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Dislike for Russell T Davies

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Amuro
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« on: January 11, 2011, 01:48:17 pm »

New poster, and probably not going to make many friends with this as my first post. I wasn't sure whether this thread was only appreciation, so feel free to move it if it was meant to be only positive comments.

To be honest, I really dislike Russell as a writer of Doctor Who. Looking at the episodes he's written, I can honestly say I can only enjoy Tooth and Claw, the series 2 finale, Utopia, Midnight, Turn Left and The Waters of Mars (and even with those i have a lot of problems). The rest of his episodes I find either ruined by over-the-top stories and thoughtless endings or just genuinely awful. My enjoyment of Nu Who has been largely from episodes written by others (Human Nature 2 parter, Blink, Empty Child 2 parter, Library 2 parter, Satin Pit 2 parter are my favourites - although I acknowledge that as the showrunner, he had a big part in getting these episodes out there). His characters were mostly bad. Rose got increasingly unbearable as time went on, Martha had potential that was squandered by making her subservient to the Doctor (although this was done very nicely in Human nature) and Donna had some great mature moments (again, surprise surprise, in episodes like the Library and Fires of Pompeii - not written by Russell) but was ultimately mis-used (her constantly saying "I'm just a temp" yet being "most important person in the universe" for some very hokey reason was done very badly). Jack is great, but I'm not sure how much of his character was conceived by Moffet?

I also feel that the 10th Doctor was run into the ground by Russel's writing, making him quite unsympathetic. I understand that this might have been somewhat intentional (his own ego meaning that he became a danger) but the way he treated Martha wasn't that great and he did become slightly 'emo' as he always made other peoples problems - including the tragedy of Donna becoming a confident women only to have to snatched away - his own reason to be upset and angsty. While Tennant was great, i feel he was always best in other people's episodes.

I really don't buy the idea that we have to be grateful for Russell for bringing it back. I think there are many other people who could have taken the job and perhaps even provided better results. Maybe Doctor Who did need to become a bigger event/spectacle with modern references and styles to become popular again. I personally think that it is the inventiveness, humour and unlimited imagination of Doctor Who that made it a success in the past and now. To think that people needed countless Dalek fleets, giant Cyber Kings, London constantly under attack and soap opera storylines to come back to the show is flawed and that the show could have returned in many guises to the same level of success. Still, Russell must be given credit for allowing a great variety of story's into his series, even if they were sometimes confined to the wider parameters of his version of the show.

Finally, I really think we are back on track now after series 5. The series had some brilliant episodes (11th hour, Angels 2 parter, Amy's Choice, Vincent and the Doctor and the finale are all among the best ever Who) and lots of episodes that lived up to, and often exceeded, stories from the past few years (the second part of the Silurian and the Lodger story being the only episodes that didn't have me fully satisfied). More importantly, the tone and characters have been much improved and it feels like a more serious, yet at the same time more fun, show. Although some stories are bound to be less stellar than others (this has been the case with every single Doctor Who series, or ANY series for that matter) i feel Doctor Who as a franchise is stronger than it has been for a LONG TIME. I understand many disagree with this, so maybe it's more of a personal thing whether Russell's writing touched you.
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 02:52:37 pm »

Hey Amuro - you were right the other thread was for appreciation only so I have moved your post to start a thread for people who aren't so keen on RTD's writing/stewardship of the show.

We like to keep appreciation & dislike threads separate to promote harmony & prevent rows.

Thanks for your thoughts.


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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 05:25:14 pm »

Hey mate, don't worry about your opinions not making you friends or anything. Opinions around here are fairly divided, and there are even a few people like me who are able to see both the good and the bad in topics like this.

I have no distinct dislike for the man, but I do agree with a great deal of what you've said about both his writing and the direction he took the show. His style works well for adult dramas and dark-ish comedies. It deals with mature themes and almost always provides some level of social commentary - not necessarily intentionally, but that's just who he is. That kind of style doesn't always mesh well with a family oriented show, and much less so with one like Doctor Who. And it definitely shows in some of his Doctor Who episodes.

I also disliked his penchant for massive, Earth-shattering stories that brought the existence of aliens and even of the Doctor himself to the public eye. In a way it kind of cheapens the whole thing, where the Doctor saves countless lives simply because it's the right thing to do, not because he wants to be a hero. That was one thing that really stood out as odd in the finale to Series III - as thrilling and moving as it may have been to think of the idea of the entire world calling out for a hero they can't even really be sure exists simply out of hope, it doesn't fit in with the Doctor, especially if you consider the fact that it was the Doctor who instructed Martha on how to go about stopping the Master. Just as Martha said in that very episode, no one ever knew he was there and he never asked to be thanked. But then he goes and tells the whole world "Hey, look't me, I can help you!". Making such a public spectacle out of the Doctor was even more blatant in the Christmas specials, but bugged me most in The Next Doctor, which otherwise had the potential to become a really fantastic and touching story, until the Cyberking turned out to be nothing more than a massive Cyberman that went all Godzilla on London.

But all in all, he really did want the show to succeed, and that makes it possible for me - and many others, I've found - to forgive his sometimes lacklustre or "un-Doctor Who-ish" writing and stories.

I also agree, this time a little more whole-heartedly, with your opinion on the newest series. I was among those who had reservations about Matt Smith, as I've historically had about every new Doctor, but was once again pleasantly surprised when he lived up to my expectations of him - and then some. And Steven Moffat has definitely performed up to his usual high standard of storytelling, delivering both intensity and emotion in perfect measure throughout the season. The only complaint I had about his first season as showrunner was The Vampires of Venice, which I felt was lacking something I can't quite put into words; though I'll also agree that I did not enjoy The Lodger as much as I thought I would - but that was more to do with my dislike for the bloated, petulant git of a guest star than the episode's writing.
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 12:36:03 am »

He does have a habit of making a big spectacle, never mind the consequences, and making the villains, like the Master, too powerful so that the Doctor must come up with some new contrivance to get out of the situation. While people can compare Doctor Who with the past that they're familiar with, and acknowledge that RTD brought it back, it makes it easier for some to dismiss Torchwood and elements of it for being a newer show and more subject to those more extreme and un-Doctor Who like situations. Though RTD started the concept of Torchwood, and introduced it well, most of the series was written by others and has many good moments. When he took it over again with CoE, while it was a spectacular production, it was also prone to excess. 

I did find more to like about series 5 with Steven Moffat, along with his standout episodes with the previous Doctors. I liked the character moments for the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory, and the whole season tied together well with a continuation leading into series 6.
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2011, 10:38:59 am »

 Hyacathusarillistad:

Glad we are in agreement! I'm certainly not blind to some of the faults with series 5 either. I too hate Corden, which put me off straight away, but was more rattled with the conclusion that had more to do with his character finding resolution rather than the enemy being dispatched in a way that made real sense (this flaw is even more glaring considering the ship in this episode is set to reappear - just imagine if its a Silent ship and it was outsmarted by James Corden?). The Cold Blood episode was just dull and didn't really make sense in places (the Silurians tale was wrapped up too quickly). Also, there were a lot of flaws in Victory of the Daleks (but I like the new design - I don't take the Daleks as seriously after Donna dispatched them by pressing some buttons in the Daleks own dungeon...) and the Beast Below needed to be more clear on some points to emphasise the brilliance of it's premise/setting (why would the government, which it turned out was reasonably benevolent, use underachieving children as slave labour - surely maintaining a space colony would required a lot of unskilled workmen - or create the Smilers?) And yes, sometimes Amy can be a bit stroppy, but she can also be quite charming - increasingly so once we get to Vincent and the Doctor.

Overall, however, I felt these were flaws within the individual episode scripts rather than the overall tone and/or characterisations. I'm sure I could make similar criticisms of even the best of the previous series'. That's why I'm so much more happy with the direction than in the previous series. The problems I had with Russel's writing was that EVERY story had glaring, over the top problems that really took me out of the show, and the characters were increasingly being poorly managed. Also, Victory of the Daleks and the Lodger were most likely already well established in the minds of the writers (both who were established in Russel's era) and so perhaps didn't fit the tone of the more Moffat dominated parts of the series. The age of Busted cameos, the Queen waving at a falling Titanic replica, Giant cybermen and ridiculous season finale conclusions is over and I'm very happy for that!

poprockgeek:

No problem, just wasn't sure about making a new topic with my first post!
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 03:18:23 am »

Hey Amuro, welcome!  Smiley  I'm no fan of RTD's Who either; I much prefer Moffat's leadership.  Many of my favorite episodes of the RTD era were written by Moffat.   I'm so with you on the "ridiculous season finale conclusions" thing - the cliffhangers were great but the finale was always such a let down.  I thought series 5 was phenomenal, some of the best TV I've seen in years.  The only episode I really didn't care for was "The Beast Below", because I found the concept so ludicrous.  I think I'm one of the few people who actually liked the Silurian episodes.  Also, I adore the Eleventh Doctor.  I never really liked Ten; his regeneration scene made me soooo happy!  Grin
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 09:06:55 am »

Hey DAK!

I liked Tennant's doctor for a long time, mainly due to his energy and enthusiasm. I felt, though, that by the end it was made out that this energy was just a cover for the pain inside and that it was totally forced. I'm not sure if this was due to acting or writing, or it was actually intentional in RTDs plans, but it made it seem like the good elements of the character weren't natural. I really hated how he made the hurt suffered by his companions his own and was really self centered by the end. The one plus of this was that it made Waters of Mars a very interesting episode as it dealt with this.

With 11, I feel like the energy and enthusiasm is completely authentic. Is it just me who imagines Matt's Doctor would be EXCITED by regeneration rather than dreading it? It was a bit drawn out how Tennant lingered while regenerating, 'not wanting to leave' and going back over his experiences. When 11 is threatened with being wiped out of existence, he tries to save himself but then resigns to his fate as he 'hates re-runs'. I really loved this contrast in character. To me, 11s version captures the character of the Doctor much more accurately (as did Eccleston).
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2011, 02:47:47 am »

With 11, I feel like the energy and enthusiasm is completely authentic. Is it just me who imagines Matt's Doctor would be EXCITED by regeneration rather than dreading it?

Never thought of that, but now that I do, it feels exactly right.

And you're not alone, guys. It took me ages to get into Who, because it was so uneven. I watched a couple of S1 episodes, then a few months later (after prodding from several friends), I got into it, until the finale. Then the first couple of S2 episodes, and then I stopped again...

I could see that both Tennant and Eccleston had a great grip on the character, and the show could hit high notes when it wanted to. But when it didn't, it stunk. Badly. And as you have said, the 2 part of the two parters always disappointed. RTD set the stakes quite brilliantly in the first parts, I give him that. But never solved them right.

That's why I like Season 5, overall, more than the other seasons. And it's the season I would use to introduce people to Who. I would tell them, once they've watched 5, to watch the first seasons, now that they've got a handle on the show and the character.
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2011, 09:14:32 am »

Yeah, it also took me a while to get into Nu Who. A lot of people lay a lot of acclaim on Rose (the episode), but when I first saw the show was coming back I saw the burping wheelie bin and plastic Mickey and despaired that they had done that to the show. Then I tuned in to Aliens in London and couldn't believe they had made it so bad with farting aliens (looking back, that two parter seemed more like a trial run for Sarah Jane Adventures). I heard there was going to be a regeneration and Daleks in the finale so tuned in, only to switch off when there was robot Anne Robinson and Trinney and Sussanah (I had to google those people as I couldn't remember them...but earth in thousands of years still will?!). I fully blame Russell for making it so hard for me to get back into the series, and for making the show a laughing matter amongst most of my friends (as if I hadn't had enough stick for liking classic Who thanks to clips only ever referencing dodgy sea devils and bubblewrap villains!)

Ironically, it was only after seeing Empty Child/Doctor Dances and Girl in the Fireplace that really made me want to seriously get back into it. Still, series 5 was the first time where I really felt I loved the current Dr Who again.
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2011, 08:18:06 pm »

I'm not a fan of Russell T Davies either, so you're not alone!  Afro

My biggest issue is his overall portrayal of female characters. First you've got Rose Tyler, who I think he's written to be his ideal woman: white, blonde, pink loving, and girly - the ultimate feminine stereotype. The only way she gets any joy out of life is by getting a man.

There's a similar parallel to The Doctor and Rose's "relationship" in Torchwood with Jack and Gwen's relationship. It's not quite as obvious, since Gwen doesn't visually adhere to the Barbie stereotype, but she becomes a pass around sex toy. Rhys is her Mickey and the only difference is that she made him forget that he learned about her betrayal and then went onto have a baby with him. (I won't be surprised if Rhys is the next to get killed on in TW though, just so Gwen and Jack and finally  Roll Eyes be together.)

I feel that there are also extremely disturbing racial undertones, particularly with the way he contrasts his OTP of The Doctor and Rose with Mickey and Martha. The latter two both got treated worse than dirt, but at least he allowed Martha to get away and become engaged to Tom Milligan, a man that actually respected her. But for what? Just so she could break the engagement within a few months (within the Who timeline) and turn around and marry Mickey? Now, personally, I think Mickey and Martha did deserve each other because they were both highly underrated characters who constantly got the short end of the stick. I was glad they ended up with people who would treat them right, the way they deserved to be treated. But I don't think that's why RTD put them together. I do think he thought they deserved each other, but for very different reasons then mine: I believe he viewed them as Rose and The Doctor's "leftovers," which is why I think he had no problem putting them together. This would have infuriated me no matter what color their skin was, but the fact that both Mickey and Martha were the first male and female black companions in DW takes the issue to a new level, because there was a concious choice to make those characters - who were always intended to be "leftovers" whether or not he always envisioned them ending up together as well - black, and yet his portrayal has always said to me: "This - Rose and The Doctor - is what you should strive for, while this - Martha and Mickey - is not good enough."

Then there's also "Love & Monsters" in which RTD writes that the hero of the show advocates bringing a woman back to a partial life as a stone block, so she can "live" out the rest of eternity giving blow jobs. I couldn't even believe my ears when I heard that at the end of the episode. I was revolted.

Obviously I don't know the man personally and I can't say I don't like him as a person, but the recurring gender and racial messages in his writing really stand out to me and that's why, on the whole, I do not have a favorable opinion of him.
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2011, 03:30:51 am »

Yeah, "Love and Monsters" was not only an all time low for "Doctor Who", but for television as a whole IMO.  I very nearly quit watching the show altogether in season 2; I found the whole season pretty abysmal.  A friend of mine did quit watching; it took a lot of convincing to get her to give season 5 a try, but she loves Matt Smith and the quality of the writing.  I love shows that make you think and keep you guessing as to what's going to happen next (and not feel let down when it does air)! 

It never occurred to me that Mickey and Martha were "leftovers", but I can definitely see your point.  Their engagement came completely out of nowhere, especially considering that Martha was already engaged the previous time we saw her.  I liked the "tough" Mickey a lot more than I did when he was Rose's wimpy boyfriend, so I can see why Martha might find him hot!  Martha in particular really got the short shaft as a character; she was obviously very intelligent, nearly had her medical degree, but all the focus seemed to be on her unrequited love for the Doctor.  Sheesh!
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