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Why aren't more episodes set in the future?


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Old 29-04-2013, 22:03
ea91
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Is it just me or are too many episodes set in the past/present. All the companions are from the present and just this series we've had a 1970s story, a 1980s story, two Victorian stories and the rest largely set in present day-ish. This is meant to be a sci-fi time travel show, yet it mostly focuses on actual history, what is up with that?
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:12
Stig
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Narratively, it's about time travel; forwards and backwards.

Financially, episodes set in the present/past are cheaper!
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:15
Mike_Dalby
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I only make it 7 present/past to 4 future as of Crimson Horror. Does anybody know the setting of the last two eps?
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:20
ea91
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Financially, episodes set in the present/past are cheaper!
But they're less exciting. Old Who managed with a much smaller budget presumably. And I don't think it's even a budget issue, some episodes go all out on the special effects, it's more to do with the writers writing what they know. It seems almost taboo to make assertions about the future at this point, just in case in a hundred years it proves incorrect and that just ends up taking a lot of fun out of the show, I feel.
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:22
kyllerbuzcut
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Yeah I could do with seeing some more future earth stories or just generally future episodes I guess. A future companion might be nice too. I'd like that.
Of course I'd just like to see a lot more episodes in general though, and would also like more of Earth's past, with historical events happening around the story.

Of course, you could say that every episode we've not seen is 'set' in the future hehe
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:27
Mike_Dalby
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But they're less exciting. Old Who managed with a much smaller budget presumably. And I don't think it's even a budget issue, some episodes go all out on the special effects, it's more to do with the writers writing what they know. It seems almost taboo to make assertions about the future at this point, just in case in a hundred years it proves incorrect and that's just ends up taking a lot of fun out of the show, I feel.
You're fully entitled to your opinion of course, but I'm not sure I agree really. Classic Who managed because I think people suspended their disbelief and utilised their imaginations more. We just weren't used to truly realistic looking visual effects on TV.

As for taboo, perhaps to an extent. Although I read an interview with Gaiman I think it was who said that he'd write a script and it would come back cut to pieces to fit the budget and time. But he,d always write to the fullest. So I don't think writers write with any lack of scale and imagination.
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:30
Mike_Dalby
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But just to add even though I don't find the historical episodes any less exciting I do prefer the futuristic ones! And I'd personally love to add an historical companion. I think it would add an interesting spin to modern Earth stories. It would be a nice mirror to contemporary society
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:55
TEDR
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I only make it 7 present/past to 4 future as of Crimson Horror. Does anybody know the setting of the last two eps?
To elaborate on this, I get:

Asylum of the Daleks: future
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: future
A Town Called Mercy: past
The Power of Three: present
The Angels Take Manhattan: past
The Snowmen: past
The Bells of Saint John: present
The Rings of Akhatan: future
Cold War: past
Hide: past
Journey...: future

So that's:
[LIST][*]four future[*]five past[*]two present[/LIST]If we're going to lump two categories together to make the third look bad, why not say there aren't enough stories set in the present?
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Old 29-04-2013, 22:58
Mike_Dalby
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To elaborate on this, I get:

Asylum of the Daleks: future
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: future
A Town Called Mercy: past
The Power of Three: present
The Angels Take Manhattan: past
The Snowmen: past
The Bells of Saint John: present
The Rings of Akhatan: future
Cold War: past
Hide: past
Journey...: future

So that's:
[LIST][*]four future[*]five past[*]two present[/LIST]If we're going to lump two categories together to make the third look bad, why not say there aren't enough stories set in the present?
I don't really have a strong preference tbh. I do like futuristic ones slightly more. As long as the story is good it doesn't bother me. And I maintain that the period should not affect the excitement of the episode.
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Old 29-04-2013, 23:02
Mike_Dalby
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And I didn't count The Snowmen. So yeah you have that summary right. So following that logic and being mindful of the companions being contemporary humans could it then be argued that the lack of present day stories is harming the ability to get to know and care about the companion? Do we just not see enough of their context?

Just a thought
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Old 29-04-2013, 23:05
James Frederick
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A future companion might be nice too. I'd like that.
Jack is from the future

Though due to been sent back to far also from the past and present
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Old 29-04-2013, 23:10
Pink Knight
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Narratively, it's about time travel; forwards and backwards.

Financially, episodes set in the present/past are cheaper!
Unless they make the sets out of glue,washing up liquid bottles and egg cartons like in the good old days when stories mattered.
When the future was a quarry.
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Old 29-04-2013, 23:11
Piipp
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A lot of the books seem to be set in the future. Some of them are a really great read if you'd be interested. I've just finished Plague of the Cybermen (which is in the past) which I throroughly enjoyed and I'm now on The Dalek Generation which is set in the future and after just a few chapters has become one of my favourites of the books. It's coming across as a very mature read and it's already quite reminiscent of a TV episode. But yes, back to the main point, a lot of the books I've read (mostly Eleven) seem to be set in the future.
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Old 29-04-2013, 23:24
Mike_Dalby
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A lot of the books seem to be set in the future. Some of them are a really great read if you'd be interested. I've just finished Plague of the Cybermen (which is in the past) which I throroughly enjoyed and I'm now on The Dalek Generation which is set in the future and after just a few chapters has become one of my favourites of the books. It's coming across as a very mature read and it's already quite reminiscent of a TV episode. But yes, back to the main point, a lot of the books I've read (mostly Eleven) seem to be set in the future.
Cool, will have to check them out. Speaking of non-TV Who, my favourite BIG Finish stories are the 8th Doctor Episodes set in the Universe without time. Very futuristic, very sci-fi and alien.
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Old 29-04-2013, 23:40
phileq
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Because I have things I'm meant to be doing instead but which are dull, I just went through all the stories since Rose. A couple don't really state when they're set, and occasionally they're set in multiple times, but here's the breakdown:

Past: 30.6%
Present: 34.1%
Future: 30.6%
Unknown: 4.7%

That's a pretty even split, to be fair.

Here's the thing, though. Sometimes, episodes are set in the future purely to allow the premise.
If you're going to have a story about human colonists on a spaceship, or about the end of the world, or man's exploration of other planets, then by definition they have to be set in the future. But the story itself may end up being fairly timeless ... e.g. Midnight is set in the future, but that's just to set the scene - it could just as easily have been set in any closed vehicle in any inhospitable environment in any time.

The other problem with future episodes (and I say this as someone who also enjoys them) is that they don't give viewers something as recognisable to identify with. Historical and present episodes are fun because we get to put the Doctor into settings/events that we know about, and then play with that, e.g. his interactions with Shakespeare in The Shakespeare Code, etc.
It's more fun to believe that the Doctor influenced a past event than it is to imagine that he will influence an event which a writer has forseen.
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Old 30-04-2013, 05:51
Sue_Aitch
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The Power of Three was set in the near future from our present POV, but eventuallly we'll catch up as we did with Dalek and Fear Her!
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Old 30-04-2013, 07:29
Chris_Walton
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there's nightmare in silver to come which is set in the future, so that's another one to add, and the name of the doctor will be probably be set all over the place, but part of that will be Trenzalore

i think we've had a really good spread this series
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Old 30-04-2013, 08:36
supernovadragon
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The idea of a future companion does sound like a good idea, then that way, any stories set in the past/present would be excellent. Imagine all the stories we could get where even the most mundane moments in our lives could be seen as amazing to someone from a dark future for them
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Old 30-04-2013, 09:11
daveskey69
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Because I have things I'm meant to be doing instead but which are dull, I just went through all the stories since Rose. A couple don't really state when they're set, and occasionally they're set in multiple times, but here's the breakdown:

Past: 30.6%
Present: 34.1%
Future: 30.6%
Unknown: 4.7%

That's a pretty even split, to be fair.

Here's the thing, though. Sometimes, episodes are set in the future purely to allow the premise.
If you're going to have a story about human colonists on a spaceship, or about the end of the world, or man's exploration of other planets, then by definition they have to be set in the future. But the story itself may end up being fairly timeless ... e.g. Midnight is set in the future, but that's just to set the scene - it could just as easily have been set in any closed vehicle in any inhospitable environment in any time.

The other problem with future episodes (and I say this as someone who also enjoys them) is that they don't give viewers something as recognisable to identify with. Historical and present episodes are fun because we get to put the Doctor into settings/events that we know about, and then play with that, e.g. his interactions with Shakespeare in The Shakespeare Code, etc.
It's more fun to believe that the Doctor influenced a past event than it is to imagine that he will influence an event which a writer has forseen.

I was going to say something very similar, but far less eloquent. As much as we're excited by the prospect of the future, its intangible and kind of unrelatable. Whereas, we all can recognise bits from the past and feel comfortable that we understand social norms and the like. That's not to say there shouldn't be (or even that they're aren't) future episodes, but maybe its a bit of memory bias happening. We know the past, therefore those episodes stick more readily than the future episodes where we weren't entirely at ease with the world. Or some such...
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Old 30-04-2013, 09:18
Sue_Aitch
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Adelaide Brooks would've made a great companion but for her death being a fixed point and all ...
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Old 30-04-2013, 10:33
johnnysaucepn
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there's nightmare in silver to come which is set in the future, so that's another one to add,
I thought that was set in the present?
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Old 30-04-2013, 10:38
JCR
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It was said on the documentary on the Survival dvd that in the late 80's if you did a period piece you'd get lavish sets and costumes done no problem at all but if you asked for something from the future you ended up with, well, Dragonfire.

I'd assume the same holds true, more or less, today.
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Old 30-04-2013, 11:17
Rorschach
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Because Matt looks good in a hat, and there are more hats available in the past?
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:47
platelet
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Asylum of the Daleks: no ghosts
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: no ghosts
A Town Called Mercy: no ghosts
The Power of Three: no ghosts
The Angels Take Manhattan: no ghosts
The Snowmen: ghosts
The Bells of Saint John: no ghosts
The Rings of Akhatan: no ghosts
Cold War: no ghosts
Hide: ghosts
Journey...: no ghosts

So that's:
[LIST][*]Two with ghosts[*]Nine without[*][/LIST]
There aren't enough stories with ghosts. Doctor who should be more about ghosts
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Old 30-04-2013, 16:03
johnnysaucepn
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It also takes less time to get people up to speed with past stories - show a Victorian Christmas scene, and everyone knows exactly what to expect. Show a space station and you have to include scenes of the Doctor and companion wandering around figuring how how that particular society works. Which is what you want for some stories, but not others.

Subverted in a good way in A Christmas Carol - although it's an alien world with alien clouds and fish and freezer technology, we can get a grasp on the characters due to the old-timey feel.

Future/space stories are good for setting up unusual situations and telling a story within that new framework, while past stories are great for taking normal expectations and turning them on their heads.
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