Friday, July 22, 2005

Seeing the Doctor, Receiving the Global Frequency

Last night, I watched Global Frequency and the first two episodes of the new Doctor Who. I recommend all three, in short, although I'm going to go into irritating detail. Run!

Global Frequency was good. Parts of it were very good. It had good (if over-the-top) writing, good sets and lighting, and, on the whole, decent acting. The camera work in Miranda Zero's fights was imported from a Steven Seagal movie, which is to say, it blew. But the rest of the time, it was pretty good.

I'm not fond of their casting for Kate. She's an antisocial super-genius. Obviously, because died-blond wanna-be models are exactly what you think of when you think "super genius". I think they must have thought to themselves, "literally everyone else is dark haired. We need a blond for this role." I'm not sure why they didn't get a real blond, if that was the case. Still, despite her egregious miscast, she held up pretty well.

The thing which dragged it down from "really awesome" to only "really cool" was the plot hole which can be best summarized as "go soak your head."

Still,w hen I finished watching it, I felt good. I always feel good after seeing a good bit of science fiction. So I rolled into Doctor Who.

Frankly, Doctor Who blew me away. It was a ton of fun. The first episode was so-so, the second episode was as good as the best episodes of any series you care to mention. Better than Global Frequency.

Doctor who has a unique dynamic available. Because it isn't a team of people running around episode after episode, that means they can introduce characters and have them actually change, grow, and die as needed. It's a fine line to walk before the audience simply dismisses the 'transient' characters - a fine line which can be dealt with by making characters span multiple episodes or by making them highly charismatic.

The first three minutes of the first episode of Doctor Who are worth studying. In that three minutes, we establish and partially develop a group of characters, a setting, and an emotional framework. We establish "normal". It's done very well!

This kind of intro isn't suitable for the pilot episode of an unknown series: it's a little on the slow side, so you'll lose some audience. However, anyone who is likely to watch the Doctor is highly unlikely to give up in less than three minutes, so it was a good choice for them.

The rest of the episode was a bit TOO classic, with silly enemies and bad action.

Episode two, however, was fantastic. They're not afraid to hit hard - laughter, anger, and sorrow were all packed into it. No stupid fake-outs, either. It was really good TV writing, although the dialogue was weak in spots. I imagine that with commercials it would have lost a lot of its punch.

Anyone who is interested in animation should watch the episode just for the spider robots. They are often animated extremely well, with a sense of personality and intertia. They skitter and slip, they emote, they move realistically.

Aside from that, the set design really stands out. The aliens are also a lot of fun, just the right combination of cool and cheezy. The special effects are top-notch - easily Farscape level - and the acting was quite good. Even the last human acted extremely well, and being a face stenciled onto a stretched piece of skin, that's really something.

The actors are well cast in the way that only Britain knows how to do. The main actors have a powerful but extremely accessable charisma. This extends to the primary secondary actors as well, even if they are dressed as trees. The Tardis controls are cheerfully anachronistic and silly.

I love the new Doctor Who! At least, so far.

Of course, it was cheesy scifi - if you're not into cheesy scifi, you won't like it.


Assistant Atlas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Assistant Atlas said...

Glad to see you're on the Global Frequency. Allow me to explain why the pilot might not be the best thing around, but why GF itself would make a fantastic television show and simply must be revived.

First, the backers, the people who, if the show is picked up soon, would be running it and writing the episodes: Ben Edlund (Angel, The Tick), Diego Gutierrez (Buffy), David Slack (Teen Titans), John Rogers (Cosby Show, The Core, Transformers), Mark Burnett (Survivor, well, he's just the super-producer, who'll just yell at everyone, but that's fine, every show needs one of those to make it in Ho'wood, truth be told). Warren Ellis, who wrote the great, and currently-only-legally-available-version of GF, is also on board.

Second, the actors. Michelle Forbes is great as Miranda Zero and Aimee Garcia is great as Aleph. But the thing about the blond-scientist-type and the rugged, washed-up ex-cop characters is that they're just two of the many members of the GF, which is itself being constantly replenished. There were also plans to expand the GF headquarters itself as the show got more money (more people). GF is, like much sci-fi, more concept-based than character-based. And its concept-- that everywhere, everyday people all over the world are helping in ways we can even barely begin to understand-- that everyone can be a hero, is worthy of at least a long run on television.

Third, and finally, it would send a major signal to entertainment companies that if they aren't providing what we want, we're going to get it ourselves, one way or the other. Push them a little. Trust me when I say this would be good.

So I'd like you to perhaps re-watch the pilot (read: help seed torrents, if possible) and think a bit about the potential power of the Global Frequency.

Sincere Regards,

PS: Thanks for reading all the way to the end and sorry I was wordy. To find out more about me, go to my site:

Craig Perko said...

Atlas: Thanks for the visit and the comment. I agree completely, and certainly didn't mean to rag on Global Frequency. I really enjoyed it!

And, yes, the concept is great. I'm not at all sure that the investigator and the supergeek are "transient characters". I, of course, have no access to the plans they had made for the following episodes, but they seemed to set them up as rather central characters. Still, as I said, although miscast, Kate performed very well.

If it ever comes out legally, I'll definitely be buying it. If they need a guide in downtown Seattle, I'll certainly volunteer.

Of course, that's true of Doctor Who, as well. :)