Gimme That Star Trek Ep.11: Star Trek vs. Doctor Who

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate, the Fire & Water Network has arranged a study in imperialism, as Canadian Siskoid and American Cory Drew compare and contrast their two favorite shows, Star Trek and Doctor Who! Is each a product of its own specific empire? They go in deep, discussing the shows’ attitudes towards authority, individualism, professionalism, interventionism, and even the controversial chair agenda! Fireworks incoming!

Listen to Episode 11 below!

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Credits: “Star Trek Theme” by Alexander Courage, with the Irredeemable Shagg on vocals. End theme: “Deep Space Nine Theme” by Dennis McCarthy.

Bonus clips from: Doctor Who’s “Oxygen” starring Peter Capaldi; “Battlefield” starring Sylvester McCoy; “The Empty Child” starring Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston; “The Moonbase” starring Patrick Troughton; “Tomb of the Cybermen” starring Peter Hawkins; and “The Lodger” starring Matt Smith / Star Trek The Next Generation’s “Reunion” starring Patrick Stewart; “Star Trek” by J.J. Abrams starring Zachary Quinto; “Symbiosis” starring Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden; “I, Borg” starring Jonathan Del Arco; and “Star Trek: First Contact” by Jonathan Frakes, starring Gates McFadden.

And thanks for leaving a comment!

14 responses to “Gimme That Star Trek Ep.11: Star Trek vs. Doctor Who

  1. Great discussion guys. Ever since Cory moved out of NJ I don’t get to talk to him anymore, so at least I get to hear him on GMTST once in a while.

    I didn’t know that Star Trek exists as a TV show inside the Who universe, that’s a fun detail.

    Any ideas as to why there has never really been a Dr Who movie (other than the two 60s ones no one likes)? The show has been so popular for so long, it seems incredible that no studio has approached the BBC to make a big budget adventure.

    1. Well, two isn’t bad! (Plus the TV Movie in 1996.) A feature film almost happened a few times:

      Daleks vs. Mechons would have been the third Cushing film, loosely based on The Chase (which was the third Dalek serial). It was in production, but poor box office on the second Dalek film got it cancelled.

      Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen: Written by Douglas Adams, this was one of several ideas that Adams proposed to the production office around 1976. It was rejected by script editor Robert Holmes, who nonetheless encouraged Adams to continue submitting material; this ultimately led to his commission for The Pirate Planet. In 1980, Adams revised The Krikkitmen for use by Paramount Pictures as a potential Doctor Who feature film, although nothing came of this project. Finally, Adams included many of the ideas from The Krikkitmen in his novel Life, the Universe and Everything, the second sequel to his The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

      During spare time in filming, Tom Baker and Ian Marter (who played Harry Sullivan in the series and later novelised several Doctor Who scripts for Target Books) wrote a script for a Doctor Who film, Doctor Who meets Scratchman. The script had the Daleks, a Devil known as Harry Scratch or Scratchman (Vincent Price was attached at some point), robots known as Cybors, scarecrows made from bones, the Greek god Pan, and Twiggy as a new companion. The finale of the film was to have taken place on a giant pinball table, with the Doctor, Harry and Sarah dodging balls as well as battling Daleks on the board. During his tenure as the Fourth Doctor, Baker repeatedly tried to attract funding for the film. At one point, he received substantial donations from fans, but after taking legal advice was forced to return them. The plans were eventually dropped.

      In the interregnum between classic and new Who, a lot of film possibilities were floated, the one that got the furthest was Doctor Who: The Last of the Time Lords, but again, nothing came of it, though these proposals are detailed in sometime-comics writer/translator Jean-Marc Lofficier’s The Nth Doctor. I remember there being talk of the ultra-popular Tennant Doctor spinning off into feature films, but the Beeb decided not to undermine the 11th Doctor’s shot at glory.

      Of course, several landmark Doctor Who episodes (including the feature-length Day of the Doctor) have been on the silver screen, sometimes even in 3D format.

      Uhmm, well you asked.

      1. Oh and I personally don’t dislike the Cushing films. They’re simple family fare, colorful and mostly fun, the Dalek TV serials more efficiently told. I even gave the second one a Medium-High.

      2. I don’t have anything to add to the films discussion, other than saying this discussion about Doctor Who films between Siskoid and Rob makes me happy. I’m just glad it happened! Rob’s world is expanding!

  2. Thank you for the insightful analysis of two of my favorite sci-fi franchises. I love both of them, but, if you held a gun to my head, I’d probably choose Doctor Who over Star Trek as my favorite, which is odd given that I’d probably fit better into the Star Trek universe. Your discussion of the cultural influences behind the two series may have shed some light on my preference. Though I’m an American, my mother was born in England, and my childhood was steeped in British culture (bubble and squeak, anyone?). Perhaps, Doctor Who just resonates more with the family culture of my youth.

    I also thought of another possible Star Trek-Doctor Who dichotomy, proactive vs reactive. The Enterprise crew often learns about a problem on another planet, and intentionally travels there to offer assistance. On the other hand, the Doctor just stumbles into situations to which he has to react. I haven’t fully thought this through, but I suspect it is strongly correlated with some of the other dichotomies you discussed, like exploration vs discovery and professional vs amateur. To be fair, many great Star Trek episodes involve characters reacting to unexpected situations, and the Doctor occasionally enacts a more long term strategy (his trap for the Daleks in Remembrance of the Daleks comes to mind), but I think this idea generally holds true.

  3. Wow!! What an amazing conversation!! Two of my all-time favorite franchises! I’ve dedicated countless hours of my life to both Doctor Who and Star Trek; it was a joy to hear both celebrated and analyzed.

    And well done Siskoid and Cory!! So many insightful comments. While I feel I qualify as an expert on Doctor Who, and fairly knowledgeable about Star Trek, y’all were having deep philosophical discussions I never considered before. Thoroughly enjoyable listening!

    A couple thoughts worth adding…
    1) The show’s formulas are often quite the same. I know that was implied in the discussion, but I’m not sure it was ever outright said. Regardless of the fact that the Enterprise is on a mission, and the TARDIS is often guided randomly, the basic premise is often the same. Our heroes arrive; there is a mystery the heroes have to investigate; they use their intelligence to get to the bottom of the situation and develop a resolution; heroes win and leave behind the society to adapt to the changes left in the wake of our heroes.
    2) Kirk is much more like the classic Doctor Who model than Picard. Kirk’s cowboy antics and wiliness to “fix” societies that went wrong is much more like the Doctor. Picard’s tactics are driven more by the latter-day Roddenberry ideals you mentioned.

    And one minor correction. Siskoid mentioned the upcoming STAR TREK DISCOVERY novel being written by “Kabuki’s David Mack”. Actually, there are two gentlemen named David Mack in our geek writer circles. One writes comics, the other writes Star Trek novels. They are actually two different guys.

    Seriously, this was an AMAZING episode! It was so on-target with my passions, it feels like it was directly recorded for me. On behalf of me, THANK YOU!

  4. I think this is the best Star Trek podcast going. Like Shag, I’m such a fan of both Trek and Who, I couldn’t be more Sybok about this!

  5. I find it interesting that there was no mention of C. S. Forester. A Brit born in Egypt who wrote about a British navel officer during the Napoleonic war (Hornblower) while living in the States. Horatio Hornblower was the basis of both Kirk and Picard. You know pulling the two places together

  6. I expected more brawlin’ from the versus in the title, and was ready to offer a jab I’d occasionally throw at my brother: Classic Who was more realistic than Trek TOS — the Enterprise crew was falling into a new life or death adventure every week, but with the serialized nature of Who, the TARDIS was only doing it about once a month!

    I picked up on TNG:”A Matter of Time” the first time I saw it. It was about the 51st time watching TOS:”The Alternative Factor” that I began wondering about Lazarus, the anti-Lazarus, and their one-man space/time ship. Who wasn’t available in the US back then, but maybe someone saw it from Canada? I’d probably write it off as coincidence; Lost in Space had been building small, one-man spaceships that were easy to move around the set or on location, and the one-man time machine might be called the standard, going all the way back to H.G. Wells.

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