Pictured above: the current BBC Wales retro-futuristic 1950s British Police Box TARDIS Time Machine and comic book cover of H.G. Wells' Time Machine.
In the Sci-Fi blog called
"I’ve learnt that you have to look past the sillier aspects of a Russell T.Davies Doctor Who story. Like, for example, at the very end of the Universe, countless billions of years in the future, you will find human beings as we know them today."
pgrehan also tells us that :
"Human beings driving 21st century trucks and firing 21st century weapons, just before they board their interstellar (can you still say that when there aren’t any stars left?) spacecraft. The explanation given for this is that human beings have somehow re-evolved into their favourite form, but this smacks of a lazy writer using technobabble to reduce science fiction to a branch of fantasy."
So we see that the writer 'pgrehan' (above) makes some good Sci-Fi Theory / critical points, but from an American perspective, Dr. Who has always reminded me of a broadcast British sci-fi style which smacks of intentionally low-budget retro-futurism.
Kubrick’s low-key approach to ‘Future Britain’ in Clockwork Orange (1971) is probably the best British example of intentional retro-Futurism, but Woody Allen also uses it to comic effect in Sleeper (1973).
In other words, not attempting to create futuristic verisimilitude, and settling for what you describe as ‘lazy’, is actually a self-reflective activity of the film’s author.
European filmmakers observed how Japanese Monster films played in the post 1960s U.S. television market, and resisted being pushed (by budgetary limits) into becoming a similar caricature of themselves.
To accomplish this, directors like Hitchcock opted for a minimalist understatement, which masked the relatively low-budget, low quality special FX of their productions, and The Birds (1963) is a good example.
Dr. Who on the other hand, has always been read as a ‘Jules Verne’-style retro-Futurism by American audiences, and that funky and clunky lack of attention to details has made the story more important than the FX and mise-en-scene.
Willy Wonka is the height of self-deprecating Victorian retro-Futurism, displayed in the first film (1971), but sort of parodied by Tim Burton in a gritty, timeless past/future Industrial reality in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).
The current Dr. Who might be seen as derivative of Terry Gillam’s Brazil (1985), which trademarked funky Brit retro-future sci-fi for good.
So from our perspective, Russell is simply following an established tradition, and giving his larger U.S. audience what they expect of this brand of Brit Sci-fi.
Our North American readers who are fans of Dr. Who should be sure to check out the UK Sci-fi blog
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