Dale L. Skran Jr. declares in his guest editorial for The MT Void #1720 that it’s time to end Doctor Who’s dominance of the Best Dramatic – Short Form Hugo:
The 2012 Hugo awards have just been announced, and the DOCTOR WHO Episode “The Doctor’s Wife” won Best DOCTOR WHO Episode of the Year. The 2nd place was taken by “The Girl Who Waited,” and the 3rd place by “A Good Man Goes to War,” also a DOCTOR WHO episodes. This Hugo was once given to non-DOCTOR WHO dramatic presentations, but since this has not happened in a while, the term “Short Form Hugo” will no longer be used, and instead was replaced by “Best DOCTOR WHO Episode of the Year.” …
It is too painful to continue. I submit to you that DOCTOR WHO was *not* the best SF TV show during the entire period from 2006 to 2012 with the exception of one program produced by this Whedon, who has the unfair advantage of being very talented and inventive.
Mark Leeper counters with some interesting points in his follow-up editorial:
You cannot determine quality democratically. You can only determine popularity by a vote. It is a misinterpretation of the Hugo to assume that the voting picks the best nominee. It chooses which nominee has delivered the most pleasure. And in theory that really can be DOCTOR WHO year after year.
Skran wants to redefine the category to cover series instead of individual episodes: at least that way Doctor Who can’t take up more than one slot on the ballot.
I remember when suggesting that a budget-minded, tongue-in-cheek British TV series, seen in North America mainly in the afternoon when there was no adult audience, could win Hugo after Hugo would have resulting in being laughed out of the room. Yet… here we are. Of course, it’s not so budget-minded anymore, and I suppose its debatable how tongue-in-cheek Dr. Who is these days, but it still croggles the mind that it would be considered the best that the visual media could deliver in both long and short categories.
Why did Red Dwarf never win a Hugo, speaking of cheaply produced British TV series that were tongue-in-cheek? If I had to offer a reason, I’d probably guess it was because it never had a big enough American audience. But maybe also because it was an outright satire — SF fans *do* have a sense of humour along with the sensa wonder, but I’ve noticed that they prefer their SF with a straight face usually.
I would say that the one of the primary reasons that Red Dwarf never won a Hugo is that its initial run ended in 1999 and the Short-Form Dramatic Presentation Hugo was first awarded in 2003.
Good point. It’s interesting how things have played out in this category. A lot of the impetus for creating it came from admirers of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which did win in 2003. But the nominated episode from Buffy’s final season, 2004, failed to beat Gollum’s Acceptance Speech.
After that Battlestar Galactica broke through one year (2005). Joss Whedon got another win for Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2009). Doctor Who has won the rest (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Best Dramatic Short Form is a Hugo category with high participation (in contrast to, say, the fan categories). And since Doctor Who is on cable, it’s arguably handicapped by being not quite as accessible as potential nominees on network television. So it’s hard for me to find fault with the category just because the voters keep giving Hugos to Doctor Who.
Currently, the Cable universe is roughly 91% of all Television households. BBC America is in roughly 50% of all cable homes, but it’s also estimated to be one of the most downloaded TV series in the world, so there’s that, and the fact that it’s on regular network TV in the UK and Canada.
And any attempt to redefine this as “series” would IMO lead to the deletion of the category entirely, since there really aren’t enough series to justify it. But that of course would make many people happy, and anyone making the proposal would discover that they had unlikely allies in the form of people who hate dramatic presentation Hugo Awards as a concept and would support this as the first step toward getting rid of all the DP categories entirely.
I can’t see putting TV episodes back into the same category with full length movies… And ridding the Hugo of media categories altogether seems draconic, to say the least, especially if the modern, with-it, computer-age fan views more than he reads.
It’s probably a quite a bit premature to say that, however. But those who want to “grow” the Worldcon to SDC or Dragoncon scale are not going to be in favour of disenfranchising their focus market.
In many U. S. cities BBC America is only available as part of an extra-cost package, and now with either Basic or Extended Basic services. I’ve a friend who’s a Whofan from way back who can’t watch it because he can’t afford the overpriced extra cable service. The only reason I have cable is that Paul Allen owns Charter Communications and uses some of the profits to build spaceships. I use Amazon.com only because Jeff Bezos is doing the same thing, building spaceships with his profits.
In many U. S. cities BBC America is only available as part of an extra-cost package, and not with either Basic or Extended Basic services. I’ve a friend who’s a Whofan from way back who can’t watch it because he can’t afford the overpriced extra cable service. The only reason I have cable is that Paul Allen owns Charter Communications and uses some of the profits to build spaceships. I use Amazon.com only because Jeff Bezos is doing the same thing, building spaceships with his profits.
I think part of it is the overall move US and UK TV has made away from standalone episodes and toward story arcs. Page 23 of this year’s Hugo report (PDF) shows that there would have been 2 episodes of Game of Thrones up against only 2 episodes of Doctor Who if Game of Thrones hadn’t also been nominated under BDP Long Form. If enough of anime fandom were voting to get some anime on the ballot, all the likely candidates would belong in Long Form.