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The surprising struggles — and heart — behind ‘Doctor Who’s’ birth

By Arturo Garcia
Saturday, November 23, 2013 20:10 EDT
 
David Bradley as William Hartnell in 'An Adventture In Space And Time'

Before the “madman in a box,” there was a man and a box. And An Adventure In Space And Time — a 90-minute retelling of the origins of Doctor Who as part of the show’s 50th anniversary this weekend — packs a surprisingly potent love letter both to Doctor Who‘s original star, William Hartnell, and the fanbase that has followed the show since his arrival.

While Hartnell (David Bradley) is recruited to play the first of the show’s 12 galaxy-tripping Doctors, the film quickly establishes rookie producer Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) as the source of the character’s courage. If early clips sold the movie as a sort of UK take on Mad Men, then Lambert faces a struggle not unlike Peggy Olson’s. Not only does she take the assignment on the whim of former boss Sydney Newman (Brian Cox, perhaps supplying the Doctor’s eventual bowtie), but she defends both herself and the project against in-house sexism.

Thanks to Lambert’s persistence, the show also survives (barely) the worst possible intrusion of real life into her nascent sci-fi show: As the show premieres in the United Kingdom, the world at large is following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But she wins a do-over from the increasingly skeptical Newman, who grants her a repeat of the pilot episode, “The Unearthly Child,” the following week, which helps the show become a surprise hit.

Meanwhile, Hartnell (David Bradley) is as surprised as anyone, given his situation: a veteran stage actor charged by a rookie producer with playing a cross between “H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis and Father Christmas,” the First Doctor is revealed as an off-screen grump with children flocking to him in wonder after seeing him gallivanting around the space-time continuum. And it’s not just him capturing their imagination: we can see the show beginning to change project into product when Newman sees kids gleefully yelling “EXTERMINATE!” on a bus and Harnell’s granddaughter cheerfully dresses up like one of the Doctor’s arch-rivals, the Daleks. In a respectful touch, writer/producer Mark Gatiss, part of the show’s current creative team, makes sure that, even from a behind-the-scenes perspective, the Daleks are always at least a little creepy.

Another pleasant surprise — at least for newer progressive Whovians — is seeing a person of color, director Waris Hussein, as Lambert’s chief ally, the springboard to his own long career. While it’s no spoiler to say that Doctor Who is in no danger of losing commercial steam any time soon, seeing Hussein alongside Lambert is gratifying for anyone dismayed by current showrunner Steven Moffat’s trollish responses to calls for more diversity both in front and behind the camera.

But, the heart (or hearts, if you prefer) of Space and Time lies in Hartnell, who — much like the Doctor — sees himself become the show’s only constant as Hussein, Lambert and his co-stars depart; “Why do things always have to change?” he protests. But with his own health failing to the point where he becomes a liability for the production, Hartnell becomes the first recipient of one of the show’s harshest, most enduring points: Everything has its time. And everything ends. Even if you don’t want to go.

However, Gatiss allows the audience one bit of “timey-wimeyness,” suggesting that Harnell might have been able to see how far the show’s legacy would stretch. The moment is a little bit hopeful and a little bit childish. But then, so is the character himself.

Dear Bill Keller: Conservatives never left the 60s and that’s the problem

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 14:48 EDT

Hey, Bill Keller, you and I need to talk. It’s about your column from Monday saying that the right wing in this country is “finally having their 1960s,” which, um…yeah. I know it must have seemed like such a good idea on the 11th green on Sunday afternoon or after your fourth Boodles martini on some sun-blasted yacht deck, but your premise, here, prima facie, kind of sucks like a chest wound, buddy. “Something’s happening…

 

Raw Story’s mock ‘This is CNN’ ad: Fareed finds out if his butt looks better in Spanx

By David Edwards
Sunday, August 25, 2013 15:14 EDT

Raw Story put together a mock “This is CNN” ad for the network free of charge after host Fareed Zakaria decided that interviewing the creator of Spanx underwear was more important than the conflict in Syria and other world events. Your welcome, CNN.…

 

Just because you are mean doesn’t make you wrong: A defense of Glenn Greenwald

By Megan Carpentier
Monday, August 19, 2013 16:32 EDT

I don’t know Glenn Greenwald personally. He could be the world’s kindest, most pleasant, incredibly generous individual in real life, with smiles for all passers-by and 25+ percent tips for every server. He could whistle happy tunes while feeding the city’s homeless, be the understanding shoulder on which all his…

 

What women hear when New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner speaks

By Megan Carpentier
Thursday, August 15, 2013 16:04 EDT

On September 10, 2013, registered Democrats in New York City — many of them women — will head to the polls to determine their party’s candidate for mayor (and, mostly likely, the next mayor of New York City, given its demographics). And it is for that reason, nominally, that former…

 

We agree with these women: HBO should show more ‘dongs’ on its shows

By Kay Steiger
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 13:52 EDT

The makers of College Humor have made a hilarious video that actually makes a totally great and serious point: HBO is great at showing women’s breasts and terrible at showing men’s genitals. On behalf of HBO’s female viewers, Emily Axford points out that though HBO has a diversity of brothels…

 

Raw Story on Thom Hartmann: Why is Obama unveiling his ‘grand bargain’ at an Amazon warehouse?

By Raw Story
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 14:28 EDT

Raw Story Managing Editor Kay Steiger appeared on RT’s “The Thom Hartmann Show” to talk about President Barack Obama’s “grand bargain,” in which he offers to trade middle-class investments like raising the minimum wage, boosting American infrastructure and closing overseas tax loopholes for a lower corporate tax rate. But why…

 

The 5 most shocking revelations about the government’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz you haven’t heard

By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 17:23 EDT

Internet activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz’s suicide in January 2013 shocked friends, family and admirers alike. Friends, family and fellow activists blamed an overzealous prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s office — an allegation prosecutors denied — over Swartz’s efforts to download the entire JSTOR academic database on the Massachusetts…

 

Anthony Weiner doesn’t want individual women to see his penis. He wants all of us to be looking at it.

By Megan Carpentier
Thursday, July 25, 2013 16:52 EDT

In the wake of everyone from Larry Craig to Elliot Spitzer, from Jesse James to Ashton Kutcher, it has always seemed to me that it took more than a small measure of self-delusion and heightened sexual satisfaction for former Congressman-cum-mayoral-candidate Anthony Weiner (D) to believe that his online sexual escapades…

 

This fake Daria movie trailer starring Aubrey Plaza should totally be real

By Kay Steiger

The good people at College Humor have put their creative energy to good use and created a fake trailer for a “Daria” movie. The trailer — starring Aubrey Plaza as Daria, Kassia Miller as Jane and Kendra Bates as Quinn — isn’t so much laugh out loud as something that…

 
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