validity, more awareness of the
>>specifics of the stories.
>

For most people there's a sort of literary equivalent of "I'm quite
happy to use this hi-tech gadget but I don't need to know how it works."
People only need to know how something works when it doesn't. The
rest of the time, the technology should be invisible to them.

E.g. most users of mobile phones aren't interested in looking "at how
they were [made], and why." They just want to know which phone is best
for them and where can they get coolest ringtones.

Now you're probably going to say there's a big difference between
stories and mobile phones. That's true. The main difference is that
*you* are involved in making the former but not the latter.

For an *ordinary* viewer/reader/listener the only important point about
a story is that we get so caught up in it that the mechanics are hidden
hidden from us. We normally only think about analysing the stories we
don't like, to see what's wrong with them. There's nothing to gain in
analysing stories that work for us -- and *everything* to lose...

For example, the plotholes in Pyramids of Mars are being discussed in
another thread. I used to really *really* like that story until about
six years ago when I made the mistake of watching it critically. I had
some foolish idea that maybe if I knew why I liked it, I'd enjoy it even
more.

Imagine my surprise when I ended up with a *long* list of plotholes.
(E.g. **WHY** does Sutekh's face appear in the TARDIS at the start of
the story!?!)

So, I failed to find out why I enjoyed the story. Not only that, but
now I can't even watch the story without being aware of them. I can't
suspend my disbelief and pretend this is something real anymore -- which
means I don't enjoy the story anymore.

A writer would have gained some useful knowledge by analysing the story
like that. But for ordinary viewers like me, that knowledge isn't
useful -- just harmful since it can actually destroy a source of
enjoyment of us.

So, I'd actually like to see a lot less analysis of stories here (well,
except for those eras I never liked anyway...<G>) and more celebration.
But in the end it all boils down to whether this group is being run
for the ordinary viewers/readers/etc. of the stories, or for the
writers. Only time will tell...


--


"Tegan Jovanka was a cyborg who was turned into a crevasse. There is a
renegade Time Lord. He has a conversation with the vibrant colours of
summer flowers. The buzzing of bees fills the warm air." -- MegaHal

David Brunt

unread,
Jan 9, 2003, 3:25:15 AM1/9/03