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Published on February 25th, 2007 | by Mark Watson

Thank God for the Devil

Why am I always worried when I hear rumours in the K Towers canteen?

Popping in through the ‘Occassional Contributors’ entrance (overgrown, shabby and with a sign saying ‘must try harder’ above it) this week, I heard two, namely that 1 – There will be a ‘great new monster’ somewhere, probably in a two or even three parter of this season and that 2 – Brian has been up all weekend eating only ‘magic’ cakes, hallucinating and watching every episode of MacGuyver on satellite telly and is threatening to write an article about it. Horrifed, I run for the exit where I am rugby tackled by Atomickarma, ‘Oi Hula Hoop, leaving so soon? I think not, get in Dry’s office and knock up two articles sharpish or I’ll slap you silly.’

Without complaining, Anthony’s office is very modern and stylish, incorporates a mini-bar and his shaved Wookie secretary is alluring to say the least (Han Solo would have made his life a lot easier by just shaving Chewie, all Wookies are in fact extremely beautiful females underneath with no teeth, four ****, three ******* and a double tiered **** with liquid lock!) so, with barely a limp from ‘man of peace’ Karma’s assault I lock myself in and get cracking. ‘Hold my errrr well calls to start with Suckie.’ I instruct and I’m off…..now to find a couple of catchy titles….okay….let’s go with – ‘Teabag is my Master.’ But first – ‘Thank God for the Devil.’

Now I’m more of a wordsmith than a designer but I appreciate a nice bit of design when I see it and I enjoy a good skiver. Imagine how the top designer on Dr Who felt when he was handed the brief for the Werewolf in ‘Tooth and Claw’ – ‘Great,’ he chuckled ‘just download Computer generated Werewolf designer 7 and it’s off down the pub for the rest of the week, or maybe a nice extended break, somewhere not too touristy and authentic, off the beaten track so to speak.’ You get the gist, there isn’t much work in designing a computer generated werewolf anymore, it always had to look a bit like a big hairy bloke with wolfs teeth and ears since that fella directed ‘The Wolfman’ back in the day. So we have a new monster, new in the fact that due to some overlook in the shows history he’s never encountered a werewolf before (I mean we’ve had spiders and vampires and dinosaurs, can’t believe such creative geniuses can’t make the ‘errr a werewolf?’ jump.) and the end result is, a perfectly normal computer generated werewolf of the ‘that’s a computer generated Werewolf’ variety. Not really much you can do with one is there? In fact I defy anyone to point out an exceptional computer generated Werewolf. Hasn’t been done yet.

I’m not what you would call an RTD man, I will always owe him a great debt of gratitude for his part in the revival of the show, the casting of CE and BP and of course the rekindling of my own fanaticism, but a wise man once said ‘The light that burns brightest, fades fastest’ – Confuse-us I think – and it seems RTD could have done just that. Specifically, and let’s just pick on one aspect for the sake of the article, NEW MONSTERS. We’ve done the Werewolf, I doubt need more than mention the Absorballoff, the Wire and the errrrr was there a monster in Fear Her? I also treated myself at Christmas to a book about the first series and was astounded my how much time and work went into the Slitheen, apparently a wall in the office didn’t fall down because of the crushing weight of all the design awards for that farting, green waste of time. Hey let’s not forget that by all accounts those rubbish cat-people are returning in Series 3. Hooray!

Now please don’t get me wrong, our good series has always been plagued before by naff monsters. However, it has thrown a few iconic baddies into the mix along the way too, namely Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarons, Sea Devils, Zygons, The Master and the Autons – who, apart from the antics with the wheelie-bin, were pretty mediocre in ‘Rose.’ So, getting to the point swiftly (Anthony Dry has returned, laden down with design awards for not designing the Slitheen and wants his office and his secretary back) why do the current producers feel the need to invent monsters and make them silly? Watching Tom Baker as a boy I would cringe from any of the monsters or even some of the dramatic sequences, we didn’t have the same sort of lead-in information on episodes as we do now and so we only knew it was called ‘…..of the Daleks’. Anticipation would crawl down our spines the entire length of the episodes until the Daleks would crash onto the scene at the last moment, screaming ‘IT IS THE DOC-TOOORRR!!EXTERMINATE!’ and you would be behind the settee faster than one of DT’s rehearsals.

I once knocked over a fat friend of my Mothers who I called ‘Auntie Gertrude’ even though she had no greater claim to be a member of the family than she lived eight doors up the street and seemed unable to afford her own tea-bags. SPLAT, they felt the tremors in East Timor. Such was the power of the Daleks. In the current form they exist now as iconic and still a hideously good science fiction creation, indeed all the classic monsters do. It’s time to update the Sontarans, fellow Time Travellers who must have been involved it the Time War, the Sea Devils, the Zygons and most importantly The Master.

Face of Boe – ‘The Master lives still’ anyone?

So lets forget the ‘great new monsters’ fixation and concentrate on bringing up the kids that lived, it isn’t like there’s a lack of research material.

The only trouble is, and I want you to try this at home, close your eyes and for a few minutes picture how you would portray each one, how would you design and update the costumes? What tone would the episode be set? I’m sure in your mind you would probably come up with something that you believe would be better, on past evidence than the current Captains can handle. After Series 2 I remain very sceptical, where was the promised improvement on an excellent first series? As for the ‘great new monsters’…

Thank God For The Devil.

Image courtesy of Tom Payne

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