It's a Sentient Form of Counter-magnetising Energy Wave That Manipulates Psychic Force-fields of Sub-thermal Ionised Plasma
Hello, blog of Lawrence Miles!
I can't stop watching the reboot because of my sentimental attachment to the old show. But it keeps leaving me feeling rather grubby and disgusted.
...long-term Doctor Who viewer, told to "go away and be a fan of something else," responds with elementary "go away and stop ruining our programme" defence: full story, page 3... [from the sidebar]
My longtime friends who were DW diehards (OK, there are only two, also from the Midwest) hate the new show; indeed, KO has called it, "The worst show in television history." But everyone English seems to love it. A few years ago I looked around for UK blogging on DW and came away bemused by how much everyone sees the new show as a terrific flagship for British culture.
I'm quite relieved to find someone with Lawrence Miles's perspective. The main point is simply, Doctor Who is now like everything else. That's not the way it used to be.
For years, the Doctor has confronted the irregularities of space and time with nothing more than his sonic screwdriver. This was all very well when stories depended on scientific inquiry and believable characterisation, but it leaves him ill-equipped to deal with the modern, action-driven, high-octane version of the series. No surprise, then, that BBC Wales has announced plans to "re-launch" the character. As a spokesperson put it: 'If he knows he's going to be fighting a giant CGI mutant or an army of heavily-armed assassins in an explosive set-piece, then what kind of idiot just carries a screwdriver? Duh! Besides, 78% of our core audience demographic consists of punters who are likely to see an X-Men movie in its first week of release or queue up to buy Tomb Raider 3-D when it comes out.' [from this post]
At times, Miles gets incredibly personal and nasty with fellow writers, former bosses, and (especially) the current producer, Stephen Moffat. They take the gloves off in England!
I cringe at some of the venom, but much of the humor hits a strangely satisfying mark, like in this list of altered titles. I almost didn't make it back from "The Keith of Marinus."
(If this needs to be explained, then there's no hope it will be funny. But, just so you don't need to start Googling: Miles has reworked all the titles of the classic series in order. "The Keith of Marinus" is a toothless version of an old William Hartnell story etched into my psyche since boyhood, "The Keys of Marinus." Actually I haven't even seen it..maybe I read the book, can't remember...but that title was etched into my psyce since boyhood.)
Miles has authored some well-received DW fiction (which I haven't seen) and collaborated with Tat Wood on a mind-bendingly thorough collection of analysis, About Time (which I have).
For Miles and Wood, Doctor Who is a way of life. I appreciate that extremism.
It'd be glib to say that in the twenty-first century, we no longer believe in heroes. But it is true, if you take it not to mean "we don't believe in good people" (we clearly do, and rightly so) but "we no longer believe in extremists". "Extremists" is a word we've come to associate with terrorism - in itself, a term that's lost all meaning - and yet, most of the people we've come to respect were extremists. Beethoven was an extremist; Gandhi was an extremist; Luther was an extremist; the Doctor, in any phase of his existence before c. 2008, was an extremist.
Yet now, in fiction, power has become democratised. It hasn't in reality, of course. It'd be absurd to claim that real-world power is somehow more sterile and corruptive than ever, but it is more sterile and corruptive than many of us ever expected to see in our lifetimes. We no longer believe in heroes because we no longer believe in extremes. Whether this is a blessing or a curse, you can judge for yourselves. What it does mean is that we no longer believe in Special Powers for Special People. Aren't we all entitled...?
Comic-books have, as ever, been ahead of the game. Super-powers have been "leaking" into the mainstream for some time: whereas old-school superheroes tended to be individuals chosen (by grace or some intelligent god-force) to be champions of the world, there's now a tendency for large-scale world-shaping events to guarantee everyone a metahuman party trick. [from this post]
Recently I mentioned DW and DTM together in the context of praising a post by Nick Jones. And Miles came across the radar yesterday because I remembered someone else important to the history of this blog, Tat Wood.
Wood is one of the best authors in License Denied, a collection of fanzine writing. As an American, I missed out on having a community of fans. In England, it would have been a different story. Editor Paul Cornell says in License Denied that the twentieth anniversary of DW at Longleat in 1983 was "Our Woodstock." Leading up to and in the wake of that event were numerous fanzines made with love by people who cared.
In the back of License Denied there's an address where you can get Tat Wood's fanzine, Spectrox. Of course, that was in 1997. Most fanzines are gone now, replaced by the internet. (Wikipedia: Doctor Who Fanzines.)
I freely admit that Do the Math is partly a product of License Denied. Authors like Cornell, Wood, Amanda Murray, Ness Bishop, Colin Brockhurst, Phillip J. Gray, Daniel O'Mahony (too bad the modern production team didn't read his essay on why The Master was the worst villian in the show's history before bringing him back) took the top of my head off with their irreverent but detailed analysis. Before reading License Denied, I probably thought a TV fanzine was something that talked about how cute the actors were. No way -- at least not in England about Doctor Who in the '80s and '90s! This stuff was serious.
My own writing about music owes as much to this kind of guerrilla journalism -- "You love it, so you're the expert, toss a grenade at the other experts who love it" -- as any proper jazz criticism I've ever read.
I'm energized reading Lawrence Miles's blog. I didn't realize how much I needed a License Denied-type fix about the new era. Perhaps it was a timely discovery:
Sean Gough, pianist and blogger, did his valuable master’s thesis on Bill Evans. I first suggested that he guest post it on DTM but eventually we decided to keep it over in his domain. So, if you are interested in Evans, head on over there and check it out.
Sean asked me to use his thesis as a springboard for DTM commentary, since he knows that I have plenty to say. I've really been stuck, though. I can riff about Evans over drinks in a bar for hours but getting a proper essay together seems beyond my grasp. However, maybe I need to quit being worried about academia, get in touch with my inner guerrilla, and toss some grenades.