Thursday, 21 April 2011

Steve Does Dr Who - An Introduction.

Elisabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane Smith, publicity photo
Due to the death of Elisabeth Sladen just days before the new series was due to start, Circumstance has made this a strange time to be launching a Dr Who based blog.

I can't deny that Sarah Jane wasn't one of my favourite assistants. For all the talk over the years of her being the first feminist companion, my main memories of her from my childhood are of her tripping over things, being carried around unconscious half the time and possessing what seemed like an inability to meet a grassy embankment without rolling helplessly down it.

None of that of course was Lis Sladen's fault. Like any actor, she was stuck with the script she was given and, in the 1970s, the Doctor's assistants were often given scripts that didn't best serve them. I remember Louise Jameson's anecdote about taking every new script she was given and going through it with a Biro, crossing out all the screams.

But, whatever my doubts about Sarah Jane's original characterisation, Lis Sladen was a part of the show's history for a long long time and always came across has having a certain civilised quality. Plus, there's no denying the Sarah Jane Smith we got in the Sarah Jane Adventures was far closer to the character we'd always been told she was than the character she'd once been.

The fact that Sladen had seemed to be in perfect health and defying the years with consummate ease only served to make her death all the more shocking and saddening, rubbing in that it wasn't only Lis Sladen who died that day, it was a small part of our childhood, the part that believed that, with a police box and a screwdriver, time itself can be defied.

Sadly, time can't be defied, it rolls endlessly on, ultimately crushing all in its path. The death of Elisabeth Sladen forced us all, however subconsciously, to confront that.

But if time must travel ever onwards, so must this blog. I've not exactly set myself the most arduous of tasks. Each week, as soon as I've had chance to watch it twice, I'll review the latest episode, and no doubt annoy you by saying your favourite episode of all time is terrible and your least favourite episode's a masterpiece.

That's the funny thing about consensus - there isn't one.

For instance, I have to own up that I was planning to launch this blog after the last Christmas special but, unlike a lot of people, I really didn't like that special. I didn't feel I needed another retelling of A Christmas Carol, and the sight of Katherine Jenkins crooning at a shark was when I started looking at the clock and wondering how much more of it we still had to endure.

I'd also had problems with the first half of the previous season, as Steven Moffat seemed to be trying to still give us Russell T Davies' Dr Who instead of his own.

Happily, things picked up in the second half of that season, and, once the truly dreadful Silurian two-parter was over, it was all plain sailing, as everyone concerned seemed to find their feet and their feel. All I can hope is that, with a full season behind them, Moffat and Matt Smith have fully made the show into a pair of shoes that fit those feet like a glove and will use them to tread the path of total consistency.

Who knows; we might even finally get to find out who River Song is. I'm betting she's an agent of Omega but, then, none of my guesses about the show and its future developments have ever proven to be right. So, what do I know?


cerebus660 said...

Hi Steve! Looking forward to your views on Who 2011. I'll again be doing my own ( consistently late and irrelevant ) reviews at The Glass Walking-Stick. It's just a shame the deaths of Nicholas Courtney and Lis Sladen will be casting such a shadow over the new series :-(

Steve said...

Hello, cerebus, and Paul. Two followers already. :)

I am strangely excited by the prospect of a new series of Who, even though I'm old enough to know better.

Kid said...

River Song is the Doctor's wife from the future. Not sure it's his first wife 'though. Remember, he did use to travel with his granddaughter.

Steve said...

I shall feel seriously let down if she is his wife. It'd be cheating for her to be who it's already been hinted she is.

Mickey Glitter said...

Found this site via Cerebus660. What a wonderful first post! I want to especially thank you for the second paragraph about the hapless Sarah Jane. I definitely laughed outloud, so much of her haplessness very fresh in my memory cells from recent rewatchings of The Android Invasion, The Brain of Morbius, and Revenge of the Cybermen.

Steve said...

Hi, Mickey, thanks for the praise, and welcome to the blog. I'm a bit worried that, with my last couple of reviews, I'm coming across as a bit of a miserable you-know-what, so it's nice to know I've brought a little laughter into the world.

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