THE DOCTOR...is in

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Robert Nason » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:21 am

Lately I've been watching many DVDs of classic DOCTOR WHO stories, all of them with the first Doctor, William Hartnell, from 1963-1966, and I have a lot left to see. (I just saw PLANET OF THE GIANTS, along with the "reconstructed" episodes 3 and 4 which were condensed into one show when originally broadcast.) I won't get to the current Doctor Who for a decade or two. The early episodes are low-budget, cheap, black-and-white video, yet oddly compelling. And I think I know why the show captured the imagination of the British people.

When it debuted in 1963, Britain was shrinking. For 15 years its empire had been contracting -- they lost India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Palestine, Kenya, the Suez Canal, you name it. The British Empire had been reduced to Little England, a small, crowded place full of all the people they couldn't send out to administer the colonies. At just this time -- the very year of the ignominious Profumo scandal -- along comes a show featuring that quintessential English icon, the red policeman's telephone booth -- yet when you enter it, it becomes enormous in size, and by pushing various levers it can take you anywhere in time and space. Empire gone, the whole universe and the space-time continuum is now at your command! And who should be the purveyor of this vastly-expanded world but a whimsical, brilliant, kindly, irascible Edwardian-type who looks remarkably like Bertrand Russell. How reassuring! And yet his granddaughter looks and talks just like a 1960s English mod chick. How delightful! And with them are the unwilling but plucky Englishman and Englishwoman who are high school teachers, ordinary folks dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Suddenly the world didn't seem so small anymore. Dangerous, yes -- but nothing they can't solve after a few episodes. Then on to the next time and place. And always returning to that quaint little red phone booth, which contains multitudes.

Like James Bond films, it must have made the British feel like they were players once again, if only in fantasy. And soon the Beatles showed up to demonstrate that four English lads could out-sing and out-perform anyone the Yanks could produce. Move over, Frank. Take a walk, Elvis. And soon America was actually imitating the British -- no Bond, but the Man from U.N.C.L.E. Rule Britannia.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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FinderDoug
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby FinderDoug » Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:36 pm

Robert - Actually, you know that U.N.C.L.E. began life (conceptually) with Ian Fleming contributing elements at Norman Felton's invitation, right? It was, in fact, Fleming who came up with the name Napoleon Solo (as well as April Dancer, who got bumped for Illya until THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. opportunity arose.)

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Robert Nason » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:15 pm

Doug -- No, I was unaware that Fleming had a hand in the creation of U.N.C.L.E. Damn, we Yanks can't even claim Napoleon Solo as entirely our own! Next thing you'll be telling me that the wonderful children's book CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG was actually written by Fleming.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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FinderDoug
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby FinderDoug » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:07 pm

Robert - You'd better sit down for this... :P

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Robert Nason » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:50 pm

Oh, no! Don't tell me he... :shock:
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:09 am

Robert Nason wrote:Doug -- No, I was unaware that Fleming had a hand in the creation of U.N.C.L.E. Damn, we Yanks can't even claim Napoleon Solo as entirely our own! Next thing you'll be telling me that the wonderful children's book CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG was actually written by Fleming.


Fleming, through weird contractual wranglings, ended up removing just about everything from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but Solo makes a curious appearance in a James Bond movie---Mr. Solo is the gangster in Goldfinger who gets compacted in the Lincoln.

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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby FinderDoug » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:53 am

In the end, Fleming was bought out by MGM for a token pound; by then, his health had begun to decline, he was already being sued over the rights to THUNDERBALL (co-conceived for the screen initially 1958, but published as a solo novel, causing the legal row; this is what later left the door ajar for NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN years later outside Eon Productions' control), and with the basic pressure from Albert Broccoli and Eon Productions to cease his involvement or face the lawyers. Ultimately, Eon did go after MGM and Arena Productions after the pilot was filmed (over the Solo character, because they felt it infringed on the character of Solo in GOLDFINGER to which they'd purchased the rights; Fleming admitted he'd forgotten GOLDFINGER had a minor character named Solo - fair enough; it was published in 1959); it took Fleming signing an affidavit that he saw nothing of his contributions in the pilot script or film for Eon to back down, save for one point: the change of the name of the series from MR. SOLO to THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

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Robert Nason
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Robert Nason » Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:44 am

I'd completely forgotten that the name of the gangster who has "a pressing engagement" in GOLDFINGER was Solo -- and I just watched the film again recently. One thing that amused me this time was noticing how all the Americans -- both the gangsters and rhe CIA agents -- seem so doltish and stupid; it's like watching an early 70's "blaxploitation" movie in which the black characters are normal people and all the whites are portrayed as grotesque, laughable freaks.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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Ben W.
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Ben W. » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:36 pm

I'm sure everyone's had one of THOSE kind of days where irrelevant, seemingly trivial bullshit adds up, leaving you feeling tired and nauseous by the time you have to hit the sack. Last night's episode of WHO, "Mummy on the Orient Express", was about an ancient curse that seeks out and murders its victims in a particularly chilling, inevitable manner. The grim story, coupled with Capaldi's somewhat merciless characterization of the Doctor, left a rather nasty, sordid taste in one's mouth.

Just this morning, my home island of Bermuda was hammered by a tropical storm. Then I came online, and discover Harlan's suffered a stroke. (Okay, that last part is a not-so-trivial detail, but it was the sucker-punch to an already sickly sort of day.) It's one of those times where pop culture and real life seem to simultaneously gang up on you.

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Steve Evil
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:34 pm

Haven't seen the latest episode yet, but am really not liking what they're doing to the Doctor. It seems they're taking great pains to make him come across as a moral imbecile, entirely dependant on Clara to understand basic right and wrong, let alone the higher morality all his prececessors subscribed to.

It's early yet, we'll see where they take it, but I'm not impressed so far at all.


(Thank God Unca Harlan seems to be okay. . .)

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Steve Barber
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Steve Barber » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:53 pm

Steve
It's a bit early to say he's okay. He's mentally sound, it appears, but hasn't got the use of the right side of his body.

Far from okay, but better than it could have been,
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FinderDoug
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby FinderDoug » Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:48 am

It seems they're taking great pains to make him come across as a moral imbecile, entirely dependant on Clara to understand basic right and wrong, let alone the higher morality all his prececessors subscribed to.
If it's part of the overall season arc (I'm behind several episodes - back on "Listen" at the moment), and we're going to find something went awry during his regeneration, then it's a ballsy move to make the character so dissonant compared to his predecessors and potentially align a majority of the audience against the new incarnation. I mean, I watch the Doctor and think to myself, 'There's something very wrong inside him.' Which kinda makes me think there's intent to the prolonged wrong-ness.

Sadly, I suspect it's just writers not being able to get a handle on a completely different take on the character following the fluffy-making for Matt Smith. I'd LIKE for there to be a payoff explanation that makes him right, and us right with him, but I suspect we're closer to, "And then Poochy returned to his home planet" explanation territory.

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Ben W.
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Ben W. » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:19 am

Capaldi's tenure so far is more than a little reminiscent of Colin Baker's first year in the role. The showrunners attempted something more ballsy than usual with the Doctor's character, and part of you desperately wants to applaud them for it.

But all the same, choosing to define your lead as a borderline-unlikable brute (especially for a role as beloved as Doctor Who) is always a dangerous game, and requires extreme care. Like FinderDoug said, most of the writers can't seem to figure out what the hell they want to DO with Capaldi's Doctor. Is he a genuine asshole, or just pretending to be an asshole?

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Steve Evil
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:51 am

Steve Barber wrote:Steve
It's a bit early to say he's okay. He's mentally sound, it appears, but hasn't got the use of the right side of his body.

Far from okay, but better than it could have been,


Then I misread the initial updates, and I'm sadder for it. :(

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Steve Evil
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Re: THE DOCTOR...is in

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:02 am

There are parallels with Baker, but we gotta remember a couple things:

1) Baker's nastiness only lasted for one story - he certainly didn't go on like that ( I mean, sure, he was a bit cantankerous, but he never tried to strangle his companion again.

2) The classic series never recovered from that. No matter what Baker did after that, the audiences were turned off and left the show in droves.


I'd also like to believe there's something deeper going on here - some story arc which will explain it all - but I'm really not convinced. If someone off to the side had remarked on it, said "Doctor, wtf? This isn't you!" then I could believe it and go along with it. But Clara's going on like this had always been the case, when even a casual glance at Smith or Tenant's (or anyone else's for that matter) characters clearly show that it hasn't.


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