Respectful Insolence

A well-deserved accolade

This just in:

Doctor Who has been nominated for three prestigious Hugo Awards this year, according to an announcement made yesterday by the award’s administrators and the 64th World Science Fiction Convention, L.A. Con IV. Taking three of seven slots in the “Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form” category are the Doctor Who episodes Dalek written by Robert Shearman, Father’s Day written by Paul Cornell, and The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, written by Steven Moffat. The three are running against an episode of the new “Battlestar Galactica” series, the Pixar animated short “Jack Jack Attack,” the short film “Lucas Back in Anger,” and a live event, the “Prix Victor Hugo Awards Ceremony” performed at last year’s World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Scotland, which was written by writers Paul McAuley and Kim Newman (both of whom have, coincidentally, written for Telos Publishing’s Doctor Who novella range).

I’m a little surprised that more Battlestar Galactica issues weren’t nominated. Personally, I’m conflicted. Dalek was a great episode, but The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances was perhaps the high point of the season.

Comments

  1. #1 James Hrynyshyn
    March 23, 2006

    Could someone please explain the appeal of the latest incarnation of Dr. Who? Last week’s first episode revolved around zombie-like mannequins, for heaven’s sake. If anything, it was even more childish than the Pertwee-Baker era, which at least had a certain amount of charm. And the opening of the second episode was lifted directly from Douglas Adam’s Restaurant at the End of the Universe, suggesting that the writers have completely abandoned any pretense of originality. I couldn’t get past the first 20 minutes.

    The only silver lining is Friday nights are now clear to get out of the house. At least until Battlestar Galactica returns in October Now that’s what I call television worth watching.

  2. #2 Joe Shelby
    March 23, 2006

    every series’s first episodes suck. they do get better (although i’m not terribly fond of episodes 4 and 5), especially the next one (“Unquiet Dead”) and the “Hugo nominees mentioned above.

    and EVERY sci-fi tv show has given up on “any pretense of originality”. consider: battlestar galactica’s current version wouldn’t seem so original if we didn’t have the legacy of the original series of that title to compare it to. its certainly different from that, but I could trace an example elsewhere in fandom to every plot line they’ve used so far. I’ve seen plenty of sequences that could have come straight out of past shows like Earth II (now THAT was a show with some originality), Space: Above and Beyond, the late-80s War of the Worlds (sequel to the ’50s movie), as well as the direct references to the original Galactica series. A religious leader who’s also an eco-terrorist? Seems to come straight out of Crichton’s latest book. A good script and Richard Hatch’s maturity today as an actor and dedication to the show’s concept make it work.

    Creativity in tv sci-fi these days is in selecting the homages and logically fitting ideas and presenting them well. In my opinion, both shows do that. The alternative is to introduce too much originality to the point that a show has no foundation for an audience to hold on to and build on, so the concept just becomes a set of “adventures” with no point.

    as for the mannequins, they’re bad guys from the original series, the opening stories from Pertwee first 2 seasons. It was an intentional use of a past bad-guy in order to establish additional continuity with the original show while showing how it intends to update things.

  3. #3 James Hrynyshyn
    March 23, 2006

    Sorry, but I couldn’t agree less with the notion that “every series’s first episodes suck.”

    That is certainly true for Star Trek’s TNG, but not generally.

    From the very first moments, the new Battlestar Galactica came out strong, and original. Almost ironic, given it is a “re-imagining” of the 1970s series. And yet the stories are topical, imaginative and original.

    Firefly also manages to combine old ideas — from the western and sci-fi genres — in a new and charming fashion. And like BSG, its first episodes were strong and captivating. (There were only 14 or so, so it’s a good thing it didn’t take a while to get up to speed.)

    And just to take issue with one more thing: just because today’s Dr. Who wanted to pay homage to the old series, that’s no excuse for zombified mannequins. With 40+ years of scripts to draw upon, surely they could have chosen something less silly.

  4. #4 Doug H
    March 23, 2006

    Considering that the Doctor’s most famous enemies were essentially large tin cans with plungers sticking out of them, I have to wonder why animated manniquins are “too silly” for the show.

    Doctor Who is and always has been camp. Eccleston and company managed to elevate the show above camp on a few, splendid occasions, but complaining that any given Dr. Who episode is “too silly” seems somewhat pointless.

  5. #5 Joe Shelby
    March 23, 2006

    Haven’t seen Firefly yet (i do own the dvds so its in the queue, but i just got through adicting my wife to Fraggle Rock season 1).

    as for the “reimagining” as in reimagining a galactica where “you can’t tell the cylons apart from the humans”? Clones are older than ever in modern sci-fi, and its an easy cop-out to defray the costs of actors (they can do multiple roles) and effects make-up or imagining a new type of enemy, exactly the same reason why the martians in the late 80s War of the Worlds series were suddenly able to take over human bodies.

    that’s not to say i don’t love the new show, i just don’t seem to consider it as “original” as you do. I can see tons of stuff taken from other shows and other basic sci-fantasy concepts from the last 30 years. A president who’s sick? West Wing. A ship commander concerned for his son who’s a pilot? 1976′s Midway as well as plenty of real-life examples (and, of course, the original series). A pilot left behind on a planet filled with enemies? pick a WW2 pilot aided by the french resistence…

    the biggest piece of genuine originality to me is Baltar’s storyline.

    topical is also “not original” to me. Its just that: topical. it does what good sci-fi and good drama do, take a situation in real life and portray it in an abstract universe where we can look at it independent of our current emotions on the topic.

    original is to portray an event that ISN’T happening and HASN’T happened and hasn’t been predicted to happen, in some accepted context, but is culturally and technologically feasable within the universe the story takes place in.

    as you say, very few sci-fi these days is original, but my definition of original is appearantly tighter than yours.

  6. #6 Joe Shelby
    March 23, 2006

    oh, and i should have clarified my “suck” comment – i meant sucks not in comparison to other shows, but in comparison to where the show eventually ends up (at least, for good shows). galactica, even for the strong mini-series start, is better now. ST:TNG is certainly better in the whole than the opening season.

    there are exceptions, of course. some shows hit hard and then the writers start to run out of ideas, like The Prisoner and ST:Voyager.