Random Squawk about the new Torchwood

Ripped mercilessly from a Facebook thread once I realized how long it had gotten:

I can’t believe they picked a preachy *and* medically-oriented topic for the first (and certain to be last) US-based Torchwood outing. 😦 The story has been crawling – the whole thing would’ve been at best a two-parter during the BBC run, and jamming everything together would’ve given it more energy.

Long story short, they should’ve made this long story, er, short. 😉

Oh yeah, and the character portrayals are wildly inconsistent – Esther Drummond especially. I’ve gone from being curious and interested in the first two episodes, to screaming at the TV pretty much every scene since… This new Torchwood is just, well, stupid.

The thing that made all the awkward and bizarre cast of the BBC series work was that I cared as much for the team as what happened in the stories. This time around, I find myself caring very little about either.

Something truly amazing will need to happen in the second half for them to pull out of this terrible nose-dive, but just remember: this is a 10 episode series… Think of how much ground would’ve been covered in the old show, how much character development, how many different mysteries and subplots seeded and bloomed. And what have we with “Miracle Day” so far? People are going to live forever, and the drug companies are exploiting their neverending pain for profit. And… NO WAIT THAT IS THE WHOLE STORY, TOLD IN 5 HOURS! WTF?!?

Deano’s answer to: “Why do parents let their kids watch Star Wars at such a young age (4-7 years old, for example)? Isn’t all the Darth Vader / killing stuff psychologically not good for little kids?”

My daughter is currently rolling along just fine with old Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes… Which fall around the same era/level of violence. Based on her total lack of reaction to the violence and “scary monsters”, I’ve settled on her turning three as the time most appropriate to opening the original trilogy can of worms.

Far more than the content, though, is HOW it is consumed. When she watched Ghostbusters the first time, we stopped it twice when it got too scary – and we talked through the story whenever she was confused or had questions. We do the same with Doctor Who, and now she’s the one explaining the basics of time travel to mommy whenever we’re watching a 20 minute episode while waiting for dinner to come out of the oven.

Watch it with your kids, watch their reactions, and be ready with a pause or stop when things need explaining, or get to be overwhelming. And yeah, if they start having nightmares, or freaking out their teachers/fellow students at school, maybe tone things down for a bit. 😉

UPDATE:

After her birthday, my daughter was home sick from preschool for a few days, and we went ahead and tested the waters, watching Star Wars. I told her as we started, and consistently during the tense parts of the movie, that she could let me know, or just turn away from the screen if it got too scary.

Her thoughts on Star Wars:

  • the only things that are definitively killed are robots (Storm Troopers, droids) bugs (Greedo) and maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi (though she also theorized that he simply jumped out of his clothes, and was running around the Death Star naked).
  • Darth Vader dresses a lot like Batman, and might be a ninja.
  • “When the orange guys go ‘pew-pew’ on the skeletons house, and they fly in the hole, and then the other man and his doggy comes in and scares away Darth Vader and he spins and spins, and then and then it all goes boom and the doggy doesn’t get a medal from Princess Leia.†

In short, kids often make different connections with narrative works, and Star Wars is no different. Where you may see a movie depicting at various points

  • planetary genocide,
  • good guys shooting first (if you still watch on VHS, anyway),
  • and of course adults playing in wet garbage,

it’s more likely that your kids are seeing something else (okay, they probably also see the garbage thing, and are plotting how to replicate it on trash day using the garden hose and a city sanitation vehicle). The key job for you as a parent, is to understand what it is they see, and help “nudge” their potentially harmful interpretations back on track.

Again, as I mentioned prior to my update, it’s much more important that whatever you let young children watch, you watch together. Even something seemingly innocuous like the Berenstain Bears(*) can off “go off the rails”, or significantly diverge from what you would consider “healthy messaging” on a given topic, so simply looking for and relying on a movie rating or age advisory is bad, lazy parenting, and often worse than letting your kids see fictional battle stations housing thousands of living beings blow up to the cheers of the protagonists.

(* see: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2008… for the proof)

(† that part still pisses me off, every time, and she noticed it too! Made me so proud…)

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why do parents let their kids watch Star Wars at such a young age (4-7 years old, for example)? Isn’t all the Darth Vader / killing stuff psychologically not good for little kids?

Deano’s answer to: “Who is the best companion to The Doctor? Why?”

Well let’s see… In reverse order, the top ten are empirically known to be:

  • #10 Adric – died, and stayed dead – definitely cool points for a time travel series. I think he also wins for whiniest by a large margin, as well…
  • #9 Jo Grant – stood toe to toe against the Master himself, and defeated his hypnosis technique with nursery rhymes. Bad. Ass.
  • #8 Tegan Jovanka – If Crocodile Dundee and David Bowie had a daughter*, it would be Tegan. Longest continuous series run, at 3 years 1 month. Also possibly the “longest running” companion in terms of chronological presence in the timeline (from the big bang to Earth’s 26th century). The only flight attendant ever to qualify for a spot in the TARDIS crew. Think about it. Also, the inspiration for the Mel Gibson film, Braveheart.
  • #7 Captain Jack Harkness – bringing back the Emo Trenchcoat to sexuality-questioning teen boys everywhere. Pure win! Also wins for largest hat size of any companion. Eventually.
  • #6 Leela – the noblest of savages, with enough bravado to go back into an about-to-explode lighthouse for her hunting knife. Killed the most people onscreen of any companion. Every Rose Has Its Janis Thorn…
  • #5 Romana II – onscreen and offscreen chemistry in action. Hubba-yow! Plus, extra points for anyone who gets to keep a K-9 at the end of their run. If you include the books and audio, she eventually becomes Lady President of Gallifrey!
  • #4 Jamie McCrimmon – You thought trenchcoats were sexy? Kilts are the real sexy. Most episodes for a single companion. Didn’t take no guff, nor any of that “color television” nonsense. A real man’s man.
  • #3 Amy Pond – why yes, I would like fries with that shake, Officer Pond. Purest form of “distilled sex per cubic centimeter” on the show, ever. Not that any of it is actually cubic…
  • #2 K-9 – Honest and loyal to a fault, armed to the teeth (or, er, nose, anyway), and unkillable – as evidenced by his own “4 regenerations” thus far. That’s more than KITT!
  • #1 Sarah Jane Smith – Rode with the best of the best. Another K-9 Award winner. Brought the Kastrian race back from extinction (briefly). Only companion (with K-9) to have her own ongoing series. What more could you ask for? We’ll miss you, Lis!

* I’ll pay $10,000 for filmed footage of any attempts, successful or otherwise.

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Who is the best companion to The Doctor? Why?

Deano’s answer to: “Is Doctor Who a children’s show?”

I’m watching Doctor Who with my 3 year-old daughter currently… We haven’t hit a single classic episode that has scared her yet, mostly she just pauses the video to ask questions about what Autotons are, why Cybermen are bad robots, or how the dinosaurs trying to eat the Doctor’s land rover are “pwobably gonna hurt dere teef”.

The new series, though, is not something she can sit through. She gets really really quiet, and I know that when I pause it to ask if it’s scary, she’ll nod and give me a big hug, before we agree to save that for when she’s “sebben”.

So, yeah, maybe I’m bringing her in a bit early… But the classic eps are all 22-24 minutes, which is a good length, and we get to talk about all kinds of science, espionage, language, culture, and architectural topics that don’t come up at the park or preschool. Still, even I notice a huge difference in the seriousness in the newer eps, even the first season – it’s very clear that people are gonna die, regularly, perhaps even horribly, and they’ll stay dead.

So in short:

  • Classic Doctor Who is aimed at children… I’d say everything up until the Colin Baker generation is completely safe[*], even for a 3 year old.


(Classic Who: Scary? Image courtesy of http://www.ovguide.com/tv_season…)

  • And as Danielle Maurer says, I think the New Doctor Who series should be called more of a “whole family”, or even “parental guidance” type show. It’s not adults-only, but your kids should be really firm on fantasy versus reality stuff before they watch it.


(New Who: SCARY!!! Image courtesy of http://clariethelioness.tumblr.c…)

As for so-far-unmentioned adult SciFi, I’d add Life on Mars, which was originally a BBC One production, and later remade (and only semi-destroyed) for American TV. It features a modern police detective who is knocked out and wakes up in the 60s – adjusting to the new time and culture, trying to figure out how he got there, using modern investigation techniques, and even trying to solve a “cold case” or two before they are actually ever cold. No spaceships or aliens, it always reminded me a bit more of The Prisoner.

[* Colin and Sylvester McCoy’s runs were… not creepy, more like pandering 80s network interfered-with craploads. This was at a time when the BBC heads were actively trying to cancel the show, so it’s perhaps natural to expect some more over the top “what’ve we got to lose, and it may get ratings” type attitudes. ]

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Is Doctor Who a children’s show?