Sunday, September 9, 2007


With the end of the summer season, it's time for another traditional induction into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. In September we honor someone behind the scenes in TV production (writer, producer, studio exec, etc.) who has been instrumental in creating TV crossovers.

And since we've been running a mini-theme this year for 'Doctor Who', it makes sense to award this "honor" to the Time Lord's current man behind the curtain:

RTD didn't create 'Doctor Who', which has been acknowledged as the longest-running science fiction program in history. But after the show had been languishing off the air in Limbo since 1989 (with only the 1996 FOX TV movie featuring the Seventh and the Eighth Doctors to break the fast), Davies used his considerable clout as a successful writer and producer ("Queer As Folk") to bring the series back.

But his vision of the Time Lord was radically different from what people remembered. No longer presented in serial form with a cheapjack, slow-moving production quality with cheesy aliens with zippers running up their backs, the new show was fast-paced with high-end special effects and inventive plots. The narrative styles was always in flux and plenty of new and exciting characters were introduced, chief among them Captain Jack Harkness. Jack has shaken up the image of the sci-fi hero on TV so much (to my way of thinking), that I can't see how an audience can be satisfied with watching some stiff officer who's always tugging at his uniform's tunic.

Not that I'm thinking of anyone in particular.......

'Doctor Who' has been so revitalized, that there are now two spin-off series (the already launched 'Torchwood' and 'The Sarah Jane Adventures', coming soon), with a show about the tin dog K-9 being prepped as well.

And yet.....

I'm not alone in thanking RTD for bringing 'Doctor Who' back, but at the same time wishing he would step away from any further involvement with the show.

As inventive as the show has been, RTD was responsible for some of the worst plots and ludicrous villains ever seen on the show. I know I'm not alone in wishing he would at least just oversee production, shepherd the story arc outline at most, and leave the actual script-writing to others.

His season-ender this year is a great example, but as it hasn't yet aired in the USA, I won't say much about it; just that after three stellar episodes by other writers (and admittedly a good one by RTD to kick off the finale, "Utopia"), he gave us a frenetic everything but the kitchen sink music video and puppet show. One of his biggest problems is that he has to make everything over the top - as an example, it was never enough to crash an alien spaceship in the Thames. He had to smash it through Big Ben first.

And now, in order to dabble in other projects and still maintain his grip on the show, after the fourth series there will be only a handful of specials until the fifth series will be back in 2010.

But still.... Russell T. Davies did bring the Doctor back to us, so I can't complain too much. And with the Doctor came Captain Jack (not that way, perv) and the return of Sarah Jane Smith and K-9, so we're doffing our time helmet to salute RTD as the Crossover Hall of Fame inductee for September 2007.

Toby OB

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