Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Star Trek vs Doctor Who

Come back!this isn't one of those nerdy 'Could the TARDIS beat the Enterprise in a fistfight?' bits of fanfic. (Apart from anything else the answer too is bloody obvious to even bother asking the question.) No, this is a moment of blinding revelation about the nature of Life, the Universe and episodic television. (Apart from the Life and Universe bits.)

Last night, via the medium of the BBC iPlayer, Holly and I finally got to watch Let's Kill Hitler, the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who. I love watching Dr Who with Holly. It's one of 'Our Things', a shared private bit of intergenerational fun. I loved Doctor Who as a kid and it's nice to be sharing the show with my children.

Halfway through last night's episode I remembered something that used to puzzle me. Not about Doctor Who but about Star Trek.

Star Trek first aired in 1966, three years after Doctor Who first hit the screen, and in its later revivals featured a strong theme of father/son relationships: Worf and Alexander, Pickard and Crusher Jr.* (and others eg), Benjamin and Jake Cisco, Data and his creator, and so on. ( In this one of the endless number of novels based on the series, even Spock discovers he has a son!)**. As I said, this strange emphasis used to puzzle me until I realized (long before I started doing the same thing with my own children) that Star Trek was one of the few shows that would be watched across the generations: by those who remembered the originals, and their children coming to it for the first time. (I guess that's why they called the first revival of the show Star Trek: The New Generation - I can be so slow on the uptake sometimes.) To capitalize on this Unique Selling Point the producers presented their loyal viewers with endless variations on the problems of male parent / child bonding. which usually ended with manly pats on the back and sometimes a hug. "I love you, son." " I love you too, dad." And at home on the sofa, father and son couch potatoes too would put aside their differences and America would be just that little bit better.

Last night I spotted that the BBC had realised they too had the same kind of cross generational demographic appeal and their show too was being watched by men and their kids. I say men because I don't remember girls being that interested in Doctor Who when I was kid. It may have changed with later reincarnations but in my day girls were far from interested. I doubt the women they grew into would be nostalgic for the real stuff. (Tom Baker is da man!)

The BBC's solution to the Star Trek problem (how do you keep grown males watching what is essentially a kids' show) is markedly different from Paramount's homely moral philosophy and re-enforcing of family values.

The BBC has gone for tits.

They've cast some serious crumpet as companions recently (okay, well maybe not Catherine Tate) and, most recently, cast the seriously crumpetty crumpet Karen Gillan as most recent female companion crumpet Amy Pond - and then dressed her up in male fetish fantasy button-pushing costumes like this:

WPC Amy Pond

and this:

Schoolgirl Amy Pond

and, most disturbingly***, this:

Japanese Sex Robot Amy Pond
(A bit of context here: this is a shape-shifting robot disguised as Amy)

(In next week's episode, Amy Pond disguises herself as a nun, and licks one of those really big Baby Doll lollipops - hereinafter known as 'lolitapops', and blows coy kisses at the screen.)

The Beeb has also called in the big guns by casting Alex Kingston as recurring character River Song. Now Alex Kington is undeniably:
  • A. A good actress and
  • B. Fwaaaaaaar!
...even without the director pointing the camera down the front of her blouse at every opportunity. Like this moment just after the moment Matt Smith has helpfully pulled open her jacket so we can all get a good look at her cleavage.

Thanks Matt. A truly inspired bit of upstaging there; I'm sure there was dialogue going on in this shot but I didn't notice any of it.

So, in short, Tits, the BBC's answer to keeping dads amused. Works for me.

Somewhere, as I'm typing this, the BBC is receiving an email pointing out that the two machine guns used by River Song to force a whole room of Nazi officials and their female companions to strip down to their underwear (did I mention this was a kids show?) were in fact 1943 issue Schmitt and Wesson .22 calibre semi-automatic breach loaders as the magazine was clearly of the semi-locking design patented by Otto Wangster in 1942 and thus it would be impossible for them to be in use in 1938 when this story was set.

Having made that up I suddenly feel an awful lot better about being fascinated by Alex Kingston's knockers for half an hour.

More next week. I hope.


* I know Pickard isn't Crusher Jr.s real son (or did I miss that episode?) but the relationship is similar.

** The Doctor, it must be noted (Must it? Yes. Okay then... ) ended up having a daughter.

*** I can't make my mind up whether the disturbing bit is that they did it, or that I just thought they did.

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