Revisiting Doctor Who: Partners in Crime

Imposing arbitrary limits on your own writing can be fun. Here’s an example, from a 2008 review of Doctor Who

Writing a review for Merrily We Roll Along in reverse (to match the narrative technique of the musical) earlier today was fun, even if I don’t think it really came off as well as it did in my head on the way home last night.

It was fun to try, though. Every so often, it’s useful to impose a strange limit on yourself as a way of shaking up how you write.

As an example, back in 2008 I reviewed the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, Partners in Crime. The episode saw Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, previously seen in Christmas special The Runaway Bride, rejoin the Doctor. A seemingly throwaway line about bees disappearing (a sci-fi spin on a real world problem) would turn out to have a greater significance nearer the end of the series. At the time, though, it spurred me to write the review using only 25 letters of the alphabet. And yes, that did mean that mention of Bernard Cribbins by name was out…

Originally published on The Stage’s website, it’s reproduced here in full.

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This is the end, but was the moment prepared for?

A couple of weeks ago, in the regular list of [notable radio programmes](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/2009/07/turn-off-the-tv-radio-picks-july-18-24/) I prepare each week, I plugged Radio 2’s relay of a recent live performance of **[Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds](http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lqpl7)**. That mention spurred me to listen once more to the album. This prog rock opera contains some of the most well-known riffs and melodies, but what really makes it is Richard Burton’s narration — and even more so, HG Wells’ original story.

It’s not for nothing that the original novel has become known as one of the greatest in the history of science fiction literature. It has a real sense of terror occurring in the most mundane of places — Martians landing in Woking, of all places. And while the anonymous journalist who is our narrator makes his way to a similarly ravaged London, it’s the effect on individuals that still resonate.

The ending, though? The ending sucks.

(Despite the novel being over 100 years old, I should warn you now — _there be spoilers ahead…_)

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Russell T Davies and Euros Lyn talk Doctor Who and Torchwood

Cross-posted to TV Today

Over on US TV blog Televisionary, Jace has been interviewing Torchwood and Doctor Who writer/producer Russell T. Davies and director Euros Lyn. After all the Comic-Con madness and the ‘Save Ianto’ hubbub, it’s nice to hear them talk about more general matters regarding both series – and for Euros to get some attention: both Russell and John Barrowman have such large personalities that he was on the verge of being ignored at some recent press events.

The video that Jace shot is embedded below, in two parts (if you’re using an RSS reader, you may need to click through to the blog to see it). The sound level’s a little low, but it’s well worth watching.

(NB: contains some spoilers for future Doctor Who episodes)

The tryanny of the canon

Via Stuart, I’ve spent the last half hour reading a long and eloquent piece about the concept of show ‘canonicity’, with special attention to the concept around a show like **Doctor Who**:

> We’ve moved from a canon which didn’t exist because nobody got round to establishing one, to a canon which doesn’t exist because the only person who could establish one himself rejects both the idea and the very logic of writerly authority on which it stands.
>
> While this is going on, the TV series itself is making direct and explict reference to events, concepts, continuity points, planets, companies and foodstuffs from the novels and comics while establishing that Time is in flux (The Unquiet Dead) and that stable facts aren’t meant to exist (Utopia). Which means that if there was a Doctor Who canon (and assuming the Welsh Series was part of it) then it would paradoxically include the fact that there was no Doctor Who canon.

With quotes not only from Russell T Davies but new showrunner Steven Moffat, TV episode writer Paul Cornell and tie-in novel authors Paul Magrs and Lance Parkin, it’s a powerful argument against the type of rigid thinking that has no place, not only in the Doctor Who universe, but in fiction in general.

_[Teatime Brutality: Canon and Sheep Shit: Why We Fight](http://teatimebrutality.blogspot.com/2009/07/canon-and-sheep-shit-why-we-fight.html)_

Torchwood, Ianto and fandom’s big heart

Spoiler warning: Don’t read further if you have not yet seen episode 4 of Torchwood: Children of Earth. Of course, if you want to watch it, chances are you already have, but still…

Fans of any persuasion can be an odd bunch. I know, I am that person. There are so many huge benefits to be had from bonding with other people over your love of something, whether it’s football (a passion I must admit I don’t share) or **Doctor Who** (which I do).

I get it. And I’ve come into contact with the best of fandom in recent years. From reviewing the BBC’s **Any Dream Will Do** every week, I came into contact with many subgroups: fans of Daniel Boys (his ‘[kittens](http://www.danielskittens.co.uk/)’), who took my good-natured comments [about them being “quite mad”](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/2007/06/any-dream-will-do-week-11-the-final/) in the spirit it was intended. And of course there are the Loppies — fans of that series’ eventual winner, Lee Mead, who started talking to each other in the comments section of our blog and have stayed with us ever since.

There are negative associations, of course. If you incur the wrath of the hardcore supporter, then you know about it sharpish. On [TV Today](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/) we’ve been on the receiving end from fans of Rupert Grint and Jonas Armstrong. In neither case were the attacks particularly justified, but there comes a point where, to the hardcore fans, that hardly matters.

Something similar happened over the last few weeks, following **Torchwood: Children of Earth**’s fourth episode, in which regular character Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) came to a sticky end. A lot of anger was directed at Torchwood writer James Moran, on [his blog](http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com) and on Twitter, not because he wrote the episode (he didn’t) but because he had an open door policy with his web communications.

Thankfully, that particular method of attacking individuals died down pretty quickly, although it has led to James [taking a step back from his blog](http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com/2009/07/stepping-back.html) — and please read that link, it expresses his feelings and reasons far better than I could.

But the hardcore Ianto fans are not giving up. They have set up a website, [SaveIantoJones.com](http://www.SaveIantoJones.com), in order to coordinate various forms of peaceful, polite protest.

And one way they’ve decided to show their support for their favourite character is unusual — by raising money for the BBC’s resident charity, [Children in Need](http://www.saveiantojones.com/children-in-need.php). As I write, the total they have raised to date is just under £3,000. And that’s an impressive amount of money whatever the reason for its collection.

Again, it shows that within fandom, there is the potential for much goodness. Although I do believe that the organisers are mistaken when they say:

> While the BBC have remained polite and well-mannered, in response to a very peaceful campaign, Mr. Davies has made it clear in recent interviews that he views his fans with contempt, and as disposable, which saddens us.

I don’t think anybody could be more wrong; I truly believe Russell gets it. Watch [Love & Monsters](http://matthewman.net/2006/06/18/love-monsters-mister-blue-sky-thinking/), part of Series 2 of **Doctor Who** written by Russell T Davies, and you’ll see a group called L.I.N.D.A., a group of people who start meeting for one reason and gradually become people who meet up because they are friends. It’s one of the most perfect representations of fandom you’re ever likely to see. And anybody who writes like that really, truly, does not consider fans to be worthy of contempt. That doesn’t mean that fans are bigger than the subject of their support, though.

The SaveIantoJones fans are doing some great work and their fundraising efforts will do enormous good — even though their ultimate aim, of bringing a dead fictional character back to life, is doomed to fail. If their work brings them together as friends too, then that will be a further upside.

RTD on Bad Wolf, part 2

> Have you solved the mystery of Bad Wolf, the cryptic hidden message spread across this season of Doctor Who?
>
> Well, no. You haven’t. At least, not according to Executive Producer Russell T Davies, who has been keeping an eager eye on the various theories about who or what the Bad Wolf could be:
> “Judging from the reactions I’ve had, a lot of people seem to think the Bad Wolf has already been revealed. Oh, it’s the TV station. Oh, it’s half a million Daleks. I’ve even got one friend claiming it’s the Face of Boe! I must get better friends.
>
> “I don’t want to give anything away yet, but there is another revelation to come in Saturday’s episode. We haven’t discovered the true Bad Wolf yet.”

Source: [BBC](http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/news/drwho/2005/06/14/19979.shtml)

RTD on Bad Wolf

In this week’s TV & Satellite Week:

> I didn’t think people would notice, but I should have known that science fiction fans would spot it blindfolded from 300 miles! All will be revealed next week. A lot of people think it’s a super-villain, though I can’t imagine why he would graffiti his name all over the place! It’s a bit subtler than that. It’s a lovely pay-off. But there’s no big panto villain.