Confession #120: I Love a Retrospective

Apr
11

My kids had spring break last week. We spent some lovely time with family members whom we don't get to see often enough, and returned home with a couple of spare days to laze around the house. The girls and I have been making our way through modern Who together over the past few months, and before we headed out of town, had reached the end of Tennant's run. Although they were resigned to the change, they were (much like their mom at that stage) not really ready to move on.

However, with several more days of spring break stretched out in front of us, and the Smith era just waiting there invitingly, the girls decided to dive in. They grudgingly agreed to give this not-Tennant guy a try, knowing that eventually we'd roll back around to Capaldi (remember that they started modern Who by watching Series Ten), but they weren't harboring any high hopes.

We started on Wednesday the 4th with The Eleventh Hour (S05E01, a day late for the eighth anniversary of its first broadcast) and binge-watched nearly two full series, finishing The Girl Who Waited (S06E10) by Sunday the 8th. That's twenty-four episodes in the span of five days—a serious feat, if I do say so myself. Somewhere in the middle they reached the fourth of the five stages of the Whovian's regeneration cycle (counting "Regeneration" as the first), though I don't know that they necessarily rank Eleven as their favorite. Still, they're on board with him being the Doctor, and they adore Amy, Rory, and River. Result!

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It's the Pits

Mar
28

Review of The Creature from the Pit (#106)
DVD Release Date: 07 Sep 10
Original Air Date: 22 Oct - 17 Nov 1979
Doctors/Companions: Four, Romana II
Stars: Tom Baker, Lalla Ward
Preceding Story: City of Death (Four, Romana II)
Succeeding Story: Nightmare of Eden (Four, Romana II)

Looking over my spreadsheet of Classic stories I have yet to review, I can see that I've made some progress over the last seven-plus years. However, there are still a couple of Doctors whose runs are, proportionately speaking, underrepresented. So how do I choose which stories from those eras to review in the coming months?

I decided to go with a theme of Bad Reputations.

It was surprisingly easy to make suitable selections. You see, a person naturally gravitates towards the stories she likes when she has a choice of which ones to talk about. After all, if you have to watch something again to refresh your memory, it's no surprise the enjoyable ones rise to the top of the list. This far into the game, then, there are going to be a fair number of clunkers left. And since Verity! podcast last week released their interview with Lalla Ward from last November's LI Who, one of the stories discussed therein—Lalla's first one on set—seemed a perfect place to start.

The Creature from the Pit (TCftP) has a well-deserved reputation. It is, hard as it tries, a hot mess from start to finish. K-9's voice is wrong (David Brierley voiced him for this single season instead of John Leeson); the folks on Chloris, the planet where the story is set, have precious little imagination ("We call it 'the Pit'" and "We call it 'the Creature'" are among the more scintillating lines of dialog...); and the plot ranges from poorly considered to straight up non-sensical. And all that says nothing of the Creature itself.

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Confession #119: I Love Sharing Who With My Kids

Mar
14

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of binge-watching Doctor Who with two members of the Target Market™. My daughters, who became fans by watching Twelve and Bill and later fell in love with Seven and Ace, have been getting up-to-speed on the modern storyline. It's been a richly rewarding experience for me to watch them watch Who.

They liked Nine and Rose (especially Rose), and weren't so sure about this weird-looking replacement guy. Pretty soon, though, they were fully invested in Ten and Rose (especially Rose). When Doomsday rolled around, there was ugly crying—which, I have to admit, they come by naturally; that was pretty much me ten years ago, when I first saw it. RTD did his job well, ripping out their hearts. They just weren't quite ready for a new Companion.

But then they got to know Martha, and let's be honest—she's actually pretty damn awesome. Soon they were just as attached to her as they'd been to Rose (or very nearly). And when we got to Blink—well. Let's just say all of their reactions were exactly what I imagine the production team envisioned with wicked glee as they wrote (Moffat) and created (RTD) the episode.

As the Series Three finale approached, the girls got nervous. How would Martha's time with the Doctor end? They'd been burned before. One girl wanted me to tell her before we went any further; the other was in favor of a just-watch-and-see-how-it-plays-out approach (let no one ever tell you that identical twins are "the same"). I told the former in private just enough to satisfy her: after bad stuff happens, Martha chooses to stop traveling with the Doctor. Hers is the best departure (from the characters' POV) of the modern era.

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Cirque du Docteur

Feb
28

Review of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (#152)
DVD Release Date: 05 Aug 08
Original Air Date: 14 Dec 1988 - 04 Jan 1989
Doctors/Companions: Seven, Ace
Stars: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred
Preceding Story: Silver Nemesis (Seven, Ace)
Succeeding Story: Battlefield (Seven, Ace, the Brigadier)

Usually in mid- to late February, I post a recap of my entire Gally experience for the year, complete with photos. This year I didn't have much in the way of shareable pictures, though, and I didn't want to let February slip away without including a monthly review.

It seemed appropriate, therefore, that I compromise by giving a nod to Gallifrey One 2018 by reviewing a serial that was relevant to the con. Since many of the cast and crew of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (TGSitG) were guests at Gally this year (including Sylvester McCoy [Seventh Doctor], Sophie Aldred [Ace], Jessica Martin [Mags], Dee Sadler [Flowerchild], Adrew Cartmel [script editor], Stephen Wyatt [writer], and Mark Ayers [composer]), it seemed a perfect choice.

I don't actually remember when I last watched TGSitG, but it has definitely been a number of years—enough so that my perspective on the setting seems to have changed significantly. I am fortunate to live in an area that has a circus school, and I've seen the students there perform some amazing feats over the last several years (including my own kids), so something that stuck out like a sore thumb this time around that I seem to have glossed over before is the nature of the "circus skills" the members of the Psychic Circus possess.

Bellboy tells Ace at one point that all the circus members had their own specialities, and that his was creating and repairing the robots that play such a prominent role (they are most of the background performers—clowns who tumble and ride unicycles). Flowerchild's "skill" was creating kites. What the hell sort of circus has robots and kites? A psychic one, I guess, but it threw me for a loop when it was stated outright that those were the things that allowed those folks to become an integral part of the circus.

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Gallifrey One: The 29 Voyages of Gallifrey One - Day Three

Feb
19

I always get surprised by how fast Gally is over on Sunday. Objectively, it's a shorter day, ending after Closing Ceremonies around 7pm instead of programming running into late night hours. But even knowing that and that LobbyCon will still be in full swing into the wee hours like every other night, I can never quite believe it's time to say goodbye to my friends for another year.

The day started off great, though, as I finally had the chance to spend time with my local friends. We had a lovely time together, and they got me back in plenty of time to go grab my badge and such and head down to the con floor.

Aside from snagging my last couple of autographs, my first event was a panel called Stories from the American Trenches [Panel: Ken Deep, Jan Fennick, Steven Warren Hill, Jennifer Adams Kelley, Shaun Lyon, Robert Warnock]. It covered both the production and contents of the book Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America. The main goal of the work is (I would say) to collect, clarify, and preserve stories and facts about fandom in the US, from the beginning until 2017. The result is a 700-page tome filled with treasures.

Although when specific experiences were discussed, they were pretty much those of the panelists and thus primarily from the perspective of those who came to the show as children in the Classic era, there is more in the book. I found myself having an odd reaction to the conversation, and realizing I fit in a really weird in-between space. I am of an age with those panelists, and have an innate cultural understanding of things like the public television pledge drives that were such a big part of American fandom in the 1980s—but my own fandom is only ten years old. That made for something of a surreal panel.

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