Russell T Davies bows out of Doctor Who
Abzorbaloff creator waddles off into sunset
Russell T Davies is stepping down from his executive producer and lead writer role on the BBC's pride and joy Doctor Who, no doubt to a mixed chorus of grateful cheers and sardonic smirks.
According to the Beeb, Davies - dubbed "spectacularly talented" by BBC Fiction controller Jane Tranter - will remove himself after a Gatesian long goodbye. He'll be overseeing four Who specials next year, before at last handing over to Bafta award-winning colleague Steven Moffat.
Davies can indeed be celebrated for dusting off the venerable early-evening drama in 2005, and brilliantly reinvigorating it for new audiences in a way few could have thought possible. He sealed the deal with a raft of nifty production moves, including the controversial casting of Christopher Eccleston as the first new Doctor.
However, in his role as lead writer he all but squandered the heaps of goodwill he amassed through these strokes of genius by tossing off some of the sloppiest, most fan-enraging episodes of this or any BBC drama. A nadir was reached with the execrable Love and Monsters, which bafflingly cast Peter Kay as a great big fat bad unfunny thing. And the less said about his hubris-laden ooh-naughty-rude-words-and-sexy-stuff spin-off caper Torchwood, the better.
Moffat, responsible for the likes of the much-lauded and authentically shit-scary Blink episode, will be in the Tardis hotseat* for the fifth series in the spring of 2010. We'll be interested to see what Davies does next, but if he takes up a pen with renewed vigour, we may have to hide behind the sofa. And not in the good way. ®
*Anyone who can tell us how many seats the Tardis has, along with their approximate dimensions and the name of the designer, will win a small alien made out of blubber.
The crux of the matter
Dr Who has suffered from the fact that RTD does not understand the difference between science fiction and science fantasy. Science fiction is imaginative but tries to stay logical; it may extend science, but it never should really contradict it. Science fantasy on the other hand keeps the appearance, language and trappings of science but throws logic away and replaces it with inconsistent make-believe. It is a shoddy second cousin to real science fiction.
The Doctor on a rooftop, hit with a massive lightning strike? No problem, not a scorch. Why wasn't he vaporized? You see, he's an alien, that explains it away. Doctor frozen cryogenically but he doesn't shatter? No problem. He's alien, his molecules don't have to follow the laws of physics. A human transformed into an Ood through his daily beverage? No genetic problem there! The Doctor's hand gets cut off, and a new one just pops back out in a twinkling! Well, we don't have to be logical here, we're producing for 12 year olds, it seems. Nothing wrong with cringe-worthy pseudoscience! If something's impossible, let's resort to alien technology, or as we sometimes call it, 'magic'. But certainly not science. Fantasy, not SF.
In the RTD formula, glossy special effects too are a panacea that trumps logic. Dug yourself into a plot hole? No problem, sonic screwdriver as deus ex machina.
Goodbye, RTD. Perhaps the viewers can stop cringing now.
Dr Who. Well....
I think it went downhill when William Hartnell left. Bill Frasier wasn't half as good a sergeant-major. Whoops! wrong programme.
Strangely, Dr Who (William Hartnell) was the kids' grandfather in the original, so he must have had children before his daughter turned up in this series..
"There was also an exceptionally dire "alien invasion" mini-series (from the 1990's, I think). It started off with an alien craft being shot down by the RAF and ended with a giant, pulsating, mutant blob being nuked in the Scottish highlands. Can't recall the name but it was *truly* awful."
I remember that - $DEITY, I wish I didn't - and it was a bowl of dicks from beginning to end. Also the female lead looked like a hamster.