Best of 2014 Awards: The Winners (Part 3)
Connor Johnston presents the third set of results from DWTV’s annual awards.
It’s time to continue revealing the results of DWTV’s annual awards celebrating the best of Doctor Who in the last twelve months as voted for by you. Today the winners of Best Visual Effects, Best Music, Best Director and Best Writer.
Best Visual Effects – Flatline
Oh how far Doctor Who has come in terms of its effects since the early days of wobbly, foam sets and papier-mâché monsters! Even just the dramatic strengthening of VFX from the rubber faces of 2005’s “The End of World” is enough to impress, and it’s no secret that the stunning visuals effects of 2014’s episodes have been for many some of the most remarkably striking examples in Who history.
Opening the year with an extraordinary CGI dinosaur (more than worthy of the cinematic release the episode scored), fans were constantly treated to sequences that both brought people’s imaginations alive and impressed the more visually critical among us. From the crisp and tantalising opening sequence of “Into the Dalek”, the horrific monster appearances in “Mummy on the Orient Express” to the scale achieved in “In the Forest of the Night” – there was no shortage of ‘out of this world’ imagery. However all runners-up fell unsurprisingly to the cinema-level visual effects of “Flatline,” winning with 40.38% of the vote.
It’s quite curious for an episode like Flatline to win in a category for Visual Effects especially when taking into consideration most of their win can be attributed to the realisation of the Boneless, when historically monsters represented purely by effects aren’t usually praised. When examples like Cassandra, the Reapers, Krillitanes and the Krafayis come up in conversation, while respected for different reasons the words, “VFX masterpiece” don’t usually come to mind.
What made the Boneless different was how impeccably fresh and menacing their realisation was. Not the mention how key the effects are to a monster whose premise depends on them. When they take a more three-dimensional form, the Boneless themselves are horrific monsters, soulless and hideous distortions of the human body – in all honesty they can be described as a work of art. Of course credit must also be awarded to the hilariously fantastic effects of both the mini-Capaldi Doctor and “The Addams Family” moment. All in all, a visual victory for a visually stunning episode.
Best Music – Mummy on the Orient Express
How is it possible that after almost 10 years, Murray Gold continues to go from strength to strength, triumphantly bettering his work each series? Series 8 saw Gold take a very different approach to the show’s score, through the trend of valuing silence in the most climactic of scenes and the overwhelming (in a good way) rush of energy in the more active, adventurous moments. Gold’s score is instrumental to building the tone and pace of the show, and with such an impressive folio of work at his disposal this year there is no doubt the Series 8 soundtrack will be one of the most sought after releases to date! (Do hurry up, SilvaScreen!)
This year, due to the unfortunate factor of the soundtrack’s release and official tracklist still remaining unknown, instead of voting for individual tracks we were asked instead to elect the most successful episode by drawing focus specifically to the score. Despite incredibly strong competition by “Death in Heaven” which featured the triumphant and definitive Twelfth Doctor’s theme, the victory is by the smallest of margins attributed to the spectacular and rhythmic “Mummy on the Orient Express” with 22.87% of the vote.
There’s no doubt that one of the main contributing factors to Mummy’s victory in this category is of course the inclusion of Foxes performing onscreen as an in-carriage singer. There’s a perfect level of class and cheek to the way Foxes performs, and her jazz rendition of Queen’s legendary “Don’t Stop Me Now” is no exception to this. It’s a quirky take on a classic (an apt description of Doctor Who if I ever saw one!) and can be symbolic of so many different things! The Orient Express’s urgency? The Doctor’s travels? The Doctor and Clara’s relationship? The impeccable Series 8 itself? The choice to limit to the song’s involvement in the episode and then further go on to highlight it in its own music video featuring Series 8 clips accompanying it is genius – but far from the only reason to the episode’s win.
The instrumental suite of the episode is in no understatement: magnificent. Between the exotic yet eerie “66 seconds” or the yearning and heartbreaking variation of Clara’s theme leading into the conquering and triumphant crescendo at the end of the episode when Clara and the Doctor for only the 735th time join forces once more.
Best Director – Douglas Mackinnon
The direction of Doctor Who has always been quite a tricky subject to tackle. For many, it’s an art that’s cruelly under-appreciated. However every once in a while there are a few individuals whose work is so prominent in an episode success – credit in the public eye is fairly attributed. Individuals like Nick Hurran, Graeme Harper, Euros Lyn, Alice Troughton and Saul Metzstein have each stood out in their field and among the Whoniverse, though for the first time in a long time it seems that almost every contributor this year stands out in their own way and in turn illustrates how the craft is finally achieving the recognition it deserves.
The talent this year was in no way mundane, between the horror of Ben Wheatley, the impeccable comic timing of Paul Murphy, the breathtaking scale of Sheree Folkson, the edge of Paul Wilmshurst and the crescendo of Rachel Talalay, voters have been spoilt for choice for notable individuals to earn their affection in the polls this year. However, once again it seems like one choice has torn away from the pack and race away to victory; and that of course is the extraordinarily talented Douglas Mackinnon with 38.66% of the vote.
Mackinnon’s first case study for this year was the critically acclaimed “Listen” by Steven Moffat. While there may be not one clear directional highlight of the episode, there is instead a constant run of perfectly placed and visually appealing shots and sequences. He succeeds tremendously in translating the horror of Moffat’s ideas and writing into real, spine tingling visuals, achieving the perfect balance between the sharpness of horror movies and the mystery of Doctor Who.
The director then immediately strengthens his case the following week with the visually stunning aspects of “Time Heist”. The stylish and unique transitions are by far the directional highlight. An incredible risk investing so much of the story’s charm and spark into something as mundane as scene transitions really works in his favour showcasing a certain flare to his style of directing that has been somewhat dimmed during his previous Who credits. The finished product is sharp, crisp and risky – and quite possibly could have earned Mackinnon this prize today as a sole contender among the rest of the series.
“Flatline” was the last, but in no ways least contribution to Mackinnon’s portfolio this year, and once again it’s the impressively unnerving realisation of the threat – this instant the Boneless, that truly is more than enough to separate Mackinnon’s work from the crowd.
Best Writer – Jamie Mathieson
Series 8’s writing line up is something I can only marvel at. There’s no doubting writing for a version of a character that you’ve never had any experience in viewing in action is a daunting challenge, but a challenge nonetheless that our 8 writers met with expertise and enthusiasm delivering in my mind 13 extraordinary adventure, each at least at the very minimum having a multitude of saving qualities – and more than most rightfully being regarded as some of the best episodes ever made.
Variety is what was rich in the 2014 line-up, and from stories involving time travel twists to episodes excelling in character driven plots there was at least something to please everyone this past year. It’s very obvious looking at the schedule for the series that is was ordered and divided by the list of writers. Episodes 1 through to 6 were all primarily ‘safe’ territory, by which I mean all writers in that category of episodes were quite familiar in writing Doctor Who and best suited in introducing a brand new Doctor to a trusting audience.
Come Episodes 7-10 and we have the experimental, more riskier selection of writers both new to the show and to the Doctor with more stranger and divisive storylines to truly separate and self-define Series 8 before the intense and climactic final 3 episodes of the year. Keeping these hypothetical 3 sections in mind, it seems that some of the riskier moves have paid off with newcomer Jamie Mathieson scoring 50.29% of the vote and taking the top prize today.
Mark the date in your calendars everybody for today marks the first day any writer, let alone a newcomer, has taken the top prize in the category away from the Majestic Moff himself (even if it is only by a small margin). It truly is a credit to Mathieson and both his stories to be able to pull off such a feat in his first year of Doctor Who in beating not only one, but 7 other writers held in such high regard by much of the fan base. In reality can be attributed to a number of things:
MOTOE saw the Twelfth Doctor take on a more dominating role of authority than the series had seen at that point so far. Between the banter, the lies, the manipulation and the heroism there was no faulting his characterisation of the Doctor which of course continued impeccably into Flatline. His second episode saw an equal amount of justice go the way of Clara when circumstances saw her frightened and overwhelmed – but channelling the bravery, courage and even the detachment of her mentor, she manages to rise above it and hold her own weight as the clear leader of the group desperate to survive. It is without a doubt one of the characters best moments at the hand of Mathieson.
Original, Dominating Threats
Judging by both their success in the polls, there’s no doubting how well received and highly regarded both the Foretold and the Boneless have become among the Whoniverse, earning their respected place in the mythology of the show. Both threats as well as the villainous ‘Gus,’ whose potential still remains open, have a solid threatening presence both on and off the screen, making for well-paced plots easy to invest in and be overwhelmed by.
Between a magnificent train roaming around space and … Bristol, there is no lack of variety to the settings Mathieson wrote both his episodes in. He’s one of the few writers I’ve found to so far always give his atmosphere a personality and a solid role in the plot of his episodes, and it is undoubtedly one of the winning ingredients to how well received both his contributions were.
No Weak Roles
I’ve already mentioned the writer’s immense talent for characterisation of our main roles, but mention must also go to his envied ability to create his own realistic and fleshed out characters. There’s no doubting the genius behind major roles like Perkins, Maisie, Rigsy and Fenton – but what is commendable about Mathieson is that even his minor roles feel substantial in their own right shown by the examples of PC Forrest, George, Captain Quell and Professor Moorhouse. There are no forgettable or weak roles. An ability unfortunately not found in some other episodes of the series.
These, among many other reasons stand as to why Mr. Jamie M is quite rightfully one of the best things to happen to Who in 2014, and why I for one cannot do anything but sing for repeated returns.
Join us tomorrow for the final batch of results before a full in-depth breakdown of the runners up on Friday.