Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Ten Worst Ideas in Doctor Who

So Matt Smith is the eleventh Doctor, and already the internet has not only exploded, but imploded with bitching about how he is too young, too pretty / ugly, not David Tennant, etc etc. People who have kids have reported them running upstairs crying, nerds on the internet have proclaimed Doctor Who is ruined forever, and Satan has popped out of hell, said "Cor, its a bit hot up here luv" and vanished again.
But lets get this into perspective. We've not seen Matt as the Doctor and that will be the deal breaker. Heck, I thought exactly the same about David Tennant when he got the role, that he was a nobody who wouldn't be able to hold up to the greatness of Eccleston, and now he's become my favourite Doctor ever. I'm sure there was even worse grousing when Sylvester McCoy was cast, and he turned out fantastic! Doctor Who is pretty hard to ruin forever. Sydney Newman, the creator said that he didn't want any 'bug eyed monsters' in the show since that would ruin it, and the very second story featured the Daleks. We all know how that turned out!

So the jury's still out. As I always say, the proof is in the pudding, and I am waiting with my bib and spoon out. As long as Matt gets a scarf to cover his freakishly long neck, I'll be happy. And it could so easily be worse. The night before he was cast I had a dream that it was him playing the next Doctor, but that his companions would be four robot children! Below are the ten worst things that has ever happened in Doctor Who that still failed to 'ruin the programme forever'.

10 - I Am A Human Dalek!
A bit of a cheat, this one. In retrospect, having Dalek Sec turn into a human Dalek at the end of Daleks of Manhattan wasn't the worst thing ever. But at the time when he came out of his shell with his Brooklyn accent, suit and penis-head stating "I am a human Dalek", you could hear a collective groan across the whole of Britain. I think most of us were rooting for the Daleks in that episode, to kill the horrific abomination that was Dalek Sec and ensure he wasn't the future of the Dalek species.

He had his uses though. I bought a friend a 12 inch Dalek Sec doll for Christmas, and apparently he lost the power of speech for a good half hour after unwrapping it.

9 - Gollum Doctor
Hopes were really high for the season 3 finale of the new show. A new Master, the fantastic John Simm. His incredible performance opposite David Tennant in the first part. So what did they do? The production team get seduced by special effects and have the Doctor turned into Gollum for most of the last part.

Don't get me wrong, it was still great but just showed so much crushingly wasted potential. Simm and Tennant sparkled next to each other, every scene with them in was incredible and to see the Doctor pretty much removed from the episode was a gigantic disappointment. To have him turn into a strange little monster-man was even worse. It shows even the best can make a misstep sometimes.

8 - The Whomobile
I'm not knocking Jon Pertwee here, he was a fantastic Doctor. But he was also a bit crazy, and at home in his garden shed, he built a really weird hovercraft-like vehicle he called 'The Whomobile'. After nagging the production team, it appeared in the show in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" and "Planet of the Spiders". In Planet of the Spiders, it could fly though due to some awful studio lighting or something in the shots where it flies it turns from silver to gold.

Its nice to have futuristic things, it really is, but the Whomobile was just one step too far into self-indulgent ridiculousness. But bless Jon Pertwee for it, he was keen. One rumour states that he wanted to be buried in it but sadly he just got a coffin without tailfins...

7 - I'm Half Human - On My Mother's Side
Philip Segal did a lot to try to bring back Doctor Who in the 90s, spearheading the ill-fated TV Movie of '96. It was so close to getting a new series too but ultimately lost out by falling short of something like 0.3 million viewers of the 'dealbreaker' audience figures, and of course the BBC didn't have enough faith in their own product at the time to invest solely to make it themselves.

But his one crime, his one stupid, stupid swerve was his insistence that the Doctor was half-human. Every single draft of all the versions of the movie include this plot point to satisfy this (apparently we are unable to identify as an audience with an alien, like we had been for the last 30 years). There was absolutely no reason to include this apart from to make the viewing public sit up and go "What" and suddenly every other line in the show was "Hey I'm half human". I'm not aware of anyone who actually liked this revelation, or has shed tears that it was resigned to the dust-bin of history.
It didn't help that the plot tried to revolve around this and was just nonsensical (stuff happens, the Doctor presses a button, the day is saved). Thankfully it hasn't been touched on since, and even denied in the new series, but goes to show that an attempt to add in strange fan-theories should never come in front of writing a decent story.

6 - Kamelion
Once more the Doctor Who production team were seduced into including a bizarre gadget in the show - this time the robot Kamelion. He was to become a new companion for the Fifth Doctor, and was introduced in the story The King's Demons where he helped the Master in a truely strange plan to stop the Magna Carta being signed. Unfortunately the man who built and operated it then promptly died in a boating accident, taking with him the only knowledge of how it actually worked.

Despite being introduced as a new companion, with no-one knowing how this robot functioned properly, he was then promptly ignored and conveniently forgotten about. In Frontios, when the Tardis explodes, no-one even wonders what happened to poor Kamelion! He then returned in the story Planet of Fire, begging the Doctor to kill him, which the Doctor happily obliged. The moral here is for the love of god write stuff down before getting killed.

5 - Insane New Doctor
So you've cast a new, sixth Doctor, you've made the clever move of having the first story of this new Doctor as the season finale to make the audience get used to him. So why, why would you then write this story to feature the new Doctor being mean, violent, insane, trying to strangle his companion and generally being berserk? First impressions count!

The idea was a nice one, have the Doctor undergo some personal trauma after his regeneration. But even though at the end of The Twin Dilemma he was back to 'normal', the impression most viewers (and writers, it seems!) took from it was that the sixth Doctor was barking mad. It didn't help that the story itself was a bit crap - the main villain was a man in a slug costume, and the actors playing the twins of the title were less realistic than the slug. It had some really great moving parts at the end, but it wasn't enough to save the story, let alone poor Colin Baker.

4 - Dimensions In Time
"Pickled in time like gherkins in a jar!"  Doctor Who had been gone for a few years, and in 1993 fans were hoping that the Children in Need special, Dimensions in Time would respark the show. There was an absolutely huge wave of publicity put into it, anticipation built... and we got probably the worst fifteen minutes of television I've ever seen. And I watch a lot of bad tv.

Perhaps they tried to do too much? It not only featured 3-D but also every Doctor still living (and hideous wax sculptures of the first two), nearly every companion and monster AND was set at the location of the BBC soap Eastenders in three time zones. All in 15 minutes of drug-induced insanity.

The Rani is living in the Queen Vic pub which is her Tardis, monsters wander about the stalls in Albert Square, and apparently flares are back in fashion in 2013. All the actors stumble about having no idea what was going on, and really neither did the audience (The Doctors don't even all meet up - a crime!).

Mostly it was that it was utter garbage. The plot is incomprehensible (the Doctors and companions keep vanishing and appearing as different people in different times because the Rani did a fee-bibbly-dee or something). I dare you to watch it and tell me the plot. And I'll even make it easy by providing youtube links. Aren't I cruel!
Part One
Part Two


3 - Cancellation Crisis
Like an abusive stepfather, BBC 1 controller Michael Grade hated Doctor Who. Despite the show clocking in audience figures of around 7-9 million regularly, he decided it should be cancelled. The first attempt, taking it off the air in the middle of Colin Baker's run caused public outcry, and this was changed to an 18 month hiatus. The show never really recovered from this though, especially when upon its return, the budget was slashed in half and it was put opposite ITV's most popular show, Coronation Street.

If Michael Grade's attempt at drowning the popular, healthy child that was Doctor Who was not bad enough, this period also spawned the horrific song Doctor In Distress. Masterminded by Take That producer and fan Ian Levine, the song included such Z-list celebrities as some of the band Bucks Fizz, show actors like Colin Baker (who described it as one of the worst decisions he had made), and music by Hans Zimmer of all people! The original plan was for the money to go to a fund to sue the BBC to bring back Doctor Who but when that was found to be impossible, it went to a cancer charity. Or would have, if it made any money (it didn't). The single included such wonderful lines as "Each screaming girl just hoped that a Yeti wouldn't shoot 'er" and indeed caused great distress to anyone who heard it and its xylophone plinking.

2 - Bonnie Langford
All I can say to the casting of the cheepy, chirpy, annoying Bonnie Langford as a companion was "OH COME ON!" Really, at this point it was like the production team were trying to murder the show by putting one of the most gut-crunchingly awful actresses ever in the role. I make no apologies, she was that bad and worse. Totally irredeemable.

1 - Colin Baker's Costume
I like Colin Baker. There, I said it. Its cool to bash him but really he was a fantastically powerful actor. He comes across brilliantly on tv, stage and radio so what went wrong? First and foremost in my mind it was because the production team sat down and said "Hmm what makes you think of a mysterious traveller in time and space - that's it, a clown costume".

Upon getting the role, Colin Baker wanted to wear black, but he was instead forced into this garish monstrosity that followed him about for three years and made it next to impossible to take the series seriously. I refuse to believe that senior members of a television company, that had been making popular shows for years all decided that this was a good idea and would definitely work. But still, not even that ruined the show forever. If only Colin Baker got another chance to prove himself, he really could have been one of the best. Poor guy.

28 comments:

  1. As our humble host probably knows, what with being the author of the legendary JAam comic.

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  2. The plot for Dimensions in Time.

    Actually its fairly simple:- The Rani happens upon a plan to control the universe by kidnapping an example of every intelligent race and store a copy of its brain in a massive computer. To keep the Doctor busy she traps his different selves in a funky time-loop thing. The first two (and fourth, to a lesser extent) get trapped in the outer edges of the loop and are helpless.
    Luckily a side effect of the wacky Time-Loop is that the companions switch identities. When the Rani catches and copies what she thinks is a human the assistant changes into Romana II. Two Time lord brains (including one Rani already had kidnapped) causes an overload (thanks to the Doctor who at last does something) and they all go home again.

    The absolute worse thing about the whole mess is I didn't have to re-watch the damn thing. I remembered it.

    Oh and the thing that REALLY almost killed Doctor Who was JNT, personally responsible for four (five if you count the fact he hung on to the post of show runner for dear life as the ratings went down the pan) of the ten points above and for kicking Tom Baker out of the role.

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  3. I thought he was usually known as "Dobby Doctor"?

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  4. Perhaps, but I am trailblazing my own insane way!

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  5. 1) human Dalek-bad idea
    2) Gollum Doctor- one of russell's major faults
    3) The Whomobile- wasn't that bad, good for publicity, but it shouldn't have featured in Planet of the spiders.
    4) Half Human- What you said is so true
    5) Kamelion- feel sorry for him
    6) Insane new doctor- same as no.4
    7) Dimensions in time- no wonder it was so rubbish it was co written by JNT
    8) Doctor in Distress- disgrace to all who, no wonder they didn't back down on the hiatus
    9) Bonnie Langford- should have been a monster, not a companion.
    10) Colin Baker- lets go to the circus

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  6. [...] The Ten Worst Ideas in Doctor Who Redshirt co uk Posted by root 1 hour 32 minutes ago (http://www.redshirt.co.uk) Jan 4 2009 after nagging the production team it appeared in the show in invasion of the dinosaurs and planet of the spiders he comes across brilliantly on tv stage and radio so what went wrong leave a comment name required powered by wordpress middot word Discuss  |  Bury |  News | The Ten Worst Ideas in Doctor Who Redshirt co uk [...]

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  7. Colin baker should be taken off this list. his costume was the best part of doctor who at the time. but i do agree on the 'doctor in distress' thing. they should have threatened to play the song over and over again on all the TV and radio channels until they brought it back. that'd work.

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  8. Oh yeah, you forgot to add these notorious blunders too:

    The Absorbaloff monster from Love and Monsters--really tacky addition to a good story (the pavement slab was also unnecessary)

    The Myrka from Warriors of the Deep--it's just a green pantomine horse. Poor Peter Davison. He always got saddled with the worst monsters (hello, Garm, Mara, etc.)

    The infamous Kandy Man--I actually like the Happiness patrol but the Kandy Man was a bit too much. No wonder it was always used to represent Doctor Who's downfall.

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  9. The American Master--okay, Eric Roberts is actually a good actor, but he was clearly miscast as the Master. A Master who dresses like the Terminator and talks like he's from the Bay doesn't do it for me. The worst Master of all time.

    The Creature from the Pit--a friend actually thought the monster was designed by somebody with a complex. I take his word for it. How many innuendo jokes have propped up from that monster? When Tom Baker speaks to it, it looks like he's giving it a blowjob! Not the best design in Doctor Who history.

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  10. All I can say is I laughed my ass off until I cried reading this article. Great job! Thank you for the comic relief.

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  11. In addition, I nickname the American Master the Masterater because he dresses up like the Terminator (which does sound like somebody who polishes their wand, if you know what I mean).

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  12. Thomas: JNT did not kick Tom Baker off Doctor Who. Tom Baker left on his own. And it's was well past time. IMHO Tom Baker's long run damaged the show as it let things get too static. Change is the one constant in Doctor Who, and a lot of fans forgot that in the T. Baker era.

    As far as Colin Baker goes, I utterly agree. And incidentally, he did get a second chance that doesn't involve the coat. He's done some excellent work in the Big Finish Audios. Try The Marian Conspiracy to see what Colin Baker can do with decent writing and a Companion that actually suits his Doctor. Evelyn rocks!

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  13. @Ivriniel. Actually... I once went to a convention (in Birmingham, sometime in the mid-nineties. Can't remember which one.) Anthony Ainley was there, clearly keen on putting the boot well into JNT (for whatever reason). During his panel he said 'you know, Nathan once came up to me and whispered in my ear - he had a very poisonous way of whispering in your ear - 'Tom didn't leave. I sacked him.'' There was a shocked silence and we waited for this to be picked up on, but the interviewer (whom I believe was Gary Russell, but I could be wrong) frustratingly and all-to-obviously changed the subject. Still, he did follow it up with further invective about Mark of the Rani ('Nathan told me I was getting a companion. Then I got the script and I found out I was the companion.') And I had the bonus of getting into the lift with him and Nicholas Courtney, and he was roundly slandering JNT even more. Those were the days.

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  14. I agree. If the new series of dr. who even mentioned that he was half human I would have of thrown my remote at the screen.

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  15. I actually think that Colin Baker was a great doctor and enjoyed his stories. However, having recently watched some Sylvester ones, I have to say it is pretty evident that the BBC had given up. The McCoy stories are acted and written (please watch Paradise Towers and the ANNOYING kangs for bad writing) as though they were intended for screening as part of CBBC. The only story of McCoy that is any good is REMEBERANCE OF THE DALEKS and I think that is only because it is a Dalek story. I also feel very sorry for Colin and Sylvester having BONNIE LANGFORD! She sounds like a child all the time and is just downright annoying. If I had been the doctor, I'd have taken her to the top of Paradise towers and hurled her off! I am currently watching episodes with Jon Pertwee in on the web and have to say I really like his doctor. In fact, if I am honest, I have liked all the doctors, I have found something in them all to like and quite enjoy the different portrayals. McCoy was okay as a doctor but I don't think he was helped by such crap scripts. I am sure most DR Who fans have their favourite doctor, mine is Tom baker without a doubt. I just love his wit.

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  16. The new multi-coloured and puffed up daleks from Victory of the Daleks are not on this list? Why?

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  17. knightmare the series1 September 2010 at 19:19

    yeah think you could be right about the list but i hate the 11th doctor think hes all wrong just like that green bobble wrap thinging tom baker was running from in a episode i watch the first episode of the new doctor then that was it hes too young . he talks and looks like a disabled sea devil something about him that doesnt fit. the new doctor who should have be a shakespearen actor like you dont need the The Brain of Morbius to know who would be a good doctor like tom baker or william hurt or Jon Pertwee if only the bbc would splash out the money and get a actor t0 play doctor who like patrick stewart or that bram stokers dracula fella gary oldman or Ian Mckellen

    but
    doctor in distress the song its what the The Klingons would say {baktag} which means Garbage or Shit but thats a diffrenet show the song would probley been ok if they got the thompson twins to sing it change the lyrics round like this and put put Oh, Doctor, doctor, can't you see I'm burning, burning / Oh, Doctor, doctor, is this love please dont let Yeti take my love away she cant shoot us any more oh oh oh oh

    well if anyone is intrested here the doctor in distress the real version

    everyone all together

    18 months is too long to wait
    Bring back the Doctor don't hesitate
    It was a cold wet night in November
    22 years ago
    There was a policebox in a junkyard
    We didnt know where it would go
    An old man took two teachers
    into time and space
    it started all the legends
    that no other could replace
    Doctor in distress
    lets all answer his SOS
    doctor in distress
    bring him back now we wont take less
    whos the doctor over there
    there were evil metal creatures
    trying to EXTERMINATE!!!
    inside of their casing
    was a bubbling lump of hate
    he met cybernetic humans
    with no feelings at all
    warriors of the ice
    who stood over seven feet tall
    doctor in distress
    lets all answer his sos
    doctor in distress
    bring him back now we wont take less
    bring him back now we wont take less
    if we stop his travels, he'll be in a mess
    the galaxy will fall to evil once more
    With nightmarish monsters fighting a war
    doctor in distress
    bring him back now we wont take less
    no no no no nooooooo no-o-ooooo
    we've learned to accept six doctors
    with companions at their side
    when they were faced with danger
    they didnt run, they didnt hide
    with the brigadier and the master
    Ha,ha,ha,haha, , and a canine computer
    Each screaming girl just hoped that a Yeti wouldn't shoot her
    doctor in distress
    lets all answer his sos
    doctor in distress
    bring him back now we wont take less
    doctor in distress
    lets all answer his sos
    Doctor In Distress let's all answer his SOS
    Doctor In Distress bring him back now we won't take less

    for anyone who secretly wants to watch the music video behind close doors
    here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1yW8FrrXAA
    we all
    have secerts in life there are people who love Bonnie Langford and have a full blown cupboard size picture of her am a ace man myself but shes probley 60 now
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  18. you had me at "penis-head" lol

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  19. The Gollum-Doctor is pure art compared to the Tinkerbell-Jesus-Doctor that saves the day in that one. But if this list were to include any of the show's deus ex machinas, it would have to be longer than ten items…

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  20. So what if the Doctor wears a clown costume? He's the Doctor for crying out loud! He's not supposed to be normal - and that's why his costume is like that.

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  21. Oh, yeah, and I also think that Series 5 and 6 was a mistake, too. I had to watch the first two episodes of Series 6 twice just to get a vague idea of what was going on.

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  24. gollum doctor = worst idea ever
    collin baker's outift = stupid childish immature clown suit

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  25. Tom Baker's entire run was excellent in my view. I think he should have stayed for two or three more seasons. Number 1 on this list should be: The hiring of John Nathan-Turner as producer of "Doctor Who". He made way too many changes(not for the better!)and ruined the show with style over substance and lousy scripts! Let's be completely honest here. "Doctor Who" really died in 1981 when Tom Baker left. From then on, the Doctor was miscast and the writing stunk for the large part. I've watched "Doctor Who" up til now(including the modern series) and I've never had as much fun and enjoyment watching the show as I had with Tom Baker as the Doctor. Even his later years were entertaining and memorable in some aspects. After he left, the show was never the same. The reasons are numerous.

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  26. I watched Dimensions in Time, or at least tried to. But at 5:01, I stopped and had to just giggle and say: It's SUSAN! Suuuuusan! hehehe! SUuuuuuUUUUuuuusan!!

    Wonder who my favorite companion is...

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  27. Your top ten worst are great. Although the part about the Whomobile needs to be broader. Planet of the Dinosaurs really was pretty bad. Of course everyone who watched the old show also knows the gunfight at the OK Corral one with the first Doctor is the worst episode ever.

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