Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Monday, July 16, 2007

Am I bothered? Actually I am...

Okay I am very late with this as my fellow bloggers have long since posted their thoughts on this topic, but here goes...

As the whole cosmos probably now knows, Mistress Catherine Tate is set to return in the next series of Dr Who.

No, no, NO!!! In a nutshell, I'm not very pleased. But I suppose there might just be some consolations.

In actual fact I admire Ms Tate immensely as a comedienne, loved her show and find her a versatile and clever actress.

As for her appearance in "The Runaway Bride", last year's Dr Who special, I thought she was generally alright. The character of Donna Noble, was at times annoying, shrewish and shrill and clearly in there as a comedy element. Once she quietened down a bit she became more bearable and was much better in her more reflective moments. She also had a sardonic quality to her character that could be reasonably entertaining. Overall as a one-off, "novelty" appearance I could cope with her. However I'm really not convinced that bringing back Donna for the entire duration of the Fourth Series of Dr Who has been well thought-out. I just don't feel that the character has the longevity, scope and/or emotional depth to be a regular character.

Okay, on the plus it's true that Ms Noble doesn't have the "mooning over the Dr" characteristics that so marred Rose and Martha's characters (thank God). She's older than them, more experienced and cynical and so that at least will be a refreshing change.

But I still think it's a backward step resurrecting a character who's already been in the programme and was never that brilliant in the first place. Have the writers run out of ideas already??! Surely not!! And yet ANOTHER female Earth companion - give me strength!! The producers really do need to break the mould and cast an alien companion or a non-terrestrial person at any rate; this is all getting way too samey. With all the wealth of talent onboard for DW - Stephen Moffatt, Paul Cornell etc - I find it hard to credit that they couldn't have envisaged a new character. Or is RTD the ultimate fascist who has the final say-so? If that's the case I think his (rumoured) departure at the end of next season is timely.

Chantho from "Utopia" would have been a great choice for new companion I reckon - she was positively delightful and had great potential. Although there's the slight problem of her being dead. Then again they managed to bring back Freema A back with the excuse that she was Adeola's cousin so stranger things have happened.

Another gripe of mine re: the return of La Tate is that as an actress she is too well known, with too many associations. I'm deeply concerned that RTD is turning into a new JNT (John Nathan-Turner, FYI - Doctor W ho producer in the 1980s, who started off bringing a fresh and radical approach to the show and by the end of his tenure had totally slaughtered the programme). I can't help thinking that they want to cast a famous/celebrity actress in the show in order to up the viewing figures (just as JNT cast so many famous people in the show during his tenure which turned out to be rather counter productive move - although I will concede Catherine T is a slightly classier actress than say, Ken Dodd). Casting a famous person in a role does not guarantee a good character - it's the quality of the writing and characterisation that do that - but RTD seems to have other ideas. I just think he's pandering to commercial pressures. We deserve some new blood /fresh talent in the show instead!

BUT! In spite of the mega-rant which I have just subjected you to, I do (believe it or not) have an open mind and am willing to give Ms T a try. Just about. If they can come up with some decent scripts that see Donna develop and grow as a character it might just be worthwhile .... we'll see. But I'm not 100% sold on RTD's writing, so not holding out too much hope ...


  • At 4:05 am , Blogger matty said...

    ...well, i just don't know.

    i love catherine tate.

    not so in love with sci-fi.

    ...but this might be enough to entice me to check the show out one more time. tho, i'm sure the US will not get the new season for at least a year or so.

    i'm not even sure if the episode she was on is in the US yet.

    go on -- give her a shot!

  • At 4:42 am , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    In my opinion, JNT did NOT totally slaughter "Doctor Who" by the end of his tenure. Anything but! Faced with serious opposition from BBC bigwigs to finish the series, he kept it alive beyond the mid-1980s to the end of the decade. It stumbled a little on its return, after the hiatus of that period, but was firmly back on track in 1988/89. Ratings alone determined the classic series' eventual fate, not quality of story!!

    "Doctor Who" produced four classics ("Remembrance of the Daleks", "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy", "Ghost Light" and "The Curse of Fenric") in its final two years, better than anything produced in the recent revival. A fifty percent strike rate should be considered a triumph! Of the remaining four stories, "Survival" deserves near-classic status while "Silver Nemesis" is an ok story. "Battlefield" and "The Happiness Patrol" are, shall we say, less good!!

    The policy of the current production team has been dictatorial from the off. RTD must think an awful lot of his own writing to always allocate the season finales and Christmas Specials to himself, especially considering the consensus of opinion against his ability to produce a halfway decent script!

    I watched "The Runaway Bride" with an open mind and have already given Catherine Tate a try! Here's a short extract from the script...

    "Where am I?", squealed Donna.

    "In the TARDIS", replied the Doctor.

    "TARDIS? TARDIS?!!", Donna's voice ever-increasing in pitch. "That's not a proper word, that's a made-up word, that is!"

    I won't be watching "Doctor Who" next year although I will watch the Christmas episode as Kylie is an unknown quantity even though I can already hazard a guess as to the quality of the writing!!

  • At 5:52 pm , Blogger Steve said...

    I think TimeWarden's quote from the previous encounter with Donna Noble sums up the problem. Rather than writing Donna Noble as a character in herself RTD wrote Donna Noble as "Catherine Tate". It gives her very little room to act or develop the role and RTD is going to have to do something quite radical to overcome that.

  • At 1:16 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Matty - Yes, I suppose from your p.o.v. as you're a Ms Tate fan that might entice you to carry on watching the show! I will try to keep an open mind, yes, but it's hard...

    Time - Perhaps I was a bit harsh. But I do think that the deterioration in the quality of DW during the 80s was down to a lot of decisions on the part of the production team. But personally I'm not a big fan of the show post-Peter Davison. Just my opinion really.

    By the time it had got to the stories you've mentioned, I'd stopped watching it. I did quite like "Remembrance of the Daleks" and "Silver Nemesis" though, from the bits I saw.

    I know what you mean about RTD having too much control. With regards to the Xmas Specials it would be good, if not advisable, to see him handing over the writing duties to someone else for a change.

    And yes that script excerpt is somewhat cringeworthy. I just don't know what direction they can take Donna's character in short of a brain transplant! I'm really worried about the limitations of the character and that it will only serve to hamper the show. I honestly wish they'd gone for an alien companion this time round , instead of yet another domesticated Earth woman. Grrr!

    Steve - Yep, I think you're right. As you say a radical change is needed to alter the character but how are they going to achieve that? Perhaps they could use the "pocket watch" plotline again e.g. Donna finds out that she's really a Romana-type Time Lady whose been forced to take on the identity of a chavvy Earth female? Then she finds the watch and reverts back to her true self? Just a crazy theory!


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