I found this interview with Paul McGann on YouTube (posted by Morgan Creed) and enjoyed the conversation because McGann discusses quality writing and how so many stories on television focus on "crash-bang-wallop" and CGI effects instead of characters. It got me thinking about how children don't notice the bad visual and audio effects older shows had until they see them again as teenagers or adults. This allows children to get more enjoyment out of stories. On the other hand, it's good that we lose that belief when it comes to the scarier (and sometimes gory) elements of stories. I remember when my parents were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was in grade school and I would shield my eyes from the television screen when I had to cross the room because the creatures were horrific. A decade or so later, I see them and they are laughable because I can see the actor beneath the make-up and rubber.
Although McGann is an actor, he brings up some key points for writers:
- Look for an alternative when you're contemplating exposition and loaded questions
- Create characters that sound different from one another in their dialogue and narration
- Let characters reveal themselves as opposed to other elements of the book (like plot)
I've seen some of the earlier Doctor Who episodes and I've compared them to the episodes of the 2005 reboot and they are the same in the sense that dialogue and characters dominant the story, which is one of the main reasons why the show has lasted for more than 50 years.
"Sci-Fi is [...] about ideas."
― Paul McGann
Whenever The Doctor encounters the villain, they don't share a witty one-liner and then engage in battle or skip the one-liner and go straight to fighting; The Doctor talks. And talks and talks and talks some more, but this does exactly what McGann says in the interview, "[It gives] writing a chance". And the audience loves it. You feel the characters' emotions and get inside their heads. One word from The Doctor's mouth has more of an impact than "crash-bang-wallop".
Case in point:
Video source: authenticgeek247