Doctor Who: The Time Warrior (or Time Waster)

Le sigh.

Why am I sighing, you ask?  Well I’ll tell you.  It’s because it’s time to continue the Pertwee reviews I so foolishly declared I would do.  Why do I do this to myself?  My masochism knows no bounds—when it comes to Doctor Who, that is.  At least, I haven’t found those bounds yet.  They’re probably out there.  I haven’t even tried watching Dimensions in Time, so perhaps the aforementioned bounds do exist.

Ok.  I’m clearly babbling in order to put off the inevitable.  I’m afraid it’s time to talk about The Time Warrior, the third and final Pertwee story we covered during my guest appearance on TARDIS Tavern.  Once again, I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already.  Chris from Radio Free Skaro defends it quite admirably, though I cordially disagree with pretty much everything he said.

I can sum up most of what I dislike in one word—one name, actually: Irongron.  I.  Hated.  Irongron.  It’s rare that I have this intense a visceral reaction to a character, but I despised Irongron from the start.  Now I know you’re not supposed to like him; he’s one of the bad guys, but you’re not supposed to hate the bad guys the way I hate Irongron.  The Master is a perfect example of this.  No, I don’t want the Master to win, but I do love watching him try.  Even Linx here in The Time Warrior was preferable.  I quite like the Sontarans and enjoyed the first-Sontaran-appearance aspect of this story.  Kevin Lindsay will always be my favorite Sontaran, may he rest in peace.  Sorry, back to Irongron.  I found him so very grating that I wanted to turn off the TV every time he was on screen.  I couldn’t stand anything about him—the writing, the acting, the directing; it’s as if at every artistic choice that went into shaping the character, the creators said “Now what would annoy Erika the most?”

As I’ve stated multiple times before, I adore Robert Holmes.  I firmly believe he’s the greatest writer Doctor Who has ever seen, but boy-oh-boy was this one character a miss for me.  His lines were florid and over-the-top.  Had they been delivered in a less bombastic manner, perhaps I’d’ve handled them better, but we’ll never know.  The rest of the story was fine really.  I’ll never be a great Pertwee fan, but he was largely inoffensive here.  I must admit I took some perverse pleasure out of the fact that Sarah Jane was at odds with him at the beginning of the story.  Speaking of Sarah Jane, I quite liked the way she was introduced.  Her characterization may have changed after this story, but I liked it both before and after the shift.  I enjoyed how she held her own right off the bat.  Her confusion at where she was seemed a little silly, but would I handle such an experience any differently?  Perhaps not.  The only thing that really made me roll my eyes was her self-righteous “women’s lib” speech to the serving women.

Now that I think about it, there were an awful lot of things that I liked about this story.  Besides Linx and Sarah Jane, there was Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett himself!) as the charming and faithful Hal, Donald Pelmear as the absent-minded, but eventually adorable Professor Rubeish, the lovely costumes, the Doctor acting as a “wizard” because his science might as well be magic to the natives (Clarke’s Third Law, anyone?), and the basis for the plot itself—people being stolen and brought through time to the middle ages.  So it certainly wasn’t all bad; the bad just outweighed the good in a staggering manner.

In addition to my deep-seated loathing for Irongron, the story simply didn’t hold my interest.  My mind kept wandering every time I sat down to watch an episode.  It was like my subconscious was trying to tell me there were better ways I could be spending my time.  And that in itself was really disappointing to me.  I tend to like period pieces, and the middle ages is one of my sweet spots.  I should have liked this. Seeing Robert Holmes’ name in the title sequence raised my expectations, so it was an extra let-down to enjoy this as little as I did.  Normally I’m willing to forgive poor execution like the fight scene in the courtyard or the bungled falling-asleep scene, but here they just served to drag me down all the more.

After all that negativity, I feel it’s important to point out that this is Doctor Who, so I still love it.  My criticisms of this story should all be seen as in comparison with other episodes of Doctor Who.  There is no Doctor Who that I hate, no matter how much certain aspects may annoy me.  I don’t like Pertwee, and I don’t like his era, so the negatives in this story were piled upon a foundation that was already sour—thus my rampant pessimism.  But I really do love Doctor Who.  Really.  I swear.  I just don’t love Pertwee’s Doctor.  Or this story.  Or Irongron—I REALLY don’t love Irongron.  But I’ll say it again, just so we’re clear:

I love Doctor Who!

So do Sean and Steve and Chris, so you should probably listen to what they have to say about this too.

Ok, so next time will be (I hope) my last Pertwee post for some time.  I’ve covered all three of the episodes we talked about on TARDIS Tavern, all that’s left is to cover the third Doctor himself.  (Time) Lord grant me strength.

Geek Girl Gushes: Gallifrey One’s Network 23

If you follow me on Twitter, this post may be largely redundant.  For that I make no apology.  I firmly believe that no amount of gushing about Gally is too much.  On the plane ride home, I drafted over 40 short posts about the fond memories I made last weekend, and I’ve been dribbling them out on Twitter and Facebook ever since.  Because I am such a completionist (something I’ve found is not unusual in Doctor Who fandom), I’ve decided to collect them all here in one place for easy reminiscing.  Before I get to that, a few words about the weekend in general.

Gallifrey One is the oldest and largest fan-run Doctor Who convention in the world.  Once you’ve been there, you understand why.  Simply put, this con is fantastic.  I’m not exactly a con expert, having only attended a handful of different events over the years, but I can safely say that Gally is my favorite by far.  (And that’s saying something, because I positively adore several others, including Chicago TARDIS and Dragon*Con.)  The inestimable Shaun Lyon has done a fantastic job helming this convention and making sure that everyone is happy—from the guests to the attendees to the volunteers to the hotel staff.  It was a veritable well-oiled machine.  With the exception of a few technical hiccups, I saw very little in the way of the FUBAR moments I’ve come to expect as a necessary evil of con attendance.

This, Gallifrey One’s 23rd year, was my first in attendance.  I didn’t even know Gally existed until Radio Free Skaro interviewed Nerdist luminaries Chris Hardwick and Kyle Anderson at last year’s convention.  After hearing that podcast (and being floored to find there was an entire podcast devoted entirely to Doctor Who! [silly, naïve, Erika]), I discovered a vast and welcoming Twitter community of Doctor Who fans and podcasters.  Over the course of a few months, they applied just the right amount of friendly peer pressure to convince me to take the plunge and commit to Gally.  This is a decision I have not regretted for a moment.

I’d met a few of those fine folks at the aforementioned Chicago TARDIS in November, and it was as wonderful to reconnect with them as it was to finally meet the others who were able to make it out to sunny California.  And sunny it was!  While the people and the excitement of the convention were the best part, a vacation in southern California is nothing to sneeze at when compared to the usual mid-February slump in my home of Wisconsin.

Having arrived early, I got to spend the Thursday before the con with four of my favorite people (two who’d already held that honor, and two who did by the end of that day).  We drove up the coast to the Getty Villa in Malibu where we absorbed more beauty and culture than I thought one location could contain.  Please feel free to peruse the photos of that amazing and moving experience.

The other exciting pre-con activity in which I got to partake was a “live” recording of the Doctor Who Book Club Podcast.  I was über-chuffed to have been invited to review Paul Cornell’s Love and War.  I had a fantastic time talking about it with Erik and Sean.  I won’t say much about that here because I think you should listen to the episode when it’s released.  What I will say is this: Erik and Sean are as charming and delightful in person as they sound on the podcast.  I couldn’t be more pleased that they let me join the fun.

After that night, the official convention fun started, and it was a whirlwind of excitement and panels and fun and friends and booze and bad food and then more of each of those every day—plus a live lobby commentary and an interview (which may or may not ever be seen) by Chloe Dykstra and Matt Mira of Nerdist Industries.  I wish I could appropriately capture the magic that happened over those few days, but I think Deb Stanish put it best when she tweeted “Has something ever been just too important or lovely to articulate? This is why I’m finding it hard to do Gally highlights.”  That said, I’m clearly managing to chronicle some of the joy; I could go on for pages and pages, describing every moment I remember.  Instead I’ll just stick with my plan of including the lovely memories I’ve already tweeted.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, and perhaps I’m a fool for even attempting to capture this much of the glory that is Gally, but I felt like if I didn’t at least try, I might explode.

So here, in no particular order, are just a few of the highlights of my first Gally.  You better believe I’ll be back.

  • Unexpected post-#Gally highlight: I can now “hear” tweets from lots of people in their own voices.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @quarridors in person. I still wish I’d followed Nat’s lead & spent some time in the pool!
  • #Gally highlight: Flobbycon.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting the sweet and kind @sourcitruslady. Yet another person I wish I’d’ve gotten to spend more time with.
  • #Gally highlight: Knowing I could wander around for a while & be guaranteed to run into someone awesome, be it a friend, celebrity, or both!
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting the lovely @Bellaira & bonding over shared joy & inconvenience.
  • #Gally highlight: Drinking tequila w/@philfordesq. Well, Phil was a highlight. As it turns out, I’m none too fond of tequila.
  • #Gally highlight: An entertaining & informative panel on the music of #DoctorWho. @emilyooo knows her stuff & how to talk about it!
  • #Gally highlight: Being insanely decadent & drinking Starbucks lattes every morning.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting my official unofficial gay husband @tardistavern in person. I’m a lucky bride.
  • #Gally highlight: Randomly meeting @MattMira in the lobby & trying to find @harries71 so Matt could geek out about Cash in the Attic.
  • #Gally highlight: Being interviewed by @MattMira for the @Nerdist YouTube channel. Whether they use it or not, ’twas a hoot!
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @freyburg in person. A fellow w/a delightfully irascible wit & great talent–with whom I’ve got much in common.
  • #Gally highlight: Witnessing the sheer genius of Mette & Bryan’s costumes firsthand. They left me speechless repeatedly.
  • #Gally highlight: @RadioFreeSkaro and the World of Tomorrow stage show! The boys did a fantastic job kicking things off in proper fashion.
  • #Gally highlight: @AndreT_NY‘s hilarious & clever ribbon costume. Nice work Sir! Loved it!
  • #Gally highlight: Seeing @Feliopolis again. Can’t imagine attending a #DoctorWho con w/out my clever friend to keep it real for me.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @TardisTavernTit in person. Wish I could have spent more time hanging with him. Con life is so scattered.
  • #Gally highlight: Toby Haynes’ ass.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting the lovely @capricorn_one. And not just ’cause he agreed to get his own room. : ) He’s a great bloke besides.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting the incomparable @DebStanish. Everyone told me she was awesome & I’d love her. Everyone was right.
  • #Gally highlight: avoiding “con-crud” (aka con-SARS) until I got home. Don’t want to get out of bed, but the real world beckons. #coldmeds
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @twillian in person. I’m glad cool, creative, interesting people like her are procreating (since I’m not gonna).
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @whomeJZ in person. One of my favorite podcasters. Hearing him wax poetic re: #DoctorWho in person is even better!
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting the hilarious @KungFuYoda. I do appreciate a good crass wit. He’s got that in spades.
  • #Gally highlight: A delicious & delightful dinner w/@David_Barsky. (Exec producer of Dirty Jobs.)
  • #Gally lowlight: Not getting to meet @abby_queenofall. : ( She was genuinely missed, as was discussed on numerous occasions.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @BullittWHO in person. Every bit as thoughtful & hardworking as I expected, as well as every bit as fun & cool.
  • #Gally highlight: Watching @Legopolis talk about (& play with) LEGO during the panel about it.
  • #Gally highlight: Telling Shaun Lyon that my first Gally was completely as advertised. Best con I’ve ever been to, hands down.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting the delightfully droll @harries71. He makes clever sarcasm an art form. Could listen to him all day.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @xanister in person. Someone so sweet & adorable doesn’t deserve to also have a razor wit; she’s doubly blessed.
  • #Gally highlight: Meeting @dubbayoo. His twisted sense of humor is just as hilarious in person. & he’s an amazing fellow to boot.
  • #Gally highlight: Touching the Pacific Ocean!
  • #Gally highlight: Seeing @Legopolis again. This one belongs in the goes-without-saying category.
  • #Gally highlight: The many & varied ways people managed to sneak outside booze into the Marriott lobby, while keeping things cool & relaxed.
  • #Gally highlight: meeting many twitter friends in person. What a great crew!

Doctor Who: Terror of the Autons (Plastic and Pertwee)

Hey, guess what?  My episode of TARDIS Tavern is now available!  Please take a listen and hear me wax (un)poetic about the Pertwee episodes I’m also covering here.  Speaking of, I might as well jump right in with Terror of the Autons.

I have to admit, I had rather high hopes for this story.  I’d heard good things about it, it features plastic people and the Master, and it was written by Robert Holmes.  Sounds great!  Perhaps I’d built my expectations up too high, because I really wasn’t taken with this one.  I found my mind wandering continually, and while there were bits of it that I enjoyed, I was rather bored overall.

Terror of the Autons is the first time we see both Jo Grant and the Master.  It’s pretty clear that this is Jo’s first story, but the Master is introduced with such little fanfare that I didn’t realize it was his introductory story at first.  The only reason I even suspected he was new to the scene was because a random Time Lord traveled to Earth to warn the Doctor about him.  That scene is quite amusing—definitely a solid example of why I love Robert Holmes.  The entire exchange is brilliantly written.  When the Time Lord tells the Doctor that he’s “incorrigibly meddlesome…but we’ve always felt that your hearts are in the right places,” I giggled out loud.  Though when the Doctor says the Time Lord looks “quite ridiculous in those clothes,” I wanted to say “look who’s talking.”

As for Jo’s introduction, she was about what I expected.  There’s really not a lot I can say about her in this story—or in general.  She’s not one of my favorite companions, but I don’t find much to dislike about her.  I definitely feel bad for her at times, having to deal with the Doctor’s mood swings.  He’s downright mean to her occasionally.  (Yes, I admit, she bungles things terribly, but I find his tendency to explode at her very off-putting.)  At one point, he calls her a “ham-fisted bun vendor!”  I don’t know what that means, but it certainly doesn’t sound very nice.

This story was a strange mix of things that made me smile and things I found downright boring.  There was a circus!  With elephants!  Elephants with bracelets!  But somehow I didn’t really care.  There was nothing particularly circus-ey about what was going on, and it seemed a bit of a waste of a location.  Though I must say, the Doctor did fit right in there with his cape and all.

I enjoyed much of the dialogue, as I mentioned earlier, but the story itself didn’t draw me in.  For every line that made me smile (Jo: “Where are they taking us?  It’s some sort of a quarry!”), there was an entire scene where I didn’t particularly care what was happening.  Some of the directorial choices left me baffled and bored too.  When the Doctor is “poking around” in the plastic doll, we see a close up on the Doctor’s face the whole time so we see nothing that’s actually happening.  And UGH, that creepy doll itself!?  Why?  Why?!

Then there’s the Master.  I enjoy Delgado as the Master quite a lot, and he didn’t disappoint here—until we reached the end of the story.  To be fair, it’s not Delgado that disappoints, it’s Holmes.  The Master’s sudden change of heart at the end very nearly pissed me off, it seemed so out of character.  (Though to be fair, this was the Master’s first story, so the character that I’m used to may not have been fully developed yet.)  I like that the Master is a diabolical genius.  I hated that he didn’t bother to think his plan through well enough to even consider the possibility that the Nestenes would cast him aside once they’d reached the planet.  I think the Master is better than that—or he really should be.

I have to give this story credit for some nice eye candy.  Michael Wisher, who played Rex Farrel very much reminded me of Guy Pierce.  Can’t complain there.  And I’m certainly a fan of Mike Yates—especially when he tells Jo she’s acting like a child.  Her tantrum made me roll my eyes so far it gave me a headache.  Incidentally, this is Mike Yates’ first story too, though I had no idea until I heard that at the Tavern.  Sadly, the story also provided whatever the opposite of “ear candy” is.  I did NOT like the incidental music.  It wasn’t quite as harsh as that of The Sea Devils, but it grated on my nerves more than just a little.

So overall, Terror of the Autons was not a winner for me.  I really wish I hadn’t started off my Pertwee-watching with The Curse of Peladon ‘cause maybe I’d’ve enjoyed this more if I hadn’t gone into it right off the heels of a story I liked so much.  Oh well, I didn’t know.  If you’d like to hear some fine folks talk about how much they liked this story, then I encourage you to download the latest TARDIS Tavern!

Now, a quick mention of Gally!  My first time at the world’s oldest and largest Doctor Who convention is mere days away.  I can’t even begin to convey how excited I am!  My bags are pretty much packed already.  All I have to do is make it through the intervening hours…somehow.  As I said before, if you’re at Gally this coming weekend, please track me down and say hi!

Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon (My Preferred Pertwee)

As promised, here is my first foray into the recent Pertwee episodes I watched for TARDIS Tavern (Terror of the Autons, The Curse of Peladon, and The Time Warrior).  Gosh I had fun talking to those guys!  I can’t wait for you all to hear it.  I have it on very good authority that the episode will drop next Sunday, February 12th.  I’ll post a link here for sure.  Also, thank you to the boys from Radio Free Skaro for pimping Chris’ appearance, and specifically, for mentioning my name.  That was a weird moment there for sure.

So.  The first of the three episodes chronologically is Terror of the Autons, but due to the configuration of my Netflix queue, I watched The Curse of Peladon first.  And frankly, I think this did a disservice to the other two episodes because this one was by far my favorite.  After Curse, the others seemed dry and either boring or silly.  (Tantalizing teaser: I may not have found much agreement about this at the Tavern.)

First of all, let me say that I positively loved David Troughton.  He was fantastic.  Though his sudden romantic interest in Jo seemed a wee bit thin, I adored his clueless intensity.  (And to be fair, the “thinness” in that romantic pairing seemed to come more from Katy Manning’s side.)  To be clear, I didn’t know it was David Troughton while I was watching, so there was no “Troughton dynasty” bias.  I tend to zone out during the credits, though I do watch (or at least listen to) them during every episode.  Somehow I missed his name each time until the end of episode four, when I had a “holy crap!” moment.

To give Jo her due, I should point out that not only did she look great in this story (her hair, her dress, her shoes—all  fab) but she acquitted herself well to boot.  She seemed almost uncharacteristically canny.  When the Doctor says that she’s royalty, she pipes right in with a haughty response and really goes to town playing the part.  She does a pretty good job of sticking with it for the entire story, too.

I found myself genuinely emotionally involved in this episode right off the bat.  When Torbis dies in episode one, I was honestly shocked and saddened.  Most of all, I was sucked in.  I suddenly wanted to know what was going on, who was behind it all, and how it would all play out.  There was a definite whodunit aspect to this episode that I found engaging and delightful.  Who doesn’t love a good mystery?  And tossing in a healthy dash of political intrigue doesn’t hurt either.

To be fair, I’m not always 100% sucked into political intrigue, but when it’s set against the backdrop of a medieval society with a king and a priest and monsters, well that’s precisely my cup of tea.  When you add visitors from other planets, that’s adding sweet sweet honey to my delicious tea.  I really enjoyed the delegates.  By all rights, I should have hated Alpha Centauri.  Though the alliteration of “hermaphroditic hexapod” was music to my ears, it’s voice was less so.  For whatever reason, instead of driving me crazy with annoyance, I found Alpha Centauri sweet and charming and yes, adorable.  I know it’s a silly costume, but it made me smile.  In the annoying voice department, Arcturus was the winner by far, and though his costume was inventive, it was gross.  The slime running down the inside of his dome?  Eww.  But I mean that in a good way.  It was certainly effective.

My favorite bit involving the delegates was the fact that the Doctor was so adamant about the Ice Warriors being behind everything.  Perhaps it’s my general meh-ness regarding Pertwee talking here, but when he was proved wrong I couldn’t stifle a big grin and an out-loud “Ha!”  In addition to the Doctor’s mistake, I did like seeing an old villain redeemed like that.  I love the idea that the bad guys can become the good guys.

This episode really did hit a lot of buttons for me.  I must admit, I’m a sucker for the religion vs science debate that pops up so often in Doctor Who specifically, and science fiction in general.  Clearly it’s not a new idea, but I think it was handled well here.  Added to that was another trope of which I’m particularly fond—that of the bewildered, overprotected royal youth, forced to emerge from his insulated world of stuffy, meaningless court functions and deal with the harsh real world for the first time.  I loved watching Peladon grapple with the different factions of his government and finally come to terms with the fact that even his closest and most trusted ally could betray him, given the right motivation.

I think that’s the crux of what struck me square in the heart.  This story is touching and sad.  It’s heartbreaking to watch both Peladon and Hepesh realize that each is never going to come around to the other’s way of thinking.  Hepesh’s certainty that the boy he raised would see the light and return to the old ways is eventually crushed.  His adherence to the past and his abject fear of losing it causes him to take measures that are shocking and sad for everyone.  And eventually he’s killed by the living symbol of the very institution he tried to protect.  It’s tragic.  Then noble Peladon still mourns Hepesh grievously, as the father-figure he was for most of Peladon’s life.  Heart-rending.  Episode four nearly brought me to tears.  I’m misting up just thinking about it.

The fact that he proceeds to pardon everyone involved illustrates that Peladon has become the strong and wise kingly ruler that his planet needs in such tumultuous times.  I really think that this might be my favorite of all the Pertwee stories.  Well, of all the ones I’ve seen, anyway.  (Admittedly, that’s not many.)  Previous, I liked The Three Doctors best, but what I most enjoyed about it was the interplay between Pertwee and Troughton.  Here, I enjoyed Pertwee and a different Troughton, but I liked nearly everything else about the story as well.  The Curse of Peladon may not be very representative of the Pertwee era, but I suspect that might be why I like it so much more than the rest.

Podcast Wishes and Gallifrey Dreams

Considering how utterly steeped in Doctor Who I have been for the past couple weeks, I’ve been remiss in chronicling it.  Though to be fair, I haven’t been knitting, so I’m not *technically* required (by me) to document it here.  That said, I’d rather like to.  So I will.  So there.  So here, actually.

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest at my favorite bar in the universe—the TARDIS Tavern!  You may remember me gushing about it back in my Podcastastic post.  I believe I said something about giving my eye teeth to become a regular there.  I sure hope Sean and Steve don’t hold me to that.  But I’m a gal of my word, so if you see me at Gally, and I look more like a hillbilly than my pictures would lead you to expect, you’ll know why.

Gally!  That’s another thing I should mention.  Less than two weeks from this very day, I will be in sunny Los Angeles, California for the world’s largest and longest-running Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One!  (Or #Gally as it’s known on twitter.)  I couldn’t be more excited!  In addition to the nigh-ridiculous number of fantastic guests and panels and programming (Radio Free Skaro and the World of Tomorrow, anyone?), I’m thrilled-to-the-gills at the opportunity to meet so many Doctor Who fans—many of whom I’ve “met” on twitter and can’t wait to meet in person.  If you’re going to be at Gally, please track me down and say hi!

[Side note: At Gally I will also be guesting on another of my most favoritest podcasts, but more about that later.]

Ok, so back to TARDIS Tavern.  (Oh how I wish!)  I spent one of the most pleasant evenings in recent memory there chatting with Steve and Sean and Chris (from Radio Free Skaro) about Doctor number three—Jon Pertwee.  Much fun was had (MUCH), and many an alcoholic beverage was consumed (MANY).  We primarily focused on three episodes in particular: Terror of the Autons, The Curse of Peladon, and The Time Warrior.

You can listen to this friendly, fun, and rambly discussion for yourself before too long, and I heartily encourage you to do so!  I’ll post a link as soon as it’s available.

But remember those many alcoholic beverages I mentioned?  Well a solid proportion of them were consumed by yours truly, so I’m not 100% confident that I made myself as clear as I could have.  To make up for any possible lack of articulateness brought on by the copious spirits, I shall be posting here about each of the stories.  That way I can fill in any gaps I may have left.  Note that these should be used as an adjunct to the podcast, not a replacement for it!  My keen cohorts had innumerable pearls of wisdom to drop, and I’d hate for you to miss out on a single one.

So in the coming days/weeks (ok, it’s me, so it could be months), look forward to plenty of Pertwee posts!  (Please pardon the profuse plosives.)