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  1. #1
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    Default Does Season 24 really deserve its reputation?

    There's no denying that season 24 is somewhat flawed, but I'm not sure it really deserves its reputation as one of the worst seasons of the show ever.

    To me, aside from Time and the Rani, there's an adventurous change in the type of stories told, and the show was willing to take risks again. No, they didn't get it all right- the tone of the stories don't always work and there's a sense that no-one behind the camera is quite sure what's going on, as there's variations in tone between costumes and sets and the acting and the scripts themselves- maybe a feeling that it's only Doctor Who and it doesn't matter what you do...

    But they're trying to turn things round. the input of new writers was desperately needed and Stephen Wyatt and Ian Briggs would do good things int he coming seasons...

    What do you think? Why is it rated so badly by Doctor Who fans?

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  2. #2
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    Dunno - I've never rewatched it, and have no desire to rewatch any of the stories, which kind of hints to my dislike.

    If I ever have the temptation to watch one of the stories all I have to remember is "it's got Mel in it ... and she screams A LOT". Did Bonnie ever scream so much she made herself sick?
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

  3. #3
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    Compare season 24 with Moffat's first season - which may seem unfair but stick with it - and you can see the advantage of having a clear direction as you attempt to reboot a long running series. Andrew Cartmel and JNT weren't on the same page at all - one was young and enthusiastic, the other was tired and wanted to move on. Half the decisions were left to the enthusiastic one (mainly around the choice of writers and scripts) and half the decisions remained with the tired one (including casting regular and guest stars and giving direction to the directors and designers). That meant it was never able to be what it wanted to be. Paradise Towers wants to be dark because it's about feral tribes, fascistic law men, cannibals and is a not so subtle statement on inner city decay in Thatcher's Britain. But it's played for laughs by a mix of sit com stars and drama school kids.

    Delta and the Bannermen gets closest to a balance between the two philosophies as it is light when it means to be light and serious when it means to be serious. It also confines the LE casting to LE roles. And it's almost right in Dragonfire too with Glitz carrying the humour and Kane achieving genuine menace both in his own performance and how his character shapes those who have sold themselves to him. But along comes Sophs and gives one of the worst performances ever in Doctor Who. She will get better in season 25 and 26 but just going off season 24 and you have to assume that she was not what Cartmel and Briggs wanted for Ace.

    Seen in isolation it is a disappointing season because two conflicting philosophies are at work and the one you naturally want to be played down is the producer's so it will always be pushed to the fore at the expense of the script editor's more interesting ideas about what Doctor Who can be in the late 1980s and beyond. I don't hate any of the stories but nor would I ever show any of them to anyone without (a) showing them some much better Sylvester McCoy first to prove he wasn't crap and (b) explaining the above to them and making them sign something to the effect that they understand and accept my copious mitigation.
    Dennis, Francois, Melba and Smasher are competing to see who can wine and dine Lola Whitecastle and win the contract to write her memoirs. Can Dennis learn how to be charming? Can Francois concentrate on anything else when food is on the table? Will Smasher keep his temper under control?

    If only the 28th century didn't keep popping up to get in Dennis's way...

    #dammitbrent



    The eleventh annual Brenty Four serial is another Planet Skaro exclusive. A new episode each day until Christmas in the Brenty Four-um.

  4. #4
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    you have to assume that she was not what Cartmel and Briggs wanted for Ace.
    Yet this is about the only time in the programs history that they had two guest actresses lined up as potential companions and actively chose her over Sara Griffiths. Mind you, she managed to be even more crap than Sophie Aldred so perhaps that's how Soph gets the gig!

    Si.

  5. #5
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    I'm another one in the camp of finding it very difficult to go back to the stories- just the thought of it brings back a sense of just how difficult it was to be known as a fan back then and have to defend episodes in school the following morning. Yes, the ambition is there in the storytelling but the execution is such that it often feels like a series trying to get cancelled.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    Why is it rated so badly by Doctor Who fans?
    Because whatever good intentions there were behind the scenes, ultimately what ended up on screen was a mess. Bonnie Langford is, I'm afraid, dreadful, though some of the blame for that lies in the crap dialogue she was often given. Sylvester is given a more subdued costume than his predecessor's clown outfit, but then acts more like a clown anyway. I had to watch Time and the Rani twice before I noticed the more subtle, melancholy aspects of his performance in places, whereas his pratfalls in the lab, silly spoon playing and ludicrous overplayed 'throwing his hat down in outrage' as he realises he's been conned by a hologram stuck right in the mind on first vieiwng. Paradise Towers should be grim and menacing, but instead we have some overlit scenes, brightly coloured panto robots that don't look remotely threatening (as Sylv has to walk up to the one that strangles him in one cliffhanger) and slightly panto-esque caretaker costumes. Delta and the Bannermen is probably the best of the lot, but even that has Ken Dodd in a glittery costume. Dragonfire is let down by a pointless cliffhanger and, frankly, Sophie Aldred.

    So I think it does deserve its reputation because, despite good intentions and a willingness to try new things and move the program in different directions, the execution is a mess. It looks, bluntly, amateurish in a way that no other season does.

  7. #7
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    Yes, the production values are so much worse than, say, Season 17.

    One doesn't need to say more.

    Si.

  8. #8

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    Oh dear I sense a new recurring catchphrase.

  9. #9
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    Yes. Although admittedly seasons 23 and 25 weren't much better, so S24 wasn't the only poor season around this time...it just happened to be when the series hit rock bottom. S25, although patchy, had lost the amateurish feeling and the series was on the way back up. S26 possibly just seemed to be so good because of the poor quality of the previous few seasons.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Yes, the production values are so much worse than, say, Season 17.

    Si.
    And in the intervening years what was learnt?
    To repeat & not learn from the errors of the past is worse than to commit them in the first place. Therefore season 17 is better than 24.

    Need I say more?

  11. #11
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    Season 24 isn't fit to tie Season 17's bootlaces


    One doesn't need to say more.
    Last edited by MacNimon; 7th Jan 2011 at 6:25 AM.

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    And in the intervening years what was learnt?
    A heck of a lot! When you look at Time of the Rani's coloured sky, impressive glass model shot of the Rani's citadel, computer effects etc you'll scarcely argue.

    Hence why it looks so much better than Season 17. I was being incredulous, not stating a fact - I couldn't believe Jason described Season 24 as "amateurish".

    Si.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Hence why it looks so much better than Season 17. I was being incredulous, not stating a fact - I couldn't believe Jason described Season 24 as "amateurish".
    I was referring to things well beyond the kind of visual effects sequences you describe. Of course they're better: it's 8 years later, with all the concurrent improvements in technology. A few (admittedly very nice) visual motifs do not make the rest of it any better. They also had more money, both in absolute terms and in terms of how far that money would go compared with the effects of high inflation at the end of the 70s. Almost every BBC show that couldn't save money by use of stock BBC costumes and sets looked like season 17 in 1979.

    Even so, season 17 has some impressive purely visual aspects of its own. The Quantel used in Nightmare of Eden looks terribly dated now but I still love the shot of the Doctor vanishing at the end of part 3. The Paris scenes in City of Death are gorgeous, as are the Cambridge scenes from Shada. The corridor sets in Destiny of the Daleks are cheap and minimalist, but the Movellan and Dalek control rooms are rather nice.

    But more than that, season 17 looks like its trying to be a decent show made on a shoestring, whereas season 24 looks like children's TV. The Rani's TARDIS is a child's tent with mirrors on it. The deadly menacing robots in Paradise Towers look utterly unthreatening and ludicrous (when the script calls for one to attack someone, and that person actually has to walk up to it and put their neck in its claw to achieve the effect, there's a huge design flaw!). The Rani has an absurd huge purple brain behind a locked door. Sylvester McCoy does his best but can't dominate the action in the way Tom Baker can (and in many cases just looks silly), and Bonnie Langford is just annoying, while Lalla Ward gives us 'the noblest Romana of them all'.

    Season 24, like season 23, should have been more like season 25. When the show was rested there was the perfect opportunity to sit down and do something new with the show. Instead, season 23 was more of the same with a ludicrous premise, while season 24 was trying but suffered from the hangover from the behind the scenes mess and unexpected recasting of the Doctor. It's only when season 25 comes along that it looks like the series has found its feet again.

    I know it is purely subjective, but to me season 17 is fun, while season 24 is silly.

    I still love Delta and the Bannermen though.

  14. #14
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    Much as I like them, I have to agree about the Paradise Towers robots - but I'm not sure what's wrong with having a giant purple brain behind a door?

    I think the honest answer is, season 24 probably does deserve some of the bad press it gets as there are at least some problems which can't be excused. You can defend something looking a bit cheap, for example, if they had a low budget (I seem to recall somebody at the time saying that Red Dwarf's effects budget was bigger than the budget for a whole Who story, although that may be apocryphal...) BUT you can't really defend professional TV makers doing their job badly. So although objectively I love PT, subjectively I can see that the designers, performers, etc all seem to be pulling in different directions - a more obvious example from Season 24 is Dragonfire where only McCoy does 'sliding on the ice acting'. That's not excusable, ultimately that's the fault of the director. And that sort of... either carelessness, or apathy, or stupidity, that's NOT excusable IMHO.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    I'm not sure what's wrong with having a giant purple brain behind a door?
    It just looks silly. She wants a bunch of geniuses to pool their knowledge and abilities to find her a solution to a problem. Fine. But why does it have to be a giant brain? And then why make it a silly colour so it looks even more fake than we know it is already?

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    It's grey/flesh colour darkened by dim red lighting in the room it's in. Why is that a silly colour? Lots of this is just the old cliches excusing why Season 24 must be more rubbish than the fashionable seasons. What does "And Lalla Ward was the noblest Romana of them all" even MEAN in the context of Season 17's merits? If people have made up their mind they will always overlook Tom throwing clumps of grass around in "Nightmare of Eden" and the genuinely touching and heroic deaths of Bayous and Sarn in "Time and the Rani", and still make out the latter is "silly" in a way the former isn't.

    Si.

  17. #17

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    Presumably he just means he thinks Romana was a better companion than Mel?

    Surely anyone who severely criticises either Seasons 17 or 24 is laying themselves open to being accused of resorting to "just the old cliches", given that both have received a great deal of criticism over the years. Up to the mid 80s, Season 17 commonly was regarded as the lowest ebb of the series, and still is to some. That being so, there's nothing particularly strange about someone preferring either one to the other.

    If people have made up their mind they will always overlook Tom throwing clumps of grass around in "Nightmare of Eden" and the genuinely touching and heroic deaths of Bayous and Sarn in "Time and the Rani", and still make out the latter is "silly" in a way the former isn't.
    "Made up their mind"? You do seem to have made up your mind about it too though, it's just that you're on opposite sides of the fence. And with reference to those examples, do you mean people talking about those specific sequences or just the stories overall? If the latter, then those comparisons don't serve much of a purpose as they're clearly aimed at eliciting different reactions from the viewer. You could similarly compare the bits with McCoy pratfalling about the Rani's lab and Tom coldly telling Tryst to go away to make an opposite impression if you wanted to. All stories are made up of hundreds of moments or sequences which could be evaluated separately like those, after all. One could go on picking lots of examples as evidence either way if you felt so inclined.

    On the other hand, if people mean those actual sequences, then I suppose it depends on how well or otherwise they think they were achieved, whether they really find them moving or not, whether or not they find Tom's comedy enjoyable to watch, things like that. In my experience, very few people, even those who like Nightmare a lot, have defended the "throwing clumps of grass" sequence, though.

    I don't find it unreasonable that someone could prefer Season 24 to Season 17. What's bothering me a little is that you don't seem to be willing to accept that someone could also have valid reasons (valid for them, that is, not in the sense that you necessarily have to agree with those reasons) for preferring Season 17 to Season 24. That if they do, it's because they're being a hypocrite, or just going along with fashion. I don't think anyone is claiming that the earlier season is absolutely perfectly made or acted television with nothing silly in it, it's just that, for some, it has more to recommend it to them than the latter.

    Also, I may be mistaken, but I think one of Jason's points is that there's no good reason for the receptacle of the gathering of the Rani's geniuses to look like a brain at all. All she's really doing there seems to be the equivalent of inputting data into a computer system so there is, arguably, something a bit oddly literal, if not cartoonish, about actually having a big model of a brain there for that purpose. It's not part of a living being, as far as we can tell, so trying to make it look organic seems unnecessary. Alright, no doubt they wanted something with a striking image, but there would still have been other design options which might have worked better. It's a point of view. Disagree with it by all means, but someone having that view doesn't necessarily mean they're being wilfully unreasonable.

    Another problem with a concept like silliness is that it's not always an easy thing to quantify. Is the plot of Nightmare of Eden more or less silly than that for Time and the Rani? Or those for Destiny of the Daleks and Paradise Towers? Horns of Nimon and Delta and the Bannermen? Largely a matter of taste ultimately, isn't it? What counts as silly anyway? And so on.
    Last edited by Logo Polish; 8th Jan 2011 at 9:36 AM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Lots of this is just the old cliches excusing why Season 24 must be more rubbish than the fashionable seasons.
    Excuse me? Everything I have written is why I find season 24 worse than, say, season 17. It has nothing to do with spouting cliches or being 'fashionable'. These are my views and I am fully entitled to hold them, thank you.

    What does "And Lalla Ward was the noblest Romana of them all" even MEAN in the context of Season 17's merits?
    Fine, I'll be literal. Lalla Ward turns in a fine performance as a noble, intellectual and slightly quirky time lady. Bonnie Langford is just being Bonnie Langford, and I'm sorry but she is NOT a good actress.

    If people have made up their mind they will always overlook Tom throwing clumps of grass around in "Nightmare of Eden" and the genuinely touching and heroic deaths of Bayous and Sarn in "Time and the Rani", and still make out the latter is "silly" in a way the former isn't.
    But haven't you done just the same but the other way round? I never said season 17 is devoid of silliness. The 'ooh, my arms, my legs, my everything' business in Nightmare is silly. The 'whizz-bang-boing' noise of the TARDIS failing in Horns of Nimon is silly. Giving K9 mouth to mouth is silly. For me, and I remind you I have already agreed previously that this is subjective, the silliness in season 17 takes the form of moments, while in season 24 it takes the form of whole ideas and executions. A giant brain is silly.

    And while I agree that Sarn's death is touching, why is Beyus's death ? He sealed himself into a chamber full of explosives and in the end just stood there waiting for them to go off. The dialogue suggests he was helping set it all up, but there was no sign of that on screen. He could have escaped, or at least made the effort, but instead shut the door so he was stuck in there when the bangles went off.

    For a really heroic moment in season 24 my vote goes to Burton rushing in to stop Gavrok shooting Mel, telling him she's far more use alive. He doesn't know Mel all that well and he's just seen Gavrok and his men kill a whole group of unarmed people without mercy, but he rushes in and faces down a madman with a gun with absolute conviction. That's brilliant!

    Ultimately, whether you agree with my reasons or not, I am far more likely to be inclined to watch any story from season 17 except The Creature from the Pit than I am to want to watch any story from season 24 besides Delta and the Bannermen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Logo Polish View Post
    Also, I may be mistaken, but I think one of Jason's points is that there's no good reason for the receptacle of the gathering of the Rani's geniuses to look like a brain at all.
    Exactly. It's a lazy visual shorthand, and just looks ridiculous.

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    I feel really stupid now, because I've got a giant purple brain in my spare room.

    I'll get me coat.

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    You're quite right, I should never have posted. Apologies all.

    Si.

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    Not wanting to stir up trouble, especially as I haven't seen TATR in a very long time, but if memory serves the purple brain is an essential part of the Time Manipulator the Rani is trying to make ? (something about the rays from the strange matter causing the cerebral cortex to expand to fill the gap between the planet and the shell ?) If that's the case then a giant grey-purple brain is required.

    As for the rest, it's good to have strong opinions about things but if this was a conversation down a pub there'd be a lot of angry shouting and regret afterwards. We're not the CofE you know
    Bazinga !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    You can defend something looking a bit cheap, for example, if they had a low budget
    A low budget, if memory serves, was a problem during season 17 but I seem to remember an interview with JNT saying that budget was never a problem during the McCoy era but lack of time was. I may be wrong but I seem to recall McCoy saying similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Masters View Post
    Not wanting to stir up trouble, especially as I haven't seen TATR in a very long time, but if memory serves the purple brain is an essential part of the Time Manipulator the Rani is trying to make ? (something about the rays from the strange matter causing the cerebral cortex to expand to fill the gap between the planet and the shell ?)
    Which of course is much less silly than a giant brain....

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    No need for apologies, Si. Debating is fun.

    Just for the record, season 17 is far from my favourite season too.

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