1. How do you think the quality of writing of fan fic compares to proper canon?
In most fandoms I'm aware of, the best fanfic exceeds the quality of the canon (even at its very best, in most cases), but at the same time it is dependent on that canon for its existence. It's all well and good writing something that explores and expands the characterisation of Third Terileptil From The Right in ways that magically make sense of the nonsense the creators bashed out 'cos they were on a deadline, but the desire to do that in the first place (and the desire of anyone else to read it) is an inherently fannish thing. (I definitely see fanfic and original fic as more divergent than some people do. Not just the writing, but the entire culture around it is vastly different.)
Having said that the best fanfic is wonderful, the vast majority of it is awful. Really, truly, abysmally awful. It's easy to forget once you're embedded in the good parts of fandom and are staying away from the big places like fanfiction.net or even the larger LJ comms, and reading authors you trust to be good and using recs and all that sort of thing, but the vast majority of fanfic is just unreadable drivel that looks more like keymashing than a story. Of the stuff that at least achieves a baseline level of readability, most of that fails in terms of fitting into the canon somewhere or another (usually characterisation, but sometimes just having a take on the source material that's way off base), or just lacks pizzazz in its prose or whatever. I think I have mentioned this belief before, but I'm convinced there's a double Sturgeon's Law: 90% of fanfic is utterly unreadably crap, and 90% of the remaining 10% is just the usual sort of crap. The remaining 1% is what I'm talking about in the previous paragraph, and there's lots of it out there, but it's dwarfed by the bad stuff when looked at in the round.
That said, an awful lot of canon is also really, really bad. I have this weird fascination with bad TV. I can sort of understand how a bad bit of written fiction gets made -- it's basically one person who might go off the rails (on the pro side, particularly if they've done well in the past and become Too Big To Edit, which I think is the true origin of the Brain Eater). But even the most two-bit TV show has dozens upon dozens of people working on various aspects of it and costs eye-watering sums of money to create, and I just sort of boggle at the way that things manage to get quite so bad as they do given that amount of input.
2. You like Buffy and that. What are your thoughts on Dollhouse?
The discussion of it online when S1 was airing in the US put me off watching it so much -- and in general I am very pro-Joss -- that I have resisted any urge to watch it, and I can't see that changing. Despite not having seen it, I have read enough about it to have formed some fairly strong opinions. The thing that puts me off it the most is that of the people who are defending it, even the ones who do so in ways that seem to me to be coming at things from a sensible-ish point of view still end up describing something that sounds desperately unappealing to me. And I can't help but see Joss as having fallen victim to the mindset that what he's doing is intrinsically good, and he can cope with some Executive Meddling to achieve it, and doesn't see where the line is where that meddling removes what made it worth doing in the first place. The people who tout "Epitaph One" as redeeming it seem to miss the point that Fox decided not to bloody well show it.
And yes, I am bitter that it got renewed and SCC didn't.
3. Is this a particularly good period for Opportunity Knocks style shows (including celebrity variants), or is there just nothing else on?
On one level, there's anything but "nothing else on"; with the digital switchover rapidly approaching, even people like me who only get bogstandard free-to-air channels are living in the multichannel world. Any show that can draw an audience from a widespread demographic, let alone become watercooler TV, is doing ridiculously well. (On the other hand, there's a definite symbiotic relationship between this type of show and multichannel-ness because it's so cheap and easy to do all these spinoffs of them.)
I think the current crop comes from a blending of two traditions, though -- the sort of "reality" TV that diverged from fly-on-the-wall documentary ages ago now and, as the question says, talent shows, which disappeared for a bit after Stars In Their Eyes vanished into the aether, but are now back with a vengeance. The big difference between the new stuff and the likes of Big Brother is that there's some sort of point to it, somewhere along the line -- the thing that you win isn't just money, and/or there's at least some amount of skill involved in winning. It's not just "congratulations, you managed to live in the 1984 house and be the least unpopular one!".
On the talent show side, the big difference between the current crop and the previous iterations is all the backstage stuff. It feeds into modern celebrity culture's desire for (the illusion of) access. I think the X Factor side of things is more interesting as a cultural phenomenon this way, because there's this implicit bargain underpinning it that the audience gets to be in on the ground floor of whoever the eventual winners are becoming famous, and even gets to decide who will become famous (though I think the runners up often end up doing better than the official winners in the long run; can't be bothered to Google to check that, but it's a definite impression I have), as long as that same audience agrees that it will make them famous when they win. Whereas things like Strictly using existing slebs don't quite work the same way.
4. What was the first computer / video game you became heavily addicted to?
Probably Aqua Attack, which was a silly underwater-themed take on Space Invaders that was on the demo disk that came with the BBC Master we got when I was like 8 or something. There was fierce competition over the top spot in the high score table.
5. Have you regretted stepping up to mod Who Anon yet?
I didn't take it on with my eyes closed to the possible consequences, so I wouldn't say I regret it exactly, in the sense that there haven't been costs I didn't anticipate and decide were outweighed by the benefits. But there have certainly been things around it that have been unfortunate, and my fannish stress levels have definitely increased.
Speaking of things I might regret, it turns I am going to have four weeks in the second half of February/first half of March much more available for fannishness than I usually do, and I can't help but notice that if tardis_bigbang runs again I could sign up and write my first draft in that time in a mega-efficient and organised way, rather than leaving it to the last minute like I did this time, subjecting my long-suffering betas to much long suffering. 'Cos I've just proved to myself that I can just about write 20k words in a month with 666words so hrm. My main problem is not having a clear idea what I'd want to write about -- I do have a few ideas for longer fic percolating in the back of my brain, but they're all ones that I've discarded for one reason or another. (They're mostly variations on "New School Character X goes to Stockbridge; X/Izzy ensues", for some reason. I suppose I could attempt epic Izzy/Destrii; my main problem with being able to write that is that there's a lot to unpick in terms of making it work sensibly and I normally give up when it gets too complicated to fit in a short fic.) Has anyone got any suggestions for what I should write?