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View Full Version : Why have the fx on Dr. Who changed?



banquo's_bumble_puppy
2011-Jun-20, 12:40 PM
Why have the fx on Dr. Who changed? They actually seem pretty good and wasn't the fact that they weren't all that good part of the show's charm?

The Backroad Astronomer
2011-Jun-20, 12:57 PM
Part of it I think is that you have to appeal to new fans who did know Doctor Who in the past but grew up with better fx since the series went off in the 80's.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Jun-20, 01:00 PM
Better fx are more affordable now.
Especially CGI are at the very nearly dirt cheap end now.

captain swoop
2011-Jun-20, 08:48 PM
They were terrible and the show suffered because of it. Those that say it's part of the charm are I think deluding themselves.
If the same budget and FX had been available for the classic Pertwee and Tom Baker years it would have been a far better show.

Paul Beardsley
2011-Jun-20, 09:30 PM
The FX had charm, not because they were bad, but because the production teams were doing their utmost to create whole worlds on very limited budgets. It was this heroic element that did so much to win the show so many fans.

Van Rijn
2011-Jun-21, 02:31 AM
I remember someone who was complaining about the special effects in Star Wars. I mean the original movie, not the altered version. I've also heard complaints about the best FX movies out of the '50s, simply because they aren't what modern audiences expect. So it isn't even about how good it was when it was done, it is also because people today have very different expectations.

amensae
2011-Jun-21, 02:39 AM
The FX had charm, not because they were bad, but because the production teams were doing their utmost to create whole worlds on very limited budgets. It was this heroic element that did so much to win the show so many fans.
Quite right.
The walls of the Tardis wobbling when someone bumped into them... inexcusable.
Green-painted bubble-wrap monster... resourceful.

Mellow
2011-Jun-21, 11:50 AM
The FX had charm, not because they were bad, but because the production teams were doing their utmost to create whole worlds on very limited budgets. It was this heroic element that did so much to win the show so many fans.

Whilst I can't argue with your sentiment, I think there's a cause and effect problem. I think we loved the shows as children despite the poor special effects and then as we grew older, we appreciated the ingenuity that turned bubble wrap, old Airfix kits and papier mache into aliens and spacecraft. I think the "charm" element only hits as we get older.

I for one recall reaching an age (13) when i thought "hang on! this is like Crossroads in space" and stopped watching, only to return at a less cynical age (28 IIRC).

Jim
2011-Jun-21, 11:54 AM
... If the same budget and FX had been available for the classic Pertwee and Tom Baker years it would have been a far better show.

The only special FX those two needed was provided by Elisabeth Ann Sladen.

Solfe
2011-Jun-21, 12:05 PM
I chuckle because Monty Python and The Holy Grail came out in the same year as Star Wars.
One is much funnier than the other, in part due to the lack of FX funds.

The Backroad Astronomer
2011-Jun-21, 12:12 PM
I know Star Wars was funnier but it wasn't due to special effects.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Jun-21, 12:13 PM
I've seen the argument that the reason why so much of modern sci-fi sucks is that in the old days, the fx required the audience to engage suspension of disbelief earlier, which meant that silly plots and 2d characters were overlooked, while with modern fx there's no need to engage it so those other short-comings are blatantly obvious to critical minds.

JustAFriend
2011-Jun-21, 02:39 PM
Why have the fx on Dr. Who changed?

You can do things faster, better and far cheaper now on computers than building models and costumes.

For example, Blender (http://www.blender.org) is free....

eburacum45
2011-Jun-22, 06:00 AM
Back in the early seventies, I really wanted Who to become a sweeping space opera, with all the different races thrown together in galactic conflict. Instead of the claustrophobic stories set in tunnels and corridors we were used to, I wanted to see big special effects, space battles and aliens fighting each other, with shifting loyalties and intrigue. The extensive, implied galactic history that the series already contained could have been used to produce epic stories. The closest to this we got at the time was The Curse of Peladon...

But the new series, especially the recent attack on Demon's Run, fulfils my dreams of how the series should have been, back then. Television simply didn't have the technology to create epic stories and special effects like that in those days; now it does.

captain swoop
2011-Jun-22, 08:23 AM
Green-painted bubble-wrap monster... resourceful.

'Ark in Space' ? one of my fave stories :)

captain swoop
2011-Jun-22, 08:24 AM
Maybe someone needs to go back and do what they did with TOS and apply some careful computer enhancements to the FX

Paul Beardsley
2011-Jun-22, 04:10 PM
I wanted to see big special effects, space battles and aliens fighting each other, with shifting loyalties and intrigue... The closest to this we got at the time was The Curse of Peladon...

Frontier In Space/Planet of the Daleks.

ToSeek
2011-Jun-22, 04:13 PM
The walls of the Tardis wobbling when someone bumped into them... inexcusable.


Superfan (and therefore total geek) Toby Hadoke claims to have watched every single classic episode looking for instances of the sets wobbling. Despite the show's reputation, he says he found just one.

ToSeek
2011-Jun-22, 04:15 PM
Maybe someone needs to go back and do what they did with TOS and apply some careful computer enhancements to the FX

That's been done with some of the DVDs - "Ark in Space," "Time Warrior," and "The Five Doctors", at least. (The only ones I can verify firsthand.) They're on option on the first two, fixed on the latter - and, sadly, it's the latter changes that are much less of an improvement than the others.

captain swoop
2011-Jun-22, 04:48 PM
It would have to be done well and subtle like in Star Trek, it seems to be mainly model shots etc that they have improved.

Paul Beardsley
2011-Jun-22, 05:27 PM
That's been done with some of the DVDs - "Ark in Space," "Time Warrior," and "The Five Doctors", at least. (The only ones I can verify firsthand.) They're on option on the first two, fixed on the latter - and, sadly, it's the latter changes that are much less of an improvement than the others.

It's also an option on The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Dalek saucer can either be a hubcap or the detailed spacecraft inspired by the TV Century 21 comic strip.

Incidentally, this comic strip was an early demonstration of the scope of the storytelling. It begins with a completely different Genesis, in which the original Daleks are stunted, blue-skinned people (not called Kaleds), and the inventor of the war/travel machines is called Yarvelling (not Davros, and he doesn't have a bathchair), assisted by war chief Zolfian. Skaro, the Dalek planet, is thoroughly explored, and we see the history of the Daleks unfold as they develop spaceflight (unwittingly aided by a bunch of visiting slavers). Most of the time we are invited to root for the Daleks as they heroically fight off invaders, or the rightful emperor is challenged by an upstart. Meanwhile the Daleks invade other planets, employing Machiavellian tactics to divide and conquer. They get involved in a space war with the almost-remembered Mechanoids, and a robot spy is sent in to prevent the war from spilling out onto neighbouring worlds. And centuries after the death of Yarvelling and Zolfian, thought to be the last of the humanoid Daleks, three surviving humanoids emerge from suspended animation, an event which leads to the discovery of the planet Earth, which they set out to invade. We all know how that turns out...

Paul Beardsley
2011-Jun-22, 05:55 PM
Frontier In Space/Planet of the Daleks.

Oh, and prior to that, if you don't mind listening to audio CDs, there's The Dalek Masterplan.

In fact I strongly recommend listening to the following adventures on CD:

Galaxy 4 - an actually quite poor adventure set on a doomed planet, but the unrelated teaser at the end is a taster of...

Mission to the Unknown - a standalone episode (included in the Masterplan CD set) which does not feature the Doctor or his companions, but does feature more than one life form that comes from Skaro. Bewilderingly, this leads into...

The Myth Makers - a Blackadderesque take on The Iliad and The Odyssey, which features the TARDIS regulars, but not the Daleks. Very funny for three episodes (happily the humour is almost all dialogue so the loss of visuals doesn't matter) then turns quite nasty in the final episode. The TARDIS crew are quite unprepared for...

The Dalek Masterplan - a 12-part epic set on a succession of worlds with alliances, betrayals, Daleks getting great lines, a cricket scene that Douglas Adams would later plagiarise, a reunion with a very untrustworthy old friend, and an apocalyptic ending. And unlike in recent stories, when the Doctor's companions die, they stay dead...

The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve - an excellent, excellent historical set in 16th century Paris which serves almost as a coda to the traumatic events of the last few episodes... except that it proves pretty traumatic itself. The surviving TARDIS crew are profoundly affected by events, but do not themselves have much effect, which in itself is the cause of some tension. The penultimate scene is one of the most poignant in the show's history.

Before and after this long stretch of episodes, there are several pretty good stories available on video or DVD. But you can't beat the joy of soundtrack-with-narration.

eburacum45
2011-Jun-23, 03:06 PM
I remember the Dalek Masterplan (and the TV21 comic) when I was a kid, and I wanted more cosmic adventure like that. Mavic Chen is an amazing creation. But when the Seventies and the Pertwee era arrived, the series was fixed to Earth-bound stories that were interesting, but hardly galactic. Later stories seemed to retain that claustrophobic feel, even when set on Gallifrey or in another universe. When Christopher Eccleston showed Rose a spectacular end of the Earth and half-a-dozen far-future alien, and human-derived, species I thought 'now this is more like it'.

captain swoop
2011-Jun-23, 05:21 PM
I used to get TV21. great comic.

Jason Thompson
2011-Jun-24, 09:27 AM
I feel obliged to defend the show here.

1: Poor special effects were not 'part of the charm'. They did what they could on the budget they had. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. At least they tried.

2: Many of the visual effects on Doctor Who were cutting edge, believe it or not. Look for some great inlay shots in the early black and white stories (the scene with the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan looking out over the Dalek city, for instance). Scene synch (basically movingCSO shots) was first tried on Who. The use of Quantel in Nightmare of Eden, though it looks dated now, was incredible in 1979.

3: Even now, Doctor Who has its share of poor effects.

4: All those who compare a BBC TV show with a multi-million dollar movie are rather missing the point that one had the money for the great visuals and one did not.

ToSeek
2011-Jun-24, 03:42 PM
I feel obliged to defend the show here.

1: Poor special effects were not 'part of the charm'. They did what they could on the budget they had. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. At least they tried.

I go along with what Paul said above: it's not the poor effects but the amazing results they got on the cheap, making hand puppets scary and green bubble-wrap totally gross.