Monday, April 19, 2010

Doctoring the Stats...

It's funny the things that can drive traffic to a site. I recently noticed that late on Thursday night, whilst I'd been in the pub, there'd been a sudden surge of traffic to The Sleaze. Further investigation revealed that it was one particular story - Dr Who? - which had generated the traffic, via variations on the search term 'dr who assistant naked'. I thought nothing more of it at the time, this particular story regularly attracts traffic whenever Doctor Who is on TV. However, on Saturday evening I finally got around to watching Charlie Brooker's Channel Four panel show You Have Been Watching, in which he showed a picture of former Dr Who assistant Katy Manning posing naked with a Dalek, (this was from a 1970s photo shoot for a men's magazine). Brooker commented that the picture shown was the only one they could show as the rest were too raunchy, (I've seen them and they are pretty hot stuff, actually). Lo and behold, no sooner had he said this, than thousands of geeks had obviously hit the search engines looking for said pictures, and finding my story in the process. Indeed, when I checked the timings of the original broadcast and compared it to my stats, they matched up perfectly with the surge in traffic. I suppose I should thank Charlie Brooker. Perhaps I'll tweet him. Although probably not - the idea of me tweeting celebrities is pretty ludicrous. As a footnote, (and I could be mistaken on this), Katy Manning, (who, of course, played Jo Grant back in the Pertwee era of Doctor Who), later married Australian singer and actor Barry Crocker, Barry McKenzie himself, who is probably now best remembered for having been the original singer of the Neighbours theme song.

All of which brings me, inevitably, to the new series of Doctor Who, featuring Matt Smith. I've refrained on commenting on this until having seen three episodes, not wanting to base my reactions upon an opening episode (which is often atypical of the series as a whole, particularly when, as here, it has to introduce a new regeneration of the Doctor). From the outset, I have to say that I like Matt Smith's Doctor. Sure, he's not David Tennant, but that's the point. Every Doctor is different. I thought his debut episode was pretty magnificent, very fast paced and with a great performance from Smith, who succeeded in making his Doctor likeable and engaging right from his first dialogue. I do, however, have some reservations about the subsequent two episodes. The Beast Below was, I thought, based around a great idea and was generally well executed. Nevertheless, the pace was too slow, which seemed quite jarring after the frenetic series opener the week before. Victory of the Daleks, by contrast, was, if anything far too fast paced, zipping through its somewhat slight storyline in around thirty minutes, filling the remaining fifteen with padding. It left me feeling very unfulfilled. Which is a pity, as the central conceit really seemed to have legs, but, for whatever reason, its development was completely abandoned about fifteen minutes in and replaced by a hurried story chronicling yet another resurrection of the Daleks. And what's with the new-fangled Daleks? They really don't look as menacing as the originals and smack of a cynical merchandising initiative. But my biggest problem with the episode lies with the soundtrack - at times I found it very difficult to discern dialogue as the background music and sound effects were too loud. There had been similar moments in the preceding two episodes, but this was easily the worst instance. I think that part of the problem is that Matt Smith is far more softly spoken than either David Tennant or Christopher Ecclestone, making him more easily drowned out by obtrusive background effects. This, above all else, really needs addressing! Either turn the background music down or get Matt Smith to project more! That aside, despite reservations about pacing and the quality of scripts, I still think Matt Smith's Doctor has a lot of potential.



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