Editorial: How I Hitched a Ride in the TARDIS

80pbsEvery Whovian has his/her own story of how they joined the fandom. For this editorial, I thought I’d share mine.

My story began in 1984, one year after my family had moved from Lafayette to Grand Isle. During the summer has always been the best time for the town. Tourists love to take in the sun and businesses always make lots of money from them. My family owned the Seabreeze Cottages, and all three of us took care of it. I’d pitch in by taking the sheets off the beds and take them to the laundry shed. My Uncle Karl also owned a business there, the Bon Voyage Marina. To put this in perspective, neither of these places exist. We sold the cottages and the Marina is now destroyed.

Anyway, during that summer, my Uncle Karl had a bad accident at the Marina. As he was using the hoist to lift a boat from the water onto a trailer, one of the cables snapped and the boat landed right on his leg and broke it.  He was not about to close the Marina while he was in rehab, especially in the summer! So, my dad and my mom agreed to help run the place for him. That meant as soon as we got all the hotel chores done, my mom would take me to the Marina with her so she could help Dad. I usually kept myself occupied, as I was too young to do anything there myself. I had books, the radio, and TV to keep me busy.

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Editorial: Are Expanded Universes Necessary?

You may have noticed that I spend a lot of time on Big Finish during Doctor Who‘s off-season. This is because it helps to keep my blog alive and I know I have readers who like to find out more about them. However, I also know that Big Finish can be a bit daunting for many Doctor Who fans. The CD’s are expensive, and even if you just download the productions rather than buying them, there’s no way you can keep up with everything the company is doing. This may make you wonder if it’s even worth the trouble.

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Editorial: Jodie Whittaker Spoiler Critique

I normally don’t like to talk about a new season before it talks, but with all the hype about the new direction things are going, I thought I’d bend the rules a bit and talk about what we know so far. I’ll be critiquing each item that’s been announced, with the exception of the new composer because we don’t even have a name yet, and even if we did, I’d need a listen to the person’s repertoire.

jodiecostume

Let’s start with the wardrobe. I like it. I’ve always felt the Doctor’s outfit should look odd, but not overtly ridiculous. The Doctor has never really gotten fashion right as a male, so why would a female Doctor? It doesn’t look too bad, and I like the color scheme of her shirt.

new companions

Our new companions are played by Mandip Gill (Yasmin), Bradley Walsh (Graham), and Tosin Cole (Ryan). I know nothing of what they’ve done before this show, and even if I did, I wouldn’t judge them this early. My main problem is the number of companions. I’ve often felt Doctor Who was at its best when we had one or two companions. The show always makes good use of a small cast. When you have more than two companions, the stories can become a mess and often a character doesn’t feel developed enough. This happened in both the Hartnell and Davison eras. Susan and Nyssa got shafted, and they really shouldn’t have. I’m not saying this will ruin the show, but I don’t like the idea.

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Editorial: Best Modern Doctor Who Companions

Last editorial, I counted down the best Classic Who companions. Now it’s time for the current version.

Before I start, a small disclaimer: I will not be counting one-shot companions, as they did not stick around long enough for us to get to know them, compared to the longer-staying ones. Also, because this is actual friends, Adam wouldn’t make the cut even if he stuck around longer than the one-shots.

billpotts 10) Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie)–Of the companions on this list, Bill is the one with the briefest stint.  I liked her inquisitive nature and enthusiasm.  As a previous editorial stated, I don’t see her as “pushing an agenda”, I just see a fun-loving girl.

nardole 9) Nardole (Matt Lucas)–Often a companion’s job isn’t just to ask the questions the audience would ask, it’s also to play moral compass. Nardole was a good moral compass and his sardonic nature was good comedy relief.

clara 8) Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman)–Now here’s the real controversy-summoning companion! A lot of people seem to HATE Clara. But I never did. She proved herself in “Flatline” and “Face the Raven” as someone willing to sacrifice herself, even against the Doctor’s wishes. She even jumped into the Doctor’s timeline to save him from the Great Intelligence. Her one flaw was her impetuous side, which often caused her to make rash decisions.

amy pond 7) Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) What I liked about Amy was that she wasn’t afraid to put the Doctor or anyone else in his or her place. Her impulsive nature made her one of my favorites.

harkness 6) Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman)–Even if you never watched Torchwood, you knew Jack had more going for him than the sparse appearances on the main show. What I liked about Captain Jack was he was a man of action, willing to cross lines the Doctor wouldn’t.

rose tyler5) Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)–Before Clara, Rose was the most-hated companion. I never really had a problem with her. She helped the Ninth Doctor heal his psychological wounds from the Time War. I never minded her falling in love with the Doctor. How could anyone not fall in love with him?

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Editorial: My Top 10 Favorite Classic Companions

The Companions represent the audience. They show us what it might be like to travel with the Doctor. In the 50-plus years Doctor Who has been on the air, several companions have joined each Doctor on his adventures. I’ve ranked the Doctors. Now it’s time to rank the companions. This editorial will focus solely on the “classic” period, starting with William Hartnell and ending with Sylvester McCoy. Next month, I will talk about the modern Companions starting with Christopher Eccleston and ending with Peter Capaldi (I will be skipping Big Finish because I’ve only met three companions.)

nyssa10. Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) Sarah became my favorite Fifth Doctor Companion by default. Tegan did nothing but complain. Adric was often too smug and arrogant. Nyssa was the only one who had any endearing qualities. She was a kind woman who had lost everything–her father was possessed by the Master, who had then destroyed her homeworld of Trakken. And yet, it rarely seemed to bother her.  She now had all of space and time. I still marvel that she had a positive attitude.

jo grant9. Jo Grant (Katy Manning) When I first saw Jo, I didn’t like her. She seemed somewhat clumsy and incompetent. Her predecessor seemed a good fit for the Doctor, as they seemed intellectually equal. However, Jo had the one thing Dr. Shaw didn’t–a sense of humor. She was great comedy relief, and even though she didn’t understand some things as good as Shaw often did, she was a fun character.

leela8. Leela (Louise Jameson) Leela at first seemed several steps backward from her predecessor Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane operated on with and pluck. Leela was a “noble savage”, more prone to violence than more rational decisions. But the Doctor needed someone like Leela, who would be more willing to do things he didn’t care to.  The Fourth Doctor would rather outwit his opponents than resort to violence.  He took pleasure in gleefully using his foe’s flaws to his advantage, but Leela could help in a pinch.

peri brown7. Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) The Sixth Doctor was by far the most arrogant of the Doctors, someone who needed to be humbled.  The person who did that was Peri Brown.  She would not stand for the Doctor’s arrogance, turning them into a great comedy duo.

jamie mcCrimmon6. Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) I totally didn’t expect to like any of the Companions from the 60’s. So much of their adventures are missing. How can I like any of them based on what little is available? But what I saw was enough to convince me that Jamie is a great character. I liked Jamie’s brazen charging into battle with his clan’s battle cry. I laughed at how out of place he seemed with advanced technology. He was a loyal Companion and was undaunted. I call him the Don Quixote of Doctor Who.

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Editorial: How I Would Run Doctor Who

Well, not only do we have a new Doctor, but we also have a new composer and a new executive producer: Chris Chibnall. Chris is actually someone whose history with Doctor Who has been hit or miss. I’ve liked some of his stories, like “42”, and there were some that I didn’t outright hate, but I didn’t rank highly either, like “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. On the other hand, he also wrote many of Torchwood‘s best episodes.

While I do have faith that Chibnall will do the best he can, I can’t help but think of what I would do if I had the job.  Here’s some ideas I had:

  1. My Doctor would be either Eddie Redmayne, star of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, or my dream pick Liam Neeson. Both have shown they can do both dramatic and comedic performances, and I’d want a Doctor like characters they’ve portrayed.
  2. One idea that they’ve already addressed is extending the run time. As I said in my overview of the Capaldi era, the pacing was a big problem. Many episodes felt like they didn’t have enough time to flesh out their concepts. Chibnall has decided to add fifteen extra minutes to the run time, which for Americans like myself means the show will probably run about 75 minutes with commercials.
  3. No more leaks! Last season, we had too many things spoiled: Missy’s return, the Mondasian Cybermen, Rona Munro returning to write “Eaters of Light”, and the returns of John Simm and Matt Lucas. True, many of these did become great, but I’d much rather be surprised by their success. (Especially when the hype didn’t work out, as in the case of “Eaters of Light”)
  4. No spin-offs–Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures were fine.  We already have great spin-offs from Big Finish, we don’t really need more, especially when we have what happened with Class, where one of the big problems was that it was placed in a bad timeslot and it was barely promoted.
  5. I have two companion ideas. One is a female android named Ardra. On her planet, androids are forbidden, even though they are programmed with the laws Asimov concocted for his robots: Don’t harm humans, do what humans tell them, and protect themselves. Ardra is also a blank slate, something the Doctor would have to fix. Ardra is looking for her “Father”, her inventor David Nikola, who would be introduced at Christmas. I don’t have preferences for their actors/actresses because I’d rather whoever got picked be relatively unknown and become a success later on, like Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and John Barrowman have.

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Editorial: A Masterful Ranking

In “Remembrance of the Daleks”, the Doctor muses “You can always tell a man by the quality of his enemies”. To me, the Master is the most definitive enemy of the Doctor.” He is everything the Doctor isn’t. He manipulates time and space for his own goals, while the Doctor would rather maintain the flow of time correctly, because he knows how dangerous changing events is. The Master manipulates people, either compelling them to do his bidding unwillingly, while the Doctor would rather respect the freedom of others.

As with Doctor, several people have played the Master since his appearance in “Terror of the Autons”. This editorial is my personal ranking of the Masters.

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Editorial: Big Finish’s New Ninth Doctor Chronicles

ninth finishBig Finish is a great part of Doctor Who’s “expanded universe”. It helps “fill the void” between series, when no new Doctor Who is on. I like that they’re even publishing stories featuring the Tenth Doctor, River Song, and more.

Yet there is one series of stories that I’m not comfortable with Big Finish publishing.  They’ve recently started releasing new Ninth Doctor adventures. This is actually not the first time they’ve done stories featuring the Ninth Doctor.  When Doctor Who turned 50, one of the many things Big Finish released in celebration was an eleven-part miniseries called Destiny of the Doctors, with one story for each of the eleven Doctors. These stories were all narrated by the companions. Because they could not get Billie Piper or John Barrowman, their Ninth Doctor story Night of the Whisper was entirely narrated by Nicholas Briggs. Briggs actually did a passable impression of Eccleston for the narration. I don’t mind this because it was the 50th anniversary, and Destiny of the Doctors was a celebration of every era.

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Editorial: What Doctor Who Means to Me

Doctor Who has been going on for over 50 years. We’ve had 12 Doctors, (13 if you count John Hurt), a successful revival, countless audio dramas from Big Finish, at least three spinoffs. I’m always surprised at how long this show has lasted. Even being cancelled didn’t stop it completely. Most shows don’t bounce back after a cancellation, and if they do get revived, it doesn’t last. So why has this show lasted? Why do people like me enjoy it so much?

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Editorial: Unlucky 13–My Problems With Jodie Whittaker

jodie whittakerWell, it happened. A couple weeks ago, the new Doctor was announced. And it’s Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to ever play the role. And what happened? Exactly what I predicted. This is why I didn’t want a 13th Doctor. This is why I said it would kill the show. Many fans are rage quitting, although some don’t care. And Radio Times is saying “If you don’t accept her, you’re not a real fan.” (Real smooth) Some fans like myself are claiming that Doctor Who is once again caving in to pressure from special interest people and giving in to the new gender politics. Some of my fellow Christian fans of Doctor Who have considered this the final betrayal and are giving up on the show entirely. I’m conflicted myself.  As I said, I didn’t want this. But I also said I’d watch to see if I’m proven wrong.

First, let’s refute some arguments. No, I don’t have a problem with a female lead. I currently watch Bones, Supergirl, and Jessica Jones.  And one of my favorite Star Trek spin-offs was Voyager.

I also don’t mind gender swaps when they work. The Doctor Strange movie had Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One, who was originally male in the comics. That idea wouldn’t have worked in the movie, because he was stereotypically drawn to look like the typical Asian character–Fu Man Chu mustache, yellow skin, you know the look. That would’ve led to more problems, and Swinton was up to the challenge. Voltron: Legendary Defender changed Pidge into a girl named Katie Holt, who now uses Pidge as an alias. This was fine because the original Pidge was an androgynous effeminate boy, so I think making her a tomboy works better.

No, my problem is that I perceived the Doctor’s masculinity as part of his character. To all you women who love this idea, I want to ask you something. Let’s say they rebooted the Alien movies, and had Vin Diesel playing Ellen Ripley. That would be a bad idea because the whole point of those movies is that Ellen, a woman, is saving the day instead of a man. It’d reduce the movies to a generic sci-fi action flick and nullify its significance.

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