Confession #91: I Believe in Canon

Jul
29

I don't understand other people's brains.

For the most part, I think I do pretty well; after all, as a fiction writer I regularly practice putting myself in different characters' headspaces, actively working to expand my empathy. But I'll admit that I still fall prey to the human tendency to believe everyone else basically thinks like I do at the core, just with different likes, dislikes and preferences. Then every once in a while, I get a sharp reminder that it's not true.

Take the case of the social media comment called to my attention this week. I won't go into great detail, but the thrust of the point (aside from some juvenile name-calling and derailment) was that in this fan's opinion, Capaldi wasn't worthy of the mantle of Doctor, and therefore didn't "count" in their mind.

Usually I'm glad to agree that there's no such thing as canon in the Whoniverse. Even within the thirty-four televised seasons, there are so many self-contradictory ideas that each fan pretty much has to decide for themselves what they want to believe when an inconsistency crops up.

Then there are the media that spanned The Wilderness Years: novels and audios and comics, each with their own cast of regular characters, key in-universe events, and die-hard fans. When no one thought the show would ever return to television, the franchise understandably took a new direction, and a great many fans went along for the ride. Who is to say the stories they hold near and dear can't be canon?

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Confession #90: I've Underrated Martha

Jul
22

Martha Jones came on the scene at an awkward time—awkward for me, that is. The way I was introduced to the show, I had zero time to process the loss of my first Companion before another was thrust upon me, and I was not ready to move on. Sort of like the Doctor, then, I didn't really give her a fair shake. She didn't get the affection and respect from me that the character really deserved.

As I look back on her time in the TARDIS, though, I realize that I really have given Martha short shrift. Just by being there, by taking up space on screen and refusing to be shoved aside, she did more for representation of diversity than anyone else in the show's history.

It's not just her existence as a black Companion that makes her significant (and a better character than I've been able to internalize before); she has some brilliant moments that turn the old, comfortable "standard operating procedure" on its ear.

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Thrown for a Loup

Jul
15

Review of Loups-Garoux (#20)
Big Finish Release Date: May 2001
Doctor/Companion: Five and Turlough
Stars: Peter Davison and Mark Strickson
Preceding Story: Minuet in Hell (Eight, Charley, the Brigadier)
Succeeding Story: Dust Breeding (Seven, Ace)

It's not often that Doctor Who tackles widely familiar fantastical creatures (e.g., vampires), but when it does, it doesn't shy from calling out the popular mythos. That's part of why Loups-Garoux works as well as it does.

For me, it was my tabletop RPG background that clued me in, but those who know French will also have a good idea what they're in for the first time they look at the title of this adventure. In that sense, there was nothing surprising in the story. For the most part, it rolled out about as I expected: the Doctor and Turlough find themselves embroiled in a crisis among a group of werewolves in and around Rio de Janeiro in 2080.

While the Doctor identifies the werewolves' condition with a quasi-scientific name, and not everything they do matches with legend, there's no doubt that these are the traditional werewolves we expect from literature. They are pack animals whose behavior is strongly influenced by the lupine side of their nature, silver harms them, and they are long-lived. For fans of werewolf stories, then, this audio adventure is a win.

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Confession #89: I Like Obscure Species

Jul
08

It's fairly safe to say that anyone who calls themselves a fan of Doctor Who knows about Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels. Most have probably at least heard of Sontarans, Autons, the Ood, and the Silents, too. But with a series history over fifty years long, there have been a vast number of species introduced, of which many only make brief appearances. For most of them, one would likely have to watch multiple times even to catch their names.

Creatures of various ilk are a hallmark of the show, and one can't help but speculate that writers sit around trying to out-weird each other with their creations. Sometimes there's probably a hope in the back (or even forefront, in a few documented cases) of their minds that their new monster will be the next big hit, the next Daleks.

Mostly, though, these aliens are simply the means to an end—a way to tell the best story the writer knows how to tell at that moment. They serve one particular purpose, and then they're never seen again. It's some of these obscure species that I find charmingly bizarre.

Take, for example, the Chumblies (from Galaxy 4).

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Confession #88: I See History Happening

Jul
01

I don't know about you, but I usually enjoy those little moments when the Doctor talks about (what is to us) historical Earth and gives his own interpretation of the significance of the culture or event in question. Granted, the focus is usually weighted rather heavily toward Western history and cultures in centuries past and British history for more recent events, but it's still fun to try to put oneself in the place of a member of an alien species, and imagine how he might interpret it all differently.

What do you suppose the Doctor thinks about the current era?

I know he never says much about American history, but it's been a remarkably newsworthy couple of weeks here in the States. With both advances and setbacks, I've had a familiar feeling recently; the same feeling I had on the morning of 11 Sep 2011—the one that says, "we're watching history in the making."

For those who haven't seen the same news reports I have, here's what I'm talking about. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down some key rulings last week. Whether or not you agree with the Court's position, I don't t think anyone can successfully argue that these decisions are not important to the future direction of the country.

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