Sep. 9th, 2012

Dinosaurs

Sep. 9th, 2012 06:20 pm
bagheera_san: (Ten - traveller)
You know how there are kids' shows that are every bit as profound and complex and interesting as adult shows, and then there are kids' shows that rely on rainbow colours, cardboard cut-out characters, emotional manipulation and cheap jokes? The former will sometimes stick with you for the rest of your life, beloved and revisited, whereas the latter is a dime a dozen. The former is made by people who want to make good entertainment that also happens to be appropriate for children, whereas the latter, I guess, is made by people who think, "Oh, it's a kids show, we've got a formula for that."

Doctor Who isn't always a children's show at all - in much of Classic I think the creators didn't distinguish between sci-fi, adventure and fiction appropriate for children and young adults. It's true that monsters, spaceships and weird stuff appeal to many children, but they do so without being specifically tailored for them. Here's a case in point, another story about Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: there's a third season episode from ST: Voyager, "Distant Origin", in which the Voyager encounters a race of space dinosaurs who just happen to be the descendants of intelligent dinosaurs who left Earth after the comet struck. As a kid, watching it for the first time, I found this endlessly fascinating, even though the episode is a thinly veiled parable about religious dogma vs. science - only with dinosaurs instead of Galileo Galilei and the Catholic Church. Which is how much of good children's entertainment (and fantasy as well) works: adult topics in fancy costumes. It's still a good episode, we only just watched it in our Voyager rewatch, and I remembered it clearly from the first time I watched it.

"Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" is the other kind of children's TV. Don't get me wrong - it was quite funny (Arthur Darvill esp. did a great job), a good comedy show, and it actually had one or two good serious moments for the Doctor, but the dinosaurs? The dinosaurs were a gimmick used as a gimmick,* just like Nefertiti - Kids like candy, don't they, here, have a lollie, and hey, the grown up fans like strong yet sexy women, don't they, here, have a queen. It doesn't really work that way.

The fantastic needs space to breathe in order to become fascinating, otherwise it's no more than a cheap theme park.



*This isn't really a Classic-is-Better rant: Three's dinosaur episode wasn't much better in that respect, and the plot made rather less sense, although at least there you had the juxtaposition dinosaurs roaming the streets of modern day Britain, which is a lot more fascinating than dinosaurs in a nondescript, zoo cage-like spaceship.

Dinosaurs

Sep. 9th, 2012 06:20 pm
bagheera_san: (Ten - traveller)
You know how there are kids' shows that are every bit as profound and complex and interesting as adult shows, and then there are kids' shows that rely on rainbow colours, cardboard cut-out characters, emotional manipulation and cheap jokes? The former will sometimes stick with you for the rest of your life, beloved and revisited, whereas the latter is a dime a dozen. The former is made by people who want to make good entertainment that also happens to be appropriate for children, whereas the latter, I guess, is made by people who think, "Oh, it's a kids show, we've got a formula for that."

Doctor Who isn't always a children's show at all - in much of Classic I think the creators didn't distinguish between sci-fi, adventure and fiction appropriate for children and young adults. It's true that monsters, spaceships and weird stuff appeal to many children, but they do so without being specifically tailored for them. Here's a case in point, another story about Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: there's a third season episode from ST: Voyager, "Distant Origin", in which the Voyager encounters a race of space dinosaurs who just happen to be the descendants of intelligent dinosaurs who left Earth after the comet struck. As a kid, watching it for the first time, I found this endlessly fascinating, even though the episode is a thinly veiled parable about religious dogma vs. science - only with dinosaurs instead of Galileo Galilei and the Catholic Church. Which is how much of good children's entertainment (and fantasy as well) works: adult topics in fancy costumes. It's still a good episode, we only just watched it in our Voyager rewatch, and I remembered it clearly from the first time I watched it.

"Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" is the other kind of children's TV. Don't get me wrong - it was quite funny (Arthur Darvill esp. did a great job), a good comedy show, and it actually had one or two good serious moments for the Doctor, but the dinosaurs? The dinosaurs were a gimmick used as a gimmick,* just like Nefertiti - Kids like candy, don't they, here, have a lollie, and hey, the grown up fans like strong yet sexy women, don't they, here, have a queen. It doesn't really work that way.

The fantastic needs space to breathe in order to become fascinating, otherwise it's no more than a cheap theme park.



*This isn't really a Classic-is-Better rant: Three's dinosaur episode wasn't much better in that respect, and the plot made rather less sense, although at least there you had the juxtaposition dinosaurs roaming the streets of modern day Britain, which is a lot more fascinating than dinosaurs in a nondescript, zoo cage-like spaceship.

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