Sunday, August 10, 2008

Doctor Who at the Hugo Awards

Steven Moffat received the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in the Doctor Who episode "Blink," which he wrote for series three. This is well deserved for an entertaining and new kind of episode. "Blink" used the concept of time travel as well as a haunted house story, with statues that transport people back in time. Sally Sparrow receives some messages from the Doctor to help her investigate the statues. Hettie Macdonald's direction builds up the suspense, making the statues menacing and scary. Moffat, who will become the executive producer of Doctor Who for series five in 2010, has won the award three years in a row. In 2006 the award went to "The Empty Child" while in 2007 "Girl in the Fireplace" was honored. This year Moffat wrote the two part story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead," a similarly intriguing mystery with lots of surprises and character development for the Doctor.

The other story from Doctor Who that was nominated, "Human Nature/Family of Blood" written by Paul Cornell and directed by Charles Palmer, is also an outstanding journey for the Doctor as he transforms himself from a Time Lord to a human in an attempt to evade an alien family who are chasing the TARDIS. This story was based on the novel Human Nature that Cornell also wrote from Virgin Publishing's New Adventures series. In both the novel, available as an ebook on the BBC Doctor Who website, and the television story the Doctor's companion has the responsibility of looking after the Doctor, who doesn't remember their adventures together. The Doctor becomes John Smith, a schoolteacher who thinks he has always been human. The television story has many references to the classic series of Doctor Who, such as when John Smith writes a diary of his time travel dreams including the faces of his past incarnations, as well as John Smith's parents Verity and Sydney. In 1963, Doctor Who was created by Sydney Newman while the first producer, Verity Lambert, took charge of the show and ensured its success on British television. This is a great tribute to the show's history and its present incarnation.

The other television episodes nominated were Torchwood's "Captain Jack Harkness," the fan produced Star Trek episode "World Enough and Time," and Battlestar Galactica's "Razor." "World Enough and Time" was created for the internet series Star Trek New Voyages by fans as the fourth season of the original show featuring Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Battlestar Galactica has received critical praise as the revival of the 1970s series. I have not seen "Razor" or "World Enough and Time," but I've heard a lot about the New Voyages and Galactica shows in relation to Star Trek and the TrekToday news site. The Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood also entered new territory in series one's "Captain Jack Harkness," written by Catherine Tregenna and directed by Ashley Way, in which Jack and Toshiko Sato are transported back to World War II Cardiff. Torchwood's Captain Jack meets another Captain Jack Harkness, a military man from Earth. The Torchwood protagonist Captain Jack took the other Captain's identity during World War II. This episode effectively shows the contrast between modern life and the previous era. All the nominated episodes are examples of the creativity and great stories going into television science fiction today.

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