Tag Archives: Russell T Davies

Who on earth expected us to like that?

Is Steven Moffat taking us for granted? I found myself watching the Christmas episode of Doctor Who with mounting surprise. ‘Is this it? Whatever happened to the idea of a special something for Christmas?’

The 50th anniversary episode a month earlier was so very, very good that I somehow imagined they knew what they were doing. Perhaps they used up every ounce of great ideas for that, and now there was none left. My loyal in-house Whovian pointed out there were some nice in-jokes. Maybe there were. Maybe the hardcore fans always get more out of an episode than the mere spectator. But even idiot viewers should be given some fun, while the experts chuckle over the cleverness of whatever they’ve come up with.

If I was Peter Capaldi I’d sue for getting such a crap entry to what should be a fantastic new job. If I was Matt Smith I’d sue for getting nowhere near the kind of exit David Tennant had. I was just sitting there willing it to be over. Die and let’s see this new Doctor and then we can all go and watch Downton Abbey.

I’m gladder than ever that I watched the 50th shebang in November. It made me pleased to ‘be part of it.’ (So for the sake of clarity; I had nothing to do with the Christmas failure. Not the 50th either, obviously, but, you know…)

My in-house fan then showed me the Peter Davison half hour programme about the other former Doctors who – supposedly – weren’t part of the 50th show. That was terrific! I could happily watch it again.

Thankfully Doctor Who won’t be back for a while. They will need time to write something we will want to watch.

The Eccleston reign

Would fish fingers and chips – bunged in the oven – have made a difference, I wonder? I’ve been informed this is how mothers coped with Saturday dinners in the olden days of Doctor Who. Because it’s astonishing quite how many episodes I never watched as the Doctor returned to the home screens eight years ago.

I think I plonked Offspring down in front of the box to watch, because it was what you did. Generations of British children watched the Doctor and the Daleks from behind their sofas. I don’t think I really expected to watch. I had no proper upbringing that led me to want to do it. So I probably watched a couple of episodes to keep people company. And I caught glimpses of the Tardis and stuff as I dashed in and out of the room.

I have long been under the impression that I watched every other episode of season one. Now I know better. I didn’t. Not by a long shot. I ‘met’ Captain Jack Harkness only by hearing him talk soothingly to Rose, as she sailed across the London sky. I have a lot of weird, half-fake memories. Sat through the ‘are you my mummy’ episodes to keep Daughter calm. But they were creepy.

In fact, I didn’t care that Christopher Eccleston stopped Doctoring, because I simply didn’t know the man well enough to miss him. And he was followed by the lovely David Tennant, so was easily forgotten by me.

Luckily the lapses of yesteryear have been rectified. I have just watched every single episode of season one, up to and including the Christmas one where David Tennant mostly slept on the job. They were pretty good, on the whole. And I’m beginning to see why some fans moan these days. They really did write them better before. They just did.

Never mind who was the Doctor. It’s who wrote the script that matters.

The end of the miracle

Was it going to be the end of Torchwood? It was hard to decide until very close to the end of the last Miracle Day episode last night. Some people died. Others didn’t. And I did suspect that one of the ‘surprises’ in the last minutes was about to happen.

It’s been fun, and quite exciting, but it’s not been Torchwood as we know it. It was just that little bit (!) too American, but I guess that was unavoidable. It was only ever Gwen and her family and her devoted former colleague who carried the Welsh side of the affair.

Torchwood - Miracle Day

There was some unpleasant government behaviour, but I suppose not even Russell T Davies could have predicted how close to our present reality it would end up being. Not all episodes were written by the same people, and it shows. Some are a lot better than others.

The mole is suitably sinister in her trusted role, but most of the other baddies aren’t terribly bad. That was left to the politicians, who are real pros. I can’t help wondering if they sailed too close to WWII for some viewers. And what is it with gay sex scenes, now that their entertainment value has been ‘discovered’ and apparently cleared with the guardians of all that’s decent? I don’t mind, but it seems somewhat one-sided.

We can have more Torchwood. The question is, will we?

A tribute to Sarah Jane

The return of a new season of Doctor Who is all very well, but we were mostly thinking of Sarah Jane. The short tribute programme on CBBC after the first episode of Doctor Who had the witch family in tears. You sort of know you are sad that Elisabeth Sladen has died, but some things are better than others at bringing it home.

Elisabeth Sladen

Nice comments made by her recent, and some less recent, co-stars is only what you expect. Old clips from when she was the Doctor’s companion were interesting to me, but possibly more meaningful for all those, like David Tennant and Russell T Davies, for whom Lis was the companion.  There was Jo Grant who followed Sarah Jane as the Doctor’s companion.

Sarah Jane, Rani, Clyde and Luke

Good to see the civilian versions of Rani, Clyde and Luke. Daughter had somehow imagined Luke would be a brain-box in real life as well.

But it was some of the more recent clips that did for us, especially the one with David Tennant at the end.

(It’s about 1minute 30 seconds in that hankies are needed. You have been warned.)

Bye bye to the Tennanth Doctor

It was a better end than I had imagined. But it was still an end, and even the hardened witch felt a little upset at saying goodbye to David Tennant. So I can almost guess how Daughter felt. Almost. I had offered a very large hankie, but it had been declined.

The End of Time

David himself must have felt bad too, both at deciding to leave, and when filming the last part. Let’s hope he did the right thing.

Letting the Master be slightly less than totally evil seems to have satisfied Daughter. It didn’t bother me. But I was glad to see the last of quite so many Master faces. That grin could easily make a person go insane. So cactii is racist? Sorry, didn’t mean to be.

The Master

I was just about hoping they wouldn’t show Matt Smith in this episode, but I suppose if they’d left him out, it would have been harder still to break into the part. If we hadn’t been in mourning, he’d have been fine. I’m sure he was fine. Really.

They handled the Doctor’s goodbyes well. It sort of brought closure to things for all concerned. But Alonso? Honestly.

A master race

I thought of it first. Or rather, I thought of it before it was mentioned on Doctor Who this evening. So there.

The End of Time, Doctor Who

They really had to spice up the Master so that he could match the Doctor’s sticky-uppy hair, as Wilfred calls it. Blond will have to do. It at least made him look cooler, while he still managed the stark, raving mad quite nicely.

The End of Time, Doctor Who

Whereas Daughter enjoyed herself, Son was being quietly, or not so quietly, sarcastic about it all. Having two Lord Asriels in the one episode made up for things a little, however.

The cactii were charming, as cactii go. Wilfred continues to be lovely, and I have no idea how poor Donna is doing, except she’s less out of it than you’d think.

The End of Time, Doctor Who

And surely this was the saddest we’ve seen Doctor Tennant so far?

Sarah Jane all over the place, except possibly here

I’m really annoyed now, and that’s annoying, because it’s taking away some of the enjoyment of Sarah Jane. I thought when I blogged about the new season of Sarah Jane last week that I had finally grasped the how and the when BBC was doing things. But, oh no. Still got it wrong, and were it not for iPlayer we would have missed half of it.

So, it’s two episodes a week, Thursday and Friday, is it? Well, that could have been made clearer. A lot clearer. A lot earlier.

Daughter and I like to watch every other time; i.e. saving each ‘half’ episode to watch them together. To do this it helps to know not to miss the Friday second half. Even a half witted witch can smell aliens when the second half appears to be about something totally different.

Tip to the BBC – now you can change your broadcasting pattern, to make us miss Sarah Jane in some other way.

I could do without the lengthy and rather OTT start to each episode, however. Dear Clyde is sweet, but he is no James Bond, and for people who watch every episode of Sarah Jane (however hard that is proving to be) it gets – well -repetitive in the extreme.

Nigel Havers and Elisabeth Sladen

On the other hand, having both David Tennant and Nigel Havers at once is quite something. So I’m in a sufficiently good mood after Sarah Jane’s sad love affair to be slightly less annoyed. (Not forgiving anyone, though!) I was so hoping Nigel Havers would turn out to be good (=the opposite of evil), because I do quite like him. I was about to say despite him being blonde, but he looked pretty dark/grey this week. Was he a fake blonde, back when?

Sarah Jane's attic and the Tardis

In a way it’s really annoying that even a witch not under the spell of David Tennant goes all gooey at the edges when the good Doctor shows up, and on the wrong show. Oh, well, I’m all for people appearing in related programmes. The more the merrier.

Sarah Jane, the third season

Sarah Jane has a new hairstyle. I’ll have to think about that, before deciding if it’s good news or not. Good news is that Sarah Jane is back. ‘How back’ is another question. We discovered it was on last week, but on closer inspection it seems to have been the third episode this week, so who knows?

Maybe he does. I have a vague idea that Doctor Who will pop up some time, and sooner rather than later will be fine.

I’d really like it if the BBC could make a little more noise when their children’s programmes are on. I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again a few times. Unless people read the small print of afternoon television every day, we’ll just miss our programmes. After a look at the website, I think each episode is on about six times in a week, but it’s not totally clear, so I may be wrong. I’m old, so that’s quite likely.

Watching the first two episodes back-to-back yesterday, I decided that Sarah Jane has a lot in common with NCIS. Both are ignored by television reviewers most of the time, although maybe they don’t sneer quite so much at Sarah Jane. That will be because it’s our national treasure, Russell T Davies, who’s involved. And he, like Shane Brennan in California, knows how to write good scripts.

That’s why this adult must watch. I have given up on most other children’s programmes, mainly due to lack of time, but Sarah Jane is a must.

I suppose the hair was OK.

Torchwood – The End

Can’t possibly do this without spoilers, so please go away if you don’t want them. And come back later, of course.

The slight problem of having exiled myself on the morning after Torchwood episode one, means it took a while to lay hands on the full week of Torchwood, and even longer to watch it. So I don’t know if it makes sense to discuss it here and now?

After the slightly disbelieving gasps over on Facebook as the drama unravelled, and the comments on here soon after, I didn’t know what to think. But now that we’ve seen The End, I feel that not only did I have fewer expectations about anything at all, but also knowing that others were distressed, I wasn’t. I was prepared, and I’m sure that helped. And to be honest, I don’t mind if there is no more Torchwood. It’s been good and I’ve enjoyed it, but I’ll be happy to see more of Russell T Davies’s work elsewhere, and I’m pretty sure John Barrowman will pop up again. He’s the popping up kind.

And Mary Hoffman, thank you for thinking of Daughter. This was no Coraline, however. All the horror was sort of real, rather than spooky. So Daughter is sad that there most likely won’t be more Torchwood, but a David Tennant-less Doctor Who is far worse.

I think the upset was to do with Torchwood being immoral, this time round. Yes, the plot was not exactly nice. But it’s fiction, and it was well written fiction. Yes, it did spell the end for Torchwood and most of the characters, but better end now than get boring.

Am I alone in not being surprised at the idea the Government would behave this immorally? I’m a cynic and a pessimist, and I expect the worst most of the time. And Captain Jack’s behaviour? Hmm. Never nice to find feet of clay, but it was a clever way of making us happier to see the last of him, seeing he can’t be killed off too easily. The presence of the grandson should be an early indication that he had a purpose.

For the rest, I feel most of the characters behaved very morally, sooner or later. The sight of Gwen and all the others running for cover with the children, against all hope, was very encouraging, as was the usefulness of the Welsh hooligans for stealing cars and standing in front of the soldiers. The very type of people the PM felt we’d be better off without.

So, I’m afraid I liked it.

John Barrowman

I’m really very surprised to be sitting here writing about John Barrowman. I have quite liked his Captain Jack, but without becoming a fan. But just as you inherit insanity from your children, a little bit of fascination can rub off when you’re subjected to John Barrowman this and John Barrowman that. Often. I even put his album on the iPod, and I enjoy some of the tracks. (But he’s no Roger Whittaker, I can tell you.) I volunteered to go to his concert in Manchester in the spring, and it was surprisingly good. I’m still trying to make sense of all the female fans over a certain age, who scream when they see him. Why, ladies?

Where was I? Oh yes, John Barrowman in Cheltenham. We almost overdosed on John on Sunday, sitting through both his sessions. The one with Russell T Davies I got out of the way yesterday, so let’s concentrate on the other one here. The one with his sister Carole. They were in Cheltenham to talk about John’s autobiography Anything Goes, which Carole wrote with him.

John and Carole Barrowman

Having just read Anything Goes, it’s quite interesting to see John’s route to Doctor Who. I probably have less patience with the showbiz stuff, because it’s not my scene, but the growing up and living and working in two countries I find fascinating. And it can be fun to look into people’s private lives, up to a point.

With my interest in languages, and having had to change accents myself, I really like the way the Barrowman siblings can switch between Scottish and American. They call themselves bidialectical, which is a good made up word. They had some problems with it on Sunday as they speak Scottish with each other, but American with others. So, what do you speak when you’re on stage talking both to your sibling and to the interviewer and the audience? And then there are the things you can only say in one accent.

There’s the Glaswegian sense of humour, too, which thankfully has not been removed by the American Midwest. Carole and John behave much as brothers and sisters do, with friendly arguing and lots of laughs. It appears there was very little to shock Carole when writing the book and discussing her brother’s life with him, although on occasion they had to stop and say “eugh” in unison, before continuing.

John Barrowman, signing

They related a supposedly true account of the night before Cheltenham, when John seemed to think he was having a heart attack in the early hours of the morning, while Carole assumed the shouts and moans originated from something entirely different, and felt the need to inform John that his walls are too thin. It made for good entertainment when retold, but maybe John should see a doctor? The GP variety.

(Photos by H Giles)