I Want a TARDIS! My New Obsession With Doctor Who

I would sell my soul to come up with an idea like Doctor Who.

Yes, I would take an eternity in damnation, away from loved ones, baking in flames, to create a character like the man with the Sonic Screwdriver. And as I roasted, I would smile. Oh, how I would smile if that was on my resume

To think only three-months ago, I could not tell you the difference between a TARDIS and a Dalek (a TARDIS is bigger on the inside and a Dalek has a weird slimy octopus-like monster in it that likes to “ex-term-in-ate”). As a science-fiction geek, Doctor Who was already in the background for me. I knew who he was, had the basic gist of what it was about, but I never really considered giving it the time of day. I had enough sci-fi geek stuff with Tolkien, Star Trek, Joss Whedon, DC Comics, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the old one), Red Dwarf, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, thank you very much. My cup was full, please try peddling your fantasy wares and monster costumes with zippers elsewhere.

I can even say I tried one or two episodes a few years ago. I am a fan of the TV writing of Steven Moffat (Coupling is hilarious and I love Sherlock) and when I heard he took over the running of the show (and it was one of his favorites), I decided to give it a shot; but I stopped after the episode of Daleks in WWII and when they emerged in different colors and bigger. I just didn’t understand the threat. They looked (dare  I type it) silly… and in different colors? So what? They are white and red now? Whatever.

Oh how naive I was then… Continue reading

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Downton Abbey as Art: Some Thoughts on the Great Series

Television is rarely art.

A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.

American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible.  While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.

To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial idea, but the follow through from the beginning to the end, everything coming together to make a wonderful perfected whole, like a present with a bow on top. Television doesn’t have that, especially in America, and it is rare that any writer or even creator know what they are working towards. Don’t believe me? Remember when they gave an end date for the show Lost and everyone thought that was revolutionary?

So while a show might have a few great episodes, a few great seasons, it is rare you can step back and look at a complete package and say that is a well-told story from beginning to end. Continue reading