31 May 2013

I Hate [THAT BASTARD] Show Runner

First, I don't wish to offend anyone. Second, I'd like to try an experiment, so bear with me. Below are various quotes about different Doctor Who show runners/writers. All of the quotes have been anonymized and terminology updated to the present. See if you recognize any of the quotes said about [THAT BASTARD] you love.

Some Views of Showrunner: [THAT BASTARD]

Right now, I think [THAT BASTARD] is presiding over the weakest period of Doctor Who. He has a limited grasp of storytelling, and his casting is suspect. Sometimes his decisions and priorities seemed misplaced. He seems to be clueless about what makes a good director. I’m not a big fan of [THAT BASTARD] as a showrunner. While his enthusiasm is keeping the show going, I find his vision of Doctor Who to be the worst of the series.

The second area of disappointment I felt while watching this story was how uneven it was. [THAT BASTARD] opened the season with a magnificent story. The characters were fun, the story was intriguing, and it was truly an example of everything [THAT BASTARD] (and by extension, Doctor Who) does so well. [THAT CRAPPY STORY], also by [THAT BASTARD], lacks everything that [THE OTHER STORY] had. The characters seemed underdeveloped. The pace is uneven. I almost wonder if [THAT BASTARD] even cared.

You don’t need to overtly contradict anything seen on screen to get to the desired goal of [SOME BIG EVENT]. Which makes the scale of ’s retcon stick out oddly. Why retcon, essentially, the entirety of Doctor Who by rendering it all unreliable narration?

And My favorite

With hindsight, [THAT CRAPPY STORY] was a mixed-up product of some very uncertain and transitional times for the show, and it would have been a miracle if it had turned out any better. It could have conceivably been a lot worse.

See, 50 Years of Hate

Can any of you pick out who these quotes are talking about? Is it Steven Moffat, Russell T. Davies, Terrance Dicks, John Nathan-Turner, Robert Holmes? No, you probably can't unless you know the exact quote. This is the problem. People think this barrage of compliants is new to the new series when, in fact, it's been going on since the early days—look hard enough and you'll find them all the way back to Hartnell. Doctor Who has never satisfied everyone. There have always been people who have a problem with an actor, don't like a particular story, or feel that the person is charge has ruined the show. Its natural when you have a show so loved by that many people.

I'm not going to tag which comments were directed at which writer—just know that most producers/writers are universally loved [or hated].Goes with the territory of Doctor Who. And it's no different with other show runners such as J.J. Abrams, Ron Moore, or Joss Whedon. Each one of these people has felt the brunt of the fans when they did something the fans didn't like.

But Who Is Who

It doesn't matter which quotes were about which show runner. During every time period there is a set of unhappy fans. Nobody can please everybody—so you should learn to just go with the flow and ignore those who think different.

There's a concern that all the negative talk about the hate directed at Steven Moffat is damaging the show. And that might be true. But from all accounts, this is not a new thing. A bit of research into the 1980s finds more hate articles about John Nathan-Turner [JN-T] than you thought possible. And this was before the Internet.The fans decried that JN-T was going to be the death of the show. Well, it was the death of the show but for entirely other reasons than bad management. It was due to Michael Grade hating the show. And if the head of the corporation hates your show, there's no saving it.

And it wasn't just JN-T. There was disagreement about the direction of the show ever since the 1960s. During Hartnell's third season, many people had thought it had run its course. Nothing could save the show from cancellation, not even the Daleks. There were even people who thought bringing in Patrick Troughton to replace William Hartnell was a daft idea. How could he compare to Hartnell.

The Pertwee years are a good example of a love/hate relationship. Fans complained about those dreadful six and seven parters from the Barry Letts/Terrance Dicks years. But they were they for a reason—and yes, that reason was budget. If they could stretch the budget over longer stories, they would have more to spend on each separate story. Love them or hate them, they did it to bring the show home on time and on budget. I am not the biggest fan of the Pertwee years. I found it weak, not due to the quaility of the stories or acting, but how it lost one of its prime attributes—traveling through space and time.

So this is nothing new, it's always been the way of the disenchanted. They complain and they do it loudly. What is different is fans now have more access to getting their words out to other people. Had there been an Internet back in the 70s, there would have been many complaints about stranding the Doctor on Earth and how you lose count of the people who hated the U.N.I.T. Stories.

I love the early Tom Baker stories but don't care for the later years. After the brouhaha of The Deadly Assassin—that cliffhanger Mary Whitehouse hated—the program took a considerably lighter and comedic turn. Since I had started out with the high gothic era of Hinchcliffe and Holmes, the change was nothing less than shocking.

This is the prime example of public outcry changing the course of a TV show. Just tell me you can't see the different between The Talons of Weng-Chiang and The Creature in the Pit

So What Have We Learned

No matter who is in charge or who is playing the Doctor, there will always be detractors. Listen to the David Tennant fans saying they can't watch the show with Matt Smith in the part. Or how great the show was under RTD and Moffat didn't make it into a fairy Tale, he made it into a Nightmare. And going back to classic there's always Dennis Spooner's comedic romps for Hartnell—The grisly overdone horror from Hinchcliffe and Holmes—JN-T's lack of every having written a story and telling writers what to write—Eric Saward's inability to peg down a plot line with any reasonable continuity... And on and on and on...

And on some more

So it's been like this for nearly 50 years. And our current show runner seems to have some small problems with plot holes. But is that going to ruin the show? Probably not. When the new person finally takes over, the show may be hurting. But it's greatest ability is to reinvent itself and rise from the ashes, to become something none of us has thought it could be. So we can but wonder what direction the show will take in a year or two...

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