Confession #93: I Don't Believe in "Good Old Days"

Aug
26

In a recent online discussion about whether "Moffat detractors" are numerous or just loud, I saw someone posit that those fans "usually want RTD and Tennant back." After countering that assertion—and another that fans familiar with pre-Hiatus Who are more likely to like Moffat (what?)—with both my own experiences and the opinions of several of my friends (none of whom have ever suggested anything so absurd as to bring back a previous Doctor for regular episodes), I got to thinking about the human tendency to wax nostalgic about "the good old days."

Are the Good Old Days ever really as good as we remember?

I think fandom is much like parenthood (or any number of other experiences), in that once an era is well and truly in the rear-view mirror of our lives, it is far easier to remember the good parts than the bad (barring any truly traumatic moments). We look back on the episodes that made us fans and think, "nothing will ever be quite as good as it was when X was the Doctor," or "when Y was in charge," and pine for a time when everything was "as it should be."

Since it's only been about seven years since I came into the fold (as opposed to many of the folks my age, especially Brits, who have now been fans for nigh on forty years), I don't have the breadth of experience to speak to what it was like to be a fan during the pre-Hiatus/"Classic" era, but I can extrapolate from what I've read or been told by others.

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Miracle in the Desert

Aug
19

Review of The Eye of the Scorpion (#24)
Big Finish Release Date: Sep 2001
Doctor/Companion: Five and Peri
Stars: Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant
Preceding Story: Project: Twilight (Six, Evelyn)
Succeeding Story: Colditz (Seven, Ace)

Big Finish has achieved something I didn't think was possible: they made an entire story in which I didn't cringe at/actively dislike Peri. In fact, I was into Part Three before I realized that's what was happening. I guess y'all can officially add me to the list of folks who (at this moment) think she was better paired with the Fifth Doctor than the Sixth.

Aside from that amazing feat, The Eye of the Scorpion is in itself an enjoyable adventure. While in flight, the TARDIS inexplicably changes course. Upon review, it appears the Doctor is responsible, but he has no idea when or how he might have done so.

Soon they land in Egypt, circa 1400 BCE. In typical Doctor form, they accidentally ingratiate themselves with the yet-to-be-crowned Pharaoh, a young woman named Erimem (Caroline Morris). But the Doctor knows the names of all the Pharaohs—especially the female ones, who were few and far between—and hers is not a one he recognizes.

As is so often the case when the Doctor appears, there's political unrest in the land. An opposing army threatens the borders of Thebes and someone tries to assassinate Erimem, claiming he follows "the true Pharaoh," thus planting the seed of doubt among her people. Throw in an alien being at work behind the scenes and you have a classic pseudo-historical.

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Five Point Countdown Plan

Aug
12

Next month will bring a new series of Doctor Who to our screens, but what are we supposed to do with ourselves during the five intervening Saturdays between now and then? Watching more Doctor Who always seems like a good plan, so I propose a five-week regimen of episodes from each of the extant eight series of modern/post-Hiatus Who to tide you over.

I've put together a curated list of episodes that I recommend for this exercise. When I outline the plan below, I'll also explain why I've made these particular selections. As always, take my list with a grain of salt, as YMMV regarding what is representative of any given Doctor/Companion/series, and what is worth repeated viewings.

As I put together my list, I went through several iterations of how to structure the schedule, and eventually settled on two episodes per session: one story from each of the eight series (including a single two-parter) and a special. Some that I've chosen are longer than the standard 45-minute run time, but each weekly installment still clocks in at between an hour and a half and two hours.

So without further ado, I present to you my five-part plan for ramping back up to Series Nine.

Confession #92: I Like Change

Aug
05

Someone asked me recently whether or not I thought Jenna Coleman would stay through the end of Series Nine. The question surprised me, since I'm doing my damnedest to avoid any hints, clues, or photos-from-the-set that might tell me anything about upcoming episodes, but some of that is unavoidable (like the return of certain characters), and I hadn't heard any rumors that suggested Clara might leave.

If recent years have taught us anything, it's that keeping a secret from Doctor Who fans is nigh impossible these days. Whether it's a BBC insider accidentally leaving a file server open to the public or someone inside the production team letting something slip at an inappropriate time or place, nothing big has managed to stay under wraps lately. I would thus be super surprised if we're getting a Companion switch this series, as that's the kind of news that even I wouldn't be able to avoid.

Having said that, I think it would be cool to be proven wrong.

You may recall from my S7 and S8 reviews that I much preferred Clara during this past series, once she stopped being a plot point and became an actual character, though I'm also not super enamored of her. She doesn't exactly rub me the wrong way—I'm not campaigning for her immediate removal, or anything—but I am ready for a change.

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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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