Video: Why the 50th Anniversary Episode Works from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Why the 50th Anniversary Episode Works from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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I actually think Steven did an interesting thing because one of the things that makes Doctor Who so popular is its positivity. It has a positive view of the future. I mean, I’m not a fan of the whole dystopian — yeah, yeah, the Walk Dead are fine and all that, but I don’t really think the world is going to be so awful and Hunger Games is a really cool book, but I really don’t think we’re all going to be shooting each other on the streets with crossbows in, like, 40 years. And I think most people (inaudible) so, I think while those are popular, I don’t think they have the same lasting loving — I mean, The Doctor is so positive and I think what Steven considered — and so hopeful — I think he realized that by having all the Time Lords be dead and it was this terrible Time War and this genocidal thing, it put a pall over the universe that really didn’t suit Doctor Who. So, this was his chance, if any, to reboot that pall and now we have a positive movement and, you know, if you think about it, one of the greatest themes of all literature is, “Where does Dorothy want to go? Home!” and now Peter Capaldi will — and we want to reinvent the Gallifreyians. We want to see that world, because it was such a cool world. When I watched Tom Baker back — it was wonderful when he went to Gallifrey and your saw all these — and met other Time Lords. In a way, it became claustrophobic to have lost that connection. So, I mean, I think that’s why he did that and I know there is controversy over it — Oh my god, some people love that episode and some people don’t like it. From a writing standpoint, you teach in writing that all drama is based on a decision. Somebody has to make a choice and that episode is only about a decision. Three guys talking about making a decision and then it’s made and none of us expect the one to be made to be the one that got made. Which is the nice twist that he put in there, which we didn’t assume anyone had the right — but, hello, he’s in charge the universe, so he does have the right.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: Will we ever see a female Doctor? from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Video: Will we ever see a female Doctor? from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Transcript:

I think the reason we won’t is that any trend, any cult, has its peak and it will eventually fade. At some point, maybe 20 years from now, their won’t be a Doctor Who on television and I, I believe for 2 reasons. I believe the network is afraid that’s the thing that would pull audiences away. I believe the writers are afraid if they took that shot and it happened to accidentally coincide with the time when the show starte to fade, everyone would blame the girl. So, it’s almost too difficult. Now I remember learning — I used to teach high school American Lit years ago and I couldn’t figure out why all the novels we would give girls to read were boy protagonists. So I asked like the lady in charge — it was an all girls school, too, a Catholic school — it’s all girls. They were reading all boy coming-of-age stories. So, I asked the woman who ran — a nun actually — who ran the literature department and she said studies had proven that boy’s will not read or care about stories about young girls, but girls — because they are interested in obtaining boys — will read about boys and what they want and what they need and how they grow. So schools had just adapted to that by choosing these novels. (inaudible) Exactly! And so the institutions actually feed into that instead of trying to break it. And it really, really bugs me, so in many ways, I think they’re supposition at the network is that men who love Doctor Who would not watch if she– if he became a she and I think that’s not true, because I would say for y’alls generation — cause my kid’s sixteen — men are much more feminist these days. Thank goodness. We like that in you. All right. Believe me, chicks like that in a boy. But I don’t think — cause the network is run by — and I don’t mean to pick on guys — cause men are lovely, but its run by men in their late 50’s, early 60’s and they’re still thinking like people thought 40 years ago. So, I just don’t think they’re ready to take a chance and I think the smarter, younger guys, don’t want that to be the thing that is blamed because that will continually convince the network that nobody will watch a girl. It’s a big problem.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: What about River Song? from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Video: What about River Song? from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Transcript:

Uh, River Song. River is fascinating because — I do love River. If I had time to go off in all the feminist aspects of the show. she’s truly a perfectly feminist character and yet she gets that gorgeous, soft, girl hair. It is so interesting that Brits are able to expect that women can be femmie but also strong and the Americans don’t do that that well. She is also, just to me, an example of how brilliant Stephen Moffat’s plotting is. Because he can take this character across so many episodes and give us this backwards story. I think she is an excellent example. She’s also an example of a Brit actor who had come her and worked in American television for a while. Then went back and did Doctor Who. Of course, now she is back here on Arrow. So she’s a — we have more performers who can cross the creek, if you will, across the pond and that is what she is a good example of. And also she appeared on Colin Ferguson’s show, too. (inaudible) River is hard to talk about because if people don’t know, then you’re giving away too much. So, it just nnnnnnnn, let it be. She’s also an excellent example of how Stephen will plant something and it won’t pay off for 10 episodes (laughter) and Russell could never do that, because he was always writing at the last minute like a crazy person. So, you know, each has their strengths and that is what you have think about. That’s why they worked so well together, obviously. 

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: Doctor Who — and Writers — Change The World from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Doctor Who -- and Writers -- Change The World from

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It’s not about The Doctor changing the world. It’s about a writer, with a vision and a mission, that has brought so many people together over these stories. That help us talk about empathy. That help us talk about how to behave in society. It’s what writers do. Again, whether they are writing books or movies or TV shows. TV has just recently gotten better reputation. It used to be the place where movie people went when they couldn’t get movie work and now people go to TV first because writers have more power. So I thought that was very important.

So, that’ my chitchat about Doctor Who and how he changed the world.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Doctor Who Changes American TV from “Doctor Who and Culture”

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Doctor who changes tv

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We were mentioning Merlin before, because this particular actor, Colin Morgan, very interesting. So what else — how else has Doctor Who changed television? Well. No just has Doctor Who come over here, but now Merlin which was created by the Brits actually aired on NBC here for a while. Seems the NBC couldn’t get a good program to save their soul. So, they whipped a little BBC on us and some people didn’t even know that. They thought is was made here. They had no idea where it came from. So, this was an example of one program that was made in England but aired on primetime American broadcast. We never do that. So, we’re opening the window a little to to let us see some cross-cultural things. My joke was, partially it’s because Colin had first appeared in an episode of Doctor Who. So the Doctor Who audience knew who this actor was. This was his first big job. I think he’s like 19. It was like his first big acting job — a whole episode of Doctor Who obviously with David Tennant. So that made the audience more familiar with him to the point where when they were debating who the next Doctor will be after Matt Smith, Colin was one of the top choices. Along with Benedict — who is written by Steven Moffat, who writes Sherlock — the new Sherlock for us, so this is how cultural they’re getting, right? All the way down the line. Notice they had Rupert Grint up there. Some folks thought that Ron might make an interesting Doctor.  He was up on the choice, right? But we go all the way down here before we get the possibility of a Doctor of color — and there’s no women on there, but that’s why Colin was know in this universe. I thought that was very interesting. The other thing that happened recently is this show, The White Queen, is something that was going to broadcast in both places very popularly. Quite a fun show. So slowly, because of Doctor Who’s popularity, American broadcasters starting letting in these other programs. 

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Feminism on Doctor Who from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Doctor who feminism

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Transcript:

The other thing that Russell said that really struck me, as a feminist, was as bad as it is for a gay man or a person of color to watch television, it totally sucks to be chicks. Because chicks on TV are pretty much all about being cute. That’s tough. How do you deal with that? So, when he did Torchwood, he purposely made sure the cop was a female and her husband is the guy who stays home and makes dinner — and worries about whether she’ll get shot at work and come home.

He completely gender switched the situation so that little girls could see a woman saving the world from bad aliens and that was important to him. And I thought that was really interesting because he’s right, right? Even as much as I like The Big Bang Theory, with my little slide there, Amy started out as cool as Sheldon and as weird and now all she wants is to get laid. That is all that character wants. What happened?!? She is like a nuclear physicist. She totally turned into just another girl who wants a boy and without the boy she is not complete. They ruined that character. Right?

So Russell wanted to make sure he created a woman who all the way through is the power source. She’s the one saving the world. So little girls could look up to that. So again, Russell took a step further than Steven took and that shocks me. I wasn’t ready for that.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Doctor Who Writers change culture from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Doctorwho writers change culture

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Transcript:

I got to interview Russell for a magazine we do for the Writers Guild of America. This is an interview with Russell T Davies when he came to America to do a 4th season of Torchwood. And so, I was talking with him about some of his choices and what not. It was interesting. He said he knew from his childhood that the hardest thing to do was to watch television and not see yourself as one of the people there. That is unfair to a child because that means you don’t belong in the universe. You don’t fit in the world.

There is a character named Captain Jack and Russell, specifically once everyone was comfortable with what he was doing with the Doctor — because, when he first brought the show back, the fear was he would make the Doctor gay — and that would just ruin it. It wouldn’t really ruin it, but the network was scared it would, right? So, he couldn’t do that. He said, “I’m not going to do that. The Doctor’s iconic. I’m not going to change him too much.” That’s probably why he’ll never be a girl and he likely will never be a Doctor of color — which is too bad. But, he can surround him with people that offer visuals to children and Captain Jack was exactly that — both in Doctor Who and in Torchwood, which is the show, then the spinoff, that was created to give Captain Jack his own troop that he would work with, save the world from bad aliens.

We’ve seen Captain Jack kiss men, dance with men at weddings, right, have his heart broken by people, and so full and complete, 3 dimensional same-sex relationships have been opened to children through watching Doctor Who and Torchwood, if you let your kid watch Torchwood. Which I did do, because he liked it. That was really important for Russell, so he truly had a, if you will, a social justice mission, with being a writer. And so, as much as the title of this does say, “The Doctor the Changed the Universe”, I would have to say it is actually the writers, who write the Doctor, who change the universe, because it is writers, whether they are writing books or they are writing television, or they’re writing films, that give us this influence that we live by and that’s why we’re wearing stuff from Doctor Who and we like all the stuff we like.”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Steven Moffat and his Characters from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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So these 3 characters of color are treated very well and very completely and this impressed me. I like Russell. I’ve always liked Russell. I was glad to find out he was doing that well. I assumed Steven Moffat would do it even better and I was wrong. I was shocked to be wrong. So let’s get with Steven Moffat and who he invented. It starts to look really interesting and then it falls apart. I think that’s so sad.

This is Liz 10. She is the tenth Queen Elizabeth of England. So, Steven is telling us that in so many generations from now, English population is going to be brown. So that’s a pretty cool move. That is a pretty cools statement. However, she pretty much shows up in the episode, saves the Doctor’s life, and disappears. She has no sex life, no love life, no family, no relationships, no job — except being queen. She’s a one dimensional character. That shocked me. I was like, Whoa, Liz 10!” She’s really nothing. She’s a prop — as far as the story goes. That’s your job, making a character — a ful character.

So this shocked me. So, who else did Steven Moffat invent who is a character of color. Well, I know, super-cool Mels. Mels is very cool. If you haven’t seen the show I’ll try not to spoil it, but she is related to another character we really like a lot.

(LAUGHTER)

She only shows up in a short bit, in order to explain a plot situation and she moves on and she never has any real deep association with The Doctor after that. So, she’s used as a gimmick, because if you know who she is later in life, you recognize the gimmick. No one guessed that because she doesn’t look like the person she regenerates into. So, it was a trick. That character is just a trick. She’s not a 3-dimensional complete character and that really bothered me. Steven, dont’t do this to me! Do something good, please, cause I really think he is a smart writer. That’s River Song. We’ll get to her later.

Rita show up in only 1 episode. She’s not just a character of color, She is also a woman with a different religion because she is Islamic. So that was really interesting, exciting and wonderful. She’s only in one episode and guess what happens to her at the end of the episode? She dies. Oh, my god! So he invented this really cool, interesting 3-dimensional person and he killed her. So, as far as I was concerned, Russell did characters of color better and I think that is really interesting. And the scary part is — you probably already know this, as it pretty open and obvious — Russell is one of the first gay — openly gay men in England to get the OBE from the Queen. So, he is known to be an out-of-the-closet gay man. He understands how badly people who are not of what is considered the norm can be created on television. So, his focus was to make sure he took the characters who weren’t given that full coverage by other people and to give it to them.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Creating Companions of Color from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Drwho creating companions color

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Transcript:

Other cool characters that Russell T. Davies invented was the very first companion of color. The Doctor always travels with someone, generaly a human, these days, generally a girl, although eventually we got round to a boy. Martha Jones comes on to the show and she is the opposite of Rose, not just that she happens to be an Englishwomen of African descent, she’s and intern — she’s about to be a doctor. Whereas Rose is a shop girl. so she is low class/high class, right?

So, he made a character of color who was from the higher class. Not someone from the ghetto. She was someone with a good education, moving forward to a good job. She gets to be a full. 3-dimensional person, complete with falling in love with the Doctor, because who wouldn’t fall in love with David Tennant? The problem is, so had Rose, briefly and he actually fell in love with Rose so you can’t fall in love with every girl or then he is just, you know, a traveling womanizer.

So, Russell T. Davies actually took some flack for not allowing David Tennant to fall in love with the character of color, but it was just the way the story happened to fall. It would make him look cheesy if he fell in love with every girl he met. But Martha gets to be grown up enough to say, “I get it. You’re never going to feel about me the way I feel about you and I’m not going to waste my life waiting. I’m going to move on.” Which is hugely mature. So there is her character arc and she goes off to do very interesting things.

There are 2 really interesting characters of color, so far. Coming up to the 3rd one who only shows up in one episode. It’s a Christmas episode, as well, where there is an alternate Doctor and an alternate companion. There in sort of a Steampunk world. Rosita here, it looks like she should just be a maid and basically just a prostitute from back in the day. But again, 3-dimensional personality, she saves their lives in the course of the episode. She is hugely important to this episode. She doesn’t just stand around and say, “Ooo, I’m cute!”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Talks on Doctor Who covered in Poly Post from Cal Poly Pomona

The Poly Post, student newspaper of Cal Poly Pomona had write-ups on both of my Doctor Who talks. Click through to see the complete articles.

“Dr. Who” presentation attracts many CPP fans

Doctor Who Presentation attract many CPP fans

Doctors aren’t known for fighting aliens or time traveling. However, Doctor Who is.

Perhaps that is why so many students crowded the library to hear a presentation on the TV series and novels called “Dr. Who.”

The event that took place Wednesday afternoon was put together in celebration of National Library Week. The fandom behind the books and TV show was the deciding factor in focusing solely on the Dr. Who series.

TV scriptwriter and Cal Poly Pomona faculty for the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education, Rosanne Welch conducted the presentation and spoke not only about the characters of the show, but the shows impact on British and American culture.

She used the popularity of the series to highlight various points on character development, sexism, American culture and racism.

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The Doctor will see you now

The Doctor will see you now

“Doctor Who” fans, otherwise known as Whovians, gathered in the third floor of the University Library for “Doctor Who Regenerated” on May 13.

Rosanne Welch, interdisciplinary general education professor at Cal Poly Pomona and avid “Doctor Who” fan, spoke to guests about two of the show’s writers: Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat, and compared the themes each writer has brought to the popular British television series.

Both writers were involved with the screenwriting for the show since its revival in 2005, with Davies taking charge from 2006-2008, and Moffat following in 2010.

According to Welch, both writers brought different themes that steered the show in different directions. Davies, who worked on the popular British series “Queer as Folk,” continued to portray “Doctor Who” as the “cheesy” children’s program it was during the 1960s while discreetly creating “deep” and “mature” themes for children to grasp.

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