Issue 188 of TV Zone is excellent. Not only do we have an interview with Mike Tucker* about the making of the Dalek, but we also have a review of the New Who’s first episode, Rose, penned by none other than Rob Grant. Read on, mofo.
Though I’m loath to admit it, I actually do remember watching the very first episode of Doctor Who. As a Sci-Fi freak growing up in the Sixties, I had very little TV to feed my habit. Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the bloody awful Land of the Giants, and that was about it, apart from a few glimpses I managed to steal of the wretchedly scheduled Outer Limits, crouched at the top of the stairs, trying not to alert my parents tiny pajama-ed presence by actually breathing.
So Doctor Who was a life saver, an unmissable treat. Hard to believe, now, but we were genuinely scared by the Daleks, and the Cybermen emerging from their cocoons really did make us suck up the sofa through our buttocks. And, astonishingly, when Troughton took over the mantle, it actually got better: darker, bolder and harder. But then it all went horribly wrong. It got silly. It got camp. The Doctors became a parade of foppish dandies who didn’t even take themselves seriously.
Could the Doctor be saved? Was he, in fact, worth saving at all?
Oh, yes. Yes.
Russel T Davies has timewarped to the rescue. In his magnificent hands, the TARDIS has added a new dimension to its capabilities: it can now cross the class barrier. Chris Eccleston’s Doctor isn’t a refugee from a home for retired luvvies: he’s a flesh and bone bloke. Gone are the floppy hats and student scarves and frilly shirts. He wears a leather jacket and he talks like me.
The Script cracks along, cramming a storyline that would happily have sustained an entire season into a single show. It has comic moments and set pieces that are genuinely funny, and scary moments that are, well, genuinely scary. The dialogue is sharp, and effortlessly covers all the bases for the new viewer without a stutter.
The direction cracks along, too. Almost dizzyingly at the start. The look is fab, and the special FX, provided by The Mill, are movie quality. Billie Piper makes a great, feisty companion.
I don’t know how it will go down with the legion of established fans, but I’m certain it will add a whole new generation to their number.
And me? I can’t wait to hear ‘fluctuations in the Space/Time continuum’ delivered in a Salford accent.
LIt all seems well and good, and it’s always lovely reading a Rob Grant or Doug Naylor piece. I am, after all, utterly addicted to their writing.
I’m not sure I like the way he dismisses all the Doctors after Troughton, though (at least, that’s what it looks like he’s doing) and lumping all the SFX credit onto The Mill is pretty rubbish, too. Have you forgoton about Mike Tucker and his magical miniatures already? Pfft. But, yes, other than that: lovely!
And, erm, TV Zone, I’m sorry for stealing your stuff. I’ll not do it again, promise.
*On the subject of Tucker, he’s featured in the current issue of the Radio Times, in a piece on his effects unit smashing the Palace of Westmister Tower to little pieces – for the episode Aliens of London. Marvellous.