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Doctor Who – Expanded Universe (Franchise)

 Doctor Who – Expanded Universe (Franchise)
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Doctor Who – Expanded Universe (Franchise)
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In late 1963 we had Doctor Who, the series which spawned the Whoniverse. Then in 1964, in the pages of TV Comic, a Doctor Who spin-off comic started. It was the first part of what would become the Doctor Who Expanded Universe: a never-ending supply of stories with many different branches, timelines and continuities, which have a strong tendency to reference each other and mutually contradict each other in the same breath.Expanded Universe series in general, and those without the Doctor in particular, tend to be Darker and Edgier and skew more towards the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism than their parent series. The different Sarah Jane spin-offs serve as an example in how you can spin off the same character in different ways, using different tropes and for different audiences: the Third Doctor Radio Dramas have her as a Damsel in Distress; The Sarah Jane Adventures and K-9 and Company are notably fluffy and sweet (with still pretty dark themes for children's television of their respective times); the semi-professional direct-to-video fanmade production Downtime tackled a few more serious issues; the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adaptation series Sarah Jane Smith is dark, mature and complex. propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_content_2'); }); The Perennially Thorny Question of Doctor Who CanonThe Expanded Universe has branched in diverse ways into separate fully licensed and semi-official sub-continuities, divided (in some cases) by copyright restrictions. This is further complicated by the fact that no one person or company, including the BBC, owns all the rights to the monsters and characters which have appeared in the Whoniverse - the Doctor and the TARDIS are pretty much the only elements undeniably locked up by the BBC. Sometimes the varying strands acknowledge each other, sometimes they ignore each other, Depending on the Writer. Just how strongly linked any given series is to the TV series is debatable and can be very, very complicated. Unlike, for example, Paramount and Star Trek or Lucasfilm/Disney and Star Wars the BBC has never come out and made a direct edict as to what is canonical and what isn't - as Paul Cornell wrote about here, they have no interest in doing so (and BBC executives have no interest in fannish conceptions like "canon" anywaynote And as Paul noted, as famous sticklers for grammar they'd object to people using "canon" as an adjective when it should be "canonical", too!). The main limitation is that the BBC charter, as a public broadcaster, means that you must not be required to spend money to "complete the story", which the two DW showrunners have treated as meaning no viewer should be required to know a story outside the TV series or more than a few years old to understand this week's episode. Revived series Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat have both ridiculed the idea of the (novels/audios/comics) not "counting". This is helped along by the fact that (unlike Star Trek, say) Doctor Who writers are rarely limited to one particular medium. TV writers have gone on to write novels or comics or for Big Finish and vice versa. Many writers have taken the characters they created and own into their own spinoffs with little or no mention of their common TARDIS-shaped ancestor.Since the return of the TV series, ideas from a diverse range of audio dramas, novels, and licensed DTV videos have all been referenced, alluded to, directly imported (most notably Kate Stewart) and in some rare cases directly adaptednote Amusingly, the only direct, unambiguous adaptation of an old story to TV is Paul Cornell's own "Human Nature" in TV series episodes. And many Expanded Universe stories and characters are adapted into other Expanded Universe stories and characters, which are then adapted for TV, which then spin off into more Expanded Universe stories... you get the idea. The Timey-Wimey Ball, Broad Strokes and especially the MST3K Mantra apply where necessary.The "wilderness years" also spawned numerous Fan Work stories, typically involving the then-cancelled TV series' actors and crew in some way. These include the Doctor Who Audio Visuals (many of those involved became the nucleus of the official Big Finish production studio) and various BBV productions (which blurred the lined between "official" and "fan" work, as the concepts were legally licenced from the rights holders). The people responsible for these Fan Work productions ended up directly involved in Doctor Who proper, and many of the concepts became Ascended Fanon.In short: the Doctor Who Expanded Universe is a never-ending rabbit hole of stories. It's all tangled and full of Broad Strokes, and those who expect consistency, or even, in some cases, sanity, are in for a confusing ride. But the sheer importance and impact of the Expanded Universe to the TV series proper is tremendous: numerous post-2005 Whoniverse writers (and quite a few actors) got their start in Doctor Who in its expanded universe, and everyone involved with the current TV show has been heavily influenced by the EU's stories. In the years since the 50th Anniversary, the production team at the BBC have even aided the slow erasure of the boundaries between the "old" and "new" series, so that, for instance, Series 5 of Torchwood is produced by Big Finish, and Benny Summerfield can meet the Twelfth Doctor.
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2018-10-10T12:50:22Z
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2020-06-25T17:21:40Z
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