Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

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SJF
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by SJF »

Deborah J wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:48 pm
I don't remember ryan turning against the doctor, when did that happen?
Pretty much gradually over the course of Series 12.
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Deborah J
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by Deborah J »

SJF wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:01 pm
Deborah J wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:48 pm
I don't remember ryan turning against the doctor, when did that happen?
Pretty much gradually over the course of Series 12.
Huh. I never noticed.
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Spannerintheworks
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by Spannerintheworks »

Deborah J wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:42 pm
SJF wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:01 pm
Deborah J wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:48 pm
I don't remember ryan turning against the doctor, when did that happen?
Pretty much gradually over the course of Series 12.
Huh. I never noticed.
I mean, Ryan kinda turned into a plank of wood as Series 12 went on. It's like "Resolution" addressed his Dad issues and then.....there was nowhere they could take him. SJF is right in that he perks up whenever 13 needs to be yelled at; Other than a generic fear of fire he gets little added to him.

Hot take: He should've spent time with Dad and been shown doing so in "Spyfall" (which at least split the team and used him somewhat) elected to stay on Earth with Dad after that story and then rejoined maybe in, say, "Praxeus". Yaz and Graham could've gotten more time/development (which would've made Graham's "You're great" speech in "Timeless" more meaningful) and Ryan being away would've meant he would've been caught up by Graham and Yaz on what's going on when he rejoined which means....wait for it....

THEY WOULD'VE HAD A BUILT-IN REASON FOR EXPOSITION AND RECOUNTING WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW. Even better, Ryan could've dissented and created conflict, either siding with Graham/Yaz ("She can't shut you out!") or the Doctor ("That doesn't sound like her, she has to have a good reason.")

Also, if anyone watched Tosin Cole on social media, he looks like filming bored him to tears several times. Maybe some variation or better character conflict really would've helped. Either way, not shocked he's bailing.

ANewWatchBegins
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by ANewWatchBegins »

I'm forever quite confused with Chibnall because I think he is capable of telliing compelling, character-driven stories, creating realistic, likeable and relatable characters, and balancing an ensemble cast. He's demonstrated this in his other work, so I really don't get why it's not translating to Who.

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skifflebits
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by skifflebits »

Thing is, when it comes to Doctor Who companions -- even the popular ones -- traditionally "character development" was never high on the list of what made them appealing. We knew next to nothing about Sarah Jane Smith's personal life. Leela had no arc at all, which probably contributed to her WTF departure. Jo Grant wasn't much outside of her job until "The Green Death." So I'm not surprised that the modern ones suffer from the same issues. Not that it's an excuse, especially in the context of modern television, just that it could be a symptom of the format.
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by Spannerintheworks »

ANewWatchBegins wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:37 pm
I'm forever quite confused with Chibnall because I think he is capable of telliing compelling, character-driven stories, creating realistic, likeable and relatable characters, and balancing an ensemble cast. He's demonstrated this in his other work, so I really don't get why it's not translating to Who.
So, if we discard "Torchwood" (Because I kinda feel like the good and bad cancel each other out; Also the undisputed best series of Torchwood- Children of Earth- excludes him entirely), there are two prominent Non-Who credits:

Law and Order UK
Broadchurch

I strongly feel like the former enabled him to succeed with the latter. For those who aren't familiar, "Law" already had scripts from the US show and then they were tweaked to work for the UK. (And honestly, those US scripts borrow super heavily from news stories so it's really make-or-break in terms of the investigation characters)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "Chibnall's a hack, his successes are shallow." Quite the opposite. He got "Broadchurch" on the strength of his work, and then he stacked "Broadchurch" with proven talent. Many capitalizing on the connections he made in Doctor Who and Torchwood.

If anything, it confuses me why he doesn't capitalize on his prior strengths and experiences again with Who:

*He wrote in a police based character (Yaz) and almost never draws on this beyond a mention.
*The Doctor is almost never presented with investigation based stories or problem solving. (Think "Kerblam!", which perversely is not written by Chibnall) Instead, it's more "Something is wrong - Monster reveal ("Blah, I'm bad you can't stop me Doctor!") - Doctor stops monster with crushing exposition". It's like the worst of the Nathan-Turner era, when the head writer showed he can execute slowburn character mystery but DOESN'T.
*Chibnall used talent in front of and behind the camera from all quarters of his prior experience in Broadchurch. Why he seems resistant to doing that with Who is astounding. (I'm not counting Whittaker, as she and the actress who played Rosa Parks - a prior Torchwood guest - prove he has good instincts when he actually chooses to do so.)
*Finally, Broadchurch succeeds in several respects due to ongoing drama, issues, and struggles of its individual characters. I'd even argue the character arcs outweigh the central mystery each season. How that ends up being the most lacking feature of his Doctor and companions blows my mind.

Spannerintheworks
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by Spannerintheworks »

skifflebits wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:18 pm
Thing is, when it comes to Doctor Who companions -- even the popular ones -- traditionally "character development" was never high on the list of what made them appealing. We knew next to nothing about Sarah Jane Smith's personal life. Leela had no arc at all, which probably contributed to her WTF departure. Jo Grant wasn't much outside of her job until "The Green Death." So I'm not surprised that the modern ones suffer from the same issues. Not that it's an excuse, especially in the context of modern television, just that it could be a symptom of the format.
Ooh, gotta tackle this one.

So, I disagree on several fronts. Even if we discount the New Series (which make Sarah Jane the best defined character in Who ever; You can literally catch up with her entire life), the Classic companions, particularly the ones in the 60s and 70s, get more care and love than anything we've seen lately.

Yeah, there are very notable exceptions (AHEM, Dodo.) And yes, Troughton's era in particular suffers from characters being defined but consistent. (Zoe....really learns nothing. But the team structure and rapport is great!) And I feel like Ace is an obvious ringer for modern companions and how character growth should be approached, and most would agree with me.

But much as a lot of Pertwee is overlong or personally bores me, Jo Grant gets great character attention. She grows. She learns. She outgrows the Doctor in fact, and this is telegraphed throughout Season 10. She is not my favourite companion, but she is the best example of a companion who is one thing, learns and complements, and becomes a better person.

Leela starts with the best character arc ever. In fact, if Hinchcliffe's plans had stayed in place, she would easily measure up with Ace or the modern companions. Hinchcliffe wanted her to learn, become more affluent, ditch the skins and knife for smarts and tactics, and eventually challenge the Doctor, knowing he had wisdom but wasn't automatically right. You absolutely can see this start to happen in season 14, but the regime change meant she was back to a savage and "stuck" much like the Troughton companions.

Also, context is everything. The requirements and expectations of television and the audience change over time. Yes, to our modern eyes and expectations, Jo and Sarah don't have the arc of, say, Rose or Clara. But compared to, say, Star Trek (TOS), Buck Rogers (1980 Who's direct competitor) or many TV dramas of the 80s, 70's Who is downright progressive with characters like Jo, Sarah, and Leela as intended.

Is it perfect? Obviously not. The Brigadier basically gets a lobotomy for Season 10 based on his disbelief for things he should accept by now, and the Romanas should really show more growth and challenge to the Doctor given their premise. But in an era where so much TV involved a reset button before the next episode, Who had more effort than most genre TV. It's unfair to grade it directly against, say, Westworld, Heroes, Fringe, Star Trek post 1990, etc because I'd charge entertainment learned and matured past sci-fi like Who being for "kids/family".

Finally, it's feasible to imagine how Sarah, Leela, or Jo would behave or react based on their characters and experiences and feel like I could describe them well personally based on their portrayal. Ace is a real enough character that people justifiably want to know what happened to her and where she's at. To contrast, I class the Chibnall era companions the way I'd class background extras or secondary characters in a film: They have traits, but I don't feel like they have consistent characters. They do what scripts require, not what, say, Ryan would do.

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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by skifflebits »

Yes, many good points, but...
Spannerintheworks wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:55 pm
Finally, it's feasible to imagine how Sarah, Leela, or Jo would behave or react based on their characters and experiences and feel like I could describe them well personally based on their portrayal.
...this is almost entirely down to the acting, not the writing. It's an actor doing her work and finding the nuances in a performance that makes the character human. Once Sarah partners with Tom, we learn nothing new about her -- she's just the traditional "Girl Friday" -- but Lis Sladen carries an engaging inner world with her performance.

Likewise, whatever Philip Hinchcliffe's plans were for Leela, they never came to fruition during his time, but still Louise Jameson grounded that character better than the scripts called for.

It's the legacy of the "Girl Friday" that casts a shadow over the companion role in the series, even today. It's almost always been down to the actor in the role to find the character. (Ace is an exception, obviously.)

But look at Turlough, a potentially interesting character in that he's conflicted over his mission to kill the Doctor to earn his freedom, but most of the time ends up in the traditional role of Doctor's appendage* for story purposes. Look at Harry Sullivan, who never rose beyond "naval surgeon" and straight man. But Harry is beloved, rightfully so, largely because of the nuance Ian Marter brought to his limited role. Turlough... not so much.

*And yes, I know that sounds dirty.

I'd argue we know more about the personal lives an internal struggles of the Series 12 companions than of any companion of the 70s and the 80s barring Ace. (And I don't count the SJAs Sarah's story because they were the product of 21st century TV.) But without a radical reinvention of the format -- which does happen on occasion -- the companions are always going to end up taking a back seat to the adventure.

It's almost always going to be down to the actors to bring the nuance. Bradley Walsh is doing it, even after his emotional journey around grace wrapped up, but the others... ehhh...
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by Spannerintheworks »

skifflebits wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:29 pm

...this is almost entirely down to the acting, not the writing. It's an actor doing her work and finding the nuances in a performance that makes the character human. Once Sarah partners with Tom, we learn nothing new about her -- she's just the traditional "Girl Friday" -- but Lis Sladen carries an engaging inner world with her performance.

Likewise, whatever Philip Hinchcliffe's plans were for Leela, they never came to fruition during his time, but still Louise Jameson grounded that character better than the scripts called for.
Hinchcliffe's plans absolutely came to fruition during his time. Sorry to be a bit pedantic, but he bounced (not of his choice, entirely) before "The Horror of Fang Rock". However, his decision was made for him before "The Face of Evil" completed airing, which meant he made some pretty bold choices about "Robots of Death" and "Talons of Weng-Chiang" that immediately were great for Leela and those stories' production but effectively crippled Williams with regard to future budget. It's a fascinating story in detail, but I digress.....

You bet it's down to the actor to a degree. But consistency is something that is more collaborative. For example, love Jo Grant's character and love "The Sea Devils" overall as I do, Malcolm Hulke was clearly not on board with the intent for Jo and she backslides badly for most of the story. (Episodes 4-6 largely require her to either say "Where's the Doctor?" or recap what's happened with the highest pitch voice possible.) But both she and Sarah get stories where for the most part they behave as they would believably. So, for the sake of seeing eye to eye, I'd say that the actor AND script editor played a bigger part than the writers. (Mostly because I can't believe Terry Nation scripted Sarah Jane or Romana as they are in his stories, but I easily believe Robert Holmes or Douglas Adams would.)

Who worked different then, and in the interest of not writing an essay I avoided that level of criticism regarding writers. Truth be told, many stories that Robert Holmes or Terrance Dicks oversaw got touched up with many regards and companions absolutely were one of them.
skifflebits wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:29 pm
It's almost always been down to the actor in the role to find the character. (Ace is an exception, obviously.)
I'd argue that's true for any companion regardless of gender - You're a paragraph away from proving this with Turlough! AND the Doctor as well. Pertwee and Baker believed it, and I'd charge that Davison, Baker, and McCoy stumble onscreen when they had little to work with and filled the blanks in less.

Ace is indeed a needed exception- But at that point the series hadn't really adjusted its companion role in better than a decade and the Producer had pretty much demonstrated no savvy with regard to character or scripting - Letting people "fill it in" wasn't enough.
skifflebits wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:29 pm

But look at Turlough, a potentially interesting character in that he's conflicted over his mission to kill the Doctor to earn his freedom, but most of the time ends up in the traditional role of Doctor's appendage* for story purposes. Look at Harry Sullivan, who never rose beyond "naval surgeon" and straight man. But Harry is beloved, rightfully so, largely because of the nuance Ian Marter brought to his limited role. Turlough... not so much.
I could talk all day about how much of a lost opportunity Turlough was. But that's most 80's companions. This forum's darling, Nyssa, should've had a seething hatred for the Master that should've put her at odds with the Doctor or seen her willing to break with his plans or temperament. Instead, she stands patiently in "Time-Flight", waiting to say her lines.
skifflebits wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:29 pm
I'd argue we know more about the personal lives an internal struggles of the Series 12 companions than of any companion of the 70s and the 80s barring Ace.....
(snipped)
It's almost always going to be down to the actors to bring the nuance. Bradley Walsh is doing it, even after his emotional journey around grace wrapped up, but the others... ehhh...
I disagree. A list is not knowing someone. And all Chibnall gives, with very occasional exceptions, are lists.

Sure, Ryan has dyspraxia. And he had difficulty accepting Graham (initially) due to his difficulty with his father, but he had a nurturing parental figure in Grace.

But like JNT's era, a character's traits are only relevant when the story requires. Then they are forgotten.

So.....why is Series 11 Ryan (a laddish guy who is pretty tech savvy, is stubborn towards Graham, and naively equates gun violence with first person shooters) so different from Series 12 Ryan (a sullen guy who respects Graham, is confident/awkward about girls and is first to shout at the Doctor)? It's not due to anything we saw onscreen. In fact, suddenly he's an expert in dissection (Praxeus) when the script needs him. Suddenly he's fine with gun defense in "The Timeless Children" (Which, if it had been done right, could've been a nice callback development from his hard fail in "Ghost Monument" and emotional reaction against Krasko in "Rosa") But he doesn't do these because he's Ryan. He does these because....someone has to. Script says so.

Similarly, JNT had a whole character brief about Mel. Pease Pottage! Computer programmer!....None of it mattered. We got Bonnie Langford onscreen. Even with Cartmel trying his best.

I agree with you 100% that Bradley Walsh is trying with little tics and consistencies. But these companions are all "Tell, don't show". And I'd argue that's why we really don't know them, and why against the like of Amy Pond and Rose Tyler, they are less memorable even after having 2 years in the TARDIS: You know how Rose or Amy would react based on character. Ryan, Yaz, & Graham aren't consistent and have less personality.

Unlike Jo Grant, Sarah Jane, or Leela. I could even lob the Brigadier in there, and he's MAD inconsistent sometimes. ;)

ANewWatchBegins
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Re: Series 12 discussion (SPOILERS)

Post by ANewWatchBegins »

I definitely agree that a big problem is telling and not showing. There's so much that get's referenced or brought up that makes you go 'oh, that sounds good.. why are we not showing that?'. It's one of my biggest personal frustrations with this era for sure.

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