Confession #74: I Have a Vision

Jan
28

The last few days—since the full schedule got posted—I've been thinking ahead to this year's Gallifrey One, now a mere two(ish) weeks away. As usual, there are copious panels from which to choose; when deciding how to spend the weekend, one has to prioritize not only panels but meals, potty breaks, and time with friends. My first attempt at a tentative schedule is predictably bonkers, and I've found myself trying to decide whether or not the effort to get from panel to panel is worthwhile based on what is likely to be said (or not) in each.

There's one panel in particular that intrigues me, though probably not enough to pull me away from my usual "park myself in Program A most of Sunday" tradition. Because I won't be there to hear how the panelists approach the topic, then, I decided to share my own perspective now. So what's sparked my latest round of thinky thoughts? It's a panel called "The Missing Companion."

This panel has us looking to the future of the show. What will upcoming Companions have to offer? How will they be similar to or different from past Companions? What kinds of stories—in terms of who the Companions are and where (both geographically and philosophically) they come from—ought to be told? How would these Companions fit into how Doctor Who has been or "should" be (depending on individual visions) presented?

Not knowing any of the scheduled panelists personally (and only one or two by reputation/podcast), I have no idea what direction their discussion will take. If I were a panelist, though, I'd probably start by sharing what kinds of people I'd like to see in the TARDIS.

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Confession #73: I Think Callbacks Are Good

Jan
21

One of the delights of Doctor Who (or irritations, depending on how you feel about a particular one) is recurring characters. The tradition began decades ago, primarily out of necessity when the production team decided to take the show in a new direction and strand the Doctor on Earth. The team of humans at UNIT with whom he worked for the next several years became honorary TARDIS crew, even though most of them rarely (if ever) set foot inside the TARDIS.

To this day, Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (usually simply called "the Brigadier") is remembered fondly—so much so that his daughter Kate Stewart has followed in her father's footsteps and become a quasi-regular on the show in her own right. If Nicholas Courtney were still alive, it's a sure bet they'd be trying to find a way to get him a guest spot.

Since the show's return in 2005, others have wormed their way into fandom's collective hearts. Regardless of how you might personally feel about either of them, it's hard to deny that Capt. Jack Harkness and River Song each have a large following. River has appeared in a whole series' worth of episodes (thirteen of them) over the years, and though Jack only appeared in eleven episodes of Who, he also got three (or four, depending on how you count) series of his own show.

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Confession #72: I Don't Know What's Next

Jan
14

I recently saw a link to an article by someone in an online Who community of which I'm a member discussing his hopes for the upcoming Series Nine (which I understand began filming last week). Although I like to support other Whovians in their creative outlets, as many have supported me by reading what I write here, I will admit that I didn't click through. Why not? Well, because right now I don't have the emotional energy to spend.

I don't know whether online spaces have become more combative in recent years, or I was just blissfully naïve when I began blogging (though my money's on the latter), but it has begun to feel like expressing an opinion online is tantamount to taking one's life in one's hands. Heaven forfend that a blogger or podcaster say something that the larger community (or even a particular, vocal subset of that community) disagrees with—the torches and pitchforks won't be far behind.

Now this works both ways on any given opinion, depending on the space in question. For example, you can easily find vehement opposition to either side of the "Moffat's a misogynist / Moffat writes totally awesome strong women" debate. Similarly any of a gazillion other questions: there should be a female Doctor / the Doctor should never be a woman; Danny Pink was awesome / terrible; Nu-Who is nowhere near as good as the good ol' days / Classic Who is unwatchable; etc.

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Starting Fresh

Jan
07

Review of The Marian Conspiracy (#6)
Big Finish Release Date: March 2000
Doctor/Companion: Six and Evelyn Smythe
Stars: Colin Baker and Maggie Stables
Preceding Story: The Fearmonger (Seven, Ace)
Succeeding Story: The Genocide Machine (Seven, Ace)

Apparently I just needed to start in the right spot.

After my last experience with a Big Finish audio adventure, I was a little reluctant to dip my toe back into the pool. Although previous forays had been enjoyable, I didn't get as much out of my first Sixth Doctor story as I'd hoped. (Actually, it was only the first full-length one; I've heard a couple of shorts in which Six teams up with Jago & Litefoot.) I wanted to be as enthusiastic about Six's adventures as I'd been about Eight's, but something just didn't quite click.

Good thing I persevered.

Having come into the middle of Evelyn's travels with the Doctor in The Apocalypse Element, I didn't quite "get" their relationship. Starting at its beginning, though, I was immediately charmed by Evelyn's manner with him, and her refusal to take any of his shit. As a 55-year-old woman, she's well established in her life as a history professor and knows her own mind. She has no need to feel in awe of him, as so many of his (especially younger) Companions have initially been. The more mature give and take between them makes for a refreshing change of pace—not least because it shows him not to be the brusque boor he often was in the televised stories.

The particular shape of their initial adventure together didn't hurt matters, either. When the Doctor discovers that Evelyn herself is at the temporal nexus he's been tracking, leading to some Back to the Future-style fading from existence, and realizes he needs to head back to Tudor England to unravel the puzzle, she invites herself along for the ride. After all, how can a historian resist a trip in a time machine?

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Can Every Christmas Be "Last Christmas"?

Dec
31

Review of Last Christmas
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

Santa Claus has absolutely no place in Doctor Who. Except when he does.

I will freely admit that I was among those fans who cringed and gnashed teeth when Santa showed up in the TARDIS at the end of Death in Heaven. The whole idea that this mythical (if well-beloved) person should exist as an entity as real as the Doctor himself within the Whoniverse just gave me hives.

The comedy-rich pre-credits sequence was, thus, painful to watch (though I do love to see Dan Starkey wearing his own face for a change). And on first viewing, Clara's declaration that she does indeed believe in Santa Claus just adds the cherry to the top of the whole saccharine mess.

After one knows how it all pans out, though... Well, it all fits together nicely.

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