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10 September 2010 @ 06:59 pm
regarding the David Mitchell "kids' show" thing  

Maybe because I just spent some time today reading Northanger Abbey through the lens of fandom, I can't help thinking that these debates are linked--that part of what's going on here is that people are using "juvenile" to stand in for "inappropriate," and that "children" are taking the place of "women." (And Mitchell makes the move early on to make sure we're all clear that he is emphatically not one of those "fan" people he's recently discovered the existence of.) In the 18th and 19th centuries, novels were frequently dismissed as women's reading, not suitable for real consumption--which is why it's so important that Henry Tilney acknowledges and even revels in his novel reading. With Doctor Who, it's the same thing: children's stuff isn't real stuff, and rational people should know better than to spend their time on it.

I keep trying to articulate how I feel that this is linked with comedy, with Carol Chillington Rutter's formulation of "looking like a child" in Shakespeare and Child's Play (I know, I keep talking about this book), but I haven't yet been able to make it work. We look at comedy so often as nonsense, as silliness, as not worth the same amount of time and energy as tragedy. And--no surprise there--the comedies are where the women win out, where they run circles around the men.

But it's not just a negative connection, a cultural bias. It's also that the best of the children's stories, the best of comedies, are about hope and energy and growth and possibility. In children's stories and comedies, you can change the world.

And this is why I always say that Moffat writes Doctor Who as a comedy. In RTD's universe, everything ends up with darkness. Yes, absolute tragedy is averted, but only at terrible cost: to the world, to the companions, and especially to the Doctor. Moffat, on the other hand, writes stories about hope coming from the darkness; it's no coincidence that Amy's favorite childhood story is the story of Pandora's box. The starwhale doesn't die, and it's a child's memory that saves it. Everybody lives.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on September 11th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
We seem to have gone from a period when women's literature was not respected to a time when most literature is directed at the female audience.

As to the clip: I laughed.
I think because David watched and liked the show as a child, he might not have noticed that the program changed in spirit and tone between the First Doctor and the Third Doctor, or maybe what the Brits consider children's fare doesn't translate the same to American television. And David does not discern between "family fare" as opposed to "children's programming". The First Doctor was a grandfatherly figure, with a granddaughter and two teachers as companions. There was plenty of "educational material" in the first with visits to historical times.

In the US younger children's program often lacked the presence of children--so in this DW was like American children's program. Instead of Grandfather alien with a teenage grandaughter we had clowns and Sherry's Puppets, Captains, and Farmer Green Jeans who spoke to children as teachers or parents. For this reason most fifties and sixties parents were content to leave the child in the room alone with the set for that fifteen or thirty minutes. When my generation became parents we were ordered to watch with the kids, just in case Mister Roger's (Bless him) pulled a stunt like the character in Grove Tube. (Of course Pastor Rogers would never do that.)

Sesame Street appealed to a large audience; I got no problem admitting to tearing up every time I hear Ray Charles and Kermit sing It's Not Easy Being Green. On after the other hand watching Barney, the Clifford Big Red Dog, Dora, and even the charming Big Comfy Couch more than once a week with the Grandkids I needed therapy. There is this one show with these magazine collage type illustrations that sends me into shock. For some reason, Blue's Clues didn't make me cringe.
Most American young people's prime time programming during the years Doctor Who debuted featured children and teens as principal players. Young Children's Programming ceased at noon and then it was Soaps and movies for mums. Between three and Five again you had children/early teen shows like the Mickey Mouse Club, Superman, I think came on before supper. Then it was News, family hour sitcoms and variety, then the television was Dads and sometimes Moms (Doctor Kildare was mom; Doctor Ben Casey- Dad. Star Trek came on during Dad time!! Teens in family shows had strong parent figures, but the shows that targeted the Teen audience, the teenagers reflected their parent's guidance. Family shows like Leave It To Beaver supposedly reflected positive role models for parents as well as the young people.

DW: Susan was teenager except in those strange Doctor Who movies with Peter Cushing. Ace was a teenager, Sarah Jane legal and just out of school. Jamie was young but not a child. So the first "child" we have in Doctor Who is Amelia.
Two with Jamie and Zoe appealed to older teens, and by the time we get to three, the writers were targeting an older audience. By four, the kids got K-9 and the adults got Romana and Leela! And no way in heck did anyone think Six's tenure was directed at children.

I wouldn't compare Doctor Who to watching Winnie the Pooh, (I didn't read or watch Winnie the Pooh until I had children and grandchildren!) Then my two teenager Grandgirls will watch Winnie the Pooh and Disney before they watch DW. My younger one watches because her mother and I watch, although now she watches because she adores Wee Amelia and Rory, and she thinks Matt fun. Matt is wonderfully a child's hero, and I can understand why a lot of older viewers are loosing interest in the show.

tempestsarekind: amelia pond (ready for adventure)tempestsarekind on September 11th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
The peculiar thing about this, for me, is that in the US, Doctor Who is marketed for an adult, niche audience rather than as family fare. I don't know when the show now airs on BBC America, since I don't have it, but when the show aired on SciFi, it was a 9:00 show, and the lead-in to things like Battlestar Galactica.

I do think that the "Eleven as the children's Doctor" is a bit of a red herring, though. I think he relates wonderfully to children, and certainly the child perspective is more a part of Moffat's S5 than in RTD's seasons. But I'm not entirely convinced that therefore, adult viewers are losing interest--in the same way that I'm not convinced by the repeated claim that Moffat's Who is more "juvenile" or "childish" than RTD's. Making everything "dark" isn't the same as making it more grownup or sophisticated--even if cultural bias suggests that happy endings are for kids and suckers.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on September 11th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
It came before BG and certainly the new show was marketed as more adult/teen than Children/family. I think it was proceeded for a while by SJA which was definately Children/family viewing.

Moffat designed Eleven as more kid friendly than Nine or Ten, and I think the viewers who are drawing away possibly do so because Matt doesn' ooze sexuality like David and Chris.

I think Moffat's Who is less childish and great deal more mature and sophisticated, especially when you consider episodes like Vincent and the Doctor. And I agree, Dark is not necessarily grown-up; look at Twilight.
tempestsarekind: eleven is awkwardtempestsarekind on September 11th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
I think it's funny, because Eleven seems to have a sort of toggle-switch sexuality: it's there, occasionally, but it's gone so quickly that it almost doesn't register.

I also think Moffat's Who is more tonally consistent. RTD's Who tended to swing wildly in different directions, from the angst and storm and vindictiveness of something like the end of "Family of Blood," to something like the Slitheen or aliens made of fat.