Review: Doctor Who – 5×4 – The Time of Angels

The Time of the Angels

In the UK: Saturday 17th April 2010, 6.15pm, BBC1
In the US: Saturday 1st May 2010, 9/8c, BBC America

Phew. Crisis over, again. Stevie’s back with 17 degrees of awesome to scare you, excite you and make you go, “Hang on, isn’t this just Aliens but with the Weeping Angels?”

Plot
The enigmatic River Song hurtles back into the Doctor life but she’s not the only familiar face returning… The Weeping Angels are back!

Was it any good?
For a terrible moment or five, I was worried. I thought, “He’s blown it. He’s thrown it all away on the first couple of episodes and has nothing left.” But then, all became good again and the world began to revolve on its axis once more.

Before we end up on the planet of the angels (as I will refer to it throughout this review because I’ve forgotten its actual name and I can’t be bothered to look it up), everything was looking very nice, everything was plotted very nicely, but the dialogue was all a bit “Oh dear” and Matt Smith was just too OTT for comfort (since this was filmed before The Eleventh Hour, and was in fact the first story to be shot this series, I’m gathering he was still finding his level at this point).

Nice timey-wimey idea though it was to have River Song leaving a distress signal 12,000 years in the past for the Doctor, our Stevie’s default position for his male characters’ dialogue and personality appears to be “twat” so throughout these opening scenes, in contrast to Amy and River Song, he’s a complete imbecile designed to make River Song look like Lara Croft in a ballgown.

Stevie: he’s the Doctor. He’s a Time Lord. Could we have an exception to your “all male protagonists are twats” thesis just this once? It’s not cool, it’s not big, and I thought we’d left most of that behind in crap TV adverts of the early 00s.

Once on the planet of the angels, though, things began to pick up significantly as we entered Earthshock/Aliens territory. As well as once more showing us just what a talented guy former rock vid director Adam Smith is in the directorial department, because there was barely a shot in the entire episode that wasn’t immeasurably beautiful and well framed, we got a slightly more sober Matt Smith, a slightly less cocky River Song (who may or may not also be a duplicitous so-and-so), an Amy Pond who varied between “What’s going on, Doctor?” and one of the smartest companions around, and a frankly ostentatious Steven Moffat showing off in the writing department.

Clerics
Now I have no idea whether Stevie wanted to have a reference to Aliens in his story, decided to have a character called ‘Bishop’ in it and everything went from there, or whether some other motivation was in there (prediction of the changing nature of religious worship, an updating of the Crusades, a reference to Equilibrium, a suggestion to the C of E to man up). There is, of course, the obvious irony of bishops and clerics fighting angels. But having a bunch of vicars as the marines/alien-fodder was a simultaneously amusing and thought-provoking idea, allowing a brief rejoinder to the usual Doctor Who view of religion as being the area of silliness (Gridlock) and evil (The Daemons). The fact that Matt Smith comes off as a bit of a lightweight next to Iain Glen probably wasn’t intentional, but it only reinforces the point that the Doctor’s glibness about such things isn’t necessarily a good trait.

We also got changes to the Weeping Angels to make them a viably scary but not totally indestructible monster when in a huge pack. It wasn’t much of a surprise, given the title of the episode, to discover the entire maze of statues was in fact a collection of Weeping Angels, although whether being faced with one angel among a host of statues is any less scary than having a whole bunch to deal with, I wouldn’t like to argue. But the ambiguity – would they all turn out to be angels or not – gave the episode an added scare.

Similarly, the creepy voices on the radio which turn out to be brains hijacked by the Weeping Angels was another new innovation and a seemingly effortless bit of scariness by Moffat. But stand-out scene of the entire episode had to be Amy facing the monitor version of the Weeping Angel, which slowly becomes a real Weeping Angel that stares into her soul and does a bit of mind control on her. Very The Ring, and absolutely terrifying since it takes the angels out of sci-fi land into the realm of the supernatural. Ditto, the following ‘possession’ of Amy, the pay-off for which will mostly be in next episode but still provided us with some effective moments this episode.

Kudos to Stevie, Karen Gillan and Adam Smith for hopefully giving children everywhere with a souvenir Blink edition of Doctor Who Magazine or even a third-season Doctor Who DVD box set something to terrify themselves with. I wonder if repeat viewing figures for Blink are going to drop off any now?

Part twoThis is, of course, the first of a two-parter and much of the pay-off is going to be in the second part. Great to give the Doctor the chance to have a proper plan to save the day as the cliffhanger, given the events of The Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks; bad to give us a week to wait to find out what it is. The series arc – the cracks in space and time – looks like it’s going to register properly now, so might well turn out to be less of a Rusty affair and actually affect the plots of episodes before the finale.

Although obviously a slight lift from Aliens and fifth-Doctor cyberfest Earthshock, The Time of Angels was an excellent and distinctive piece of work in its own right and shows you just how good Stevie can be when he hits his stride. Bar the slightly frenetic, slightly irritating opening few scenes, it barely put a foot wrong, and pretty much for the first time since, erm, anything else written for the show by Steven Moffat, showed you just what a good vehicle for horror and scares Doctor Who has been and still can be.

  • Marie

    I’ll review it properly tomorrow, but I loved it, despite the fact that I’m slowly coming to terms with not much liking Matt Smith’s doctor (with the same ‘this was his first episode’ caveat I gave him last week when someone else told me that was the first one he filmed… ah well.) I am wondering if there will be any good ones not written by SM, though.

  • My ten-year-old son, who normally has trouble engaging with anything outside cyberspace, will shortly be watching this episode for the third time in just over 24 hours. The story really captured his imagination and scared the s*** out of him, in a good way.
    I was equally impressed. Definitely shades of “Earthshock” and “Aliens”, which is no bad thing.
    It’s too easy to criticise the RTD era – we owe him a lot – but this episode reminded me of the golden age of Philip Hinchcliffe and Tom Baker, when the stories played with our darkest childhood fears.

  • Loved it, loved it, loved it.None of the poor pacing of the last couple of weeks, a couple of really genuinely scary moments, brilliantly directed & acted.
    When I heard the Weeping Angels were back I was wondering if Moffat called pull it off again, I couldn’t see how he could make them as scary again. I was wrong, the story was great.
    I love Matt Smith & Karen Gillen. At last a companion who doesn’t scream at every opportunity – telling the doctor she’s not that clingy to need to be rescued when she’s in real danger. Also love the whole River Song thing, Alex Kingston is great and can’t wait to find out what her dark secret is. And it was funny and looked fab. Well done Mr Moff a welcome return to form…

  • stu-n

    Yeah, got confused about the first episode thing. Sorry for misleading you, Marie.
    I do hope River doesn’t turn out to the The Rani or something. That would be dreadfully disappointing. I’m also a bit confused about the whole spotter’s guide thing – does she take no notice at all of which face the Doctor happens to be wearing? Which faces does she have in the book? Has she met any earlier than 10, and if so, why doesn’t he remember? Is there something wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey going on?
    And is anyone else having problems with the sound levels? The dialogue inside the Tardis while River was flying it was almost completely drowned out by the music.

  • I loved it too, but I agree with Stu_N, about how she recognises the Doctor – she implied she’d met several of his incarnations, but why doesn’t anyone prior to no 10 recognise her?
    That aside, I though the Weeping Angels were scarier then ever. Angels with teeth eek. And I loved the set, and the moment when the Doctor and River Song realised the significance of the statues not having two heads.
    Marie, I have to say I really liked the Doctor in this. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed him calling Amy, “Pond”, it seemed so much less intense then the Doctor/Martha, Doctor/Rose relationships.
    Intrigued by River’s secret, but like Stu_N, hope it doesn’t mean that she’s the Rani, but there’s clearly more to her then meets the eye.
    Looking forward to next week, though just realised going to be in a caravan in Cornwall, so hope we can watch it!

  • MediumRob

    My assumption with the Spotter’s Guide is that she has the images (which might include the 12th and 13th Doctors as well) but hasn’t actually met them all yet – if she has earlier ones, they were given to her by the Doctor, potentially as a “If you see someone who looks like this, don’t let on you know them”. Simply because she has them it doesn’t mean she’s met them and the Doctor wasn’t going to tell her “you never will, at least assuming temporal mechanics doesn’t mess things up” now was he?
    Sound was okay on BBC HD and I barely even noticed our Murray in action. How amazing.
    Extra thought on the whole thing: is it deliberate that Amy says things like “no one talks to you like that,” etc, given that she’s only known him less than a day in total hours? Is it implying something or just a slip in hasty Moffat rewrite?

  • bob

    our Stevie’s default position for his male characters’ dialogue and personality appears to be “twat” so throughout these opening scenes, in contrast to Amy and River Song, he’s a complete imbecile designed to make River Song look like Lara Croft in a ballgown.
    Totally agree. I know intellectually that this was a brilliant episode but I just can’t stand this Doctor’s characterisation. Twat indeed. At least though, as again you pointed out, he does seem to be about to save the day in this episode.

  • Barring the annoying bloody Graham Norton animation undercutting the glories of this episode, it was grand. But OH that it should have been airing in the winter!!!!

  • SK

    Song could just be lying, of course. Or she could be not the Doctor’s wife, but his stalker.
    There were sequences — such as when the cannon fodder were exploring the caves — where there was NO NON-DIEGETIC SOUND AT ALL.
    It was as if a new, brighter day had dawned. You know, aurally dawned.

  • jon

    I thought this episode was strictly average by Dr Who standards… which makes it wildly better than all three preceding episodes from this season.
    I do not like the new Doctor – the way he’s written or the way he’s performed. I can’t imagine any of the previous Doctors making prejudiced comments against humans (TBB), instantly jumping to lobotomy of a defenceless and unique creature as a solution (TBB again), Teasing a sentient being with the threat of execution (VOTD), sulking and acting like a twat because he’s in the presence of a smart capable woman (TOA)… I could go on, but I won’t. Smith’s performance is persistently failing to impress me or even convince me, thanks largely to his fluctuating accent (faux posh to lazy pronounciation and back again in a flash)and occasional moments of sulking and tantrums. He’s certainly not offering anything new, or anything to combat his unsuitability for the role.
    To be fair, I dislike Matt Smith’s performance less than I expected to though. It’s the writing that’s been the biggest let-down, followed by some aesthetic choices. Seriously, spit-fires in space? A Space whale that somehow has it’s head isnide a ship AND outside it? Love defuses a bomb? Not to mention some cringe-worthy dialogue, particularly most of the one-liners. And the shift towards frenetic madcap action plots without substance or emotional depth is deeply disappointing. Yes, it’s more childish, but in the worst possible, saturday-morning-drivel kind of way.
    Aesthetically, how many needless changes can the series take? New collectible plastic Daleks, new dance-beat theme tune, new Tardis, now possibly the end of the vworp-vworp noise?
    I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who for 23 years. I’ve seen every episode. This is the worst the show has been since season 24’s pantomime antics. Time of Angels should have been epic, but was mearly adequate.

  • MediumRob

    Really?
    “I can’t imagine any of the previous Doctors making prejudiced comments against humans (TBB)”
    ‘You’re all a bunch of stupid apes’ (several Christopher Eccleston stories)
    “Teasing a sentient being with the threat of execution (VOTD)”
    Boom Town
    “sulking and acting like a twat because he’s in the presence of a smart capable woman (TOA).”
    Any story with the Fourth Doctor and Romana.
    But no, the Matt Smith Doctor isn’t growing on me either.

  • MediumRob

    Oh, and did anyone notice that the guard at the beginning in the field was played by Mike Skinner of The Streets?

  • Sk

    ‘Typical human. You can always count on them to mess things up.’ (The Doctor)

  • SK

    Rob: Yes. Moi.

  • SK

    (Well, what I actually noticed was ‘it’s that guy off that video, the one who talks slowly while there’s music on, like a rapper trying to explain what he does to his granny’ but I’m counting that).

  • MediumRob

    “(Well, what I actually noticed was ‘it’s that guy off that video, the one who talks slowly while there’s music on, like a rapper trying to explain what he does to his granny’ but I’m counting that). ”
    That’s close enough, unless you were thinking it was Stewart Lee.

  • I’ve enjoyed this season so far barring the second half of the third episode and am pleasantly surprised with how much I like Smith. Tennant’s gushy lovey doviness with humanity could really get annoying, and Smith captures the Doctor as a bit of a dick, which was a noticeable part of the character for 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9, so I’m glad to see it back. Gillan is good – don’t like her as much as Donna Noble, but she was more what I had hoped for with Martha Jones. Love your site – good DW reviews!

  • Jon

    “Really?”I can’t imagine any of the previous Doctors making prejudiced comments against humans (TBB)”‘You’re all a bunch of stupid apes’ (several Christopher Eccleston stories)”Teasing a sentient being with the threat of execution (VOTD)”Boom Town”sulking and acting like a twat because he’s in the presence of a smart capable woman (TOA).”Any story with the Fourth Doctor and Romana.But no, the Matt Smith Doctor isn’t growing on me either.”
    Points taken (and well made). Still, I think there are subtle differences that make all the difference. For example, there’s a contrast between the ninth Doctor’s annoyed, baiting and OTT insults and the Eleventh Doctor’s seriously temporarily disowning the human race. Likewise, the fourth Doctor did show off in front of Romana but I don’t remember him having a full-blown sulk. And in Boom Town the situation itself was different. The ninth Doctor actually was taking Margaret Slitheen to be sentenced for her crimes, and was verbally sparring with her on the subject. 11, however, was getting a laugh out of conning an innocent man into thinking he was going to personally execute him. It just seemed more crass and uneccesarily cruel than I’d expect from the character. A lot of these things are down to nuances in the performances I guess. Out of curiosity, why is 11 not growing on you?

  • “Oh, and did anyone notice that the guard at the beginning in the field was played by Mike Skinner of The Streets?”
    As I watched that opening to the episode, with the camera spinning about him and the BBC logo at the bottom of the screen (which we won’t have when it airs on BBC-A), I thought it was one of those odd little BBC promos…..

  • “For example, there’s a contrast between the ninth Doctor’s annoyed, baiting and OTT insults and the Eleventh Doctor’s seriously temporarily disowning the human race.”
    I’m not sure you can read too much into that, other than the 11th Doctor is full of hyperbole and is impulsive. I’m not sure he was _actually_ going to disown the human race, any more than the Third Doctor was going to shank the Brigadier at the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians. The Doctor makes statements like that a lot, then changes his mind a few moments later.
    “Likewise, the fourth Doctor did show off in front of Romana but I don’t remember him having a full-blown sulk.”
    As a sulk, this wasn’t an especially long one. But fair enough.
    “And in Boom Town the situation itself was different. The ninth Doctor actually was taking Margaret Slitheen to be sentenced for her crimes, and was verbally sparring with her on the subject.”
    Yes, but he was the one taking her. He could have just let her go, so he was in effect the one doing it or was at least complicit in it.
    “11, however, was getting a laugh out of conning an innocent man into thinking he was going to personally execute him. It just seemed more crass and uneccesarily cruel than I’d expect from the character”
    Is this the android in VotD? Because my reading was that the Doctor and Amy were both obviously saying what they were saying, expecting the android to see through it all immediately to the subtext. It just took the android a hell of a long time to get their point – and you could see their ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake’ looks when it couldn’t.
    And as for cruelty, let us not forget the entire Sixth Doctor reign, making jokes about people getting dunked in acid and creeping up behind people with cyanide and poisoning them. The Seventh Doctor’s emotional torture of Ace, while well intentioned, was obviously not a bundle of fun and actually quite cruel. The first Doctor was going to beat a caveman’s head in in the first story. The Third Doctor lies and deceives his way through most of season 7. Nothing the 11th Doctor has done has come anywhere close to any of that.
    “Out of curiosity, why is 11 not growing on you?”
    He lacks joy and charm.

  • “Tennant’s gushy lovey doviness with humanity could really get annoying, and Smith captures the Doctor as a bit of a dick, which was a noticeable part of the character for 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9, so I’m glad to see it back. ”
    You’re not wrong.
    “Love your site – good DW reviews! ”
    Ta very much! Please stick around and join in the fun!

  • My two penneth (for what it’s worth)
    http://rullsenbergrules.blogspot.com/2010/04/doctor-who-review-on-why-time-of-angels.html
    And on the topic of joy and charm, I think that for all his faults, Ten had those in abundance. We got pretty spoiled with those characteristics. But it also depends on what you mean by ‘joy’ and ‘charm’. Since Eleven seems to be channelling Troughton as much as anyone else in the Doctor pantheon, there’s a quirky wit going on for sure, but I also think there is a bit of the Hartnell maleavolent mischief going on as well. And neither Six nor Seven had much in the way of joy/charm.
    Jon/Rob – can I say though it’s a fascinating exchange, but I’d side more with Rob’s interpretation. I don’t think Eleven is anywhere near as nasty as you’re reading him jon, though Rob beat me to listing all the examples I’d have used. Damn.

  • Marie

    Agreed re joy / charm. I think Matt Smith is a good actor but lacks leading man charisma. He is consistently not the most interesting person on screen, and that’s why I miss both DT and Ecclescake so much.

  • PolyG

    The good was very good (Amy and the Weeping Angel, the voice of the dead over the intercom, tension etc). I have some problems with River Song who often came across as a panto version of a strong woman.
    Ten had plenty of moments of being a dick: off the top of my head Midnight, being a dick to Martha, being a dick in his first encounter with Jack. But it was mixing it up with charisma and warmth, making him more interesting.
    The problem with Eleven being a dick is that I don’t care for him in the first place. Ten could be infuriating but the point was I cared enough to be infuriated. I was rolling my eyes the way I would roll my eyes about a friend I cared about, not a character I don’t believe in.
    I agree with what Marie says regarding charisma. Although I have seen Matt Smith in other things (including on stage) and he can be charismatic and interesting, but I don’t see it in Doctor Who. Maybe he is too young an actor to be able to handle the pressure of being a leading man.

  • SK

    But but but but but but but, the Doctor isn’t supposed to be a leading man! He’s supposed to hang around in the background, observing, prodding, manipulating, and then emerge into the spotlight only when all his plans go pear-shaped and he has to improvise wildly in order to save the day.
    The companions are the ones who are there to do the running-about-action bits!
    I’m actually very very glad we’ve got away from the idea of the Doctor as an action hero, and back to a more cerebral and yes, colder and more distant, Doctor. And I think this change in approach, away from the Doctor as leading man, is there in the writing, not just the performance.

  • PolyG

    Leading man doesn’t mean action hero. Leading man means the character who, even doing nothing standing at the background, is still the more intersting person in the room. Both Eccleston and Tennant could do nothing (frequently done nothing) but you were still hooked on what they thought, felt etc. With Matt Smith, I found myself caring about everything else but him.
    The Doctor can get away with any trait but being boring (and yes, both the writing and the performance are at fault).

  • SK

    I always thought that ‘leading man’ was used to contrast with ‘character actor’: the leading man is charismatic, magnetic, and the ‘draw’, more by force of personality than actual acting skill; while the character actor is the one who really does most of the acting, and when their character would blend into the background, they blend into the background (whereas a leading man should never blend into the background, by definition.
    A leading man is a performer; a character actor is an actor.
    The Doctor is, a feel, definitely a character part, not a leading man part. Different production teams have taken different approaches to this: the first couple of Doctors were definitely character actors famous for being character actors before they took the role, the next two were leading men (Pertwee was definitely a leading man, Baker turned out to be one), Davison was a character actor with the looks of a leading man, and Baker 2 and McCoy definitely not leading men.
    I definitely side with the ‘the Doctor is a character, not a leading man role’ attitude, and was very disappointed that the production team took the opposite approach under Tennant and made him very definitely a leading man. I don’t think that the Doctor should be ‘the most interesting person in the room’: I think that often the Doctor’s style is exactly to be inconspicuous. To lurk. How many times in the series is stuff going on for quite a long scene before the Doctor chips in, at which point those in charge start going ‘who is this and why is he here?’ having paid him no mind before because he wasn’t drawing attention to himself?
    And if the character is lurking, then the writing and the performance should be such as to convey that — if he’s not drawing the attention of the other characters on screen, he shouldn’t be drawing the attention of the audience. That’s what distinguishes acting a character part to being a leading man (it’s why I hate Tom Baker’s time as the Doctor, because Baker was determined to make every scene about HIM, so even if he was in the background he’d be clowning around trying to upstage the acting).
    So I am very glad that trend has been reversed, and far from feeling that both the writing and the acting are at fault, I feel that they have both finally got back on track (in this way; I am reserving judgement in general, but this I think there’s been enough to call) after the wrong turn of the Tennant era. Finally we have a subtler, more low-key Doctor who is willing to blend into the background and willing to not be the most interesting person in the scene, unlike Tennant who had a similar attitude to Baker (and it wasn’t Tennant’s fault entirely — I think that you can tell that just as Davies was writing Doctor Who as he remembered the Pertwee/T.Baker era, Moffat is writing it as he remembers the Davison/McCoy era) and barged into every scene and took it over.
    So, yay.

  • Karen

    Excuse me for being so shallow, but I am an American, after all…Doesn’t anybody else think that Matt Smith is a really weird-looking person? He’s not just un-handsome; he’s not merely ugly. He is cadaverous. And, so, unfortunately, he reminds me of one reason Dr. Who never really caught on here in the States: all the Doctors, prior to David Tennant, and with the exception of Peter Davidson, were also colossally unattractive people (maybe just because of the hair or lack thereof). I predict a slow dwindling of the popularity of Dr. Who with the hideous Smith as Doctor.

  • I asked a similar question a while back in response to this news story. However, it’s not all so simple apparently

  • SK

    He seems to be very Marmite.
    I have a slight personal interest here.

  • “Excuse me for being so shallow, but I am an American, after all…Doesn’t anybody else think that Matt Smith is a really weird-looking person? He’s not just un-handsome; he’s not merely ugly. He is cadaverous.”
    Really? Weird I get, but cadaverous?
    “…all the Doctors, prior to David Tennant, and with the exception of Peter Davidson, were also colossally unattractive people
    Really? I mean I adore Tennant but I’d never describe him as conventionally attractive by any means. I think he’s totally pretty to me, but that’s tied up with roles and personality and charisma. And I know US media is stereotyped for only casting pretty people (or Brits as the nasties/flawed folk) but aren’t you guys also trying to vary things up a bit with people who don’t all look like they went to the same plastic surgeon? (Rob help me out: wasn’t there that story about casting more brits and aussies for that reason?). And anyway, “colossally unattractive”??? I’m not sure I’d define any of the pre-Tennant Doctors as as that, and not just your excepted Peter D.
    “I predict a slow dwindling of the popularity of Dr. Who with the hideous Smith as Doctor. “
    I hate to say ‘well suit yourselves’ but if that’s going to be the criteria for abandoning the series then maybe US TV gets all it deserves. Don’t get me wrong, but I heartily recognise that we mostly only get the cream of the crop over here in the UK (with some dreg exceptions) and that much of US TV is as it is everywhere: pile after pile of steaming crap.
    What I think ‘Time of Angels’ and the series so far proves – yes even the deeply flawed Dalek tale – is that you can create compelling drama without a ‘pretty’ lead. I’d really hope the BBC America audience doesn’t abandon the show just because of Tennant’s departure.

  • MediumRob

    “(Rob help me out: wasn’t there that story about casting more brits and aussies for that reason?).”
    I refer the honourable lady to the answer I gave some moments ago

  • “I refer the honourable lady to the answer I gave some moments ago”
    Goldfish brain. Apologies!

  • bob

    For what it’s worth, the US produces a lot more telly than the UK. As a result, there is a lot more rubbish produced but also a lot more that is brilliant. I would argue that the best of US drama is better than the best of UK drama. It’s possibly a symptom of how they have more money and so produce longer series but also part of it has to do with the writers’ guild that protects the interests of the writers such that the career actually attracts good people.

  • SK

    Longer series means better television? Surely the wrong way round there?
    I don’t think it would be too controversial to point out that the quality ranking goes British TV in its heyday > American TV now > British TV now.
    I also got the idea that (at least in the past) writers were generally treated better in UK television, as it developed form a writer-centric theatrical tradition where the text was the property of the writer and respected, whereas American TV developed from the movie tradition where the script was simply part of a production line (hence the sausage-factory approach of ‘writer’s rooms’).
    But I hear this has changed recently too.
    Hm, I wonder what all those good British writers who have been put off writing TV because their interested aren’t protected by the Writer’s Guild (what, you didn’t know there was one over here?) are doing. Any ideas.
    More to the point, I seem to have drifted off the topic of Matt Smith’s funny-looking face. Sorry.

  • MediumRob

    “Longer series means better television? Surely the wrong way round there?”
    Depends whether you’re averaging or whether you’re looking at the peaks. Longer shows have more of a chance of producing outstanding episodes than shorter shows.
    Longer shows, because of the economics of the situation, also mean that they can show more than shorter shows can. They can even get made when a shorter show wouldn’t.
    Just as an example, Rome’s standing sets cost $55m to make and each episode cost $11 make (decreasing in the second season because of the up-front costs). There is literally no way Rome would ever have been made if it were a mini-series (as the US refers to our six-episode series), since they couldn’t have made the money back. Similarly, a mini-series would have compressed so much history down that it would have seemed ridiculous and the producers would have had to take a snapshot of the period (eg Caesar’s assassination), rather than look at an extended period of time (Caesar’s rise to power, his fall and Octavius/Octavian/Augustus’s rise to become emperor).
    “I don’t think it would be too controversial to point out that the quality ranking goes British TV in its heyday > American TV now > British TV now.”
    I would say “which part of British TV and which part of American TV?” If we assume that British TV in its heyday was the 70s, then as well as The Sandbaggers, I Claudius, Secret Army et al, we also have to include Mind Your Language, The Black and White Minstrel Show et al, which are clearly worse than even the poorest piece of crud that Spike TV in the US shows right now.
    If you look at US TV, there are basically historically three blocks of quality: the late 50s/early 60s anthology/Westinghouse series; the Steve Bochco shows of the late 80s and early 90s through to NYPD Blue; and the HBO shows of the last five years and the shows they’ve inspired.
    Now I would argue that the likes of Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Wire are easily in the same ball park as I Claudius et al; Star Trek even at its worst was better than 95% of Doctor Who; Hill Street Blues crapped all over The Bill or Z Cars. Even scaling down from the giddiest heights, there are generally just more good US shows than good British TV shows, albeit with a load of old rubbish surrounding those shows.
    And so on. It’s really just a matter of personal preference as to which is better than which at this level.
    Sure, you can compare the likes of Deadliest Warrior with Our Friends in the North, but we could compare Lost with Paradox, for example.
    So my equation would have been:
    British TV in its heydays (pre 1990 Broadcasting Act) and American TV in its heydays > the bulk of American TV now/outside those periods and channels > British TV now
    “I also got the idea that (at least in the past) writers were generally treated better in UK television, as it developed form a writer-centric theatrical tradition where the text was the property of the writer and respected, whereas American TV developed from the movie tradition where the script was simply part of a production line (hence the sausage-factory approach of ‘writer’s rooms’). But I hear this has changed recently too.”
    Yes on both counts. But the rise of the exec producer/showrunner who comes from the writing team to mastermind shows in the US over the past five to 10 years and the decline of the power of the writer in favour of the producer/commissioner in the UK has almost swapped that round. British shows are rarely writer-oriented now (some exceptions being DW, Shameless, Law & Order); virtually all US scripted shows are now writer-oriented, if only because network bosses like to have someone to complain to.
    “Hm, I wonder what all those good British writers who have been put off writing TV because their interested aren’t protected by the Writer’s Guild (what, you didn’t know there was one over here?) are doing.”
    ‘Do you want fries with that?’
    The Writer’s Guild in the UK is rubbish in comparison to the US’s which is very much a trade union. When was the last time the UK broadcasting industry was brought to a halt by a writers’ strike?
    Consider that someone writing for a big US TV show gets about $30,000/script; a movie script can get you into six figures if you’re lucky and that’s before rewrites. You can expect to get about £6,000 for an hour-long BBC drama. Most UK TV writers (and indeed writers in general) have second jobs and aren’t full-time writers as a result.

  • bob

    Thanks for the support. Wow, those figures for scripts really puts it into perspective.
    I don’t think I have seen any British tv from the 70s apart from Dad’s Army and a smattering of DW episodes which are far from the excellence of shows like “Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Wire” (there are more I could add but these three shows are pretty much perfection incarnate). I should try I Claudius if it is the equal to shows around now (it’ll go on my list for the summer). I am in my twenties though and so only know tv since the 90s apart from those things on endless repeats.
    “Longer series means better television? Surely the wrong way round there?”
    I’d actually go further than what Rob has said and say that it certainly benefits a drama to have long seasons. Then there is time to spin the tale at a natural pace and to develop and arc characters.
    Incidentally, Stephen Fry has spoken out for US tv above UK tv. Stephen Fry is always right, yes? I can’t find the article now… but I found this by RTD which is almost on topic seeing how this is a DW thread.

  • SK

    In my extensive (though perhaps not as extensive as Rob’s) experience of watching TV drama, longer series usually just mean more repetition: lots of episodes which deal with essentially the same theme or character, from the same angle (or don’t deal with any theme at all, and simply present ‘yet another case for the CSIs to tackle in the same way as last week / yet another person for the FBI to track down as the plot moves through the same beats as last week), without adding anything new to our understanding of the any of the characters. Shorter serials, on the other hand, force the episodes to be more concentrated and sharper (at least, they ought to: that things like Married, Single, Other exist should not be taken as completely disproving my point) with each one examining a different area of the character(s) and doing it as deeply as possible, because there will be no chance to come back later.
    I take the point about amortisation of production costs, though, and about the sense of historical scale. I can see there’s a place for such things, though I’d still suggest that they only really stand a chance of being worthwhile if they have some specific reason for being longer (to tell the story of Caesar’s rise and fall, for example, or of Henry VIII’s reign (these are hypothetical TV series, the actual quality or lack of of any TV series actually made using these ideas is not relevant)) and not — as seems too often the case in American TV — to simply churn out episode after episode and series after series until people stop watching.
    Regarding the shift of power to producer/commissioners, how does that work with the rash of writers setting up their own independent production companies? Is that simply in order to regain some of the ground that has been lost by occupying the territory of the producer (does that metaphor even work)?
    (By ‘heydaysof British TV’ I was thinking of going up to things like Edge of Darkness.)
    (Stephen Fry is often not right: QI becomes much less impressive after you hear an episode dealing with your own subject area, and extrapolate…)
    Slight factual correction: the BBC’s minimum rate for an hour-long episode of a serial or series is currently £9370.20 (based on rate of £156.17 per minute, effective 1 Nov 2009, figure from WGGB website). That doesn’t affect the substance of your point, but I do have to wonder — if all those good writers are busy putting cardboard chips into cardboard cups into paper bags, wouldn’t you think the BBC would be being a little less picky?
    But, seriously, is Matt Smith hideous or not? Like I said, I have an interest.

  • SK

    (Oh, and with the exchange rate hovering around 1.52 for the last year, $30,000 is a shade under £20,000, for comparison. So your Us writer is earning, on those figures, about twice as much per script — but of course the two situations are utterly incomparable, really, because one’s a salaried employee and the other is a self-employed freelance worker. And one has to pay a lot more tax, but on the other hand isn’t going to go bankrupt if they fall ill.)

  • MediumRob

    “In my extensive (though perhaps not as extensive as Rob’s) experience of watching TV drama, longer series usually just mean more repetition: lots of episodes which deal with essentially the same theme or character, from the same angle (or don’t deal with any theme at all, and simply present ‘yet another case for the CSIs to tackle in the same way as last week / yet another person for the FBI to track down as the plot moves through the same beats as last week), without adding anything new to our understanding of the any of the characters. Shorter serials, on the other hand, force the episodes to be more concentrated and sharper (at least, they ought to: that things like Married, Single, Other exist should not be taken as completely disproving my point) with each one examining a different area of the character(s) and doing it as deeply as possible, because there will be no chance to come back later.”
    Depends on the show. Depends on the network. Depends what you want from a TV show. Some serials (eg Prisoner remake, Mine All Mine) manage to look at almost no worthwhile themes and develop characters not at all. They can be there for pure entertainment.
    Other series are serialised and tell a continuing story (eg Heroes, Lost). Other shows are standalone with minimal serial components (eg CSI, The Mentalist). Law & Order has been running since the early 90s it’s no doubt repeated itself a lot. But then so does life in the police/legal profession. Audiences will arrive as other audiences depart and everything will seem like new to the new audiences.
    The Wire is five seasons long, 12-13 episodes per season, and looks at the decline of the urban working class, the inability of systems to change, the failure of inner city schools, the nature of the drug trade, et al. That’s 60+ episodes. Couldn’t have been done in a mini-series. Couldn’t probably have been done well because of the requirement of introducing new characters even with five mini-series. It’s the continuing nature of the series that allowed all those themes to be developed and interlinked, because each season builds on the previous season, adds to it and shows how they all interact with one another.
    Rome’s actually an interesting case in point. It was intended to be at least three seasons, with stories, character arcs, etc, all plotted. But the producers got told the show was cancelled before the second season had even started. So they compressed those two seasons down to one season, and you can really tell. Mark Anthony and Cleopatra have a years-long relationship in between the final two episodes. Octavian skips two wives to marry his third. Two battles get compressed down to one. And it’s measurably not as good for not having long enough to explore the characters.
    I think a story probably does have a natural length, but it varies from story to story. Make it too short or too long and it won’t be as good. Similarly, different shows suit different purposes.
    “Regarding the shift of power to producer/commissioners, how does that work with the rash of writers setting up their own independent production companies?”
    There can be a variety of reasons to set up a production company:
    1) You want more control over the production of your story, sell the format overseas for other writers to pick up, etc.
    2) Tax reasons
    3) You want to produce things other people write
    4) You want to pitch to Channel 4, which has no in-house production facilities, and no other production companies are interested in what you’ve written
    5) You want to become a producer because you’re tired of writing and want to earn some proper cash.
    6) The BBC wants to make your script but because it’s currently worried about its
    i) Expenses claims
    ii) Regional policy
    iii) Indies quota
    it won’t take a script from you directly for in-house production.
    7) You want to nurture other writers
    8) You want to become a company director and earn money off the backs of everyone else in your production company, without doing any work yourself
    There are very few writers, however, in the UK who run their own production companies. They’re usually ones that have a name (eg RTD, Paul Abbott) and usually they’re co-run with producers with whom they have an existing relationship. The producer can then get to work on selling what the writer writes, as well as advising them on what will make their work sellable. It’s almost a mirror of the in-house BBC system of old.
    There is, of course, no guarantee that having your own indie will guarantee that your story gets made, so the power is still in the commissioners’ hands. Indeed, there is a whole lot of arguing going on about super-indies and the amount of power they have (the sheer number of commissions that go to the likes of Tiger Aspect et al) with smaller indies going to the wall because they can only get “Men With Aardvarks” and its £10k per episode budget to even look at it – because the commissioners are only doing lunch with ‘reliable hands’.
    “(Stephen Fry is often not right: QI becomes much less impressive after you hear an episode dealing with your own subject area, and extrapolate…)”
    You’re not wrong. The Ancient Greek and quantum mechanics eps of QI were a long litany of half-truths that had me going “Hang on…”
    “Slight factual correction: the BBC’s minimum rate for an hour-long episode of a serial or series is currently £9370.20 (based on rate of £156.17 per minute, effective 1 Nov 2009, figure from WGGB website). That doesn’t affect the substance of your point, but I do have to wonder — if all those good writers are busy putting cardboard chips into cardboard cups into paper bags, wouldn’t you think the BBC would be being a little less picky?”
    They’re more worried about what the Daily Mail has to say and the next licence fee review. And there’s no real culture of nurturing, no real film schools that turn out writers, no apprenticeships, etc, as with US TV. There’s things like the BBC’s Writers’ Room, but they’re very few and far between, and few shows have writers’ rooms where people can learn their craft when they’re new.
    The result is that when new writers do turn up, they tend to be bolts out of the blue (eg James Corden and Ruth Jones), rather than having come up through the ranks. And often there’s a tendency to take a new writer and stick them straight into the firing line. On a collaboratively written, ensemble show like Lost, you have experienced writers and producers and a team who can take and polish scripts. You may work on a whole load of episodes, helping to break them down, but only end up writing one to three out of a season of 22. If your script sucks, it’s the execs’ faults and it won’t be so noticeable. Almost no one will remember it was your script that sucked.
    Here, (outside of soap operas, which is where the likes of Rusty and Paul Abbott were nurtured and really learnt their craft) we’ll stick the writer front and centre, not bother to edit the scripts or nurture, and then if the story is rubbish, they’ll never be employed again. Much more like the theatrical tradition but not in a good way.
    “But, seriously, is Matt Smith hideous or not? Like I said, I have an interest.”
    Well, I wouldn’t do him. Without being unkind, he reminds me a little too much of John Hurt in The Elephant Man from certain angles. But he seems nice enough and a decent actor.
    My general guidance on watching things is
    1) Is this an interesting show? If yes, watch it
    2) If not, is there a decent character or actor who’s more interesting than the rest of the show? If yes, watch it, providing the rest of the show isn’t totally heinous
    3) If not, is there someone fanciable in it? If so, watch it until even that’s not enough.
    So I started watching Heroes because it was interesting. I continued watching Heroes because I liked Ali Larter as Tracy Strauss in season 3. I now almost only watch Heroes because of the vague hope that Ali Larter will actually be in an episode.
    But DW I watch because it’s relatively enjoyable. I am less inclined to watch in since David Tennant left, because even though I think the DT scripts were weaker, albeit with an emotional content that made the characters more enjoyable, I prefer David Tennant and the 10th Doctor’s character over Matt Smith’s. In due course, if the scripts drop off in quality, I will only watch because of Karen Gillan. And that is the way of things.

  • MediumRob

    “(Oh, and with the exchange rate hovering around 1.52 for the last year, $30,000 is a shade under £20,000, for comparison. So your Us writer is earning, on those figures, about twice as much per script — but of course the two situations are utterly incomparable, really, because one’s a salaried employee and the other is a self-employed freelance worker. And one has to pay a lot more tax, but on the other hand isn’t going to go bankrupt if they fall ill.)”
    Indeed, the fact that writers are salaried in the US and not in the UK makes a huge difference. A US scriptwriter will typically earn $2,000 to $5,000 a week. Plus comparing US tax rates and UK tax rates will only make us all sad (a little less sad when local taxes are included, but still sad).

  • Jon

    I concede. Technically you are right, we’ve seen examples of all these character traits before. I’m well aware that the doctor can be spoiled, arrogant, cruel, aloof, judgemental and manipulative. I am not saying that the 11th Doctor is nastier than any of the others (in fact, most of the time he doesn’t seem to have a malicious bone in his body), just something seems ‘off’- each one of the moments I listed definitely leaped out at me as being out of character, for some reason I cannot quite put my finger on now that we’re analysing them.
    I think your observation of him lacking joy and charm probably has a lot to do with it though. Joy and charm helped us forgive the first doctor for being selfish, the fourth for being childish, the sixth doctor for being beligerant, the seventh doctor for being manipulative and the ninth for being hard-headed and rude. But perhaps the problem is also that I cannot really accept Matt Smith as the Doctor, as much as I try. I’m not getting the feeling that I’m watching the same brilliant, mercurial, formidable, meddlesome, benevolent genius i know and love. And maybe that’s my fault, or maybe it’s Smiths. I can’t really tell.
    Maybe a lot of it is his age, tbh, even though I’m the same age as him. When the other Doctors sulked or had tantrums they seemed crazy and alien. When a 26 year old does that.. well I want to tell him to grow up. And when an older man is cruel or wicked for some mysterious greater purpose, again he seems alien and compelling because you trust his wisdom and yet fear his power. When a young man acts the same way he seems more like a yob. The characterisation that worked for other doctors doesn’t work so well for this one. A more mild-mannered brilliance worked for the 5th doctor and would probably be a better direction for the 11th.
    I don’t want to come across as just slagging him off btw. I’m just talking so much about this because I can’t warm to him and I’m having trouble figuring out why.

  • “But, seriously, is Matt Smith hideous or not? Like I said, I have an interest.”
    SK: is there something about yourself that we’re not getting? I don’t even think MS is hideous (he’s not my taste, but that’s irrelevant) so what’s the problem? Am sure you’re perfectly lovely

  • SK

    What you don’t know about is my nose.
    The age thing hasn’t been as much of a problem as I feared, actually, mostly because they seem to have written him old, and Smith is playing along with that, so the effect is of an old man who happens to be trapped in an incongruously younger body — even more so than Davison. Moffat wrote an article for the BBC in whihc he point sup this approach:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2010/04/doctor-who-the-return-of-the-w.shtml
    The Doctor has a belief that he is cooler than he actually is. For instance in that first episode where he yells “Who da man?” and everybody cringes.
    It’s those moments that really show where the old man comes through in Matt’s performance, because there is nothing wrong with a young man shouting that, the awkwardness is when your dad tries to say it. That’s The Doctor through and through.
    The Doctor’s often been an old man acting childishly (it was practically Hartnell’s whole schtick). Now we have a young man playing an old man acting childishly, which is a kind of subtle thing to get right so that it doesn’t just come across as a young man being childish. I think it’s generally been coming across, though of course I may have been predisposed to see it because that’s the direction I was hoping they would take, so I see the performance already through that lens.
    I also think it helps that Smith (whether hideous or just plain) is definitely not a pretty-boy like Tennant. Tennant was older but looked like a pin-up; Smith is younger but doesn’t, and I think that kind of negates his youth a bit. I’m betting teenage girls aren’t invariably swooning over him as they did Tennant (maybe some of them are, but like I said, Marmite). And that means that while he may be young, he doesn’t seem to have been cast for youth-appeal. Which again is a nice change of direction.
    Finally, I’m not sure I ever saw the ‘joy and charm’ in Colin Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor. We could debate forever whether that was the writing or the performance or elements of both, but really, joy and charm seemed definitely lacking.

  • SK

    Darn, the ‘<cite>’ tags didn’t work. The two paragraphs after the URL above are quotations from the linked article.

  • bob

    I disagree that DT was a pin-up. He’s pretty plain in my opinion. But his manner was quite electrifying. And the look in his eyes and the genuineness of his smile. I don’t think appearances matter all that much. I mean, as long as someone isn’t hideous, what matters is how they behave. Charisma is something more than appearances.
    I think people find Matt Smith unattractive because of how he has been portraying the Doctor (and in a sense that is a mark of how successful and good an actor he is because it seems that the goal isn’t to create a heart-throb unlike with DT who was often romantically entangled). I think if Matt Smith’s Doctor was shown to fall in love and soften, opinions about him would change.
    And I thank Jon for his comments. It’s something I’ve been trying to work out too.

  • MediumRob

    “I disagree that DT was a pin-up. He’s pretty plain in my opinion.”
    You’re a brave man, sir. A brave man. I salute you. It’s been a pleasure knowing you.

  • “I concede.”
    Great. You’re going to fit in well round here 😉
    “I’m not getting the feeling that I’m watching the same brilliant, mercurial, formidable, meddlesome, benevolent genius i know and love.”
    I did during the first episode and I thought he had charisma in that episode, but since then he’s gone a bit “Twin Dilemma” if you know what I mean. I think he’s been unlikable, a bit dim (the Steven Moffat adjective of “an old duffer” is apt) and without equivalent compensating traits like joy and charm since. He’s Colin Baker – season 22 – rather than in the Big Finish plays.
    If you’re going to accept a Doctor who’s arrogant, etc, you have to have something to make you want to ignore that. The Third Doctor (season 7 – my fave) was an absolute cock, but he was also charming, exciting, humorous and saved the day. We need equivalent character traits for the 11th Doctor.

  • SK

    ‘Not being David Tennant’ is doing quite well for me at the moment. In fact, I’m thinking perhaps I should get some Scandinavian committee to award him a prize for it.

  • “[Bob]”I disagree that DT was a pin-up. He’s pretty plain in my opinion.[Rob]”You’re a brave man, sir. A brave man. I salute you. It’s been a pleasure knowing you.”
    HA! That really made me chuckle. For what it’s worth Bob, I’ll look out for your survival against the worst excesses of Tennant fandom. But actually I think you’re pretty safe.
    Look: let me state it again, I stand as an avowed Tennant fan – my contributions to Sitting Tennant should make that clear – but I am happy to concede that he is ridiculously gangly and skinny, with a slightly squiffy eye and a rather pouty bottom lip. His taste in clothes for public appearances is quirky to say the least. (Interestingly his truly relaxing clothes seem to be very casual jeans and t-shirts whereas Matt Smith genuinely seems to have built-in weirdness tastes far more than his Doctor is allowed on screen. Have you SEEN how Smith dresses on the Confidentials?! No wonder they cast him…)
    Anyway, re Tennant’s physical characteristics being a bit ‘off’ when compared to standard (Hollywood) pin-up fare, I’d nevertheless point out Bob’s follow-up remark
    “But his manner was quite electrifying. And the look in his eyes and the genuineness of his smile.”
    YES. Entirely. When I first became aware of Tennant I was captivated by the intensity of his acting, by the expressiveness in his face, especially his eyes (and yes, when the Scottish accent appeared I truly fell head over). So would argue that Tennant is absolutely NOT a (typical – whatever that means) pin-up. But nevertheless Tennant became a pin-up by virtue of those not entirely physical attributes – all that ‘joy and charm’ if you like. And being the Doctor – smart is sexy – contributed to all that pin-up appeal too.
    (and I write this in my ‘study’ with walls decorated in a way that belies I am happily partnered, in my forties, and not the 14-year-old who lives in my head)
    What also has to be remembered is that over the years there have been a LOT of pin-ups that even at the time seemed largely incomprehensible.

  • SK

    There have indeed been a lot of pin-ups that even at the time seemed largely incomprehensible…
    But William Hartnell? Patrick Troughton? Sylvester McCoy? Even Christopher Eccleston?
    Whether just because of his looks (I’m hardly qualified to judge a man’s looks, but his face is symmetrical, and as I understand it that’s a big turn-on, isn’t it?) or his ‘expressiveness’ he certainly became one–
    And I don’t think the Doctor should become a pin-up.
    So I’m quite happy to have an actor who is unlikely to be one (except, perhaps, for some rather odd teenage girls) in the role.
    (And to have a non-pin-up Doctor at the same time as we get a perfect pin-up companion… it’s like all the Christmas Specials have come at once).

  • And I don’t think the Doctor should become a pin-up.
    I have a certain sympathy for that: I think the confluence that led to Tennant/Ten becoming the pin-up he did was partly generated by the work he did in its immediate run-up (specifically but not exclusively Blackpool and Casanova) PLUS the desire of RTD to play up a love-story element – I don’t otherwise it would necessarily have led to Ten’s pin-up status.
    I too rather like the Doctor NOT being the pin-up whilst the companion is wonderfully eye-catching. Shallow: yes.

  • Poly

    SK said: “And to have a non-pin-up Doctor at the same time as we get a perfect pin-up companion… it’s like all the Christmas Specials have come at once”
    Isn’t that a tiny bit sexist? You know, as long as men get their fantasy, who cares about women?

  • SK

    Of course it’s sexist. This is Doctor Who we’re talking about. There have always been pretty young women to draw the attention of the men of Britain. Sexist kind of goes with the territory. If you don’t want sexist, a TV programme from the sixties is the wrong place to start (it’s a bit like complaining about mini-skirts).
    (As it happens, I have no objection to women getting their fantasy, as it happens. Dashing male companion, fine with me. I’ll hold the banner for equal rights for companion-fancying. But the Doctor himself a pin-up? No. That’s not what the programme is about.)

  • SK

    Oh, dear, that kind of repetition is what comes of editing comments late on a bank holiday. Do please discount either the first or the second as it happens (your choice).

  • Poly

    Doctor Who started in the sixties but it’s not a sixties programme. No way do 10 million people each week watch a sixties programme.
    “But the Doctor himself a pin-up? No. That’s not what the programme is about.”
    It can be, and it is with Matt Smith as well, whether you want to see it or not.

  • SK

    No, it’s not, and if ten million people want to watch a pin-up Doctor then all I can say is that it wouldn’t be the first time ten million people had been wrong.

  • Mr Shuffles

    ya i totaly think your wrong best dr to date for me. David
    Tennents Doc also made comments about humans and i think its works. smiths younger more cowboy reincarnation of the Dr is refreshing and i like the way he antagonizes the bishop. After all the mopey last time lord stuff of the last series. Its a welcome change to have a Dr who is not afraid to ruffle a few feathers all in all Best Dr WHO EVER

  • Marie

    Sorry, I didn’t get the “Doctor can’t be a pin-up” memo.
    I think David Tennant put in a better performance than Matt Smith. I don’t think you can invalidate that opinion by saying he is too sexy for the role. Seems to me that you think the Doctor being sexy is demeaning or cheapening or something. DT’s Doctor was in large part sexy because he was so intelligent. Doctor Ten in glasses… mmmmmmmmmm…….. But it’s not because Matt Smith isn’t attractive to me that I don’t like him as the Doctor. I loved Chris Ecclestone’s Doctor and he isn’t going to be winning any beauty pageants anytime soon.

  • I didn’t get that memo either(-: I have to say DT’s doc was the first one I’ve fancied, and it was because he was soulful and funny and intelligent and all the things everyone else has mentioned. I don’t fancy Matt Smith, but I have to say there have been moments (like the custard and fishfingers in ep1) and the point when he kissed Amy’s head in ep5 (sorry I am ahead of myself here) where I really have loved him. I think he’s great, probably does speak a bit fast, but he’s quirky and odd and makes me laugh. That’ll do.
    Btw Rob, is this shaping up to be your longest thread ever, or does that honour still belong to the blonde elevator?

  • MediumRob

    “Btw Rob, is this shaping up to be your longest thread ever, or does that honour still belong to the blonde elevator?”
    The longest threads were the Burn Notice and Julie and Julia competitions but they don’t really count since no one was actually having a conversation. But apart from those two, yes, this is the now longest thread in TMINE history, which just goes to show that people’s favourite pastime is talking about who they fancy.
    Mmm, Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2…

  • Marie

    Over at my blog we’re mainly talking about the sound levels.

  • Have we swapped blogs by accident?

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  • Steve

    “Yeah, got confused about the first episode thing. Sorry for misleading you, Marie.I do hope River doesn’t turn out to the The Rani or something. That would be dreadfully disappointing. I’m also a bit confused about the whole spotter’s guide thing – does she take no notice at all of which face the Doctor happens to be wearing? Which faces does she have in the book? Has she met any earlier than 10, and if so, why doesn’t he remember? Is there something wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey going on?And is anyone else having problems with the sound levels? The dialogue inside the Tardis while River was flying it was almost completely drowned out by the music.”
    Hi, yes.. I have too much ambient noise (machine sounds, music, etc.) coming from the episode soundtrack that tends to drown out the dialogue. I have noticed this in the last 3 episodes, but especially in the “The Time of Angels.” This issue seemed to be a problem in the 9th Doctor season as well. This ambient noise issues seemed to be resolved during the 3 seasons with the 10th Doctor.

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