Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityExtraSpinoffs-300It’s Extra! time once again! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Lynne as we set our sights on Doctor Who spin-offs. Which, if any, are good? Or bad? And why? Which has the best theme song? Which brought Kat into Doctor Who fandom? Which haven’t we finished watching? Which is the *real* Torchwood? As usual, there’s more to cover than we expected!


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Comments on: "Verity! Extra! – Spin-off? Or Spin-out?" (32)

  1. I am such a HUGE fan of ‘K-9 & Company’ (and yes, I might have had the opening theme as my ringtone for a while). I really wish it had gone on! ❤

    It's funny, I was just in the planning stages of doing a spin-off show for my own podcast, but I was going to focus more on more obscure things like 'P.R.O.B.E.' (Liz Shaw, FTW!), 'The Stranger', 'The Airzone Solution', 'The Auton Trilogy', 'Downtime' (the first appearance of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart!), etc.

    I have a dorktastic, deep love for Doctor Who spin-offs, but then I'm a big Whovian geek! So, thanks for doing a show focusing on spin-offs!

    • You have helped inspire me (even more than I was already) to check out K-9 and Company. I admit I’m pretty curious about it!

      As for “spinoffs” such as Airzone and Downtime, we make it a practice to pretty much stick to BBC-licensed “official” properties because otherwise it’s hard to draw the line. The world of fanfic is HUGE, and we’d get lost and/or bogged down trying to cover everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if we someday talked about those types of things, but if we do, it’ll be in an episode specifically devoted to the more fan-based endeavors. For our basic eps, we kinda need to have a much more rigid definition of canon. But that definitely gives us another idea to throw in the hat for a future episode! Thanks!

      • ‘K-9 and Company’ is really good fun, IMO, especially if you go into with that attitude. I liked the comparison made on the episode with ‘The Stones of Blood’ but ‘without the lesbian subtext’. It definitely has that same Gothic-esque/Hammer horror/The villages are doing creepy pagan rituals vibe that I’m admittedly easy for, but otherwise I think it slots in nicely with other classic!Who serials (see; ‘The Daemons’, for example). Plus, its SJS and K-9 working together and has an adorable theme song. I don’t know. I find it sort of fannish comfort food, myself. Not the best ever, but nice to snuggle up with on a bad day.

        As for your policy on sticking to ‘official’ BBC-licensed properties for Verity!, I totally get that. The world of Doctor Who is *very* vast, so its nice to set parameters. Still, I hope to see you guys dip into fan endeavors sometime. I think that would be fun. If you guys have time, of course!

        I’m honestly only covering those more obscure, non-canon spin-offs on my podcast myself, because I rarely see people talk about them and a) maybe someone out there wants to hear someone geeking about them or b) maybe I’ll turn someone onto them. For example, I hadn’t heard of P.R.O.B.E. until around the time that Caroline John died, but I couldn’t resist watching a show based around Liz Shaw (one of my big favorites) fighting against aliens and the supernatural alongside a bunch of other Doctor Who actors and written by a baby!Mark Gatiss. It’s cheesy, but maybe I’ll introduce it to at least one more person. Such is fandom. 🙂

  2. Michael said:

    As usual a very entertaining podcast but I´m a bit surprised you didn´t mention how terribly Torchwood deals with its female characters, especially Miracle Day. They killed of two main female characters for shock value alone and put another minor character in a junk press. Even in the first two season I felt that Tosh and Gwen were the emotional punching bags, getting the most emotional abuse (although it has been years since I watched these episodes, so I might remember it wrong).
    Otherwise I tried to enjoy Torchwood but it always felt too corny and trying too hard to be edgy and failing at it.
    Sarah Jane on the other hand was (almost) always enjoyable and a nice companion piece to the main series. The kids were actually good actors and if Liz Sladen hadn´t died I could have seen the series continuing on with Sarah taking a step back.

    Greetings from Germany & keep up the good work!

    • I have to disagree about Torchwood and female characters. Yes, the characters get the shaft, but ALL of the characters in Torchwood do. I felt that the female characters were actually some of the better developed characters in the series(es). I actually thought Ianto was the least-developed of the bunch (at least until Children of Earth, when he finally seemed three-dimensional to me).

      Plenty of male characters die in Torchwood too. They’re going to kill off a few characters for shock value no matter what gender they are. I’d rather have some of those characters be female. In Miracle Day, thw two characters you refer to are strong, independent, badass women. And yep, they died. I’m okay with that.

      Female characters who have challenging storylines do not bother me one iota if they come across as real people. I’d rather have a realistic woman who gets kicked around by life than a cardboard cutout lady who makes it to the end of the series.

      I completely agree about the Sarah Jane Adventures though. Really solid stuff.

      Hooray for international listeners! Thanks for your feedback, we really appreciate it!

      • I tend to feel that it makes a difference if a female character dies in service to their own narrative, or to someone else’s – because women are so often killed simply so we can see the emotional reaction of men. I think that in Miracle Day we had one of each!

        But then a lot of that probably comes down to me being relieved that Gwen was still standing… and indeed, Jack, considering that the whole season led narratively to his sacrifice. The convenient thing about Jack is that he can sacrifice himself over and over for the story and still turn up for the next episode!

        Neither of the deaths of those two independent, capable adult women in Miracle Day were as emotionally devastating or gratuitous or emotion-manipulating as the death of Peter Capaldi’s character AND HIS CHILDREN in Children of Earth. But then as I said in my own post, I have very strong reactions to the fictional deaths of children.

      • Michael said:

        See, that’s whats happens when I comment on things I have only vague memories of, so I’m going to step back from series 1 and 2 (it has been ages since I´ve seen both of which) and Children of Earth (which put everybody to their extreme breaking points). Especially the last one, as Tansy has pointed out, had the death of Frobisher and his family (still can´t believe they named such a dark character after a jovial whifferdill). Come to thing of it, yeah, Gwen & Tosh were the better developed characters than e.g. the early Ianto.

        Miracle Day is freshest in my memory and I remember getting actually very angry at the overall mean-spirited story and overly cruel way they dealt out death and punishment. Maybe I just can´t understand how somebody like the utterly unlikeable and incompetent (opinions may vary but the first thing we hear from him is how he gleefully tells Esther about a college having to stay at home because his wife as leukemia) Rex can get away unscathed and even immortal while the capable Vera and Esther get killed.
        Regardless of the gender aspect, in my opinion MD is a very frustrating mess: The plot needs to much time to get moving and when it does, it doesn´t make a lick of sense. The Oswald Danes arc is weirdly misplaced and even good writers like Jane Espensen are wasting their talent. I imagine RTD writing the first and last episodes and telling the others in broad strokes what should happen between and than going on a holiday without his phone.

        Ok, enough bitterness, I going to relisten to the real Frobisher to lighten up 😉

  3. What about the backstory show featuring Orcini and Barstock? 🙂

  4. Oh, is it wrong of me to want Jenny, the Doctor’s Daughter’s, adventures in time and space. Given her one of those time bracelets River has and give her a male companion…

    • Or even a female companion. Pass the Bechdel test *Every* episode!

      • Deborah Stanish said:

        Whoa, whoa, whoa…Now that’s just CRAZY talk. 😉 But seriously, Jenny is a character that we were all led to believe would lead to something. Would love to have that storyline tidied up at some point.

  5. Wow. You know, in Doctor Who the whole “the Doctor doesn’t like endings” thing always struck me as a bit ridiculous and contrived – I mean, if you choose to travel with a species that has a lifespan so much shorter than your own, you’d better learn to deal with the whole “ending” thing, mate.

    But then to hear you guys talk about not finishing the Buffy series because then it would be permanently over for you? Now I’m wondering if maybe the Doctor’s issue with endings isn’t quite as unrealistic as I thought…this is a point of view that I don’t identify with, but is clearly not outside the realm of normal behavior.

    Although I CAN understand not being able to finish SJA. The grief of loss is very real there and how you grieve is a deeply personal thing.

    Hm. Is that what the Buffy thing is? Is it the impending sense of loss after the watching the last episode that prevents you from watching? I’ll have to think about that. Fictional grief. No that’s not right, grief is grief, even if its source is fiction. To me, watching a show is what keeps the character/show alive. Not watching it doesn’t strike me as preventing the end, just the opposite.

    Which is why I stopped watching Torchwood! That got so unpleasant, I needed it to end long before the series actually did.

    • I think for me, having experienced an ending, I can never go back and re-watch the rest in quite the same way. Once I’ve seen that last bit, it’s dead for me in a way that’s hard to capture. Rewatching it then becomes like looking at a photo album of lost loved ones (to use a possibly overly-heavy-handed simile).

      I never thought of it in relation to the “Doctor doesn’t like endings” thing, but now that you point that out, I can absolutely relate to that. He still wants to experience the wonders and excitements the universe has to offer, but he’s had so many many endings that he couldn’t escape that he avoids the ones he can. If you don’t say goodbye, then it’s never really over. (And I realize that’s kind of a copout, akin to the “if I don’t try, I can’t fail” idea, but it’s a copout that emotionally resonates with me.)

      Excellent insight Mik!

  6. I’m 30 years of age, I’m male, I don’t have kids but I’m a staunch defender of the Sarah Jane Adventures. This attitude of not talking down to kids is what I like to call maturity and Sarah Jane Adventures is far more mature then it really should be allowed to be and many people give it credit for.
    I mean yes, it starts off with a trending drink and the return of the farting Slitheen but then, you get a realistic view of Alzheimers and the first mention of the Sontarans long before it was even announced they were coming back for Series 3. And then ‘Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane’. In my eyes that deserves a place among Blink, The Doctor’s Wife and Children of Earth as one the best ever stories in the Doctor Who universe. The Trickster, whatever he may have looked like, was a serious foe with a wonderfully simple yet threatening premise, what if you could stop your own death and put someone else in your place. To me it’s a real tragedy that Joe Lidster has yet to write anything for Doctor Who because the stories he comes up with for Sarah Jane are nothing short of masterpieces. He is wonderful at main character exploration and his stories were always one of the highlights of each series. (He also wrote ‘A Day in The Death’ for Torchwood)
    Torchwood, in it’s way was good, but at the end of the day it was all pretty throwaway stuff in series 1 and 2, nothing you could hold up as compelling drama, nothing wrong with that, dare I say I love the visual spectacle that is the Transformer movie series. The Martha trilogy was excellent and well thought out, and I loved how they followed it with a right royal romp with the Rhys/Gwen wedding episode. Loved it.
    Children of Earth was disturbing but brilliant. I still haven’t gone back to rewatch that yet. I really must some day.
    In terms of successors to the shows, it could be argued that ‘Being Human’ was the Young Adult super natural series once Torchwood finished in it’s episodic format. And now there’s a Children’s supernatural series called ‘Wolfblood’ which is drawing quite a bit of attention so much so it’s earned itself a promotion to BBC Three next week. Neither are set in the Doctor Who universe or have any strong connections to Doctor Who, (aside from Being Human’s head writer) but the Supernatural (read geeky) nature of Doctor Who’s success paved the way for these shows to thrive.
    I have seen Wizards Vs Aliens, and while it does show some promise, it does appear to be aiming squarely at the kids this time. Which is fine, it’s a kids show after all but while the Sarah Jane Adventures had something for the grown ups to think on, this doesn’t.

    As for spin off, well the Pasternoster Row gang are a given.
    The tricky thing is, Sarah was really the only contemporary present day human companion capable of carrying off a series like Sarah Jane adventures, I can’t see the series being as successful in the hands of Polly who maybe a bit snobby to kids, Jo, who is wonderful but a bit ditzy, Tegan, not really a child friendly character, Peri and Mel again too ditzy, Ace might work if she’s matured enough from her time with the Doctor.
    Out of the new series, Martha would be the most likely but would it take off under her? I don’t know.

    Anyway that’s my 2 cents (plus a lot of change) love the podcast. Great opinions and great discussions.

    PS, what would you classify The Infinite Quest and Dreamland as? Spin offs or extra episodes of the main show, or neither?

    • I find it interesting that in your musing about spinoff possibilities with former DW companions that you’re thinking of them all in terms of their relation with children. I feel like they really couldn’t replace or follow up SJA, so if another spinoff ever materializes, I’d like it to be aimed at a different age group–either another full “family” show or another show for adults (maybe one that doesn’t try quite to hard to be for adults, but that just happens to have a theme that kids wouldn’t relate to as much).

      Thanks for listening and for your very well-thought-out feedback!

  7. bekitty3 said:

    I’d like to see more of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and also a bit more about how Martha joined UNIT.

    • I’d like to see more of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart if they have her act like she did in her very first scene. I really didn’t like the progression of her character in that story. By the end of “The Power of Three” she came off as very weak and uncertain. That first scene though was brilliant! She was large and in charge and she knew exactly what she was doing, even if she didn’t know what was going on with the cubes. If we could see a show with *that* Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, I’d be right there, in front of the tv, with popcorn and a smile!

    • Ooh, yes, I’d love to see a spin-off about Martha joining UNIT or even after Martha leaves UNIT and goes on her adventures with Mickey. But then Martha is my favorite, so I’m biased! 😉

  8. Henrik said:

    Torchwood had some real problems. There are some gems of episodes hidden in there, ‘Countrycide’, ‘Adrift’ and probably one or two more but most episode are either forgettable or of the kind where one wishes they were. The show never nailed how to do overarching plotlines yet insisted on having them, the closest it got to doing it right was exploring Owen’s undeath. It seems as if no one behind the scenes knew what the show was supposed to be in the first two seasons, or maybe everyone knew except they all knew something different and never talked about it.

    ‘Children of Earth’ was fantastic though. I suspect we all lucked out on that one. It wasn’t, after all, an entire season of barely held together one offs of generally questionable quality. It was one of those really good stories we’d seen in the first two seasons expanded upon, perfected and turned into a mini series. Gone was the barely related and hastily thrown together overarching crap and all the individual story ideas that never amounted to anything. It focused on one solid story and told it well. It didn’t drag. The villain’s motivations made a kind of sense and the logic behind the whole threat was if not actually sound at least sci-fi sound. The characters were ones we cared about when they suffered and were fascinated by when they caused suffering.

    They should have stopped there.

    With ‘Miracle Day’ they tried to repeat the success of ‘Children of Earth’ but seemingly without quite understanding what made it successful in the first place. There was a dark and disturbing mystery villain clearly and publicly threatening the whole world with the clock ticking and at the heart of it all was a fairly interesting moral sci-fi question. Except this time the focus was all over the place. It had side stories and dead ends and characters that went nowhere. It dragged on and on and on and in the end it turned out that the central premise of the season, that nobody ever died, was caused by a group of thugs who had thrown magic blood into magic holes for some reason and then magic happened. It’s easier to accept a clumsy resolution to a season long arc in Doctor Who, since it’s rarely ever actually at the centre of the show. But ‘Miracle Day’ was supposed to be about the “Miracle”. Yet Russel T. Davies didn’t think it important to make sure the means by which the miracle was brought about made sense within the context of the show? And that’s not even getting into the continuity issues when you try to make it fit inside the universe of Doctor Who, which the show had mostly been pretty good about previously (thank goodness Moffatt cleaned house with the crack and the big bang, though that still doesn’t square how Jack’s immortality went from timey wimey to magic healing blood).

    The Sarah Jane Adventures on the other hand seemed to be almost perfect. Not being the target audience (what is the target audience, 6 year olds?) The show seemed to know what its audience was though and stuck to and executed on that seemingly flawlessly. It’s fun, funny, a bit scary at times but never terrifying (not for long anyways). Again, I could be well wrong but it seemed like excellent children’s TV made all the better by not being intolerable for adults to watch.

    Oh, and Liz Shaw and the brigadier at UNIT. Best. Spin. Off. Ever. It would start with a cold open of the brigadier walking through UNIT HQ looking for someone. He shouts out “Doctor?” “Doctor?” and pops his head in to check an empty lab. “Where the devil could…” He mutters to himself. As he heads down the corridor he hears steps from an adjacent corridor and turns, “Ah, there you are. We’ve been looking for you but you weren’t in your usual lab. Something strange is afoot up north, you had better come have a look.” The camera slowly pans to reveal who the brigadier is talking to: Dr. Liz Shaw. She looks up from her notes and says something like “Let’s go” or hopefully something cooler than that and then cut to the title sequence which I imagine being kind of like an animated flat silhouette spy type of thing.

    Really it wouldn’t have to be terribly different from Liz’s run on the show except Liz would be the doctor and have some assistant running about assisting her as they help UNIT handle whatever crisis comes up. It would be a bit like Torchwood but with my favourite characters, preferably written by my favourite writers and run by my favourite writers and producers or me. Like Torchwood but consistently good to great. Ah. TV is amazing in my imagination.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate your views, but you should probably be careful of using the term “we.” As I’m sure you know from listening to the episode, all 4 of us rather strongly disagree with your opinions on seasons 1 & 2 of Torchwood! 🙂

      I adore your idea for a spin off. I want to watch that show!


      • Henrik said:

        Noted. Its use was meant only as part of agreeing with the almost universal praise of ‘Children of Earth’, to then be contrasted with the, in my eyes at least, bungling of ‘Miracle Day’.

        I wouldn’t presume to speak for anyone other than myself, and was really only using “we” to mean a generalised, frankly hypothetical, audience. Instead of “we cared about” I suppose it may have been more suitable to write “one could care about”.
        But it’s all one giant opinion on a piece of fiction so no one should really be mistaken into believing that a random person on the Internet, me, was somehow actually telling them what they, any specific real person reading the opinion, were or were not feeling or thinking.

      • Gotcha. Oh internet, why must you make it so hard to pick up on nuances of tone? 🙂 Sometimes vocal speech is easier to parse. Though really, I should have known that our awesome listeners aren’t like so many on the internet–who genuinely do think they have the right to tell people what they ought to think and dismiss anyone who disagrees as wrong. There are some very sad corners of the web where that sort of thing runs rampant. I guess I’m paranoid that our little Eden here won’t last.

  9. Scott Vandervalk said:

    The spin-off I want is… Duggan (from City of Death) – who has the most important punch in history! I’m sure there are plenty more historical punches to be thrown.

  10. I loved Series 1-2 of Torchwood. I loved Children of Earth also BUT I can’t go back and rewatch it. Like Tansy, I have incredible difficulty with fictional deaths of children. Still haven’t seen Miracle Day- it’s not on Netflix, and with such mixed reviews, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave it on that note anyway. I do really want to start watching SJA with my little boys…might have to introduce them to it soon. 🙂

    I second (or third or fourth) a UNIT spinoff. I’d love to see Martha or Kate L-S again.

    Every time I finish Season 7 of Buffy, I either start all over again at Season 1, or I go right into the Season 8 comics (the end of season 8 brings its own issues, however. Thankfully Season 9 is ongoing.)
    Actually, I do this with all my favorite fandoms, I’ve realized. Maybe I’ve got problems. 🙂

  11. I love your podcast. I heard Tansy on Splendid Chaps and wanted more – and I’ve been on a month-long Verity binge ever since! (have finally caught up now…)

    As a result of your spin-off episode I’ve just borrowed Torchwood series 1 from the library for a re-watch. I remember being a bit disappointed by Torchwood (and it wasn’t helped by its first outing on Australian TV being buried in a “graveyard” timeslot after only a few episodes), perhaps because the creators didn’t seem to know if they were making SF, or horror, or comedy-drama and went for a less-than-perfect combination of all three. My husband dismisses it as “no Doctor Who”, and while I’m inclined to agree, I adore Captain Jack and I’ve decided to give it another chance.

    Recently I’ve read a few Torchwood books, published by BBC Books (I think?). I’m not sure if they are novelisations of Series 1 & 2 episodes, or totally new stories, but they have been really interesting. I feel that with the books they are able to develop the characters (including Ianto, for those of you who found him 2-dimensional in the TV series) in a way that they weren’t able to in the TV show; and several of the books have points of view from more minor characters that are really interesting and insightful. The balance between SF/horror/drama and comedy is easier to achieve in text, too. Like Tansy’s approach to Doctor Who, I have read the books completely out of order and have still enjoyed them a lot! And I know that there are plenty more for me to read out there, which is nice.

    I might update you after watching series 1 again and let you know whether I prefer the books or the show 🙂

    P.S. I’m also keen to hunt out the Sarah Jane Adventures after your discussion – have never watched it, but might check it out with my kids in mind.

    • That’s so cool! Glad you came over to the Verity side. I haven’t read any of the Torchwood books, or in fact any of the New Who tie in books either and am starting to wonder what I’m missing out on. Especially as my favourite reading format these days is audio and I know the Torchwood books are all/mostly available with lovely voiced versions.

      Yay to Sarah Jane! A lot of people have commented that it feels closer to Classic Who than New Who does and I think there’s something in that – it’s a genuinely fun family show, one you can enjoy across a range of ages, and it’s quite a rare thing these days. If nothing else, it’s worth checking out the Doctor cameo episodes (The Wedding of Sarah Jane – Ten & Death of the Doctor – Eleven) which are lovely.

  12. So, I’ve recently started listening to Verity… I’m not capable of listening to a podcast or reading a blog without starting from the beginning. So don’t be surprised to see me commenting on old threads. Sorry, just the way I am. 🙂

    I just had to say, for spinoffs, I’d really love more Sally Sparrow. That’s probably as much to do with the brilliance that is Carey Mulligan as anything else, but I loved that character.

    • I think you’re not alone in that. She’s just great! Is be right there with you watching that spin-off.

      And as long as you promise not to judge us too harshly on our early work, I won’t judge you for listening from the beginning. 😉

  13. Michele Cunkelman said:

    A new listener listening to the old stuff and commenting. I hope you don’t mind. I haven’t yet to watch the Sarah Jane adventures, mostly because I am not the biggest fan of kids shows. But I will give it a watch since from what you guys said it is a smarter kids show. Though I do read some YA books.

    on who I would want a spin off I wouldn’t mind a Paternoster Gang detective show, but more the sarah jane type stuff. But I would want less Strax, he is sort of like Nardole they are fine in small doses. I felt there was just way too much nardole in season 10, he didn’t need to be in every single episode. Though I would love love to see a River Song show.

    Torchwood was ok , but yeah they were horrible people who couldn’t do their jobs. I have seen parts of the specials, they were ok. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again I just hope if they did they would have a smarter and more likeable team. And no Cyberwoman.

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