The Torchwood Institute - A Doctor Who and Torchwood Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy Who Year

It's strange as I'm reading some UK Who sites commenting about how this has been the most successful year for Doctor Who in decades. And that's obviously true in the UK, even from over here in the US. It's not that Doctor Who is much more popular over here -- it's mostly been people who have always been interested in the show, it's just a little higher profile amongst those people. Perhaps that'll change a little with the R1 DVD release, and presumably it's appearance on something like NetFlix.

I'll be off to Gallifrey One in a month and a half, and it'll be interesting to compare how that convention is to all of the other Gallifreys I've been to over the years. Last year's convention wasn't much different, in fact, it was quite subdued; but with the DVD just out here, things could be different.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More Movie Comments

In a comment about a Doctor Who film, shrinkwrapped mentioned that there was already a Doctor Who movie back in 1996. I was really discussing a major feature film to be seen in movie theaters earlier -- not a TV movie, which, after all, would also arguably include The Five Doctors.

The 1996 TV movie has some of the flaws that I was discussing about a non-series adaptation of Doctor Who -- it needs to be all things at once; and so you get the wierd time mechanations, and it becomes all about the Doctor Who myth in a big sense, when really that's very rarely what good Doctor Who is all about.

For me, it's as much that you can tell have radically different stories from one story to the next that is part of the joy of Doctor Who -- the far future one week, the victorian era the next; where you have a wide variety of different styles of stories; some more tragic, others more comedic. I think that diversity is lost when -- as you would have to do in a film -- you're telling only one story. It sort of has to be the "Ultimate Doctor Who story" each time -- and the thing is, with Doctor Who, there really isn't *one* story.

I can see by my logs that with the Christmas Invasion airing in the UK and Canada, having Torchwood as the site name is getting me a few more hits.

Oddly, The Christmas Invasion is one of the clearest signals about how much of a success the series has been in the UK, but also how they aren't really considering the American market anymore -- the earliest it makes any sense to show the episode, after all, is December 2006 in the US market. Unless they go with a Christmas-in-July type thing.

Of course, my assumption is we'll see it as a DVD release in the fall of 2006 (perhaps as part of a general Series 2 boxed set), as it has aired in Canada and that market has aired the new Doctor Who while it hasn't aired here yet.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

All This And World War II

I watched two Doctor Who stories tonight. First of all, I watched off my imported region 2 DVDs of the 2005 series, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. And from 1989, the special edition of The Curse of Fenric. And in many ways they are a great compare and contrast between where Doctor Who was in 1989 and where it is today.

The Curse of Fenric is calling out for the night time shoots that make up The Empty Child. When they made the special edition of The Curse of Fenric they digitally darkened some of the images, but it's of course not the same. And obviously, the Haemovore make up is a bit disappointing in retrospect.

But it is the similarities that are of true interest. It wasn't until 1988 in the original series that we start seeing any direct references to World War II, even though the original inspiration of the Daleks are clearly as little tin Nazis, and many of the other monsters are fascist metaphors as well. I think it is as much to do with World War II only being portraryed metaphorically until none of the people involved with the series had any real connection to the real war.

And then it's also that both stories have a subtext that's very rare in classic Doctor Who -- sex. Both stories have flirting companions. The Curse of Fenric has its gay supporting characters (Commander Millington and Dr. Judson), and so does The Empty Child. And both have elements where secrets and sexual repression have a major part in the plot.

And in the end, both stories are usually considered some of the best stories of their respective years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fan Spotting

Nice to see that Neil Gaiman and his family are enjoying the new Doctor Who.

One of the things that is nice to do is to place Doctor Who in general context of British Science Fiction and Fantasy (and well, the genre generally). Obviously, you see where things like The Time Machine or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe influence Doctor Who, but then you also have the elements of Doctor Who that show up in something like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, or how it all connects to Douglas Adams's work, which was both influenced by Doctor Who and influenced Doctor Who.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Region 1 Series 1 Box Art

Doctor Who: Series 1Both TV Shows on DVD and Outpost Gallifrey have the cover of the region 1 set for the Christopher Eccleston series of Doctor Who. It's very similar as far as the Region 2 release, just much, much thinner.

I'm intrigued, actually, that fundementally the UK and the US packaging are as close as they are. With the classic series, the covers and packaging style are very, very different between the two markets; they don't have the same artwork or pictures, fonts choices, and even the logo is different. (Part of me was wondering if they'd label the R1 boxed set as "The Christopher Eccleston Year", as all of the R1 classic series titles are labeled as being part of "The Tom Baker Years", or "The Peter Davision Years" or whatever.

But then, it's got to be a bit frustrating for the BBC in their attempts to sell this -- all of the UK genre press that has been covering Doctor Who will have completely moved on to David Tennant. I'm not sure how they market it. Though really, I assume that the plan is basically just to make sure that all of us that are already buying Doctor Who DVDs get it, and most of us don't need much additional marketing to... it's just a matter of getting it out to those of us that already want to buy it. I'm hopeful that it'll pick up some new converts via something like NetFlix, but who can say...

Labels: ,

More From Number Ten

There are a lot of articles about the new Doctor Who at the moment, especially in the UK, as the UK airdate for the Chirstmas Invasion approaches. There's a pretty good David Tennant interview here, and while many of the points are the same ones that you see all over the place, you get the feeling he'll be a very good Doctor, and this is something that he's been preparing for for decades.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

After King Kong: Doctor Who?

An article on MSNBC recommended that Peter Jackson look at doing Doctor Who as his next film. Thankfully, the article does mention the new TV series -- and any American publiclity for the new series is all for the good, especially when it ties in to the current weekend's big blockbuster hit. Obviously, I don't think this is anything for Peter Jackson -- but more about promoting Doctor Who. And in many ways, the new version of Doctor Who shares with Jackson's King Kong that it's a creation of people that absolutely love the franchise that they're working with, and they've got the talent to bring forward and update it in a fashion that is simultaneously modern and yet still loyal to the core concepts.

I'm of the opinion that Doctor Who would make for a generally poor film -- it's a franchise character, a series character -- and a film version is really best suited when there's *one* story to tell -- where with Doctor Who part of the magic is that there are literally hundreds of stories; and whille some are epic, others are very small scale.

Outpost Gallifrey pointed out an article that isn't available without a subscription in BroadcastNow about the delays for getting the new series sold in America. It's my thought that the first series isn't really all that important anymore -- it's the second and third series and beyond that will really matter. As I've mentioned before it seems like it's a bit difficult when the Tenth Doctor is starting so firmly in an episode to be aired at Christmas time to schedule it well here, but it's rather nice that the series short term fate, at least, is not dependent on how it performs on some obscure US time slot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A New Tennant

When I see articles like this one in the Mirror comparing David Tennant's affected accent in the upcoming Christmas Invasion to Dick Van Dyke's infamous accent in Mary Poppins, I wonder if one of the things that they've done with the upcoming series of Doctor Who is make something more accessible to the US market. Changing the Doctor's accent from a Northern UK accent to one that's more familiar -- like all of the other fake British accents we get, even when it's a UK actor performing -- might help it out. I also get the impression, based on what little I've seen -- that David Tennant's Doctor is going to be more accessible and lighter that Eccleston's version.

I rate Eccleston's Doctor very highly -- I think he's fantastic throughout his series -- but I can understand why that characterization may not play as well in the US as it would in the UK. But I think Tennant will be a more natural Doctor than Eccleston was.

Of course, the sad thing with having the launch of the tenth Doctor being so solidly a Christmas episode is that it seems more likely that the earliest that it makes sense for this episode to come out in the US is sometime in a year or so. My suspicion is that we'll see some of it on DVD by that time, especially with February's region 1 DVD release of the first season showing that they aren't going to wait for any sort of television airing.

But then, arguably The Unquiet Dead is a Christmas episode, and that was never intended to air in December!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Christmas Invasion

It's a sad thing, at times, that Doctor Who merchandise isn't more available in the United States.

While I'm only slightly saddened that there are only children's Doctor Who pjs, I'm really saddened that the Doctor Who ties aren't more available over here. [Both are located at Galaxy 4 though, and probably at other online dealers.]

Sunday, December 04, 2005

DVD Screenshots

TV Shows On DVD were posting some screenshots from the upcoming region 1 release of the 2005 Doctor Who series. They look to be the same as the UK boxed set -- but then, the understand that I have is that there can't be any difference between region 1 and region 2 content for the Doctor Who DVDs (by request of the BBC)

There are some comments about the region 2 set on the bbc site, and some other screenshots from the region 2 release -- which, as you can also see from the BBC site look very similar to what was posted for region 2.

What I'm anxiously awaiting is a look at what the US packaging looks like. Generally there has been a bit of difference between the packaging in the two countries, and I expect that to continue as well.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Teaser

The BBC site has the first teaser for the Christmas Invasion. It's very, very little. And to some extent, last month's Children In Need clip was all the teaser we need, but still, it's there.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Sci Fi on Who DVDs

It's quite interesting to read the latest Sci Fi report on the status of Doctor Who in America.

There's been a lot of thought about what the $99 SRP point means over on places like Outpost Gallifrey -- while it's priced comparably to other BBC products, it's not the low price that you see for something like Lost or even Battlestar Galactica. (My expectation is that the new Who DVD will be of higher quality than the BG set -- Doctor Who has historically had some of the best TV sets out there, and based on what I've seen of the R2 UK content, I expect that to continue with the new series boxed sets as well.)

That said, that article makes some of it clear -- it's really a way to get this into the hands of the existing fanbase as soon as possible in a good, high quality version, better than anything that could be obtained any other way.

I'll be curious to see where the new series does eventually end up -- and admittedly, with at least 28 more new episodes of Doctor Who, and at least 13 of Torchwood, there's plenty of material coming our way.

Science Fiction writer Robert Sawyer also has some complementary things to say about the new Doctor Who.