Production Values

Talk about Doctor Who when Tom played the Doctor (1974 - 1981).

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Production Values

Postby haglered on July 24th, 2010, 5:44 am

Does anyone else find the production values of Doctor who in the late 70's (including when Mr. Baker was playing the role) just hilarious?

First there were the alien costumes. Really, Paper Mache heads? (remember the Nimon).

Then there was putting the lights on camera in Destiny of the Daleks. I remember seeing The Dr and Romana walk past a light stand and going WHAT? I guess the producer thought it would look industrial. It just looked awful and made me shake my head and say no budget.

The new series does not have that problem but there is something campy and charming about the lack of budget/special effects in the older shows that is part of the charm.

Even the Dr.'s sonic screwdriver back then kinda looked low tech.

I remember Tom playing opposite an enlarged virus in "the invisible enemy." This was so cheesy as to be embarrising to watch. The whiskers of the virus kept hitting Tom as the nucleus delivers it's lines. It really took a lot of (a fan's tolerance) not to just turn the channel it was so cheesy.

Oh well. I guess they did the best they could with what they had.
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Re: Production Values

Postby Graceful Leonard on July 25th, 2010, 10:37 am

I think too many allowances are made for budgets, sometimes.

I don't know which show it was, but there was one with a green blob with what looked like an enormous flappy phallus sticking out. Quite frankly, I could make a more convincing monster than that with what I've got in my kitchen cupboard right now. There are times in the show when Tom deserves an Oscar for coping with it.

That said, I did like some of the daft aspects.
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Re: Production Values

Postby Who dat? on July 25th, 2010, 5:14 pm

We have to remember when this was and what the industry was like at the time. Look at some other science fiction from even later and there was some very camp effects.
I like the way things look in the older stuff. As said before it took a very good actor to make it work. Tom could have made it work with anything, He's the master...Uh oh, where's this going?
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Re: Production Values

Postby Toothy Grin on July 26th, 2010, 12:09 pm

While everyone (especially the media) always go on about Dr Who's shoddy production values, they always seem to forget the era of the show and the very small budget that the production team had to work with. There was no CGI in those days, everything had to be done from scratch with very limited funds. Considering what the production team on Dr Who in the 70's had to work with, it's amazing what they were able to come up with. Yes, there were undeniably monsters that look, from our sophisticated modern-day perspective, very silly like the virus nucleus (giant prawn), the phallic blob-sac that is Erato, the papier-mache headed Nimon, the muppet-like Mandrels, the bear-skin rug Taran woodbeast etc. But there were also a great deal of effects that were amazing for the time and are still impressive today. What about the superlative jungle set for 'Planet of Evil'? Surely one of the most convincing looking alien environments ever seen on tv. Then there's the wonderful sets for 'The Ark in Space', the fantastic model work used to depict the sandminer in 'Robots of Death', the jagaroth ship taking off in 'City Of Death'and the space ships in 'The Invisible Enemy, Underword and numerous other serials. The set designs on the period-set stories like Pyramids Of Mars, Talons of Weng-Chiang and Horror of Fang Rock are faultless. And Season 18 was a huge leap forward in terms of sets and special effects - the model work on The Leisure Hive looks wonderful, the Marshmen in Full Circle still look good, the sets for The Keeper of Traken are gorgeous and Warriors Gate is one big SFX triumph.
I think we need to remember how much was actually achieved on such a limited budget and admire the ambition and imagination of the people who worked on the programme.
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Re: Production Values

Postby Graceful Leonard on July 26th, 2010, 12:51 pm

Toothy Grin wrote:I think we need to remember how much was actually achieved on such a limited budget and admire the ambition and imagination of the people who worked on the programme.


Dear TG, in your post you mention some sets that were brilliant. This only compounds some of the truly terrible stuff. Unfortunately, I'm easily old enough to remember the original broadcasts and even as a child I knew some of the effects/monsters were terrible. I think there is too much leeway given because of the era and budget. The simple maxim of 'less is more' would have often stood them in good stead. There are other British shows of a similar period that used less to better effect.

That said, I do find some of the crapiness rather enchanting. I just don't think we should make any attempt to defend the indefensible. Some of it was simply not good enough, even back then, even with zero budget!
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Re: Production Values

Postby Toothy Grin on July 26th, 2010, 3:03 pm

I really have to disagree. Doctor Who was/is probably the most difficult programme to make when you consider how fantastical it's premise is. There certainly wasn't another show of the same period that attempted to achieve the type of stories that Dr Who managed to do. Take 'The Pirate Planet' for example - the script alone, with it's requirement for hollow space-hopping planets, flying mechanical parrots, aircars, half-robotic captains, moving corridors etc, would be enough to give headaches for any production company, the fact that Dr Who managed to realise such stuff is amazing and to make them half-decent too is a minor miracle. And when I was a kid watching Dr Who I believed in everything I saw absolutely. Even the tackiest looking special effects never bothered me, why else would so many kids have been hiding behind the sofa from monsters we adults now find rather silly, and have nightmares about for weeks afterwards? The reason was that, for the time, and for a mainly young audience, Dr Who's budget was never a hindrance to it's success and has never detracted from it's enjoyment.
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Re: Production Values

Postby Graceful Leonard on July 26th, 2010, 3:19 pm

Toothy Grin wrote:I really have to disagree.


Well, it's nice to hear another point of view.

Toothy Grin wrote:Dr Who's budget was never a hindrance to it's success and has never detracted from it's enjoyment.


And on that point we agree. At least, I agree so far as Tom's era goes.

Later, I think the budget and the appalling effects did detract from the enjoyment since the audience had grown accustomed to far higher production values. By that time, however, the dismal production was the thing least wrong with it.
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Re: Production Values

Postby Toothy Grin on July 26th, 2010, 3:24 pm

I find watching the stories now that Tom's performance always makes up for any deficiencies in the production values. Later period stories didn't have Tom in them so they would always be at a disadvantage! :lol:
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Re: Production Values

Postby Graceful Leonard on July 26th, 2010, 5:19 pm

Toothy Grin wrote:Later period stories didn't have Tom in them so they would always be at a disadvantage!


Absolutely.
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Re: Production Values

Postby haglered on July 27th, 2010, 3:47 am

Tom's performance is what kept me watching and forever endeared the Dr to me. I never remember missing it on those late saturday nights. It kicked off a late night of watching P.B.S. (Public Broadcasting Service)
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