Sunday, 9 October 2011

Doctor Who in The Observer

The Guardian website has posted an article from today's News Review section of The Observer, that asks "Is time up for Doctor Who?" Helen Lewis-Hasteley opens the debate (here) with this excellent point: with Who "..the BBC have more than a TV show, they have a national institution." So why split season six and move it around the schedules? And the next series looks set to be spread over 2012/13 "like some failed American import." She also praises the coup in commissioning Neil Gaiman's script, then confronting him with the typical budget restrictions that meant employing a "recycled Ood"!

Fortunately, unlike the BBC's treatment of Doctor Who in the late 1980's, the Corporation now embraces the programme (albeit as one of their most lucrative exports), and as Steven Moffat is keen to reiterate, his show is safe. But did the perceived rift between our dear Showrunner, and BBC1 controller Danny Cohen, lead to the former's tweet that (his other vehicle) Sherlock didn't in fact affect "the scheduling of Dr Who." We shall see. The issue of the channel's inconsistent time-slot still remains though, which I believe has resulted in a ratings decrease (NOT slump, Daily Mail sheep) this year. And after the recent axing of sister show, Confidential, the fall-out from the BBC's cuts will be very telling too.

Andrew Harrison then argues that this flagship series has "regenerated.. family viewing" and deserves a full and proper season for it's 50th anniversary year. His positive analysis of this year's ratings, and the show's success on iPlayer, are "figures that TV executives dream of."

The writers also discuss the complaint that under Moffat, the programme is "too complicated for kids"; whether today's 45-minute episodes only have room for "bad characterisation"; and if these stories stand-up to repeated viewing like Harrison's favourite, City of Death. He prefers to think of Who as "a kids' show - one that adults love because they can share it with their own children, and with the part of themselves that is still a child." Harrison defends the healthy scares (like Cyber-conversion). They are "an essential part of a rounded upbringing." Helen however, regards the recent series more as "a grown-up drama" and "love[s] the fact that Doctor Who fans feel so possessive about the show." Harrison replies that "no sane person can sincerely love every aspect of " our show since it is now "so ridiculously diverse" akin to super-group Queen!

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