Doctor Who Forums

Saturday 8:00 PM on BBC AmericaIn Season

Filler versus Standalone...

  • Avatar of anngel421


    [1]Sep 15, 2012
    • member since: 09/16/05
    • level: 17
    • rank: The Crazy Neighbor
    • posts: 102

    I know in the world of serialized tv shows there are occasionally "filler"episodes, the ones that don't do much to move the story forward and often times are not all that interesting. In classic doctor who, I would understand that argument because a series was one full story and sometimes an episode didn't do much to resolve that. But with the new series( 9th doctor forward) of who I often wonder if any of the episodes can be called "filler" episodes. Especially with season 7 because in countless interviews steven moffatt has said that the first five episodes will have less of an arc and be more stand alone. So I guess here is what I'm asking...

    1. How do you define filler? What episode of the new series of doctor who do you think falls in this definition?

    2. How do you define standalone? Do you think series 7 (thus far) has lived up to the "mini movie" promise that Steven moffatt has made?

    3. what are your top three doctor who episodes? why? (this last question has always been one of those things that I have always been curious about when it comes to Doctor who. a show with this kind of longevity it brings about a huge variety of answers and I'm interested in my fellow whovians' responses.)

    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.
  • Avatar of angeleys151


    [2]Sep 16, 2012
    • member since: 01/12/06
    • level: 6
    • rank: Small Wonder
    • posts: 383

    In shows that have a specific goal (i.e. Once Upon a Time: break the curse, or Supernatural: Kill the monster of the season) ideally each episode will do something to further the heroes to achieving that goal. Any episode that doesn't would in my opinion be a filler. However in shows that don't have a goal but that may have an overarching mystery (i.e. Doctor Who: What is the Crack in Amy's wall?/Who is River Song? or Burn Notice: Who burned Michael and why?) they don't in my opinion need to revisit the question every week, so I wouldn't consider any episodes filler. So I don't think anything in New Who would be considered filler just because of the way the storyline is set up.

    I have gotten the sense of the mini-movie in the last 3 episodes. Now whether that's because of the production value, the scale of the stories, or because they planted the idea in my head before I began watching is anyone's guess. I don't think something needs to be a mini-movie to be a standalone, it can be anything where The Doctor drops out of the sky has an adventure and leaves again: Blink, Planet of the Ood, Beast Below, Vincent and The Doctor.

    My favorite episode ever is Midnight; I loved the psychological horror, and the showcasing of all the acting talent.

    Edited on 09/16/2012 9:38am
    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.
  • Avatar of kepa55


    [3]Sep 17, 2012
    • member since: 11/25/06
    • level: 8
    • rank: Super-Friend
    • posts: 113

    I'd say filler is synonymous with standalone, except filler is used as a negative term and standalone as a positive. Or that's how I use them.

    As I'm just watching Season Four now, I'd say my top episodes are the great standalone-ish episodes Blink and Midnight with The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit and Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead in close following. As for why, I guess they manage to tell a self-contained story while still staying true and advancing the characters.

    I do prefer season (or seasons) long story arcs, but at times these heavily serialized shows do pull off something special (like Buffy's Hush and Lost's The Constant and quite a number of Supernatural episodes).

    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.
  • Avatar of dragon22a


    [4]Sep 21, 2012
    • member since: 04/23/05
    • level: 32
    • rank: Whammy!
    • posts: 2,044

    There is a fine linebetween standalone episodes and filler.I would say that a standalone episode tells a complete story while at the same time pushing the overall story of the season along in some small way where as a filler tends not to. For instance, Planet of the Dead and Waters ofMars were fully concieved to be standalone specials but pushed along the idea that the 10th Doctors time was coming soon.

    The filler episodes are often those within the season but tend to be the lightest in development and often times writing. DoctorWho has tended to usefillers often times whencoming off of or preparing for a larger two part story. For instance,The Idiots Lantern was coming off the Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steelstory arc, Love and Monsters and Fear Her were coming off of Impossible Planet/Satans Pit and gearing up for Army of Ghosts/Doomsday.

    Sometimes the writing of a filler can actually be quite good and actually have lasting effects such as introducing monsters or characters that would later have a bigger presence. Blink forexample was a filler episode after the Human Nature/Familyof Blood and before the Master trilogybut it introduced theWeeping Angels who have become a bigger presence.

    Midnight isalmost a hybrid.Itwas coming off of Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead and told an encompassed storyline. Other than the short presence of Rose on the monitor showing that she was trying to reach him and that the barriers between realities was weakening, the story did not push things along much. It introduced a monster but one that has not appeared since. However, the writing was tight and well done.

    For the 11th Doctor you could say that the Lodger was a bit of a filler episode and possibly the Curse of the Black Spot.

    Now this season is being billed as a series of standalone episodes but in many ways they are interconnecting in a small way. They are showing the Doctor growing darker and darker and showing the Ponds at different points in their lives contemplating leaving his side for good.

    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.
  • Avatar of archangelwho


    [5]Sep 23, 2012
    • member since: 07/13/05
    • level: 18
    • rank: Land Shark
    • posts: 2,335

    Unsure if this goes for 2005 but in the 1963 stories they would be used if a the a story before had gone over budget.

    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.
  • Avatar of dragon22a


    [6]Sep 24, 2012
    • member since: 04/23/05
    • level: 32
    • rank: Whammy!
    • posts: 2,044

    That may not be too far off base here as well. Take Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. It had huge set pieces constructed, location shooting in America, large amount of special effects and makeup needed. Episodes like that probably took a large chunk of budget. So they followed it up with Curse of the Black Spot which really focused on one or two sets and had far less make-up.

    Then there were episodes Human Nature/Family of Blood which also had a good amount of location shooting. While it may not have taken up asmuch of the budget, it probably took a lot out of Tenant and a good amount of time to shoot. So it was followed up with Blink which really featured Tenant in a minimal amount of the episode.

    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.
  • Avatar of steamheaduk


    [7]Sep 25, 2012
    • member since: 07/04/05
    • level: 19
    • rank: Fall Guy
    • posts: 4,265

    Though Blink was what as referred to as a "double banker" episode, which was less about budget, and more about timing.

    When season 1 of the new series was made they filmed 13 episodes is a certain time period. When season 2 was shot, they had to accommodate the Christmas special in the same time period. It appears that extending the time period of production wasn't an option, why exactly I don't know, but probably something contractual. So from season 2 onwards they looked at "double banking" which is producing 2 episodes in the same time slot. Now for big ensemble casts this is fairly easy to do as you rarely have the bulk of an episode containing scenes with the whole cast, but for a primary cast of 2 or 3 it's not so easy.

    So in season 2 you had Love and Monsters with very little involvement of the primary cast. Season 3 had Blink and Season 4 split the primary cast into Midnight and Turn Left.

    After season 4 it looks like the practice of double banking ended, either because the new production team had new contracts, or figured out a way to squeeze an extra episode in for season 5. After that the transmission changed to a split format, so they are probably now producing over a longer period of time as we no longer have one transmission block per year to aim for.

    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.