It was 1978 or 1979. I was in grade 8 and quite liked my home-room teacher. Mr. Pritchard also liked me, the bright, nerdly kid who had made the school's "newspaper" his own, contributing articles, editorials, cartoons — and (yes) even reviews.
One afternoon after class, as I watched over the Gestetner machine chunking out its blue mimeo pages and Mr. Pritchard watched over me, I mentioned I was looking forward to Saturday, when another episode of Doctor Who, this British television program I'd recently discovered, was going to be broadcast, right before the hockey game.
Mr. Pritchard looked up and laughed, his moustache bristling his delight. "Really!" he said, "Is that still on the air? I used to watch it when I was your age!" He was probably about 30 then, meaning I had barely been born when he was my age!
Learning of that long continuity delighted me as much as — and maybe more than — it did Mr. Pritchard. And now that 15 years of the program's history has become 50, and my personal continuity with it is twice what my teacher's was, the fact that Doctor Who is still on the air delights me even more.
All of which makes me doubly-pleased that the program's 50th anniversary episode, "The Day of the Doctor", exceeded my (admittedly, low) expectations by a wide margin. While not without some significant flaws, Steven Moffat's long-awaited 2013 series finale (of sorts; the upcoming Christmas special will probably mark the real series end, as well as the transition to the next) was a well-crafted entertainment, that balanced humour, drama and nostalgia and, even, pathos, without getting bogged down by the Enormous Anniversariness of it all.
Though some nonsensical elements demonstrated yet again Moffat's tendency to confuse plot with story and maguffin with plot, structurally, "The Day of the Doctor" was a happy anniversary present for this jaded and weary viewer.
Certainly it was the most entertaining multi-Doctor special to come down the pike since, well, forever. I really did laugh and I really did cry, on both first and second viewings — and it's been quite a while since a Moffat-scripted episode of Doctor Who hit me like that.
Doctor Who returns tomorrow, in yet another special, this one to be simulcast all over the world, the better to prevent the spilling of spoilers before their time.
Do I sound cynical? Those (few) of you who have been wondering what happened to my long-promised review of "The Name of The Doctor", first broadcast last spring, might well expect me to be.
I won't disappoint you: I still am.
But I ran across a bit of a surprise a couple of nights back, in the form of an eight-minute (mini) episode called "The Night of the Doctor." I don't suppose many of you reading this are still in the dark about it, but just in case, I'll offer no details here. Beware the spoilers that lurk in my review!
scifiangel @ 11:35pm: Scifiangel Eleven Doctors-manips (PG-13) Artist: Scifiangel Pairing: All Eleven Doctors, three versions of the Master, and two versions of Jack Harkness, as well as an assortment of companions old and new. Rating: PG Disclaimer: I don't own our lovely boys. They belong to the BBC. I make no money from this, much to my sorrow. Full disclaimer under cut.
Author's notes: I've been doing a lot of manips for the 11 Doctors special I've been working on with beachy_geek and jer832 It's a tour de farce featuring all Eleven Doctors, three versions of the Master, and two versions of Jack Harkness, as well as an assortment of companions old and new. We've been working on it for almost a year and posting it since March. It's finally finished and the last chapter posted. It can be found here: 11 Doctors.
Anyway, I wanted to post some of my manips from it for all to enjoy.
The Doctor has degenerated backward into his Third Doctor body. He has to enter the Matrix to rescue the kidnapped Jesse and Jeremy. Within he finds an Anime Doctor, himself cast as the Master, and a big bold UNIT vs the Monsters in the Alps adventure!
murkyfragments @ 7:53pm: Music Video: Light 'Em Up 9-10-11 Title: Light 'Em Up 9-10-11 Music: My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up) by Fall Out Boy Made by: murkyfragments (although my Youtube account name is crOwnlEssG) Details: 3:10 minutes Spoilers: Series 1 to 7 Notes: This is my first ever fanvideo... so yaaay! Link:here
On more than one occasion, the writer Harlan Ellsion insisted his name be removed from a movie or television program and replaced with that of Cordwainer Bird in place of his own. He did it when he believed his script had been butchered: changed to the point where the on-screen result would in some way make him look bad. It was his way of "flipping the bird" at those who had ruined his work and, more, of protecting his own reputation as a screen-writer.
If Neil Gaiman doesn't have a pseudonym for similar circumstances, he should get one — and apply it retroactively to his sophomore entry as a screen-writer for Doctor Who.
"Nightmare in Silver" isn't the worst episode of this year's often-dreadful half-series (far from it) but it isn't very good, either.
It is almost inconceivable that the the writer of "The Doctor's Wife" (not to mention of the Sandman graphic novels) could have handed in a script as dramatically disjointed, as illogical and as frankly boring, as that which showed up on our television screens this past weekend. And surely, it wasn't Neil Gaiman who closed the episode with the appalling spectacle of the Doctor almost literally drooling as he ponders the sight of Clara in a skirt just "a little bit too tight".
An insult. A slap in the face. Or should I say, another insult, another slap in the face?
What more is there to say? The whole of Steven Moffat's Doctor Who has been a long series of insults dressed up as Big Ideas, punctuated by apologies from the likes of Richard Curtis and Neil Gaiman.
But how long can we point to "Vincent and the Doctor" or "The Doctor's Wife" and tell ourselves that Steven Moffat actually cares about the cultural institution in his charge?
The truth is, we have become so used to terrible television that when the merely mediocre happens along, people like me nearly start preaching the second coming.
It's time we face the truth: Steven Moffat holds us, his audience, in utter contempt. Take as Exhibit 37, the latest mess of a program broadcast under the name of Doctor Who.
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" begins with an implausible and arbitrary set-up and is propelled by a plot that works only through the unlikely stupidity of its guest characters, the even more unlikely (and dumb) decisions of its regulars and a resolution that re-uses — yet again! — one of Moffat's now tired and tiresome time-travel tropes — and which then cheats on its own rules. The BBC brain-trust ought to be ashamed to have allowed it to air.
My full review is behind this link, but be warned: I am not happy and sometimes I say so in language unfit for ears of the young and tender, or for eyes of work-mates reading over one's shoulder. Also, there are spoilers, as per normal.
Finally, if you want to suggest that I hate this show so much I shouldn't be reviewing it, you may be right. But I committed myself to seeing Series 7 through to the end, and so I will. But after that? If Steven Moffat is still in charge, I rather suspect I'll be done with the show for the duration. Those of you as sick of my opinions as I am sick of Steven Moffat's stories probably have more reason for hope than I do.
April 22, 2013, OTTAWA — I grew up during the 1970s and was a fan of the Montreal Canadiens (a professional (ice) hockey team, the only sport that really matters in Canada). The 1970s was a good decade to cheer for the "Habs"; les glorieux won the Stanley Cup in 10 of the first 14 years of my life.
Since then, they have drunk from that sacred Cup but twice, a bitter drought for those loyal followers who yet wave the bleu, blanc et rouge and who, each autumn, dream again the following spring will see a return to glory at last.
Saturday's episode of Doctor Who, "Hide", felt almost like I had (yes) been transported back in time and in space, to the Montreal Forum on the evening of May 21, 1979, to witness my team's 4th Stanley Cup victory in a row.
All right, I exaggerate. One episode does not a championship make. And maybe the metaphor doesn't entirely make sense. But neither, often, does logic in Doctor Who. So (as an American might say), sue me.
The conceit feels right to me — and besides, when was the last time someone discussed hockey and Doctor Who in the same place?
Point is, for this fan, the last few years following the Doctor has felt a lot like watching the Montreal Canadiens lose hockey games. The uniforms look more or less the same, and there's still a lot of travel involved, but victories are few and far between.
"Hide" was one of those victories. And a victory so convincing, this fan suddenly feels those naive hopes of a championship springing like wheat from an arid field. Click here to find out why. Far fewer spoilers than usual.
"The Cold War" weds mediocrity with subtle brilliance
Jenna-Louise Coleman becoming a revelation
Late again, I know. Life and an episode of back-aches has kept me busy.
And more, I found it hard to find my focus on this episode. An entertaining tale on the surface, dig just a little bit and you find in the Mark Gatiss-penned "The Cold War" only another stop on Steven Moffat's Travelling Medicine Show of Intellectual Horrors.
An idiot plot, in other words.
But there was an upside, beyond the mere fact this episode made for the second in a row that managed at least to be an entertaining distraction on first viewing. That is, that Jenna-Louise Coleman is starting to look like the best regular actor to grace this series since maybe as far back as Christopher Eccleson's turn as the Ninth Doctor, and certainly since Catherine Tate played Donna Noble.
Decent space opera fun is welcome tonic in a dismal era
I really enjoyed this episode on my first viewing and, despite hearing from some quarters that it was awful — worse even than "The Bells of Saint John" — I liked it well enough the second time 'round, too. But then I've always had a preference for off-Earth adventures and have a fondness for space stations, so possibly I cut it more slack than I otherwise might.
In any case, "The Rings of Akhaten" suffers from special effects more ambitious than successful and, maybe, from a script that was cut down hard to make a two-part story into a single episode, but still managed some decent space opera fun, a welcome dollop of secular-humanist scepticism courtesy of the Doctor and our first chance to get to know Clara Oswald as more than just a mystery with a fetching smile, but as a genuine character.
What is it with Steven Moffat and passivity as drama? It isn't just women in refrigerators or women happy to have been bounced back in time to live out their lives in a previous century, now it is the Doctor himself, literally waiting for the phone to ring in order to get our story started.
Passivity is looking less and less like unconscious misogyny and more like the mark of a writer unable to think of a more creative way to get to the parts of the story he thinks are "cool". Many have noted his treatment of women, but it seems a trope he uses to the point of exhaustion. Rory Williams anyone? And now the Doctor ...
In the opener for Series 7 (Er, 7.5, I guess), we're treated to the conceit that the Doctor has decided the best way to find someone is to hide away in a 13th century monastery and hope she comes to him. That it works is a given, else there'd be no story, but it's a pretty inane way to get things started.
Not that I didn't enjoy "The Bells of Saint John"; I did — at least, on first go-round. For a bit of a wonder, Moffat's script moved along at a good clip and offered some tension and humour. But on second viewing, the story didn't make a whole lot of sense, which leaves me less than confident about the rest of this year's series.
Like many North American of a certain age, my introduction to Doctor Who was haphazard at best. The first episode I remember seeing was Robots of Death, in which Louise Jameson's Leela was the companion, not Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith.
Nevertheless, TV Ontario sooner or later broadcast at least a few of the Sarah Jane serials, and the buttoned-down young journalist joined the half-naked savage as my favourites among the Doctor's companions.
So I was very much part of the target audience when Sarah Jane returned to Doctor Who in the (revived) series' second season episode, "School Reunion". That production managed to please both old fans and new, so much so that Sladen's return spawned a spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, a children's program that often managed to be quite a bit better than its big brother.
The Sarah Jane Adventures featured Sladen as its alien-fighting principal, a woman in her seventh decade who was nevertheless forever running down corridors, hopping fences and facing down monsters, even as she played reluctant mentor and den mother to her teenage co-stars. Sarah Jane Smith was so credible as a paragon of courage and intelligence that one longed to believe those traits reflected the performer as much as they did her writers.
Fan of both Sarah Jane Smith's first and third incarnations (even Sladen quite rightly acknowledges the failure of her second, in the early 1980s), I am clearly also part of the target audience for Sladen's memoir. And so it was I impatiently waited for a Canadian release of Sladen's autobiography, completed just a few months before her surprising and terribly untimely death from cancer in 2011.
Sadly, the contents between the frankly dated and cheap-looking covers pretty accurately reflect the contents of the book itself.
Though the autobiography does not stoop to gossip or cheap score-settling, neither does it offer much insight into acting; into what it was like being a feminist icon of sorts; or into Sladen's life. Those hoping for more than some amusing anecdotes about working with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker will find in this book some tasty snacks, but nothing remotely like a full meal.
darkbunnyrabbit @ 4:22am: One Times Infinity - Chapter 12 (10/Rose AU PG-13 fic)
Title: One Times Infinity Author: darkbunnyrabbit Rating: PG-13 Spoilers: Anything up to Doomsday, There will occasionally be canon elements included from any aired episode of Torchwood or Doctor Who, however. Pairings: Doc/Rose, Rose/Jack Characters: 10, Rose Warnings: Flippantly AU Genre: Adventure, Romance Summary: The walls between universes are more fragile than they seem. Once again it falls to the Doctor to save more than one universe...but can he fight what he wants the most? And who is this unseen enemy? A post-Doomsday reunion, of sorts.
darkbunnyrabbit @ 10:32pm: Glimpse (Eleven/Rose PG fic)
Title: Glimpse Author: darkbunnyrabbit Rating: PG Spoilers: Nothing specific Pairings: Eleven/Rose, with Ten/Rose Characters: Eleven, Rose, Ten, Amy Warnings: Nothing really Genre: Missing scene, angst, romance Summary: To see all that ever could be isn't always a gift.
It's not too far off a year since Doctor Who last graced our screens, the 2011 Christmas special. Which I know I watched, but about which I did not blog and of which now I remember precisely nothing at all — save that I found it dull but not outrageously offensive.
(Oh. Wait. As I typed the preceding, I began to recall that episode's companion of the hour. A woman, naturally, and one whose identify (correct me if I'm wrong) and whose heroism was entirely bound up in the fact of her motherhood. Hot mother or hot model, that's our Mr. Moffat. Ah well, onwards.)
Between that ostensible special then and the program's resumption now, I made the mistake of paying good money to see Moffat (et al)'s Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (which was only the second worst movie I have seen this year). So it comes as no surprise that "Asylum of the Daleks" shows no sign that Moffat has taken a remedial course in story-telling. Indeed, the new outing only provides further proof that Steven Moffat has forgotten everything there is to know about the basics of narrative fiction.
What Moffat does have is a strong command of the idea of story-telling, the parts that make up a story. But of story itself? Fuggedaboutit.
As you all know, 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, and we at TimeGate have been in the planning stages of something really special for more than a year now. We already have some really incredible guests lined up, and we're about to add one more to the roster.
For the first time ever, TimeGate brings you ... THE DOCTOR.
::: COLIN BAKER :::
More info under the cut! And of course we will have the Masquerade and the Costuming/Cosplay track. :) And we have a costume designer guest. :)
Title: Spin Vidder: darkbunnyrabbit Song Title/Band: Spin, by Darren Hayes Rating: PG? Series: Doctor Who, Casanova, Blackpool, Takin' Over the Asylum, Secret Diary of a Call Girl Summary: There's not an enormous amount of spoilers, but consider this a general warning for Blackpool, Doctor Who, Takin' Over the Asylum, and Casanova.
This is just a fun vid playing with all the dancing in these series, there's nothing really any deeper to it. It did take me since...February to finish it, though. Phew.
chasepan @ 8:13pm: Dark Horizons review
Dark Horizons is a new hardback 11th Doctor novel by Jenny Colgan, who has 11 best selling novels or so. When she was 11 years old she met Peter Davison by winning a contest and he thought she was a boy! In any case, the novel is very, very good. It brings back the feeling of good storytelling, amazing original ideas mixed with short references to past stories and other movies and TV shows and the Doctor's own background without going overboard. The novel is helped by not having Amy and Rory and River. The Doctor's on his own and in the far past where he meets Vikings, settlers, and...something else. The TARDIS goes underwater and there is some brilliant imagery there and throughout the other scenes. There are well drawn characters among all the different groups of humans and the threat is dangerous. The Doctor acts like the Doctor--he is not just the hyperactive, manic Doctor we see on TV (IMO Matt Smith has the Doctor all wrong at the current time).
It my opinion that Doctor Who, since 2010 or just before during the Specials (which weren't so special) has lost its storytelling prowess on TV. This novel depicts how to Doctor Who as it tells a plot driven story with seriousness, some humor, a dangerous threat and amazing settings. It is highly recommended.
scifiangel @ 7:09am: Scifiangel Four Times Jack Wanted to Kiss the Doctor and One Time He Did (Jack/Nine) [PG]
This was writen for a challenge over at Winter Companions, which is a Doctor/Jack prompt site. Hope you enjoy it.
Title:Four Times Jack Wanted to Kiss the Doctor and One Time He Did Author: Scifiangel Beta: None, all mistakes are mine. Challenge: Five Things Pairing: Jack/Ten Rating: PG Warnings and Spoilers: Spoilers for new Who episodes The Doctor Dances, Boomtown, Bad Wolf, and Parting of the Ways. Disclaimer: I don't own our lovely boys. They belong to the BBC. I make no money from this, much to my sorrow. Full disclaimer under cut. Summary: What it says on the tin.
AU assuming for whatever reason there is no Doctor. Rose takes the place of Lucy, first falling for and following the Master faithfully, but over the year slowly realizing just how horrifying he's made Earth. Their relationship is more mutually caustic than Master/Lucy.
The POV is mostly Rose's, but like the relationship, they play a little bit of tug of war over it. It's also not entirely linear, but the plot should still be clear. Their relationship has the both of them so entwined with each other, neither one of them can really let go, even if they want to, and they both will suffer if they do.
Of note: Rose is often dolled up because it's more becoming of the Wife of the Master of the Earth, and she freely moves between the Valiant and Earth.
acciochocolate @ 5:17pm: TimeGate is this weekend!
TimeGate is the Doctor Who (and more!) convention that takes place in Atlanta, Ga, USA, from May 25 to May 27, 2012. Our Doctor Who Guest of Honor is Caitlin Blackwood, who plays Amelia Pond. Much more info can be found at the website: http://timegatecon.org/ including the Schedule of Events, One-Day-Only Ticket Pricing, and Hotel Info.
Under the cut is a listing of panels for the new Costuming Track. Many of these are oriented towards the Doctor Who 'verse.