Well, we might as well start this week with the big news or lack there of. Marco Polo was not announced. This shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone, especially since most of those with source information had already started backpedaling in the previous weeks. So… Easter without Marco, what does that mean to the omnirumour? Check out my OmniMusings.
Last year, around the anniversary, I read an article in which someone on the net ranked every single Doctor Who story ever televised. I don’t remember that much other than it was very Nu-Who centric (8 of the top 10 I think) and, more shockingly to this ‘old school fan’, MY all time favourite story was ranked a lowly SIXTY-SECOND. That would be The Talons of Weng Chiang.
The two criticisms of the story that I remember were, firstly that the main villain didn’t do much until part five. To me that was an odd criticism, odd that it WAS a criticism. Did they hate the original Star Wars trilogy because they had to wait until Return of the Jedi to see the Emperor? Secondly that the story was racist, principally because of the way it portrayed Chinese people and that they had a British actor playing Li Sen Chang.
Ok, yes I am going to dive in here. It may not be wise, but I am going to have a crack at defending these issues, because for me Talons is the epitome of a brilliant Doctor Who story. It’s wonderful on so many counts, and I will not be changing my opinion of this story any time soon.
Firstly, it’s an historical piece. We see the attitude towards Chinese people in London in the Victorian era. It would be inaccurate to portray English and Chinese as best buddies at the time. It just wasn’t so. Is there an issue then that the Chinese characters in the story – Chang and his henchmen, are the antagonists? In the context of one story, certainly not. If it was a trend throughout the history of Doctor Who, then certainly. In fact the real criticism should lie in the fact that throughout the first 26 years of the show, it was very European-centric. It certainly was.
The issue then with the casting of John Bennet as Chang.
David Maloney had to find someone capable of taking on the part, and it was undoubtedly the most important casting decision for the serial. Perhaps people on the other side of the Atlanic image that each part was cast after a director saw dozens of people, but the truth is that BBC television in the 1970s was produced with a very fast turnaround. A lot of lead roles in the shows were cast by the director calling on someone he had worked with before and knew could do the role, as was the case here.
Take a look at Philip Martin’s ‘Gangsters’ television series from around the same era, and you will see that there were only a small number of Asian actors doing the rounds in Britain at the time, and many struggled to give convincing performances in English. The talent simply was not there, and if it was, the actors were not ‘known’.
Think of it another way. Look at The Enemy of the World, Episode One. Three Australian characters hunting Salamandar with the most appalling Australian accents imaginable. It’s not considered racist, but bad acting. Same can be said in The Gunfighters, and don’t start with American attempts at being British or Australian!
To be a character actor means to stretch your limits, and play parts that are not like you at all. People play Russian, Mexican, and so on. But when a race which looks slightly different to the actor playing it is concerned, THEN it’s a racist move in casting. I’m sure the actor didn’t see it that way. Bennet was stretching his talents to play what was a very difficult role. He had to master the showmanship of the character too don’t forget.
Imagine if a Japanese person was cast in that role. Is it suddenly more acceptable? Possibly it is, the guy playing Sulu in the latest Star Trek franchise is from Korea. Yet, to be fair I am still living in Japan and a lot of Japanese, Chinese and Korean people don’t get along. There’s a history revolving around war, mistreatment and many other things. People who have been living here for over 300 years, whose forefathers came from Korea or China, still have that stamped as their ethnicity on their birth certificates. I can imagine that to some, it would have been MORE offensive to cast a Japanese actor in the role, if one capable had been found.
And if they had gone out on a limb (and at the BBC in the 1970s it really would have been) and cast a Chinese actor to play Chang, and he hadn’t delivered a convincing performance, fans would criticise the casting and the actor FOREVER. Don’t forget the casting of Rick James as Cotton in The Mutants. Poor guy earned the tag as ‘the WORST actor’ in the show’s history. Personally I never thought he was bad until I heard it mentioned on the DVD.
In the Hartnell era, there are far worse examples of casting white people in other roles. Mavic Chen is one that people often remember. I had no idea he was supposed to be Chinese to be honest, I figured he possibly wasn’t human with the prosthetics and long fingernails.
But then there’s ‘The Crusade’, featuring a number of classically trained and extremely competent actors playing Arab roles. You know, I don’t have an issue with the casting, only with the ‘blacking up’. I don’t think it was necessary. For Chang, it was, and to be honest as a kid I had no idea the actor wasn’t Asian.
I think John Bennet gives a wonderful performance. An actor should be tested, pushed, and extended to her or his limits, and he was. Today, you surely could find a Chinese actor in Great Britain capable of taking on the role. You would have the chance to cast the net widely to find the best person for the job. It was not the situation back in the 70s.
For me, The Talons of Weng Chiang is the perfect blend of all things that make good Doctor Who. The Doctor-Leela relationship is explored best in this story, it mixes science fiction with history, the sets and location shooting are glorious, it blends comedy with horror, the costumes are brilliant and it includes the best double act in the shows’ history with Jago and Litefoot. And the casting is perfect. Deep Roy, Christopher Benjamin, Trevor Baxter and especially John Bennett.
Holmes. Hinchcliffe and Maloney have told a story about a man who is Chinese. At no point do they say he does what he does, acts the way he does (or his minions either) because they are Chinese. No sweeping generalisations are made about Chinese people.
All that happens is we get an absolutely wonderful story.
What do you think? Am I out of line here? and if so, why? Please comment!
This is an opinion piece from Andrew Boland and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of troughtonismydoctor.com
Is Easter without a Marco Polo announcement a fixed point in time, or can we go back and change it, do something different and somehow make everything turn out perfect?
Here we are on Good Friday and there hasn’t even been a whisper of an announcement regarding more missing episodes. Those with sources set Easter as a potential date way back in January, or even before, but obviously it failed to materialize. In their defense, none of them ever promised us anything (at least to my knowledge), simply stated that this holiday weekend was a target that they were trying to hit.
Still I, like many others, saved the date, counting down the days in desperation. We hung onto every rumour, every twist, every denial feeling like we were on a rollercoaster, hoping that this was the last big frightening downward plunge before the ride came to an end. It would all be worth it, if only we get an announcement, was the prevalent thought.
Here we are though, with no announcement.
Interest on the fora was already waning a few weeks ago when just about everybody who had source information started backpedaling on the Easter date. People were starting to think about abandoning the threads en masse and returning to their real lives.
Then Phil Morris went retweet and like crazy. His actions suddenly sparked the lethargic beast of fandom, and the frenzy began all over again. Add to that the Underwater Menace details posted on facebook and then quickly removed. Andrew Cartmel had some comments taken way out of context and used to stir things up. Phil released a photo of himself in Sierra Leonne, that many would have thought a fake if it hadn’t been shared through his twitter account. Then there was an absolute denial by Restoration Team member Steve Roberts on Gallifrey Base. He even told the world what each and every member of the team was working on to try and prove that he wasn’t hiding anything.
Let’s do some math. Take all the positive news, now subtract all the negative stuff and what are we left with… Nothing. Zero. Right back where we started.
So what should we do now?
All the talk about Underwater Menace the past couple of days, made me think a little and simplify my hopes and expectations. There has been too much said about Marco Polo for me to ever give up hope that it will be returned. Other than that? Underwater Menace will be out sometime and it should be fully animated, at the very least. What about The Crusade? Give me an animation on that and I will be happy. So there are three stories that you could reasonably expect to be out sometime, one of them, UWM, all but guaranteed.
Other than that? I’m still reaping the rewards from Phil’s search. I’ll be purchasing Web Of Fear on Tuesday when it finally get released here in Canada. I also found an awesome sale online and bought 15 Tom Baker stories, the last ones that I needed to complete my entire collection of classic Doctor Who, so that will keep me busy for a while.
Maybe something will have happened before I get through them.
So have you seen the tweet from Phil Morris? I would call this “the first official photo documenting his around the world trip to try and save Doctor Who and other shows of cultural value, at least since the Enemy Of The World/Web Of Fear reveal six months ago”. Wow, that’s quite a mouthful.
I say first ‘official’ documentation because this picture has been passed around online for a few days now. I’m not 100% sure how it was attained or where they got it from, but either way it was none of their business to publish it. Unfortunately for those posters, it’s mission accomplished because they forced Phil to reveal it to the general public. There’s no point hiding or denying it now. Thousands of people are already rabidly talking about it.
It’s a shame because it would have been so awesome to get this as a nice little Easter present without the baggage that is hidden behind the scenes.
The staff from TIMD would like to say that we don’t condone shady business like the leaking of personal information or pictures in an attempt to force things along. It’s one thing to get rumours from inside sources, quite another to have stuff like this taken from a private place and spread across the internet.
Finally thanks to Phil Morris for all his work and his quiet and cryptic words of encouragement.
So yesterday there was a facebook statement regarding The Underwater Menace. The statement from “Doctor Who and the Tardis- Classic years” caused a lot of happiness, but it was quickly taken down. I sent a message to the group responsible for the post asking for clarification. Was it all just a wind up? Some sort of joke?
They got back to me earlier today with this:
“Sorry about that, Dan. It wasn’t a wind up, but we were informed that our information may have been incorrect, so we’re investigating further“
So there you go. I had always thought that they posted their information in good faith. The group has 45,000 likes and it seemed weird to jeopardize that fan base by pulling a stunt or wind up that might anger people. Who knows, maybe after investigating they can give us more solid information? One can only hope. Until then…
After all the rumours swirling about the animation of The Underwater Menace being cancelled or delayed, there has been an unofficial facebook announcement by Doctor Who and the Tardis-Classic Years claiming that they received word from 2Entertain that the DVD is expected to be released this Autumn. There is no firm date yet, but that we should expect an announcement later this month.
Of course, this is still far from official. It’s just a fan facebook page, not an official source. But if what they say is true, it presents a couple of different options.
Number one, that the animation was really just delayed, not cancelled as many believed, and that the animation company Planet55, really did just need some extra time to get it finished. You can read more about the animation conspiracy. I, and many more like me, think that if UWM comes out fully animated, this could possibly be the final nail in the main omnirumour’s coffin. I do believe that Marco Polo has been found and will be released sometime, but beyond that? It is hard to say.
Number two, the announcement they mention later this month might, just possibly, maybe, oh please let it be true, a confirmation of the omnirumour, and as part of that announcement they will give us a preliminary release schedule for the rest of the year. Underwater Menace has been one of the most rumoured stories because of its unknown status. Will it be the focal point of an omnirumour announcement in the next two weeks? I can only hope.
So there you have the latest speculation. As always, nothing in this article is official or can be confirmed, it is all just speculation. Only time will tell.
UPDATE- The facebook post that started all of this has been taken down. Was it all a wind up? Or were they not supposed to talk about it? It’s a page with nearly 50,000 likes so I’m not sure that they would post something just to wind people up, but who knows…
I have since sent a message to the group on facebook asking for clarification or an explanation. I will let you know if I hear anything.
Also some have pointed out that 2Entertain no longer exists, that the company goes by BBC DVD since 2012. I don’t think this necessarily means that the info they posted is false. It could be from someone that they knew through 2entertain or they may just said that instead of the proper BBC DVD, by accident. I don’t know.
Doctor Who will start airing on the Horror Channel Friday April 18th! Check out the trailer. I would like to give a special mention to the good folks at the Horror Channel and all their fans who retweeted the heck out of my related tweets! Thank you!
We started the week out with nothing but bad news. Easter is off, they said. Maybe sometime in May or June. Hopefully. That led me to my poll, when do you think the next announcement will come. Haven’t voted yet? Come on over and add your voice. If you did vote, why not see what everyone else believes? So, we were prepared for a quiet few weeks before things might have picked up again. What we weren’t prepared for is T.I.E.A. to come out swinging!
So there you go, the news the rumours, the weird and the wild from the past seven days.
For many years, season six was all we had from the three years of Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. Up until the late 80s and the discovery of four episodes of ‘The Ice Warriors’, we only had five episodes from the fifth season, and not many more from the fourth. Today we are so lucky to be able to buy more than half of season five on DVD, although we still don’t have a complete story from Season Four.
But the majority of season six hasn’t really been an issue. Only seven episodes are missing of forty-four. Yet it has always been regarded as the weakest of the Troughton seasons and often as a poor year for Doctor Who. I challenge that assertion. I believe it’s one of the most important years in the show’s life, with some great, varied stories too. And there’s more to it than that.
Looking firstly at the stories, it’s worth remembering that every story in Season Six was affected by some issue or another. Three stories – Krotons, Space Pirates and War Games, all came about because planned stories fell through at the last minute. The Seeds of Death was a completely new story by Brian Hayles (substantially rewritten by Terrance Dicks) when ‘Lords of the Red Planet’ was rejected as too expensive. Derrick Sherwin had to add an episode on to The Mind Robber when major scripting issues befell The Dominators and it lost an episode. The Invasion, the prototype to the Pertwee era, was originally a four-part Kit Pedler script which Derrick Sherwin doubled in length and rewrote from scratch. After The Seeds of Death Sherwin replaced Peter Brant as producer too, so he was a busy bee during 1968-69. Yet with all these difficulties, Season Six is one of the most creative, interesting, best written Doctor Who seasons of all.
The ratings dipped, it’s true, but only really during the last two serials. There were a whopping 44 episodes in Season Six and that took The War GamesWho. because there are three stories that are often regarded as clunkers in Season Six.
The Space Pirates – well, Episode Two doesn’t make it look very good, does it? It seems an overly-ambitious attempt at a full blown space opera where a guy with a ridiculous southern accent seems to have a bigger role than the Doctor. Nothing at all happens in Episode Two, and we’re missing the rest. It’s the hardest to reconcile, but without being able to see the whole thing, I think criticism should be tempered.
The Dominators. It’s embarrassing at points there’s no denying. The design is poor and the characters are two-dimensional. However the concept of a planet that is so pacified they can’t defend themselves? Brilliant. It’s a political dig at hippies, and although the execution is poor, and the script needed a lot more work, I can appreciate what the authors are saying. It has quality moments too, when Jamie and the Doctor are prisoners of the Dominators and the Doctor is acting stupid, it’s pure 2nd Doctor/Jamie gold.
The Krotons is worth watching just for the three leads, who are brilliant in it. The Krotons themselves are rubbish and some of the guest cast are poor, but the stuff with the Krotons’ testing machine and Troughton’s response to being called ‘Doctorgond’, is priceless. Frazer Hines plays stupid so well, and never better than in this story.
But it’s Wendy Padbury that makes Season Six a success in my eyes. The writers were kind enough to make her smart, and keep her smart. There are excellent examples of this in The Invasion, The Krotons and The Mind Robber in the fight scene with the Karkus, but it’s The War Games where she really steps up speaking for Jamie in Episode Eight. I think Deborah Watling is a great actor, but the character of Victoria had no depth, and very little function in stories but to scream and need rescuing. This was the fault of the writers, but with Zoe they proved that a strong female character who was smart could work and work well in the show’s format, even in the 1960s.
Padbury and Troughton combine brilliantly, and there has never been before or since a team of three in the TARDIS which works as well and Troughton-Hines-Padbury. You could put them in the direst of Who plots, and they would make it watchable. ‘Time-Flight’ would have been so much better with Troughton, Hines and Padbury!
Season Five is often looked on as the pinnacle of the black and white era of Doctor Who, yet with the exception of The Enemy of the World they are all monsters stories, and only Tomb strays from the ‘base under siege’ storyline. In Season Six only The Seeds of Death is base under siege, but the story moves beyond that as well. As my first ever Troughton video and the first ever Troughton story I saw, Seeds will always be special to me.
The Mind Robber is creative and clever, scary, funny, and brilliantly directed by perhaps the second best director the history of the show, David Maloney. Yes, it feels like it’s aimed mostly at younger Who-viewers, but that has never bothered me. It’s a magical episode, right up there with the best in the show’s history.
In my mind, Douglas Camfield is the best director the show’s ever had, and he gives us The Invasion, an exciting tale with a lot of action, and humour – Troughton and Hines again at their finest. David Maloney returned to helm The War Games, recently voted best regeneration story on the Missing Episodes Facebook page, a ten-part tale that drags less than some four-parters. Written at the eleventh hour by Dicks with his old friend Malcolm Hulke, The War Games is simply excellent television culminating in an epic farewell to the best TARDIS team there ever was.
The moments in part ten when the Doctor says goodbye to Zoe in particular are very moving. Troughton against the Time Lords is also wonderful. The story is not without its faults, James Bree and Edward Brayshaw could have played their parts somewhat differently and more naturalistically, and the magnets as time machine controls have never convinced me, but Philip Madoc is cold and terrifying as the War Lord and the guards are, frankly, hilarious. Kudos also to Michael Napier Brown as Arturo Villar – utterly fantastic appearance that livens up episodes eight and nine.
With the recent return of Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear, shiny and new and not seen for 45 odd years, people are declaring Season Five as brilliant. It has its strengths, but for me Season Six is superior because of its variety, not something Season Five can claim in abundance. There’s a base under siege monster story, a fantasy, a political story, a space opera, alien invasion and military story, the massive epic that ends it all and, well, the Krotons.
Season Six is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. But heck, some chocolates appeal to some and not to others, and this season surely has one or two everyone would like to scoff down.
Andrew Boland is a travel writer and blogger, and avid Doctor Who fan since 1985. You can follow his blog and find his travel writings at his WordPress site – World Journeys
Where were you four years ago today? Probably glued to the tv just like I was. After all it was the debut of a new Doctor. We mark the anniversary of Matt Smith’s first episode today and I hope you will indulge me as I reminisce for a moment.
I’ll start by saying that I was a big Tennant fan. The day that his final episode aired, I walked around in a state of dread befitting someone who actually lost a loved one, not merely mourning the changing of a fictional character. The End of Time was a bit of a disappointment for me, but that’s neither here nor there. What does matter is that I thought nobody could ever replace him. He was going to be The Doctor. The definitive article, as his most popular predecessor once said. Fans of the classic series may love to argue and discuss who’s their favourite from the first of the Doctor’s eight regenerations, but there was no doubt in my mind that Tennant was going to be the New Who Doctor that went down in history as the most beloved.
So with great trepidation I sat on the couch as The Eleventh Hour started. I had already seen some stills from it online and was in a foul mood. That new companion was dressed like a police officer. That’s ridiculous, she’s going to be arrogant and bossy and hard to get along with. I just knew that I wasn’t going to like her. And Matt Smith? Seriously, I have socks older than him. How can he possibly be better than Tennant?
The show started up and I was immediately hooked. Just from that opening scene with young Amelia Pond and the crack in her wall. The slapstick comedy of the Doctor walking into a tree. Fish fingers and custard. By the time we moved forward and got to the real gist of the story I was already warming up to the new guy. What sealed it for me is Steven Moffat’s writing. You can complain all you want about his jiggery pokery later on in the series, but he writes one hell of a heroic Doctor. Just look at the “is this planet protected?” speech from the end of the episode. When we see all the previous incarnations of the Doctor flash across the screen and then Smith steps through the hologram of Tennant to introduce himself as the Doctor? BAM! I jumped off the couch, fist pumping the air. That’s one hell of an introduction. From that moment Matt Smith was my favourite New Who doctor and he has been for the last four years. Oh and that annoying police officer companion? Yes she was arrogant, bossy and hard to get along with, but that didn’t stop me from loving her and her husband.
So what did I learn from my Tennant to Smith experience? Not to prejudge what will come. Maybe Capaldi will blow away Smith, you never know. Looks like we will find out in this fall.