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What could have been done to save Who in the 80s?


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Old 22-06-2013, 13:38
November_Rain
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It is widely agreed that Doctor Who had become a bit of a joke by the 1980s, or at the very least, there are many things about the show at the time which should have been done differently. We had that awful costume donned by The Sixth Doctor and the puerile Kandyman which now serve as embarrassing reminders of what the classic series had become towards the end of it's tenure, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What measures could have taken place so as to have avoided the show's axing in 1989?
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Old 22-06-2013, 14:32
CELT1987
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New producer to replace JNT after 5th Doctor era.
Bigger budget.
Better writers.
The BBC to have faith with the show.
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Old 22-06-2013, 14:38
mikey1980
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When are we talking about? Are we talking about the first hiatus in 1985-1986?

If so, then I think the best thing for the show at that point would have been an extended break of 3-4 years. 22 consecutive years of Doctor Who was enough - the show was dying for a break.

So rather than limping on until 1989 and then ending for 16 years, I'd have settled for a 3-4 year break, with a new, refreshed, invigorated, better written Doctor Who returning to our screens in 1989. I'd have retained Colin Baker as the doctor, but given him a new outfit.

Obviously there would be a brand new executive producer, not JNT.
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Old 22-06-2013, 14:40
CELT1987
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When are we talking about? Are we talking about the first hiatus in 1985-1986?

If so, then I think the best thing for the show at that point would have been an extended break of 3-4 years. 22 consecutive years of Doctor Who was enough - the show was dying for a break.

So rather than limping on until 1989 and then ending for 16 years, I'd have settled for a 3-4 year break, with a new, refreshed, invigorated, better written Doctor Who returning to our screens in 1989. I'd have retained Colin Baker as the doctor, but given him a new outfit.

Obviously there would be a brand new executive producer, not JNT.
I doubt the BBC would have brought it back in 1989 if it had been rested between 86-88. The BBC wanted Doctor Who killed off. A rest wouldn't have made any difference.
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Old 22-06-2013, 14:56
SpringheelJack
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The best opportunity to save the show, production-wise, would have been to take advantage of the new 45 minute length for Season 22, and use the US-style one-part episode format NuWho uses.

If that had been coupled with switching to shooting on film, going single-camera and reducing the number of effects per episode (because the budget was still limited), then Season 22 would have looked and felt a lot fresher and faster.

Creatively, making the Sixth Doctor a little more of a charismatic action man to take advantage of that format - rather than a brash, violent, angry man - would have also done wonders.

I'm not saying it would have worked, but you can see there's the possibility this is what the BBC were looking for, to see if the show could achieve this, for it to continue.

It didn't have to compete with Star Wars - but it did have to compete with The A-Team.
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Old 22-06-2013, 15:00
TheSilentFez
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Season 26 is probably one of my favourite ever Doctor Who seasons, so whilst many people disagree with me, if they had kept this standard up it would have been fantastic.
But honestly though whilst the stories IMO were starting to improve, the show was incredibly outdated. It needed a break and when the public missed it enough, it needed to come back with a much larger budget and with a much more modern approach to story-telling (with a BBC controller who didn't have a hatred of the show). And this is exactly what happened, although I don't think it needed to have a break of 16 years. It could have been done in 1996 with the TV Movie, but unfortunately they let Americans do that and they screwed it up.

Anyway, claiming the 80s were widely considered a joke is a bit of a sweeping statement. The Davison years are fairly popular and personally he's my favourite Classic Doctor.
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Old 22-06-2013, 15:06
mikey1980
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I doubt the BBC would have brought it back in 1989 if it had been rested between 86-88. The BBC wanted Doctor Who killed off. A rest wouldn't have made any difference.
Ok, it might not have been brought back in 1989. But I strongly suspect the hiatus wouldn't have been anywhere near as long as 16 years, and that a regular Doctor Who series would have been brought back during the early to mid 1990's. Forcing the show on through to 1989 did it more harm in my opinion.
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Old 22-06-2013, 15:16
November_Rain
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When are we talking about? Are we talking about the first hiatus in 1985-1986?
I was thinking from the start of Colin Baker's era onwards, which would encompass that, yes.
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Old 22-06-2013, 15:40
November_Rain
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Season 26 is probably one of my favourite ever Doctor Who seasons, so whilst many people disagree with me, if they had kept this standard up it would have been fantastic.
But honestly though whilst the stories IMO were starting to improve, the show was incredibly outdated. It needed a break and when the public missed it enough, it needed to come back with a much larger budget and with a much more modern approach to story-telling (with a BBC controller who didn't have a hatred of the show). And this is exactly what happened, although I don't think it needed to have a break of 16 years. It could have been done in 1996 with the TV Movie, but unfortunately they let Americans do that and they screwed it up.

Anyway, claiming the 80s were widely considered a joke is a bit of a sweeping statement. The Davison years are fairly popular and personally he's my favourite Classic Doctor.
True, I don't see the same negativity for the 1980 - 1984 version of the show as I see for that of 1985 - 1989. Had it been laid to rest with Peter Davison's tenure, I'm sure it would have ended on a more positive note.
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Old 22-06-2013, 15:49
SpringheelJack
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True, I don't see the same negativity for the 1980 - 1984 version of the show as I see for that of 1985 - 1989. Had it been laid to rest with Peter Davison's tenure, I'm sure it would have ended on a more positive note.
If - as we now know from Richard Marson - the BBC were planning to have the show axed at the end of Davison's era - then throwing the show one last opportunity with the new episode format and Colin Baker, to then seeing JNT not take advantage of it and do more of the same must have been the final nail in the coffin.

If they'd really wanted to wrap it up, then the end of Davison's tenure was the opportunity to do so - but to then try and go axing it a year into a new Doctor's reign must have looked and felt a tad bizarre to the production team and the public... But as far as the TPTB at Beeb were concerned, Who missed its last boat.
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Old 22-06-2013, 16:06
Jethryk
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Unfortunately by the mid eighties Doctor Who was considered a joke my the people who mattered, the BBC. They tried ditching it but had to backtrack and call it a hiatus.

When they brought it back they seemed determined just to prove themselves right. Slash the budget, and the number of episodes, then get rid of Colin Baker (it was hardly his fault) then of course to damage the ratings even further put it on against Coronation Street. And all the time making sure they kept a producer who didn't want to be there and had ran out of ideas long ago.

Russell T Davies gave up after 4 years JNT did 9 and for me he was really good to start with. Seasons 18 & 19 are 2 of my favourites.

Now I'm no fan of the Sylvester McCoy era, easily my least favourite of the whole run but it just seemed to me to be the BBC killing off their own programme for no good reason. 'we think it's rubbish, we're going to make it worse' seemed to be their attitude. No wonder they only had 3million viewers at the end.
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Old 22-06-2013, 18:52
Face Of Jack
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To me - it went downhill from Trial of a Timelord, it had been OK to me up till that point.
When I saw that first episode - and that they were videotaping outside (instead of the traditional filming) I thought - oh Lord, it's all downhill from here! Cheap budget strikes again!
I used to hate the mix of film and video anyway....but at least the filmed scenes looked somewhat 'professional' .
Poor Sylvester never stood a chance - it looked cheap & cheerful....worthy of CBBC - NOT against Coronation Street!!
JNT wanted out - they wouldn't let him go!
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Old 22-06-2013, 19:20
Khof
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I think it was during the first hiatus that JNT was told that if he left (which he wanted to do) the BBC would cancel the show. JNT decided to stay on so the show would keep going, but I think he should have just left then while the show was only starting to go downhill. The BBC would have cancelled it of course, but then a revival several years down the line could have brought it back (with Colin Baker in a new outfit, or a new Doctor) with a fresh outlook under a new producer.
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Old 22-06-2013, 19:30
saladfingers81
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I grew up with McCoy as my childhood doctor so have very fond memories and there was alot more good than people sometimes make out. But nostalgia aside it was clear once I went back to watch the earlier years that the show had dipped in quality. Maybe it was beyond saving? It had been on for such a long time and had the kind of run no similar show has ever had...even its closes TV rival/ally in Star Trek stopped and reinvented itself whereas DW just ground on and on.

I tend to think it needed a rest and though I understand why I think the fans and production team (who were often interchangeable) flogged an injured horse. That said we got to enjoy Curse of Fenric, Remembrance of the Daleks and many other great stories so it wasn't all a loss.

PS- stop having a go at Kandyman! DW needed more of that surreal silliness to keep it hobbling on
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Old 22-06-2013, 20:23
Rooks
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True, I don't see the same negativity for the 1980 - 1984 version of the show as I see for that of 1985 - 1989. Had it been laid to rest with Peter Davison's tenure, I'm sure it would have ended on a more positive note.
I'd actually reduce that down to series 23 and 24. Colin's first series was no classic but really only had story that many people considered poor (Timelash). Personally I dislike that series, but the ratings were still very good and stories like Revelation and Varos are normally quite liked.

Series 25 was pretty okay and series 26 was surprisingly good (and one of my favourite series of the 80s). The cancellation of the show hurt more because the show was finally finding it's voice again.
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Old 22-06-2013, 20:43
TheSilentFez
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I'd actually reduce that down to series 23 and 24. Colin's first series was no classic but really only had story that many people considered poor (Timelash). Personally I dislike that series, but the ratings were still very good and stories like Revelation and Varos are normally quite liked.

Series 25 was pretty okay and series 26 was surprisingly good (and one of my favourite series of the 80s). The cancellation of the show hurt more because the show was finally finding it's voice again.
I don't understand why season 23 is hated so much. It was far from classic, but the stories were fairly enjoyable and Terror of the Vervoids is my favourite Colin Baker story. I'm not very fond of season 22 though. The only stories I liked were Attack of the Cybermen and Revelation of the Daleks, and I absolutely hated The Two Doctors.

Season 24 was dire though, I'll give you that...although Dragonfire was fairly enjoyable.
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Old 22-06-2013, 21:21
daveycrocket222
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What could have been done to save Who in the 80s?
Kill Michael Grade!

All joking aside Ive no idea. I never saw a problem with the final series. Maybe if the BBC wasent so obsessed with trying to bring it down and advertised it properly by keeping it on a Saturday evening.
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Old 22-06-2013, 23:57
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The production team took a massive mis-step by ending Davison's era with Caves and then introducing Baker in the season finale Twin Dilemna. The quality gap between those two stories was massive, and the idea to make Baker unstable and unlikeable was wrong, particularly because of the downtime between seasons. Fans were given an instantly unlikeable hero, then had all summer to decide whether to return to the show.
The fact that Baker's first full season was very patchy made many decide not to tune in. It wasn't until Varos that we got a decent Baker story, and saddled with poor stories such as Two Doctors and Timelash, he really stood little chance. It was all catchup from there, trying to return to some of the programmes former glory.
Behind the scenes you had JNT who was running out of steam, a bitter relationship with Saward, the BBC who didn't want Who anymore, budget cuts and dicking around with the schedule, writers who were amateurs or didn't know how to write good Who etc etc.
What they perhaps should have done is follow the UK format used for shows like Midsomer Murders, whereby you have 6-8 mini-movies at 90 minutes per year. Production wise, you aren't making more air minutes than 22 or so episodes at 25 minutes a piece, but they could have promoted each story as an "event" and spent more time and money on each instalment.
Baker should have been given a better costume from the outset too.
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:01
Brian2005
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Michael grade to have been shot?
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:19
tiggerpooh
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New producer to replace JNT after 5th Doctor era.
Bigger budget.
Better writers.
The BBC to have faith with the show.
Here! Here! Although I'd have liked JNT to have gone after Colin's first season. I don't dislike the chap at all, in fact I'm going to be ordering the new book on JNT's time as producer off amazon, as soon as the weekend is over.

I think JNT's a nice bloke, but he did have some strange, and at times mediocre ideas, for stories, didn't he? I mean, having a monster that was made pretty much entirely of liqorice allsorts called the Kandyman. What was that all about?

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mb...etwo1_1280.jpg

Maybe it will be mentioned in the book about JNT's time on Doctor Who.
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:23
tiggerpooh
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Michael grade to have been shot?
That would have been nice, yes, but no. It couldn't happen.

He should have stepped down from his role as Director General of the BBC when Peter Davison left in March 1984. Then we may have had Doctor Who go into the 1990s.

We may have had the Ice Warriors and the Celestial Toymaker come back, instead of the ok, but pretty much crap Trial season in 1986.

The Ice Warriors and the Toymaker were to be in the 1986 season apparently, until Michael Grade annouced that Doctor Who was to be rested for 18 months.
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:25
be more pacific
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Here! Here! Although I'd have liked JNT to have gone after Colin's first season. I don't dislike the chap at all, in fact I'm going to be ordering the new book on JNT's time as producer off amazon, as soon as the weekend is over.

I think JNT's a nice bloke, but he did have some strange, and at times mediocre ideas, for stories, didn't he? I mean, having a monster that was made pretty much entirely of liqorice allsorts called the Kandyman. What was that all about?

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mb...etwo1_1280.jpg

Maybe it will be mentioned in the book about JNT's time on Doctor Who.
I get the impression that stories such as The Happiness Patrol and Paradise Towers were supposed to be biting social satire. Unfortunately, they ended up looking like crap pantomimes.

It's like a bunch of idealistic kids were left to write naive 'political' scripts and then JN-T would endeavour to make the whole thing as camp and tacky as possible.
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:31
Jethryk
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[quote=tiggerpooh;66589891]Here! Here! Although I'd have liked JNT to have gone after Colin's first season. I don't dislike the chap at all, in fact I'm going to be ordering the new book on JNT's time as producer off amazon, as soon as the weekend is over.

I think JNT's a nice bloke, but he did have some strange, and at times mediocre ideas, for stories, didn't he? I mean, having a monster that was made pretty much entirely of liqorice allsorts called the Kandyman. What was that all about?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This but don't have a go at The Kandyman because you'll upset Saladfingers.

Thing is I think you can put the whole thing down to the BBC's lack of faith in the show.

Look at the series when JNT took over. The previous season, with the exception of City of Death, was one of worst in it's history. He came along with a series of great ideas and changed it.

The final Tom Baker season and the first Peter Davison are amongst many peoples favourites. The other 2 Davisons years were quite good as well. Series 21 better than 20 but still good.

However everyone runs out of ideas eventually. RTD didn't do more than 4 series and a few specials. Moffatt will probably be around the same.

Someone should have been around to take over after Davison left, but they weren't JNT was given a no win ultimatum and the show was left in the hands of a guy who had run out of good ideas.

It wasn't fair on him or the programme.
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:35
tiggerpooh
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I get the impression that stories such as The Happiness Patrol and Paradise Towers were conceived as biting social satire. Unfortunately, they ended up looking like crap pantomimes.
Yes they did. And the ending for Dragonfire episode 1, where the Doctor was left hanging by his umbrella was laughable to say the least. The face that he pulled a few seconds before the end credits started to roll was comic, and not very convincing of someone who was in danger of falling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw6OwJQDCoM

Watch that clip and prepare to laugh out loud! I did!
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Old 23-06-2013, 00:35
SpringheelJack
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JNT said, in retrospect, he should have resigned after the 20th Anniversary, and gone out on a high.

But he was hanging on at the BBC as a staff producer, waiting for Impact (a Compact revival) to get commissioned...

He brought some great ideas and a new audience to the show, saw it through the landmark year with aplomb, but sadly, he ran out of creativity just as the show was thrown its' last positive, BBC-sponsored life-line in the changes of Season 22.
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