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Old September 1 2013, 01:01 PM   #324
Christopher
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Re: Classic Who on BBC America

Yeah, it is interesting to realize how many aspects of the McGann movie ended up adopted by the new series. The more romantic Doctor, the more retro/spacious console room, the style of the opening titles with the stars' names swooping out of the vortex, the more cinematic and action-oriented style, etc. Even some of the action music, particularly in the freeway sequence and the climax, reminded me of Murray Gold's "I Am the Doctor."

While there are some silly and awkward bits about the movie, it's really very good in a lot of ways. The direction is terrific and very stylish, and McGann made a superb Doctor. And sure, a lot of it was bizarre and arbitrary and random (why exactly is the deadline for Earth's destruction midnight Pacific Time?), but the same is true of RTD's and particularly Moffat's Who. The key is to enjoy the really smart and clever and well-made and well-acted parts amidst the random silliness.

What I've always found impressive about the movie is how faithful it was to the original. It did reinterpret a few things, but it strove very hard to be a real continuation of the lore rather than a reboot, and that was rather amazing from an American revival. They were true to who the Doctor was and how he does things, and they acknowledged so much of the history and lore right down to the Gallifreyan seals in the TARDIS, although they remixed it in some odd ways.

Still, I think the movie made a mistake by steeping itself too heavily in Who lore from the start, and thus confusing new viewers. I've often thought the movie should've started in San Francisco with Chang, and then just had this strange blue box appear and this weird guy step out, maybe have him go through a little more business with Chang before he gets shot just to establish his character, and have Chang and Grace discover gradually, along with the audience, who the Doctor is and what the TARDIS and the Master are. Start with the familiar and ease the audience into the weird, rather than giving this big infodump about the Master and Skaro and regeneration cycles and this big room that has some connection to that weird box spinning through space. It worked for "An Unearthly Child," it worked for "Rose," so it would've worked here. (Although I did like the way the opening sequence used sound design to tie the police-box exterior to the TARDIS interior, having the sound of the music get louder as the TARDIS approached the camera and then cut to the interior with the music continuing. That would've helped get the idea across that the room was inside the police box. But it was still a bit much to dump on the audience right off the bat.)
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