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BBC (ended 1989)

Is it time for the fans to decide what is canon?

  • Avatar of archangelwho

    archangelwho

    [1]Jul 19, 2013
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    I think this has already been covered a while back but I went back 20 pages and could not find it. Could have been as a reply in another post. By the way if you are new to this forum there are some great questions on some of the older pages along some answers to questions you may have.


    As theDVD run comes to an end and I'm looking for other options I have came across stories by Reel to Reel, the BBC Radio Collection, Audiios stoires by BBC, Big Finish plus the books. Though I enjoy them as a fan I would like to know which are cannon and whcih are not. Ihave a book or two and came away thinking the author knew nothing about the show or that the author was trying to make the show his/her and that the name Doctor Who should have never been allowed to be part of this.


    Do you think there ever be a time when someone or some group will decide if these audios and books belong as part of the Doctor Who story or not? I still think that each nation where Doctor Who has a fan base should but together a panel to review and make recommendations to deal with this problem. Then each group would come together as a whole and decide for once and for all. With the internet, cell phone, Facebook, ect... we all could work from home. I would really like to be on the US team.

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  • Avatar of archangelwho

    archangelwho

    [2]Jul 23, 2013
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    Looking around for options as the DVD run comes to an end I think I will go with Audio stories like "Davros" where it tells you that this adventure is set between "The Two Doctors" and "Timelash". This at least gives you a time frame. As long as the writers stay true to the story line I think they could be listed as canon or quasi canon. I have read a few books in the "Missing Adventure" series which does the same thing and the few I read did a great job of staying with the storyline. I think I will try to finish off that set amazon should have them they seem to have everything else.


    I still would like to be part of a team that decide once and for all, until the next teams, what is canon or not.

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  • Avatar of steamheaduk

    steamheaduk

    [3]Jul 24, 2013
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    The only things you can ever really count as canon are the episodes of Doctor Who produced by the BBC, shown on TV, as that's really the only source that the producers of the show have consistently referred to across the years. Some production teams take note of other streams, some even generate streams themselves, but it's only the TV show itself that every production team has, in common, referred to as it's "Show Bible".


    But even that is beset with problems in a show 50 years old, e.g. in 1963 the Daleks were said to have evolved from the Dals and run on static electricity (needing metal floors), in 1975 they evolved from the Kaleds and had no problem running on non-metalic floors. It's such a long show, contradicting itself is an occupational hazard.


    Then you have things like Dimensions In Time, produced by the Doctor Who team but set in the world of Eastenders as if it were real in the Doctor Who universe, but then shown to be a fictional construct within Army of Ghosts many years later.


    The Scream Of Shalka was touted by the BBC as being canon with Richard E Grant as the Ninth Doctor when it was released, and this was to be the way forward for Doctor Who. Then in 2005 we get a different Ninth Doctor.


    There is certainly an argument that say canon Doctor Who is only the visual form, but then what about Slipback? This was a "made for radio" Doctor Who story, made by the then current production team with the Sixth Doctor and Peri, to give some official Who in the hiatus. Then the return of Pertwee in The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space. All done directly by the BBC.


    Then you get "licensed" spin-offs like books and audio, which, and as they are licensed, you might think are a safe bet, but they get plundered by the production team in such a way that pushes them out of canon. Such as Human Nature being adapted from a 7th Doctor Novel of the same name, Dalek being adapted from Jubilee (Big Finish), and concepts from The Highest Science (Novel) being adapted into The Sarah Jane Adventures pilot. Once the TV series lifts, rather than references, stories from other sources the other sources cease to be canon, such that it suspends too much disbelief to consider the Doctor having almost the same exact adventure more than once. Then you leave yourself in a position that if one book or audio adventure is not canon, does that invalidate the claim for others in the same stream?


    So really you have to ask "what is canon?" and if the answer is part of the official storyline that does not contradict itself, well even the original run of the TV series never managed that, never mind the relaunch in 2005.


    You'll never get fans to agree on the same canon, so the best you can do is just pick and choose the streams of Doctor Who you are happy to delve into and not worry about whether they are canon or not. For example, for me Big Finish are about as close to Canon as you could get (if you ignore Jubilee being lifted for Dalek). So far I've listened to the first 40 monthlies, all the Paul McGann (bar the Mary Shelley run and Dark Eyes), the Sixth Doctor with Jamie run and the Sixth Doctor and Charley run, and they feel just like the real thing to me, especially since they use the same actors. As they have now actually produced more episodes of Doctor Who than the BBC have over a much tighter space of time they are much more in tune with Doctor Who than you might imagine. They also have the advantage that the old Doctors never look too old ;-)


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  • Avatar of archangelwho

    archangelwho

    [4]Aug 2, 2013
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    It still would be fun to be part of a group of fans from across the world looking into what is canon, And it may be decided that only what was shown on TV is canon. Which would be fine with me.

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    steamheaduk

    [5]Aug 27, 2013
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    I still can't figure out what you expect to achieve by doing that? The definition of "canon" is what is considered by the "author" to be legitimate "continuity" to an ongoing body of work.


    So the only people in a position to do that are the current producers, and there-in lies the problem in that Doctor Who has had such a long life that each new production team has their own view on canon. Scream of Shalka was canon until the new series came along, the recent spate of video games has been stated as canon by the current production team, but won't necessarily be considered as such by whoever takes over.


    At best all the fans could do is highlight which streams of Who don't contradict the TV series continuity wise, but even that is problematic, as the TV series regularly breaks it's own continuity. You could declare something canon today, which next season gets contradicted by the TV show.


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  • Avatar of archangelwho

    archangelwho

    [6]Aug 27, 2013
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    Because it would be fun to work with fans from around the world who like the show as much as I do. All things don't have to have a great meaning to it and the rest of the world may poo poo it but isn't that why we come to sites like this? Itis fun and we get to interact with others who we would never meet any other way who like the same show we like. But I guess when all is said and done it would just be fun.

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    steamheaduk

    [7]Aug 28, 2013
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    archangelwho wrote:


    Because it would be fun to work with fans from around the world who like the show as much as I do. All things don't have to have a great meaning to it and the rest of the world may poo poo it but isn't that why we come to sites like this? Itis fun and we get to interact with others who we would never meet any other way who like the same show we like. But I guess when all is said and done it would just be fun.



    I get the fun part, but what I don't get is the objective. By definition fan's can't decide what is "canon", only "the author" can do that, that's the whole point of what "canon" is. By all means have a debate as to which sources "fit in" with the series, and which don't, but fans trying to decide what is "canon" is like trying to say a group of motoring enthusiast have built an official Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, they may be able to build a "very authentic replica", but not an "official" one without involving Rolls Royce directly in the process.

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    archangelwho

    [8]Aug 29, 2013
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    We will have to disagree. I feel that fans can if a large enough number offans support it. If a respective group of fans get together and study the whole of Doctor Who and develop a well defended work and put it out tothe the rest of the fandom and it is acceptive then it becomes canon. Then as fans we would control the furture works. Writers wouldthen depend on his/her work being id as part of the canon or not. Not and it would not sell.


    But the objective would be to do the work, interact with each other and have fun rather it is acceptive by others or not. It would increase the workers enjoyment of the Doctor, the work may even encrease the enjoyment of the show for others. At the least it would give them something to talk about and interact with each other. Have you notice the lack of posts on these and other sites?

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  • Avatar of steamheaduk

    steamheaduk

    [9]Aug 30, 2013
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    You do know that the BBC doesn't make the show "for the fans" they make it for the general viewing public don't you? As much as we fans like to think Doctor Who belongs to us, it is a commercial product, and has to follow the rules of being a commercial success.


    For it to have any impact on the production, it would need to be representative of the opinion of the majority of the viewing public, they wouldn't cater to a minority, for risk of damaging the product for the majority. And sadly there aren't several million "fans" that would be enough of a fan to take part. So any marketing manager worth his salt would take one look at something produced by a few hundred people (optimistically the biggest number you could hope to get a consensus from), and probably not even look beyond the cover page.


    It's been tried many times in the past with many "Discontinuity Guide" type projects to try and weave some form of Canon out the various sources, some even by recognised names (Paul Cornell being one who was a "fan" at the time he started). Despite this not one single producer of the show has taken any of these works as their starting point. They each look at Doctor Who, decide what it means to them, and then what they can shake up to make it his own.


    For example -

    During Philip Hinchcliffe's reign he hints at incarnations of the Doctor before Hartnell in Brain of Morbius, and then next year imposes the 12 regeneration limit, severely limiting the head room of an ongoing series if the pre-Hartnell incarnations are counted.

    During John Nathan Turner's reign he decides to take the pre-Hartnell incarnations in Morbius as not being specifically the Doctor and instead definitively identifies Hartnell as the first (in Mawdryn Undead and the Five Doctors).

    During Philip Segal's reign he tried to introduce the concept that the Doctor was Half-human (on his Mother's side). In the final cut this was just a throwaway line, but in original scenes written (some surviving as Paul McGann's audition http://bit.ly/14bbdOb) the Doctor was established as a descendent of Rassilon, from a human mother, and half brother to the Master. None of which directly contradicted continuity, and the Master revelation even alluded to the filmed, but edited out, scene from Planet of Fire. However, since 2005 there have been many digs directly against the "half human" and "brother" concepts.

    And of course Moffatt is now potentially breaking his own continuity by giving us Hurt's Doctor (it will be interesting to see how that squares up with the canon - if indeed it does).


    And not forgetting the more recent trend of using Time Travel, or other Sci-Fi elements to entirely reboot a show's history, thus freeing the writer to be able to follow the "spirit" of the canon without having to follow the "letter" of the canon. Russell T Davies used the Time War as his, such that anything that broke continuity could be explained away as "oh that never happened because of the Time War", Moffatt rebooted the entire universe, bringing back dead characters in The Big Bang, even explicitly writing out events in RTD's era. And other long running Sci-Fi has done it too, with JJ Abrams rewriting Star Trek history by using Spock to put an "all bets are off" position on everything that happened from the first episode of the original series.

    And why do they do this? Because long running series, and in particular their canon, produce a creative straight jacket for moving forwards with a story. There becomes a list of so many things that you "can't do", that writing a good engaging yarn becomes so tied down in explaining how something CAN happen, contrary to the canon, that it becomes tedious to all but the most voracious fan (just look at the ongoing Matt Smith is the last Doctor debate).

    So if you spent a lot of time and effort producing what you might like to try and call a definitive canon, firstly no new Producer worth his salt would accept such creative restrictions, or at best, if you gave it to Moffatt today, he'd rip out all the pages prior to The Big Bang and say "that's all I need to follow to the letter", and I suspect he's about to reboot again in November, so the last few pages would hit the floor then.

    Now if you want to try and produce what you think is a definitive "history" of the Doctor, then that's a different thing altogether. Whereas the Canon is the history the writer of new content will follow, a definitive history is a work of research that brings together multiple sources into a cohesive timeline - that would be worthwhile.

    Edited on 08/30/2013 4:37am
    Edited 4 total times.
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  • Avatar of archangelwho

    archangelwho

    [10]Aug 30, 2013
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    But it would be fun to do linking fans from around the world working together and a great intellectual pursuit. What others think about it would be irrelevant. If it has an effect on the show or other fans that would be great but it would also be an extra. I would just enjoy the interact with the other fans. I just don't have the skills or the time to set something like that up.


    Take our back and forth. Have not seen the like here is a long, long time. Nice,isn't it.

    Edited on 08/30/2013 5:17pm
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    steamheaduk

    [11]Aug 31, 2013
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    Which is why I think what you are really talking about doing is wanting to produce a definitive history, not decide what is canon (because WE can't DECIDE that, only say what we think it should perhaps be).


    The reason conversation has dried up on this site is the stupid idea the site designers came up with to move the episode threads off the forums. The major traffic is going to be around individual episodes, but now you have to hunt out each episode individually, so the focus of conversation is lost, and people don't come to the forums so much. Without visitors, there's no conversation.


    Suicidal design choice by the site developers. At best they should have found a way of linking episode threads to the episode pages, that way you can still see all the conversation taking place about the series, but still see episode specific conversation on the episode pages.

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    archangelwho

    [12]Aug 31, 2013
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    That was a question that I had. Are we suppose to start going the the community pages now and get away from the form pages?

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    steamheaduk

    [13]Sep 3, 2013
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    The thing is there WAS a massive and vibrant community right here in the forums, we used to run quizzes, competitions, all sorts of stuff. Then the dictate came down that everything about an episode had to be discussed on the episode page and there was no longer any focal point to visit to see everything being discussed about a show, and to be fair a community page won't do that either because if episode conversation is still done on each episode page, that's a lot of places you have to visit just to SEE if someone has anything to say.

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    archangelwho

    [14]Sep 3, 2013
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    steamheaduk wrote:


    The thing is there WAS a massive and vibrant community right here in the forums, we used to run quizzes, competitions, all sorts of stuff. Then the dictate came down that everything about an episode had to be discussed on the episode page and there was no longer any focal point to visit to see everything being discussed about a show, and to be fair a community page won't do that either because if episode conversation is still done on each episode page, that's a lot of places you have to visit just to SEE if someone has anything to say.


    And like so many I don't have the time and if I did I'm not sure if I would know where to go with so many options.I do miss some of the old posters. It seem here it is down to 4 or 5 of us and the other Doctor page down to 2 or 3. It sadden me. So few really understand our relationship with the Doctor and each other and so many are no longer around.

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    steamheaduk

    [15]Nov 14, 2013
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    Well the canon just got officially a lot bigger today, with, at the very least, Big Finish 8th Doctor adventures now being considered officially in the 8th Doctor's past, thanks to one line in Night of the Doctor :-D

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    pferreira86

    [16]Nov 17, 2013
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    steamheaduk wrote:


    Well the canon just got officially a lot bigger today, with, at the very least, Big Finish 8th Doctor adventures now being considered officially in the 8th Doctor's past, thanks to one line in Night of the Doctor :-D


    I can't remember. Did he mention Grace?

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    steamheaduk

    [17]Nov 17, 2013
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    pferreira86 wrote:


    steamheaduk wrote:


    Well the canon just got officially a lot bigger today, with, at the very least, Big Finish 8th Doctor adventures now being considered officially in the 8th Doctor's past, thanks to one line in Night of the Doctor :-D


    I can't remember. Did he mention Grace?



    No, but he never travelled with Grace, she's really in the "acquaintance" rather than "companion" category, like Jackson Lake, Christina, Adelaide Brook and Astrid Peth (amongst others) for Ten. He did however miss out Mary Shelley, who he's had at least 4 stories with.


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    pferreira86

    [18]Nov 24, 2013
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    Maybe they didn't have the rights to name her character like Grace?

    Edited on 11/24/2013 10:34am
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    steamheaduk

    [19]Nov 25, 2013
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    You can't copyright the use of a common name.


    My guess is there are 2 reasons for not naming her, one being she never actually was a companion or even a recurring character, just a guest star in a single episode, and the 8th Doctor didn't name all his Big Finish guest stars that "filled in" the companion element in companionless stories, it would have made a long list.


    The other being that the Eighth Doctor is now widely known as THE Audio Doctor, having made 182 episodes in audio, has actually now out performed Tom Baker's video episode tally (by 10 episodes), so the second point of the line was to acknowledge that achievement in the official canon.


    What I found really curious was Mary never got a mention and she's been in 13 episodes, across 4 stories, with the Eighth.

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    pferreira86

    [20]Dec 1, 2013
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    steamheaduk wrote:


    You can't copyright the use of a common name.


    My guess is there are 2 reasons for not naming her, one being she never actually was a companion or even a recurring character, just a guest star in a single episode, and the 8th Doctor didn't name all his Big Finish guest stars that "filled in" the companion element in companionless stories, it would have made a long list.


    The other being that the Eighth Doctor is now widely known as THE Audio Doctor, having made 182 episodes in audio, has actually now out performed Tom Baker's video episode tally (by 10 episodes), so the second point of the line was to acknowledge that achievement in the official canon.


    What I found really curious was Mary never got a mention and she's been in 13 episodes, across 4 stories, with the Eighth.


    Well I mentioned the rights issue as that would affect Mary Shelley as well.

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