Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Idiocy on a Grand Scale (aka Helen Raynor is rubbish)

I've become a recent convert to the joys of half-wit watching on the web forum formerly known as Outpost Gallifrey, but now called (cleverly)

It's full of high quality guff - from Chris McKeon telling everyone his charity book/ride on the late Craig Hinton's coat-tails, Time's Champion, is an official release because Justin Richards once told Craggles to write it, through Gary Russell claiming that he was excluded from the cool kids' New Adventures book club, all the way to someone called Marvin proving that the body can survive for ages after the removal of the brain.

Maddest (and in many ways saddest) of all however is a completely bonkers thread called 'The Helen Raynor Apology Thread', in which sundry OG posters supplicate themselves at the feet of Ms Raynor and apologise until their tongues bleed.

And the reason for the apology? Because Rusty - in his new collection of emails, notebook scribbles and illegible instructions to himself in bookie's biro on kebab wrapper ("what does that bit say? 'fuck Eccleston' is it?") - says she was crying her little eyes out when the bad freaks, sad geeks and barely pubescents twinks on OG said her Dalek two-parter wasn't very good.

Which it wasn't. There's no doubt about it. It was ineptly edited, poorly acted and badly directed for a start. Oh - and written as though someone had used a razor to cut up an already pretty crap script and then only kept the really rubbish bits. It's awful. Dreadful. Amateur. A total waste of time and energy for both those involved in making it and those unfortunate enough to sit through it. The fact Raynor (a) got paid for it and (b) got asked back to write more just sums up what a jobs for the boys no-taste arse Russell T Davies can be.

But hey - Raynor got paid good money for writing it, so she can at least use the cash to buy girly stuff like sexy underwear and the Mamma Mia DVD even while she sobs her tiny Princess Perfect heart out. And Davies is still fellated daily by assorted fanboys and girls in spite of the lazy pap he traditionally passes off as quality television every season end, so presumably he's delighted.

So why are the hand-wringing, personality-free, painfully right on and socially aware idiots who infest the Doctor Who world so keen to prostrate themselves in guilt and shame that they've set up a whole thread to say sorry?

Obviously, it's mainly in hopes Rusty will come back to OG and read the thread, remember the names of everyone who said sorry and therefore know, however briefly, who they are (or what they call themselves at least, given many posters preference for 'hilarious' pre-teen internet nicknames).

He might even mention thread originator Steve91 in passing in some future tome, acknowledging the fact that the 91st Steve on Outpost Gallifrey was the only person man enough to stand up and say 'SORRY HELEN!", even though he didn't personally say anything negative at all, has always has a lot of time for scripts by ladies ('or is it women? or people of femininity? OMG, it's the whole black/coloured Martha thing all over again!!! Forgive me Helen, forgive me!!!) and in any case wasn't even on OG that day because he was off walking a blind chinese lesbian's two legged dog round a local Halal butchers.

But other than that? What could motivate anyone to say something as dripping in saccharine piety/pompous moral condemnation as "No amount of after-the-fact rationalisation can change the emotional impact of first reading those insults." or "my little input is to say i have nothin against ms raynor, and i did enjoy her episodes for series 4 and her tw ep. but i was mean about her series 3 dalek eps. i still dont like those eps but i could have been less vocal about it - cringe"

It's because she's a girl, basically: a doe-eyed sweetheart of a girl who can't speak up for her little itsy bitsy self. She needs defending from the Big Bad (in this case spotty herberts who can quote whole chunks of Hitchhikers) by the forces of Good (in this case pious twerps who used to be OG Mods and who think a second not spent arse-kissing is second where a good pair of lips are going to waste).

How else to explain the lack of a 'Steven Greenhorn Apology Thread' or a 'Matt Jones Apology Thread'?

They're a shower of sexist swine over on that OG Forum, so they are...

Congratulations finally to one Grafty for this post which was easily the most interesting in the entire - as of just now - six page thread, and Yetaxa for pointing out that the original insult thread sounded a damn sight more entertaining.

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Blogger MediumRob said...

Yes, poor old Helen. Or something.

I would tell you of my encounters with her online (you're only two degrees of blog separation from where it happened), but we're keeping quiet about it in public. It's fair to say, though, that when she's cloaked in anonymity, she doesn't mind lashing out at people in her own way, while pretending to be very, very civilised about it all. She ain't quite the sacrificial lamb portrayed by RTD.

Let me know if you want to see her in action for yourself and I'll email you the URL.

5:10 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

Dear oh dear. Unbelievable. No wonder I only venture over to OG for the occasional spot of self-promotion these days. :)

2:36 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

It's more than just car crash reading - it's like a multi-lane pile-up of clown cars and fire engines, with here and there sensible people trying to escape from the wreckage...

2:41 pm  
Blogger Mags said...

I'm mostly amused with Grussell's idea of which gang(s) contains which authors. And indeed, the idea that he was the excluded one...

11:48 pm  
Blogger Lori Beth said...

Hey, this is Max Shrek from DWF under my mom's account. I'd argue against RTD producing lazy pap. I understand if you don't like his stuff. That's perfectly understandable. His loud, flashy, extravagant, bright-colors, "MOST EXCITING THING FOR A SATURDAY NIGHT!" style isn't for everyone (though it's surprising for a fan of Iris, heh). But I'd argue it's anywhere near lazy.

Let's take for example: Tooth and Claw and Midnight.

Tooth and Claw is such a tightly paced episode. One of those that gets better every single time you watch it. Euros Lyn is a genius. Every single angle, every single moment, is so beautifully composed, each for the right moment for that story. There's a great moment where the Doctor says, "What if the trap wasn't for the Queen..." and the camera ZOOMS into his face, "But for the wolf!" And it accentuiates the moment so well! Gives me shivers down my spine just thinking about it. But it's not just the directing, it's the writing as well. Every single beat is right for the story. The right scare at the right part, the right character beat following it, knowing exactly when to have a clever Doctor joke and exactly when to have a run down corridors. Sure, there are some complaints that the Doctor and Rose are too flippant and uncaring, I agree, but people forget this is something that is SPECIFICALLY pointed out to be wrong! By a major British icon! It's a theme of the season, one of which has consequences in the finale. But even with that (and not counting the other BRILLIANT aspects of it), the pure structure of the episode by RTD and Lyn is worthy of praise.

Midnight, from a purely writing perspective, is genius. As has been pointed out, it does something remarkable and barely seen. It takes the familar TV set-up of a bunch of characters trapped in a room and over the course of the episode we get to know who each of them are... and yet does this without using backstory. And yet we still know who each and every person (including the monster) on the Crusader is, despite spending 40 minutes just talking with each other. That's REMARKABLE from a story-telling point of view! There is physically no human possible way for a "lazy" or "untalented" writer to create something like that. It takes someone who's mind works on such an instinctive "how to tell a story" level to do that. Not to mention, the incredible work of Alice Troughton, David Tennant and the gang who were able to pull off what must have been an impossible shoot, with all that dialogue and all that synching. And it's such a brilliant window into the darkest excesses of humanity (the new series has so much "Yay humans!" and for good reason, but every once and a while, it's nice to be reminded we're not perfect) and the monster is 100% believable and terrifying.

Lazy to me has connotations of him sitting there, thinking, "I got to get my script in. Uh... here we go. Yeah, that'll do." Which isn't what he does. In the same book as the Helen Raynor comment, we see this is just not the case. He maticuously goes over his episodes, constantly re-writing and changing things, fixing them for internal story errors and thinking of ways to cleverly tie in subplots throughout. Now, you may not like what he ends up with, but that doesn't make it lazy. It's like if I made a big souffle. I spent hours and hours on it, constantly in the kitchen, getting this ingident and putting it here at that time and all those many, many things to get it just right. And it still tastes like crap. Does that mean I made a bad souffle? Yes. Does that mean I was lazy about it? No. I worked very hard on the souffle. You just didn't likem the way it tasted.

About BSG, my main problem with it is it's so DIRE. It's so dark and damp and depressing. There's no humor in it! Humor, IMO, is essential to anything dark, because it makes the dark darker. Hincliffe and Holmes knew that quite well. The best of their stories have moments of comedy in them as well. Talons of Weng-Chiang is hilarious! But I disgress. The only real humor on that show is occasionally, bitter sarcasm. For a comparison, look at the (infinitely better, IMO) Firefly. That was another sci-fi show that was bitter and jagged and views the world very half-empty... but it was also very funny at times. Lines like "chain of command" and such. IMO if it would lighten up, it would also darken it up, y'know what I mean?

12:18 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Hi Max,

First off, I didn't say all of RTD's work is lazy pap - I said "the lazy pap he traditionally passes off as quality television every season end" and I stand by that, as I'll demonstrate in a mo.

So your two examples weren't actually the kind of thing I was talking about - and in fact I praised Midnight to the very heavens here ( It's a great script, with a neat central concept, works hard at making the limited space a triumph and is, imo, Davies' greatest contribution to the series. I agree, in fact, with everything you said.

'Tooth and Claw' I was bit more meh about (I didn't even review so far as I remember) but - daft monks and badly directed character sacrifice aside - I enjoyed it well enough.

So I basically agree with you!

The kind of lazy pap I did have in mind are things like Journey's End, which I thought was awful beyond description, packed with more characters than were needed or there were room for, with a preference for flashy and stupid visuals over plot or intelligence.

But rather than type it out again, here's what I said at the time:

To get an idea of how I compare RTD to other writers and weigh up whether my own prejudices are explicable or it's just blind Davies'hate (I hope no-one thinks that), I did a Rustymeter comparison here:

Sorry this all links, but pointing you to what I've already said seems a decent starting point for discussion ;)

3:22 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Oh, and re BSG vs Firefly, I find it hard to decide. I feel about Joss Whedon as many Who fans feel about RTD - near awe for his writing ability.

As a result, I adore Firefly and Serenity, and think they're full of exactly the type of laugh out loud funny cum burst into tears sad writing that Rusty Who isn't.

BSG is a totally different kettle of fish though. I don't think it's really fair to decribe them as equivalently jagged or dark. BSG is purposefully pitched without obvious humour and while I don;t mind that and can see why they did it, I also agree that a leavening of humour is generally required in any drama. What I love about BSG is the risks it takes and the hard truths it makes an effort to face - something lacking in almost every other current US series.

3:46 pm  

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