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How Much ‘Doctor Who’ Is Too Much ‘Doctor Who’?


barnabeee's picture

barnabeee - Posted on 28 August 2009

The snap answer to this question is, of course, “There’s no such thing as too much ‘Doctor Who’”. But is that really the case? Have we reached the point where keeping up with Doctor Who is such a full-time job, that we don’t have time for our real full-time jobs or any other aspect of life?

I pondered this question recently when, after spending some time filling in some gaps in my BBC Books collection, and putting them onto the bookshelf. As I did so I realized that there were a large number of the books (oh – you want numbers? Ok, then – its 32!) already sitting on that shelf that I had not yet read! I pulled all of the unread books off the shelf and they are now sitting in a very intimidating pile in my apartment – waiting to be read. At a conservative estimate, I will be lucky to read them all by the end of next year – even if they are all that I read! And this is a year with limited new Doctor Who on TV (but not anywhere else!)

And so, combined with this backlog, in 2010, we can estimate that the following new Dr Who stories will be broadcast, or released for us to look forward to:

  • 13 Episodes of Series 5 (or 1, or 31, or whatever the heck you want to call it!) (45 minutes each)
  • 1 Christmas Special (60 minutes)
  • 12 Big Finish audios for Doctors 5, 6, and 7 (Approx 100 minutes each)
  • 8 Big Finish audios for the 8th Doctor (Approx 60 minutes each)
  • 9 BBC Books (Approx 250 pages each) 

That totals 38 hours and 45 minutes of Dr Who to watch or listen to, and 2,250 pages to read.

When you include 12 episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures (360 minutes), maybe some Torchwood on TV and in the novels, and the Companion Chronicles from Big Finish  that brings the total to well over 55 hours of Who-related television/audios, and nearly 4,000 pages to read, before you even around get to re-watching old adventures on DVD (another 40-odd hours if watched with and without commentary!), buying non-fiction books about the show, along with DWM, and the new IDW comic book! Getting through it all is not only a full-time job, but requires getting a second job to pay for it all!

So is this too much Doctor Who? Has quality been diluted? As with any media there are going to be good and bad stories, and so perhaps the trick is to find the quality products and ignore those that aren’t. And with message boards galore it is much easier to canvas a good consensus of opinion today, than it was when the only source of reviews was DWM or a fanzine.

Of course, the sticking-with-the-quality-stuff-only tactic ignores that completist gene possessed by so many Doctor Who fans. Perhaps then, the alternative solution is to concentrate on those media which are the most immediate – the television show is probably the best example of this. The style of series today is such that spoilers can damage a person’s enjoyment of a story, and can also be unavoidable, especially after a story has aired, and even before – witness Series 3’s Dalek Sec debacle in the Radio Times. Seeing that picture before seeing Daleks in Manhattan certainly lessened the impact of that cliffhanger for me, since I knew that the “super-Dalek” was just a man in a fairly unconvincing rubber mask. Whether being more shocked at the cliffhanger would have led me to enjoy the whole story more I can only guess at, but it certainly didn’t help.

So if we concentrate on keeping up with the television series and then reading and listening to those books and audios and sundry other offerings when we have time,

We are in a golden age of our favorite show. And much as we may all want it to continue forever, it can’t, and won’t last, at least not in the volume of new stories we have available to us today. But with the wealth of material currently being released, and by enjoying it at a pace that works for our schedule (and our bank balance), rather than at the breakneck speed required to keep up with it at the rate at which it is released, we can rest assured that there will almost always be a new Doctor Who story to look forward to.

And isn’t that a wonderful thing?

 

Bullitt33's picture

Great article, but who is barnabeee?

tarashnat's picture

Who is barnabee?

Some may refer to him as a fleshy biped. Others, an ape primitive. But most know him as the guy behind DWNY. He is both reviled and lauded for choosing Paradise Towers for our last video meet, but he was pressured by the host and yours truly into that choice. Is he the brains behind the operation or a mere figurehead? Did Daphne Ashbrook really sing "Happy Birthday" to him in a public forum? Did he cause the crash of the Byzantium? Does he really like The Twin Dilemma? Did he really stiff Gary Russell by not giving him the mug he was due? Some of these questions will never be answered, while others are known only to the Timelords.

 

Taras

---
Have we done the crash of the Byzantium yet?

DWNY a New York City based Doctor Who meet up group.

barnabeee's picture

Thanks Taras! And some of those are really true! (Although I prefer Four to Doomsday and Time Flight to The Twin Dilemma!!!!

Louis and Ken asked if I would like to blog some of my Doctor Who thoughts here, and I was only too happy to oblige! Glad you liked the article - watch this space for more of the same!

Announcing A Who York Evening with... Louise Jameson (Leela) Tuesday November 3, 2009 Tickets on sale at http://whoyork.com Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/doctorwhony

Great article, but who is barnabeee?

All is revealed here

Cool

Wyldstaar's picture

The drought this year of Doctor Who episodes has driven me into the various other media, such as novels and audio dramas.  For years I didn't even know new content existed, so I'm way behind on all of it.  I certainly don't have enough disposable income to just buy it all, but I've started to pick up at least one audio drama/book per month and one novel per month.  If I happen to find anything good at Half-Price Books, I get that as well.

As to the question of 'How much is too much?', I find there's a fairly simple way of measuring it.  Just walk from room to room throughout your house/apartment, and take stock of what you've got displayed on your walls, bookshelves and such.  Nothing detailed, just what anyone would see upon entering the room.  After taking it all in, ask yourself, 'Would a random person from off the street seeing the same thing assume that a twelve-year-old had decorated the place?'  I asked myself that same question a few years ago, and I have to admit that the answer was an emphatic YES.  I've made some serious changes since then, and I believe they are for the better.  I had allowed my inner child to run rampant, and things had got totally out of hand.  Now, my place looks like an adult lives there.  Perhaps a fairly excentric adult with some odd tastes, but an adult nonetheless.

Enter: The Conquering Chicken

thirtysix's picture

Last month I finished reading Doctor Who Magazine #411 one day before #412 arrived ...this month I was horribly ill and had a lot of recovery time, so I managed to finish #412 a full fifteen days before #413 comes out! I might actually get to read something else this month!

@thirtysix - jinkies36 on dA
Bridging the Rift: A podcast about the Doctor Who Universe fandom

It's time where quantity has overweighed quality. Many of the comics, IDW and DW Monthly, DWAdventures, Battles in Time, many of the novels especially, TW of course if total trash, and many of the, well, no all of the holiday specials (except Xmas Invasion) are all pretty lame. The Big Finish stuff is just so so at the moment but they have heights of greatness all over the place. So too much Doctor Who is when the poor quality stuff becomes a majority as it is now. Look at the comic in DWM. It's lame. Poor companion, poor artwork, and poor stories. All of DW is now hit and miss with perhaps 50 percent of it poor and the other 50 percent good, if IF we're lucky so the mass of what constitutes DW is weighing heavily on it's overall build...and that build used to be something tremendously good but is now falling down to A-aliens in the future attacking things, B-aliens in the past with one or two historical/hysterical figures attacking things, C-aliens, D-aliens and E-aliens. Sometimes we get space opera like 42 and comedy like the bee story and mixtures of all of the above. but mostly it comes down to aliens and monsters and historical figures (Maybe) and the Doctor being a god like center of it all and always defeating the bad guys (and of course the bad guys almost always have to be bad guys, although we do have some GREAT exceptions). Truth is: there is too much that calls itself DW right now and there's little quality of the kind we saw in 2005. Just my opinion. It seems anything is okay to do as long as it has the TARDIS, David Tennant, the Doctor and aliens and monsters and usually huge universe battering tales. There are no small stories any more and nothing with any slight hint of characterization and if you look, it's the same story over and over and over and over again at this point and tha'ts sad as DW SHOULD be able to tell a wide variety of stories and yet doesn't...and almost all the forms are in this rut right now...and sometimes there is no real, as in a recent Paul Audio, sense to things so that things seem really really retarded...with no rhyme or reason as to why they happen...and sometimes there is but you wish there wasn't anything happening as the stories are so mundane, so poor, so run of the mill DW...it's really becoming trash. Disposible DW.   

barnabeee's picture

Ok Chase - so that was another of your patented rants, right? And, believe me, I'm not going to defend "Doctor Who's Greatest Moments"(of the last 4 years anyway!) for example.

But I do have one rather large question, regarding you tarring all of Big Finish, the books, Torchwood, DWM and IDW with one very all-encompassing sneering brush.

How much of it have you read/listened of it all?

My guess is not much, because then you would see the small stories that you bemoan the lack of. The recent Big Finish 7th Doctor "The Angel of Scutari", for example, and some of the stories told by Martha in "The Story of Martha". 

As with any hugely popular show there are going to be some cash-ins, but at the same token, it seems to me that something I see as a cash-in, might not be directed at me - Doctor Who Adventures for example. A 7 year old is probably not going to be interested in an interview with Tom Baker covering topics like religion and actors drinking, but the will love the "Captain Jack Monster Files" type of thing. And if it keeps them interested, isn't that a good thing?

And with the IDW comic books, which I think are just fun, why would you expect them to be more?

And as for your DWM criticism...sure the comic strip could be better. But is that really the only reason you buy it? They have put together some wonderful pieces over the last several months, and I wouldn't dream of missing it.

Not everything can be good - and I certainly haven't liked all of Big Finish's output, or all of the BBC Books, but don't try to say its all the same thing repeated over and over again and its all disposable trash. Because it really isn't. There is a wide variety out there - catering to all types of fans. And at the end of the day, isn't that a good thing?

Announcing A Who York Evening with... Louise Jameson (Leela) Tuesday November 3, 2009 Tickets on sale at http://whoyork.com Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/doctorwhony

NO, that wasn't a rant. It was an answer to your question. This might be  a rant. Did I say all of Big Finish, all of the comics? I said...50 percent! And YES, I've listened to every DW and Benny Big Finish and all of the first Dalek series and all of the Comp Chronicles...

The Story of Martha, I wouldn't touch because I HATE that year (and THE LAST OF THE TIME LORDS) that wasn't so no, I didn't read it because it doesn't matter because it all vanishes at the end of that year.

I've read all of the 9th Doctor novels and all of the 10th Doctor novels up to the time where he starts to travel with Donna (because I haven't the time) or as he travels alone...I've tried to start a few of these but they're terrible. DARK SMITH LEGACY is awful, too. Of the ones I've read 50 percent or so are very good and the others are...I guess, okay, to say 50 percent are bad is a generalization but I'll say that 25 percent are terrible and 25 percent are just okay. Much of the novels IS the same thing over and over again. Evil from dawn of time, horror, a few token people killed, Doctor comes in and sacrifices others sometimes and tries to sacrifice himself but lo and behold he straightens it all out in the end with no repurcussions. ANGEL was good and so are most Big Finish but when you look at them all together, I"m thinking about 50 percent are terrific and the others are just so so so maybe that's better than saying they're trash. I'm sure some of them are though. :)

barnabeee's picture

Yes, Chase. I can do all of those things, but it all ran together, and was full of terrible generalisations, and read like a rant. It really did.

I'll be there first to say that there is some bad stuff out there, but as I mentioned above, its not all aimed at long-term fans such as ourselves. I haven't even thought about trying THE DARKSMITH LEGACY, since I am sure its aimed at the same audience as the "Quick Reads", and so I'm pretty sure I'd be better off with something else.

The 9th and 10th Doctor books are very hit or miss, but they do capture the current TV show, which in your case is a bad thing, but for many of us, is a good thing. And some of them do do different things and are very very good - BEAUTIFUL CHAOS, THE EYELESS, THE PIRATE LOOP, to name 3 off the top of my head. And despite being very much along the lines of what your complaints are FOREVER AUTUMN and WISHING WELL, were well done examples of the genre.

We could debate this all day, I feel that your extremely strong dislike of what the current TV series is doing, means that we shall never agree. But thanks for the feedback, and give some of this stuff a chance! (Glad you enjoyed ANGEL OF SCUTARI though - I wasn't expecting to, and was very plesantly surprised!)

 

Announcing A Who York Evening with... Louise Jameson (Leela) Tuesday November 3, 2009 Tickets on sale at http://whoyork.com Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/doctorwhony
DarthSkeptical's picture

I couldn't disagree more, really, Chase.  You apparently don't have too much knowledge of DW comics, otherwise you would see this as a Golden Age.  You say that the stories are trash, but compared to what, exactly?  There's never been a better time to be a fan of the comic strip DW.   Wholly better eras of DW sequential art are exceedingly rare.  Sure, the Eighth Doctor's DWM era was another high point, but that's because they had rather complete control over their output; they didn't have a DW production office with which to negotiate.  

In terms of comics produced while the show was ongoing you simply won't find any era so compelling as the one in which we now live.  There's a wide range of artists, writers and editors out there, all of them appealing to different segments of the reading population.  Within a one-year period, there's every chance that you could find at least one story which appealed to you, whatever comic interests you have. Battles in Time isn't written for you, Chase.  Neither is Doctor Who Adventures. But both are absolutely firing the minds of younger fans.  Did you know, for instance, that in Britain DWA regularly (and rather substantially) outsells DC and Marvel titles?  You might think it's trash, but consumers obviously don't think so. 

And we've never had a period where North American and Australian artists gave us their vision of the Doctor.  Yet here we sit with original stories being told on a mostly monthly basis.  Stories which attract Eisner-winning or Eisner-nominated creators.  And it's not like it was in the past, where you'd get people who eventually became well regarded. These are people like Templesmith and Guerra and Ostrander and Lee who already are famous.  They didn't need the work, like Morrison and Gibbons did back in the day.  Any of these guys working for IDW are doing so because they love DW, and are leaping on the chance to do it.

Now, I can hear you saying, "I was only talking about the DWM comic".  Well, fine.  Let's talk about that for a moment.   First of all, it's not like it was in the old days.  Because of the explosion of DW sequential art, it's no longer the central comic narrative in the Whoniverse.  So it's really less of a tragedy than it used to be if DWM has the odd miss.  Of course, then comes the question of whether the current stories (and by that, I assume you mean since McDaid took over principal writing chores) are actually bad.  I don't think so.  I love McDaid's art, and I've found his stories, on the whole, infinitely superior to anything told from the 1st to the 7th Doctors.  See, McDaid is, to me, the perfect voice to have emerged for this latter-10th Doctor period.  For McDaid is like Tennant himself:  an articulate fan of what has come before in his medium.  He's steeped in the lore of the DWM strip, and thus is well-placed to synthesize it for a new audience.  I particularly enjoyed his nod to the past in returning one of the great DWM characters:  Maxwell Edison.  I've enjoyed having a continuing, non-human companion again in Magenta Pryce.  Are McDaid's stories quite at the level of the 8th Doctor's best?  No, but they're no worse than the one-off 8th Doctor stories told between Izzy's departure and Destrii's return.  And that's really the only fair point of comparison: one-off story versus one-off story is all you can do.    And of course the current stories have a much heavier burden than the Eighth Doctor solo stories in that we, as readers, know what the 10th Doctor sounds like.  We know his character.  Thus McDaid has to capture the voice of the 10th Doctor, whereas earlier writers had merely to invent the Eighth Doctor.   Such an easier thing to do, really.  

If you want to say you don't like the comics coming out, of course that's your prerogative.  But to assert that there's 50% good and 50% bad — without exploring the 50% that is actually remarkable — seeems a poor way to make an argument.

Have a lemon sherbet. It'll quench your thirst.

This is an honest question and I'm not trying to take the mickey out but in what comics are the Australian artists? I may have missed something. Can you let me know? And thank you. 

 

Yes the novels mentioned I also enjoyed although I didn't read the one with Donna yet. I liked the wild west one (but again we have to have an alien highly involved but it was good). I liked the pirates one and I tend to think there were two of them, one with a big cuddly monster gentleman that was controlled to kill so he felt bad for you as he killed you...! 

I do think that you are all correct. My dissapointment at the show --the end of 2009 and the specials has colored my opinions. I also enjoyed many of the BATTLES IN TIME and DW Adventures, but not all. I loved at one time the Magazine's comics too but the recent stuff has left me cold (since the start of the new green girl companion really, not sure if that has anything to do with it or not but there you have it, the stories haven't done much for me since then). Before that they were okay. I also kind of like some of the annual and storybook stories and the stories on the BBC web site. So yeah I do need to calm it down.  

DarthSkeptical's picture

Ben Templesmith of IDW's "The Whispering Gallery" is Australian.  Louis does an interview with him in Podshock #142.

And as we're talking nationalities, Pia Guerra is Canadian; Nick Roche is Irish; Stefano Martino and Mirco Pierfederici are Italian; John Ostrander, Tom Smith, Chris Mowry, Neil Uyetake, Kelly Yates, Tom Mandrake, and Matthew (Dow) Smith are American; John Reppion, Richard Starkings, Adrian Salmon, Gary Russell, Leah Moore, Rich Johnston, Tony Lee, and Paul Grist are British — making IDW the home to the most global run in DW comic history.    

 

Have a lemon sherbet. It'll quench your thirst.

Thanks for the info

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