The Americanization of Doctor Who - For Better or Worse?

Josh Kesnik

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Jun 25, 2015
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The Americanization of Doctor Who - For Better or Worse?

Doctor Who has evolved over the years, with a recent trend toward distinct americanization - what does that mean, and is it a bad thing?

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ChaoGuy2006

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I certainly havn't enjoyed Dr.Who for a while. Rather than "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it with guile and cunning." the modern stuff feels like "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it the power of love and friendship!"

Far too sopy and far too corny to be enjoyed. Capauldi's run was slightly better, but Matt (despite being a great actor) had the worst of it.

Trying to sell an interstellar "mystery" show that all wraps up in 30mins or an hour is a hell of a task though.
I'd want the multipart stories like in the old days, but no one seems to want to fund that anymore.
 

FalloutJack

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Nov 20, 2008
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Americanization? Really? I'd never heard of a Jammy Dodger until Doctor Who. That sort of thing is a pointed point of exposing just how much not-British I am. I think the only way the show is somehow more American is only moving along with the times in that the UK has some influences from us, things having gone mainstream in pop culture. It's definitely still a British sci-fi television show. For god's sake, Rassilon was played by James Bond!
 

Knoxy

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Aug 12, 2009
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Woefully written, sentences are jumbles of words and ideas with no clear point, paragraphs start on one track and jump to another seemingly at random and the conclusion makes the whole article feel pointless. Then there are the inaccuracies, too many to list, but an example right on the first page: 'Each episode was its own story'. Except every episode from the 1963 to 1989 was comprised of multiple episodes, so what point are you making exactly?

The main problem with the article (and to be fair with a lot of the accepted wisdom about Who) is that it treats that 30+ year span of the show like a monolith, when in reality it's anything but. Yes the show was retooled when it came back in 2005, but the same can be said of 1966 when they decided to recast their leading man, or 1970 when they decided it wasn't about travelling in time & space and made it an ensemble show set at a military base, or really any of the major shake-ups that came with a new production team. The show is not cult, in the way that so much American made Sci-Fi is, committed to being it's own totally unique thing. It has always survived by aping whatever was doing well on T.V or at the Movies. When that was 'The Avengers' (British) the show gave it's spin on Steed and Peel, when it was 'Star Wars' the show went for model spaceships and lasers.

So do yourself a favor and unshackle from the mindset that Modern Who is X while Classic Who was Y because both have enough flavours to cover an entire alphabet and no statement is gonna hold true for all of either one.
 

Zontar

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I don't know if it's an Amerincanization, but over the past 5 years there has been a very noticeable decline in quality for the show (so much so that the latest series has made me quit all together).
ChaoGuy2006 said:
Trying to sell an interstellar "mystery" show that all wraps up in 30mins or an hour is a hell of a task though.
I'd want the multipart stories like in the old days, but no one seems to want to fund that anymore.
Which is odd, because some of the most successful parts of the new Who have been multiepisode stories, and for the past few years they've had series long arcs going on in the background, yet they still want the 'adventure of the week' to be in the mix as well. It feels like they want to have their cake and eat it too, and that it's being done at the hands of people who can't handle it.
 

Tanis

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Aug 30, 2010
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I think you're confusing 'Muricanizing with 'evolving'.

Doctor Who Classic is REALLY a reflection of its time.

The way the writers were influenced by what was going on around them.

I mean, compare 1960s with 1980s.

The 2nd Doctor was a sort of 'wise hobo'.
The 3rd was a kind of marine/wanna-be James Bond.
The 4th was a madman with a time machine.
The 5th Doctor 'lost' his sonic screwdriver and punched people.
The 6th Doctor was a wanna-be 4rd Doctor.
The 7th Doctor was either one of the most cold blooded, borderline evil, person to have ever lived...or a loving father figure who played Wizards chess with the universe.
The 8th Doctor embraced adventure and live.
The 9th was a solider suffering from PTSD.
etc/etc/etc.

And now, I've lost me point.
XD
 

Thyunda

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Tanis said:
I think you're confusing 'Muricanizing with 'evolving'.

Doctor Who Classic is REALLY a reflection of its time.

The way the writers were influenced by what was going on around them.

I mean, compare 1960s with 1980s.

The 2nd Doctor was a sort of 'wise hobo'.
The 3rd was a kind of marine/wanna-be James Bond.
The 4th was a madman with a time machine.
The 5th Doctor 'lost' his sonic screwdriver and punched people.
The 6th Doctor was a wanna-be 4rd Doctor.
The 7th Doctor was either one of the most cold blooded, borderline evil, person to have ever lived...or a loving father figure who played Wizards chess with the universe.
The 8th Doctor embraced adventure and live.
The 9th was a solider suffering from PTSD.
etc/etc/etc.

And now, I've lost me point.
XD
I think your point was that the Doctor's personality represented current events or what audiences and the writers found interesting and wanted to inject into their writing - but that's not what the article is about.
The article is about how it's gone from the focus following the Doctor into various interstellar adventures to the focus being on the Doctor, though I'd disagree with the writer as to when exactly the shift happened. Eccleston's run was pretty great and David Tennant's, for the most part, stayed fairly true to the narrative you'd expect, so much so that the whole Rose Tyler thing was a novelty and actually had something of an impact. By the fourth companion that wants the D(octor) it's a bit stale, so Moffat had this sudden and genius idea of, every three episodes or so, writing a "feel sorry for the Doctor" episode." Like that really bizarre episode where Clara went back into the Doctor's childhood and revealed he slept in the barn (or something) because he was scared of the dark.

Best way of putting it is to imagine an episode opening with a shot slowly panning across a war-ravaged alien world, before tilting downward and zooming in on an open book on the floor. The heading reads "The Doctor's Diary" and all the Rs are backward so you know he's a kid at this point, and then the episode launches into a flashback where the Doctor fell down the stairs and his mum didn't kiss it better fast enough so he spends forty minutes crying and then looks directly into the camera, which zooms out and reveals his adult self crying. Then the credits roll.
 

Albino Boo

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In shock news thread about Doctor who turns into how Moffat is terrible. Guess what guys, UK viewing figures are stable and US figures are up. He isn't going anywhere. It might not be to your taste but you are not the target audience. Dr Who is different because it is aimed at much broader audience than US TV Sci-fi.

Tanis said:
The 3rd was a kind of marine/wanna-be James Bond.
Actually John Pertwee spent the later half of the war in the Naval Intelligence Division, alongside Ian Fleming. Its more James Bond is a wanna-be John Pertwee
 

09philj

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ChaoGuy2006 said:
I certainly havn't enjoyed Dr.Who for a while. Rather than "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it with guile and cunning." the modern stuff feels like "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it the power of love and friendship!"
That is certainly annoying. Doctor Who is always more effective when The Doctor is being the cunning, even Machiavellian, character that was the core of the classic series. Although the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Doctors all had outwardly different personas, inside they were always plotting, planning, and preparing for the moment where they would turn the tables on the foe.
 

Shodan1980

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09philj said:
ChaoGuy2006 said:
I certainly havn't enjoyed Dr.Who for a while. Rather than "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it with guile and cunning." the modern stuff feels like "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it the power of love and friendship!"
That is certainly annoying. Doctor Who is always more effective when The Doctor is being the cunning, even Machiavellian, character that was the core of the classic series. Although the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Doctors all had outwardly different personas, inside they were always plotting, planning, and preparing for the moment where they would turn the tables on the foe.
This and a thousand times this. By far the best episode of the last series for me was the episode on the train. It was fantastic not just because they locked Clara in a room she couldn't get out of for half an hour, but because it had the Doctor out-thinking an adversary instead of the usual "ain't humans fabbo" schtick it frequently resorts to.
 
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Shodan1980 said:
This and a thousand times this. By far the best episode of the last series for me was the episode on the train. It was fantastic not just because they locked Clara in a room she couldn't get out of for half an hour, but because it had the Doctor out-thinking an adversary instead of the usual "ain't humans fabbo" schtick it frequently resorts to.
I'll second that. If I have to hear from the galaxy crossing, millennia old time traveler about how humans are the most amazing thing ever one more time, I'm going to stick the sonic screwdriver where the sun don't shine. Give me someone who feels experienced, someone who is actually willing to tackle a problem brain-on instead of just getting upset that humans are being hurt and then pulling some nonsense out to wrap up the plot.

OT: I thought the article was fine; a little more definitive than I would have liked, but that comes with writing a three-page opinion piece. Reminded me a bit of a topic that might have ended up on No Right Answer, had that no come to an end.
 

Proverbial Jon

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Nov 10, 2009
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I like Doctor Who's new format. I also really liked the classic episodes too. I would never have said the show has undergone any kind of Americanisation at all - it's still very, very British. There was a UK show in the 90s called Bugs which was about a team of people stopping cyber-crime; its last couple of series had a greater focus on character and had an ongoing serial storyline too. I'm sure there have been plenty others before new Who came around.

Perhaps our culture is starting to rub off on America, ever think of that? Well you can't have it, America, you can't assimilate us!

No, Doctor Who's real problem, certainly for the last few series has been lacklustre writing. That's being generous, most of it is just sheer incompetence. I had a huge amount of hope when Moffat took over; his original stories were always the highlight of each series. But now he's been given the reins it appears the whole show is a shambling mess.
 

StorkV

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Sep 6, 2014
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I miss David Tennant and Matt Smith, the new Doctor is soo... booooring and uninteresting
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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I really thought it was the most British pop-culture thing out there last time I looked. Is everything switching to hamburgers and complaining about Obama? That would confirm Americanization.
 

Canadamus Prime

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Jun 17, 2009
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09philj said:
ChaoGuy2006 said:
I certainly havn't enjoyed Dr.Who for a while. Rather than "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it with guile and cunning." the modern stuff feels like "here is an (Alien) world ending problem! Lets solve it the power of love and friendship!"
That is certainly annoying. Doctor Who is always more effective when The Doctor is being the cunning, even Machiavellian, character that was the core of the classic series. Although the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Doctors all had outwardly different personas, inside they were always plotting, planning, and preparing for the moment where they would turn the tables on the foe.
YES! Even Matt Smith's Doctor got to be clever and solve things with his smarts. They can have all the character development they want, but PLEASE go back to having The Doctor save people and the world(s) with clever planning and cunning and maybe the sonic screwdriver. And can we PLEASE not get any more episodes like Kill the Moon or Forest of the Night.
 

Oly J

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StorkV said:
I miss David Tennant and Matt Smith, the new Doctor is soo... booooring and uninteresting
Much as I loved Tennant and Smith, I don't think Peter Capaldi is having an easy time of it, I happen to think he'd make a great Doctor, if only they'd give him a decent script to work with, but that's the real problem isn't it? I'm not a Moffat hater, but I do have to concede that a good number of his episodes don't really hold up to scrutiny that well. To be honest I think a new companion might be in order, I like Clara but I think it's that time.