NOT A DOCTOR WHO FAN? MAYBE SKIP THIS ONE
Yeah, so I think about the show Doctor Who a lot. And I mention it frequently in these posts. If you don’t know the show, this may not be the post for you. Maybe go watch some sports ball or knit something or, you know, read a book.
*Waits. Taps foot.*
Now that the squares are gone, time for me to talk a bit about Doctor Whoish bits that are making me happy right now. And then I’ll mention a wondering that isn’t really new, but have been on my mind lately.
So, Season 8 of new Who ended with the fabulous episode “Last Christmas” on Christmas Day. That makes me sad, but, trying to fill the months ahead before Season 9, I’ve come across a few little gems.
1. Doctor Puppet
Doctor Puppet is a fan-based creation of Alisa Stern. It’s a series of stop-motion animation short films featuring adventures of The Doctor in puppet form. I’d heard about this on podcasts and fan sites for a while, but only recently checked it out. It’s…delightful. The stories are pleasingly simple, short, and there’s pretty much no dialogue. It’s atmosphere above substance in the best way possible. And the attention to detail is impressive – particularly the console room. Go to YouTube sometime and check it out. While there, look at the “making of” videos. These creators do a hell of a lot of work, but are also clearly having a hell of a good time.
2. The End of Time – Bye, bye, Ten!
I just watched David Tennant’s swan song as the Doctor again recently. “The End of Time” gets a lot of grief from Whovians, but I will go on record here as saying I quite enjoy it. Also, I’m really excited that on this most recent viewing, I noticed something I hadn’t before. Get this: in the opening of episode 2, Rassilon is addressing the high council and someone tells him, “The Doctor still possesses the Moment and he intends to use it” to destroy the Daleks and everyone else. This was three years before “Day of the Doctor”. Before Moffat. Before the War Doctor. The seed for the Moment was already planted.
Yes, the story is overwrought. But so was the whole Russell T. Davies era. Yeah, John Simm chews the scenery. But this story called for a Master who wasn’t just insane (as he always was), but totally unhinged. People bitch about the absurd plot to turn all humans into the Master, but they forget this was a ludicrous plan hatched by a deranged mind.
Then there’s Ten. His scenes with Wilf are beautiful. Yeah, he gets teary a couple times and that puts people off. But Eleven got weepy a LOT and no one complains about that. And, okay, Ten does leap out of a spaceship and crash through a roof mostly unscathed, but, hey, this is Doctor Who. Just go with it.
And, of course, there’s regeneration… Up to this point, the various Doctors were pretty blasé about regeneration. It was a refreshing change to have one say, “this is crap.” And it worked for Ten. For all his altruism and good humor, he had a strong streak of ego too. But even after putting up a fuss, he, of course, sacrifices himself. I found “End of Time” a very fitting, very fun end to Ten’s era and RTD’s time as show runner. Go watch and appreciate it for what it is.
3. Lost episode recons.
Let me be straight with you. Those first seasons of classic Who are not my favorite (though I have a soft spot for “The Tenth Planet” and “The War Games” and “The Mind Robber”). Everyone holds up “The Aztecs” as the greatest story of that first Doctor era. I, however, find that story excruciatingly boring – with the exception of the scene where the Doctor and Barbara debate whether history can be changed. This is not to say I don’t enjoy classic, black and white Who. And I, just as much as anyone, hope for the return of those still missing episodes.
In the meantime, I’ve recently become a devotee of reconstructed stories. So far, I’ve watched Hartnell’s historical story “Marco Polo” as a recon and, much to my surprise, really enjoyed it. The audio from the televised episodes was there, along with still photos for illustration. In a few places, there were subtitles to explain things that were happening that you couldn’t see. I really liked it. A first doctor story! And a historical one at that!
I also just got done watching “The Power of the Daleks”, the second doctor’s first story, as a recon. Mostly, the episodes I watched were like “Marco Polo”. Audio with still images and subtitles. I did watch one reconstructed episode of the story where the mouths on the actors’ still images were animated so it looked like they were talking. That was too damn freaky.
I may seek out others. Probably will. It’s a nice little diversion while I wait for Season 9 next fall.
Okay, so here’ s a couple long-standing wonderings about Doctor Who:
A. We often see the TARDIS spinning through space or Earth’s atmosphere or whatever. So why does the ship have to dematerialize on take-off and rematerialize on landing? We already know it’s there.
B. There was much well-deserved excitement when Paul McGann reprised his role as the eighth doctor ON SCREEN in “Night of the Doctor.” By all reports, he was thrilled to do it. So when it became clear Christopher Eccleston wasn’t coming back for “Day of the Doctor,” why didn’t Moffat just put McGann in instead of creating a whole new “lost” incarnation, John Hurt’s War Doctor? The War Doctor is a great creation – even if he does mess up the numbering – but seeing McGann in action, hangin’ with Ten and Eleven, would have been great.
Right. I think I’ve got all that Doctor Who-ey out of my system. For now…