Tag Archives: Dr Who

Fixing Doctor Who

As with many elements of modern culture, I walk the blurry line between fandom and general enjoyment. I like plenty of stuff, but I wouldn’t say I love anything. I enjoy comics- more than the average man on the street- but I’m definitely not on a level where I could seriously discuss comics with someone who’s actually into them (as Evan can attest). I enjoy heavy metal, but I couldn’t name the leading band of the past couple years or tell you the difference between Finnish black metal and Swedish death metal.

This is neither, just for the record…

Even though this gets me simultaneously branded as a nerd  by people who aren’t fans of _______ and a poser by people who are, I nevertheless get a pretty unique perspective on things. I can see how they work- what their appeal is- without getting objectivity compromised by being too emotionally invested.

Now I think I’d be hard pressed to think of a better example of this than Doctor Who.

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British Television VS American Television

Despite our focus on American issues, we here at Culture War Reportersrecognize that in our world of ever-shrinking borders, there’s plenty more out there than just the cloudless skies of Nevada or the homeless-packed streets of Toronto (Evan, seriously- if the healthcare system’s so good, why does Canada have so many crazy people?).

Today we turn our attention to our pasty cousins across the pond, more specifically, their TV,  excuse me, “Telly” (this is why you lost your empire- well, this and genocide), and how it stacks up next to ours.

CGI and Production Values

Now I have to admit- I haven’t extensively researched British and American television financing, nor have I had a chance to compare the two, taking into consideration differences in the economy and advertising fees over the past couple decades.

What I’m saying is- I’m not an expert.

That said, I don’t need to be an architect to tell you that chances are pretty good that a lot less money was put into making a tent than a condo. British TV shows, put bluntly, just seems to be vastly less funded than their American counterparts. Just take a look at this scene from America’s Battlestar Galactica.

Pretty intense, right? If there’s any poor-quality, it’s probably from the YouTube video, rather than the actual series.

Now look at this clip from Britain’s Doctor Who.

Way worse. And oddly enough, Doctor Who has a bigger fanbase than Galactica, and despite it’s ever-increasing popularity, still has to deal with props dug out of someone’s kitchen drawers. I’m not saying Doctor Who is bad- it’s not. It’s really good- only it’s tough to really feel the full effects of a horrific reveal when the monstrous alien that’s been lurking the shadows until now makes your sock-puppets look scary by comparison. I can’t claim to know the reason for it, and I’m not putting the Brits down for it- I’m simply saying that funding- especially in CGI- appears to be a significant difference between the worlds of British and American TV.

Pretty Faces

You’ve probably heard jokes cracked about this. Not the “British are ugly” or the “British have bad teeth” jokes- the fact that the people on British television have the audacity to look like the people you’d see on the street.

That’s not to say the Brits don’t share the American weakness for fantasizing and glamorizing each and every facet of life, but it’s pretty clear that it’s nowhere near on the scale we have here in the US. Here- take a look at the leading characters of the American version of Being Human.

The guy on the left is decently attractive, as is the girl, and the guy on the right looks more or less like a life-sized Ken doll. Idealized people- no question about it. Now look at the same characters in the British original:

There’s not a huge difference between the girl (the blonde girl is another character- ignore her), and the dark haired guy certainly isn’t his American counterpart and stop looking at that guy’s ears! Yes, they’re huge- they’re gargantuan– and no, this isn’t just an unflattering photo- they actually are trying to escape his head in the first three seasons.

The point is, when it comes to their actors, the British are- well, appear to be- considerably less shallow. They don’t need a couple of supermodels to tell a compelling story of murder, secrecy, and perversion- and speaking of which…

Raunch Codes

Watch this clip- but before you do, get all children and Weslyans out of the room.

Pretty nasty stuff, right? Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

People complain that American media is nothing but sex and violence, but believe me- those Axe commercials are prudish compared to the Brits (and indeed- most of Europe). We may give the Brits a run for their money when it comes to blood and gore but never will we compete with them when it comes to explicitness of this degree. It’s almost to the point where it’s not even repulsive- you’re just impressed at how logic-deafeningly far they take it.

But only almost.

The Dying and the Dead

It’s been said that the difference between British comedies and American comedies is that American comedies begin with everything going wrong and end with everything being fixed, while British comedies begin with everything going right and end with everything falling apart. I wouldn’t call a story where everyone dies of scurvy at the end a comedy, but then again, I don’t whittle my life away on a miserable island full of alcoholics and skinheads.

I can say that because the only people who hate the British more than the Irish, the Kenyans, the Indians, the Chinese, the Australians, the New Zealanders, Iranians, and the Egyptians are the British themselves.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is this viciously self-deprecating mentality that pervades every element of British culture (barring fox hunts, which are just weird) that couldn’t be further removed from the general sense of optimism that you tend to find in America. Just take a look at British crime series.

Now I’ve seen quite a few, and while this certainly isn’t universally true, what I’ve typically found is that British murder mysteries focus on the whole “Whodunnit?” element, whereas American murder mysteries either have a “How’d he do it?” or a drive to keep the murderer from murdering again. Gross over-generalizations, I know, but it does seem to be true that American crime series episodes end with the detectives patting each other on the back for having done justice, while British crime series episodes end with the detective giving some despairing monologue about the tragic depravity of all mankind.

Because that’s a very depressing (and therefore, British) way to end the post- allow me offer this:

To say I’ve been ragging a bit on the British would be an understatement, and no- despite our attempts to be unbiased, we here at Culture War Reporters don’t care much for contemporary English culture. That established, there may very well be something to be said for the Brit’s here. Is it pretty? Not remotely, but for all the weirdness (from our perspective) that British TV has to offer, it can’t be denied that it’s simply more “real” than American TV. The sets aren’t shiny, the people aren’t (exclusively) gorgeous, and a stories of sin and murder actually recognize human suffering. There’s certainly a lot from British TV that merits imitation here in America.

Except for sexually explicit sausage commercials. **** that.

Batman: The Dark Knight Re-Cast

Before we begin, I want to make something clear: I have not seen The Dark Knight Rises. I can’t speak to the actors or the story or Nolan’s heretical-yet-genius take on either. I am further not saying that the actors in the trilogy didn’t do a good job- they were great, however this is Culture War Reporters, and with Batman (and the whole DC Universe) being so popular right now, and with Nolan leaving for other projects, we really can’t help but speculate if Batman were to be re-done, who would be the best fit for the characters?

Bruce Wayne/Batman:

Actor: Michael Fassbender

Why We Want Him: We here at CWR aren’t the first (by a long shot) to speculate on Fassbender for the caped crusader. Simple fact of the matter is, the Irish-German actor has both proven to have the suave poise needed for Bruce Wayne (see his roles in Inglorious Basterds or X-Men: First Class) and the brutish physicality needed for Batman (see his roles in Hunger or 300). Beyond all that, the man has got the strong, square-jaw typically more associated with Batman, which while not required for a good Batman (just look at Bale) is still a plus.

Cons: I’ve never actually heard him do an American accent, so I am gambling a bit here.

Alfred Pennyworth:

Actor: John Cleese

Why We Want Him: Because he is John ****ing Cleese, one of the funniest men to have ever ministry-of-silly-walked the earth. While Michael Cane did a great job as Alfred, like Fassbender, Cleese simply looks more like the classic depiction of the Wayne’s stalwart servant.

Cons: Standing at 6’5″, Cleese is bound to dwarf everyone else on scene with him.

Dick Grayson/Robin/Night Wing:

Actor: Jensen Ackles

Why We Want Him: Obviously, this isn’t the same Robin that wears a bright yellow cape and red outfit, because, you know, who needs stealth? Ackles, simply put, has the height and build to serve as a believable counterpart to Fassbender, as well as the acting chops to match the devil-may-care personality Nightwing is usually portrayed as having.

Cons: When I was drafting this list, I told myself that I wouldn’t use anyone who had already been in a Batman movie, and as Ackles did the voice for Jason Todd/Robin in Batman: Under the Red Hood (which is a surprisingly good movie), I am sorta cheating here.

Selina Kyle/Catwoman:

Actress: Olivia Wilde

Why We Want Her: Let there be no mistake- Catwoman is no easy character to play, and many a fine actress has attempted to take on the role, only to get scratched. I won’t say that I think Wilde is at long last the one who will nail it, but rather, if I was a gambling man (which I am), my money would be on her.

Cons: Like I said, it’s a gamble with any actress- runners up would be Noomi Rapace, Zoe Saldana, or the reanimated body of Eartha Kitt. Another major point would be that Wilde, to the best of my knowledge hasn’t (to my knowledge) been in any major action roles.

The Joker:

Actor: David Tennant

Why We Want Him: Not only does Tennant look the part, but on nerd-credit alone makes for a valuable addition to the movie. We’re talking about the zaniest Doctor Who and a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In short, we have an actor good enough to do Shakespeare, who already has a history of playing semi-psyhcotic characters, who has a rabidly loyal fan following, and who has the perfect facial features for a classic Joker.

Cons: Tennant is just slightly taller than Fassbender, which while certainly making for a scary Joker, might be a bit much. Vincent Cassel might make for a decent alternative, only I’m not sure he can do an American accent.

Commissioner Jim Gordon:

Actor: Byran Cranston

Why We Want Him:
It was Evan, actually, who suggested Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad) for the role of Commissioner Gordon, and while I would’ve initially cited Stacey Keach as the logical choice, Cranston, while not quite as heavyset as your classic Jim Gordon, is one powerhouse of an actor (seriously, go watch Breaking Bad).

Cons: Let’s face it, Cranston, as good as he is, does look a little like Gary Oldman’s Commissioner, and there’s a decent chance that you’d have that constantly gnawing at the back of your mind while you watched the movie.

Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle:

Actress: Emma Stone

Why We Want Her:
Emma Stone is already established as a good actress (see The Help or Superbad), and unlike Wilde, has had a bit of action experience in Zombieland, and if rumors are correct, is going to be doing some action in an upcoming film called “Gangster Squad“.

Cons:
Barring her role in Zombieland action roles, I don’t know of any other action roles Stone has had, which for playing Batgirl is obviously an issue, though that could be avoided by simply skipping ahead to Oracle. Plus she just played Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man. Felicia Day would make a decent runner-up.

Edward Nigma/The Riddler:

Actor: Neil Patrick Harris

Why We Want Him: Look at him. Look at him! That is Neil Patrick Harris, and he is amazing. Look up the word “Awesome” in the dictionary. Do you see a picture of him? No, because that’s how awesome NPH is- if they put a picture of him in the dictionary nobody would ever read anything but the “Awesome” definition all the time. This guy would make a- no, the– perfect Riddler.

Cons: There are no cons- how dare you even read this! Though if NPH was too busy being awesome to play the Riddler, Steve Buscemi would be a nice backup.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot/The Penguin:

Actor: Patton Oswalt

Why We Want Him: Besides his short stature and general pudginess, comedian Patton Oswalt is a huge comic book fan, and offering him the role of the Penguin seems only right and natural.

Cons: Other than his voice acting, I don’t believe I’ve actually seen Oswalt in any films, and in off-chance his live action work isn’t up to par, there’s always Tobie Jones.

Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy:

Actress: Bryce Dallas Howard

Why We Want Her: Howard can already do some decently evil characters (see her role in The Help), and on top her general acting abilities already looks the part of the deranged eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy.

Cons: Yet again, we’re faced with the issue of a lack of any action roles to serve as evidence that Howard would do well here. Plus she was apparently in one of the Twilight movies, which is the general moral equivalent of clubbing a baby seal to death using another baby seal.

Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow:

Actor: Kevin Bacon

Why We Want Him: If you’ve ever seen the film The Hollow Man, you really wouldn’t need to ask.

Cons: The man is getting on in years, and his incarnation of the Scarecrow would probably more of an intellectual and physical antagonist.

Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze:

Actor: Hugh Laurie
Why We Want Him:
I had some difficulty trying to figure out who would make a really good Mr. Freeze (Jim Rash was my first reaction). Evan suggested Hugh Laurie, and after some consideration, I guess I can see it- it’d be neat to see Laurie in the role of the villain, at the very least.

Cons: None. The back story of Victor Fries is so touching that not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could butcher the moment they revealed it back in Batman & Robin.

Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel/Harley Quinn:

Actress: Kristen Bell

Why We Want Her: I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there’s this push among Bell’s fans (you might remember her from Heroes, just before the series started to tank) for her to play Harley Quinn. Hey- give the people what they want.

Cons: Seeing as how Bell has already had some experience playing a super-villain, there’s really not a whole lot negative to say here.

Bane:

Actor: Jason Momoa

Why We Want Him: Look, I haven’t seen Nolan’s Bane, so I can’t make any comparison there, and with regards to the character in general, despite the whole “Count of Monte Cristo on Steroids” backstory, I’ve only ever seen Bane portrayed as a thug juiced-up on venom. Regardless of which way you’d want to take the character in a reboot, the man for the job is Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, HBO’s Game of Thrones). The man is a freaking beast.

Cons: I’ve seen Momoa in Conan and Thrones, where he’s got a clear physical presence, but I really can’t say if he could hit the intellectual side, and really be Moriarty to Bruce Wayne’s Holmes.

Homeless Guys 1 and 2:

Cameos: Frank Miller and Alan Moore

We We Want Need Them:

As much as Miller is a raving, qausi-fascist lunatic and Moore a man who thinks he’s a wizard, it can’t be denied that both of these men have had a major impact not only on Batman, but on the world of comics- having them pass by in a seen would be, in my own opinion, a neat little salute (not the kind Miller likes, though).

Cons: There’s a strong possibility that Miller will go on a rampage when the moon wanes into a crescent, frothing at the mouth (Miller, not the moon) and swearing it’s part of an Islamic global conspiracy to destroy America. Moore will huff set paint until the voices in his head start singing in key.