Reply to post: Re: Mmm, I just don't get it

Doctor Who: The Hybrid finally reveals itself in the epic Heaven Sent

Sean Timarco Baggaley

Re: Mmm, I just don't get it

TV is mass-produced film. It's very much a production-line process now.

There's room for art, yes, but it's mostly hard craft and you really need to be on top of your game if you want all the pieces to fit together properly every single time. The trick is to produce more hits than misses, but this is much harder to achieve with TV than it seems. All three of the "creators" of an episode need to gel: the writer, the director, and the editor. The editor relies on the director to provide the raw shots they need to assemble an episode. The director needs the blueprint provided by the writer to work out *what* they need to shoot. The director is also responsible for deciding *how* they shoot it all, including what should be done using CGI, and what practical costumes, sets and props will be needed.

Genre TV is even harder. With a straightforward drama, you're usually based in a small number of locations, like Casualty's hospital set; Albert Square for EastEnders, etc.

Battlestar Galactica had the luxury of plenty of standing sets for the spaceship interiors that could be stored and reused when needed. For Doctor Who, only the TARDIS prop and interior set are guaranteed to be needed almost every episode. Little else can be reused, which means economies of scale are harder to come by. This has a huge effect on budgeting and it's likely one of the reasons for there being so many two-parters this year: the budgets for the sets and props are spread over two episodes instead of one.

This budgetary issue also applies to the monsters: the Daleks keep coming back because they're *cheap*: there are plenty of them sitting in storage. Ditto for the Cybermen and costumes for other popular recurring aliens. It does get harder to keep them fresh, but if you know you'll have a two-part Dalek or Cybermen story coming up, it frees up more of the creature budget for another episode, so you can spend more money on making the new creature look good.

That balancing act is the showrunner's key job, and I think it's fair to say Moffatt was less experienced at this than his predecessor, though he has been getting better at it since he took over. The quality of Moffatt's earlier seasons was much more variable, often biting off more than he could chew. Contrast with RTD's tenure: he already had some production experience before he took on Doctor Who, so there's less variability. RTD's Achilles' heel was his writing, which tended towards "deus ex machina" endings. (Charlie Brooker's interview of RTD is on YouTube somewhere. It explains much about RTD's self-penned episodes of Doctor Who.)

Anyway, I'm sure I had a point, but I forget what it was.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019