Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth
Monday (2/6/12) 3:54pm - ... wherein Peter takes more notes on Doctor Who.
Some more notes to myself about Doctor Who, in preparation for The Professor (these are from 2x14-4x02)...
- I find that often my enjoyment of a Doctor Who episode depends on the setting. Even in its weaker moments, I really liked "Human Nature" at least partly because its 1913 rural English boarding school felt so lived-in.
- On the other hand, "Gridlock", while it had lots of things going for it, underimpressed me with its claustrophobic, bland soundstages.
- Looks like the Doctor often needs to hair-trigger into "enraged speechifying".
- Often, it feels like the show's dramatic speeches need to be 'teed up' the same way you'd set up a song in a musical.
- ("So, tell us how you feel about <x>!" ♫ bum, ba-dum-dum-DUM ♪)
- They do like their "creepified human" villains.
- Most often, humans with identical creepy masks (the gas masks in "The Empty Child", the welding masks in "42".
- Lots of things to overlook:
- Time-travel logistics.
- The major downsides of a historical period.
- Often, the best way to heighten the danger is to disable the Sonic Screwdriver, the TARDIS, or both.
- Also, frequently make things "deadlocked" so the Screwdriver won't work.
- Lots of lock-operating with the Screwdriver.
- Often there's a set of beats where a person in authority is reluctant to help, but finally does. The authority person just has to deny the first request, and the Doctor has to try a different tactic a couple of times before they move ahead. This makes the transaction a little more interesting, and makes the Doctor's task seem a little more difficult, and the victory a little more 'earned'.
- It seems like half the episodes have a good "shit goes wrong with the TARDIS mid-flight" scene.
- I assume these Moffat-esque time-travel-puzzle-box stories are flat-out impossible to improvise.
- We can always jump to the next plot beat that *feels* right, and then justify it retroactively with whatever big science-y words occur to you.
- Reincorporation often works the same way in the finales -- "Yes, we needed episode five to happen, because, uh... *now I can use the magic whatsit we found there*."
- I'd love to have a good "UFO causes mayhem in a major city" crowd scene, but I don't know if we can get that across.
- Killing the doctor/companion is often kind of "schmuck bait", and my emotional investment in an episode will depend on how much I care about the (eminently disposable) secondary characters that are put in danger.
- On interacting with aliens:
- Lots of insistence on identification ("Tell me who you are!")
- Lots of allusions to galactic law ("Here's why you can't do this!")
- The Doctor often gives the alien, who seems to be on the cusp of victory, "one last chance" to do the right thing and give up.
- I'm often most interested in the storylines that include some sort of moral decision that they get to explore.
- Lots of gorgeous actresses on this show.
- So, hey, we got that covered.
 As defined by Alex Epstein, "schmuck bait" is "a promised story turn that only a schmuck would believe will ever actually happen, like the hero dying (or in a science fiction show, the hero dying permanently)".
contemplative · Music:
Along the lines of 'creepified human villains,' remember the weeping angels? Inanimate, innocent everyday objects...that are evil! Like, garden gnomes or other representations of life (2D or 3D)...Renaissance paintings maybe, or baseball trading cards?