Doctor Who: Pertwee (More Like Pertweak) Part 3

Fellow travelers, we have finally reached the last in my series of TARDIS Tavern-inspired Pertwee posts.  Rejoice!  (I certainly do.)  In Monday’s post, I pointed out that I’m not fond of Pertwee’s Doctor, in yesterday’s post, I elaborated on part of why.  Here are a few more reasons Doctor number three doesn’t do it for me:

As I mentioned previously, this is the suave Doctor, and many folks point to that as one of his winning qualities.  I beg to differ.  Scratch that, I just differ.  Oh he’s suave alright.  To the nth degree.  I’ll grant him that.  But I don’t like it—at least, not in the Doctor.  “My Doctor” isn’t suave.  Suaveness is a quality I much prefer in a villain because it’s something I love to hate.  The Master is a perfect example of this.  He’s got a very similar quality, but in his case, it’s ok because I’m not supposed to be rooting for him.  He’s the bad guy.  In my mind, that’s how bad guys should act.  I really feel the Master wears it better.

Apparently in a hero, quips are part of a package deal with suaveness.  We’re firmly setting our feet in James Bond territory now.  Quipping is another thing that rubs me the wrong way about this Doctor.  For example, in The Time Warrior the Brigadier mentions keeping the scientists safe by having all his eggs in one basket.  The Doctor replies “That’s fine [zoom to dramatic close-up] so long as no one steals the basket.”  *GROAN*  I thought my eyes might not return to the front of my skull, they rolled so far.

To continue with the Doctor-like-James Bond theme, there’s the Doctor-as-an-action-hero phenomenon.  This, more than anything else, seems to set Pertwee apart from his other incarnations.  There are a few swordfights and the like sprinkled here and there throughout the other Doctors’ reigns, but no other era sees the consistent level of action (by HAVOC) that Pertwee’s does.  Frankly, this bores me. Venusian Aikido?  I have nothing more to say about that than *yawn*.

Next up in the Bondy-Doctor comparison department: the Doctor’s “I’m so cool” attitude.  This is, of course, part and parcel with the suave, debonair personality.  As such, it bugs the snot out of me.  An example from Terror of the Autons: Mike Yates exclaims “A bomb!  Is it defused?”  The Doctor’s cool reply: “It is now.”  You could practically see the “smug” coming out of his ears.  I must admit, in one case I didn’t mind this attitude.  In the same story, he’s tied up at the circus and being a royal smartass to his captors.  That time, I was okay with it.  It’s cool to act like that to the bad guys, but there’s no excuse for being a jerk to your friends.

To really get at my feelings about Pertwee, I tried to make an informal pros and cons list, but I found I could only come up with one pro, and that’s his kindness.  In the moments when he’s being the kind, grandfather-character, he’s really quite sweet.  (However, at the risk of straying back into con territory, that makes it all the more harsh and jarring when he starts acting like a big jerkface again.)  When I stop to think about it, the few things I like about him are things I see as overarching characteristics of the Doctor in general.  I can’t think of a single thing that stands out as “Pertweesque” that is something that draws me to him rather than alienates me.  Maybe seeing more Pertwee episodes will aid me here.  I freely admit that I have a long way to go in completing my third Doctor education.  These posts illustrate how I feel right now.  It’ll be interesting to see whether my feelings have changed after concluding my journey through his era (something I’m not exactly excited to do, but will nonetheless get to everntually).

For now, I’m about as far from a third Doctor fan as you can get.  I simply wouldn’t want to spend time with this kind of a guy.

As I said before, there’s nothing here that’s inherently terrible.  Lots of folks look at the very things I’ve pointed to and say “yeah, and isn’t it great?”  More power to them (you?).  It pleases me that there are people out there who are adoring the parts of Who that I don’t like.  I think it’s important for every aspect of my favorite show to be loved.  I’m just not equipped to cover it all.  So hooray for all the third Doctor lovers out there!  I hope you keep on enjoying the hell out of seasons 7–11 (in part, so I don’t have to).

In closing, I want to encourage each and every one of you (who haven’t already) to check out TARDIS Tavern’s Episode 61: A Pertwee Extravaganza!  It was great fun to record, and it definitely gives a more balanced look at the third Doctor than I’ve presented here.  Believe me, if I could head back to the TAVERN right now, I’d do so.  After all this Pertwee talk, I could sure as hell use a drink!

Doctor Who: Pertwee (More Like Pertweak) Part 2

Ok!  Time for more Pertwee (inspired by my TARDIS Tavern appearance).  In yesterday’s post I pointed out that I’m not fond of Pertwee’s Doctor.  Here’s part of why:

Many of my problems with Pertwee’s Doctor exist in other Doctors as well, but the fact that there are so many all together in one incarnation adds up to (or subtracts down to) a very low level of appreciation for Doctor #3.  The first of these is that he’s so mercurial (and yes, like I said, that’s not something unique to Pertwee).  Travelling with the third Doctor seems reminiscent of being in a dysfunctional relationship.  In The Curse of Peladon, one minute he’s yelling at Jo and calling her an idiot.  Not a minute later, he softens drastically and allows that she’s also been very brave.  His mood swings must be exhausting to deal with.  I understand that it’s gotta be difficult for the Doctor to have to deal with mere humans all the time, but about-faces like that smack of “I’m sorry baby; I didn’t mean it; you know I love you!”  Yuck.  At times it’s almost like he has multiple personality disorder or something.  He’ll be yelling and brash and jerky, then in the next scene he’s all meek and loath to hurt anyone’s feelings.  In Terror of the Autons he rails to the Brigadier about how terrible Jo is and how she’ll have to go, but in the next scene he can’t bring himself to fire her, and relents to having her assistance, however useless it may be.

When it comes down to it, he just doesn’t have a very pleasant personality.  Curt insults trip off his tongue more often than praise, and not just for Jo; the UNIT boys bear some of the brunt as well.  Plus, he’s often snarky.  When Mike Yates asks if Jo is hypnotized in Terror of the Autons, the Doctor snaps at him “Of course, why else do you think she tried to blow us all to pieces?”  Then the Doctor condescendingly mocks Yates by repeating him and pointing out how wrong he is about hypnotism.  In that same story, when the Doctor dresses down Brownrose the bureaucrat, instead of inspiring that “In-your-face!” feeling that I love to get when a fool is put in his place, this just smacks of dipping down to Brownrose’s self-important level.  “Tubby” indeed.  *rolleyes*  The third Doctor comes off as a pompous blowhard a lot of the time.  The only thing that mitigates it for me is the fact that he’s got something to back it up.  He does know more than everyone else around him.  That fact can only soften it so much though.

I suppose one could defend him for having somewhat frayed nerves when it comes to dealing with humans.  The third Doctor is primarily confined to Earth, so he has to deal with Earthlings on a day-to-day basis for a good stretch of time.  I guess that must wear on him.  But he’s a Time Lord.  The few years he has to spend on Earth are a drop in the bucket for one as long-lived as he.  Though I could argue with myself further here (I often do) by pointing out that the Doctor lives quite the vagabond lifestyle, and any curtailing of his freedom, no matter how brief, is bound to make him rather cross and sour in general.  Even if you buy that, it’s pretty darn rude for him to take out his frustrations on the humans around him rather than the Time Lords who stuck him on Earth.  He ought to learn some more effective coping mechanisms.  That might help him minimize the hissy fits.

Yes, that’s right, the third Doctor throws tantrums—whether it be tearing up reports or kicking the TARDIS and declaring that he likes being childish.  Come to think of it, those types of outbursts pair rather oddly with his general suave demeanor.  Perhaps we’re meant to find these different sides of our protagonist interesting and complex, but to me it just seems jarring, confusing, and even a little unsettling.  This is certainly not “my Doctor.”

Removing this dichotomy of character wouldn’t save the third Doctor for me.  Even if he expressed the suave side of his nature and nothing else, I still wouldn’t enjoy it.  I shall expand on that tomorrow.

Doctor Who: Pertwee (More Like Pertweak) Part 1

So it’s come to this.  I sorta promised myself I’d do four Pertwee-related blog posts after my thrilling appearance* on TARDIS Tavern a while back—one for each story we reviewed, and one on Pertwee’s Doctor in general.  We have now reached the general-Pertwee blog.  So I’ve got to try to distill my feelings on the third Doctor into some sort of comprehensible form without alienating anyone.  Actually, screw that last part.  If you’re not comfortable with someone holding a different opinion from you, then I guess I’ll just have to be okay with alienating you.  For the record, I think it’s great that so many people love Pertwee and his Doctor.  Doctor Who bringing joy to people is what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned.  So please don’t take this post as a condemnation if you happen to be in that camp.  I’m just camped firmly elsewhere—in a more brightly-colored and ramshackle tent.

[Editor’s note (which is also a writer’s note ‘cause there ain’t no one here but me): After spewing out all my Pertwee opinions, I realized it would make for one truly epic post, so I’ve decided to split it up.  Today’s is a brief overview of my feelings.  Over the next couple days, I’ll post some more specific observations.]

Ok.  So.  The third Doctor.  Here we go.  *deep breath*

The third Doctor is the suave Doctor, the action hero, the James Bond of the Doctor Who pantheon, and thus, he’s my least favorite of all.  I often find that when discussing him, the fan with whom I’m speaking disagrees very little.  The character traits which make Pertwee’s Doctor so beloved of some others are the very traits that turn me off.  He’s so very smooth and sophisticated.  He’s adept at hand-to-hand combat.  He wears a freaking cape.  None of these are things that excite me.  On the contrary, they make me at best, roll my eyes and sigh, and at worst, become very annoyed and want to turn off the TV.

I will allow that he does these things well.  Pertwee takes each of these characteristics and plays them just right.  I have no complaints about his ability to pull off what he’s trying to do.  I just don’t like the direction in which the Doctor is taken during this era.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy some of the camaraderie of having UNIT as a somewhat “familial” backdrop for the stories.  It’s an interesting way to keep costs down, and I think it works on the whole.  I just think I’d enjoy it more if it was a slightly different Doctor that was slotted into those same surroundings.  Note that I don’t suggest any of the other existing Doctors.  None of them would really work well here.  Though for me, Pertwee doesn’t either.

And I will explain why in more detail over the next couple days.  Stay tuned.  Or if you’re a big Pertwee fan, maybe don’t. ; )

*Why does that look like it’s meant to be sarcastic?  It’s most certainly not.  “Visiting” TARDIS Tavern was one of the most thrilling things I’ve done in some time.

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.

Commentacular (Or Spreadsheetopia)

Ok!  I have been promising this for a very long time indeed.  Better late than never, right?

As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been reading this blog for long, one of my favorite things to do (like, ever) is watch Doctor Who episodes with podcast commentary.  Sadly, I’ve been slacking at that lately.  I simply haven’t had the time.  (Ironically, I’ve spent a good deal of that time talking to Doctor Who podcasters on twitter–so guys, you really only have yourselves to blame.)

So what I’ve been doing is listening to the commentary episodes, right up until the time the commentary itself starts.  Then I note the time and switch it off.  That way I can come back later when I have the Who story (and my knitting) at hand.  The waiting is actually helpful in some cases–for example when a podcast does commentaries on an entire season.  You see, I listen to podcast back-catalogs in reverse order.  I like to start at the present and work my way back.  It’s fun!  But watching a season of Doctor Who in reverse order is less fun.

To avoid getting terribly confused when it does come time to catch up on commentaries, I’ve done one of my other favorite things: created a spreadsheet!  This way I can keep track of the Doctor Who stories, the podcast episode numbers, and the time in the podcast when the commentary gets rolling*.

Several people asked if I’d be willing to share this spreadsheet, and (of course) I am!  It’s sorted by podcast, then organized in the (rough) order in which I plan to watch them, so I apologise if it seems a bit confusing.  Also, the last column has notes that mean nothing to anyone but me.  Feel free to download it and change it around as you like (assuming you’re as big a nerd as I and would actually want to do such a thing).  I’m constantly adding to it, so I’ll probably post updates occasionally if it seems like anyone would be interested.  Frankly I’m shocked that anyone was interested in the first place.

Incidentally, if you’d like a bit more information about the podcasts that are referred to in the spreadsheet, I encourage you to check out my previous entry here, Podcastastic.  I do a quick rundown of what I’ve been listening to lately.

So anyway, here is the spreadsheet: use it in good health (click to download the excel file): Podcast Commentaries

*Note that the time listed is the moment at which Steven from Radio Free Skaro says the words “legally purchased DVD” (or whatever the analog of that is on the other podcasts–Josh sometimes remembers to do that on DW:MHC as well).


Ok, so I haven’t posted anything lately.  That’s because I also haven’t knitted or watched much Doctor Who lately.  However, what I have done is listen to oodles of episodes of Doctor Who-related podcasts.  (I’ve mentioned before that I listen to several.)  Well that’s what I’ve been up to.  You know how when you (and by “you,” I mean “crazy people like me”) discover something new, well new-to-you (again, meaning me) that’s really really super awesome, and you (me) just throw yourself (myself) into it headlong?  That’s pretty much what happened to me and the apparently-very-wide world of Doctor Who podcasts.  Don’t get me wrong, I only listen to a teeny-tiny, itty-bitty fraction of what’s out there.  I’m sure there are heaps and buckets of other awesome podcasts I haven’t gotten around to yet (and probably never will–there are only so many hours in the day after all).

So if you know of (or create) any I haven’t covered here, feel free to mention them in the comments, or tweet me about them.  I might even get around to listening someday, but no promises.  There’s only one of me!  (And while it might be swell having multiples of me for podcast-listening purposes, trust me, the world is really better off with only one E.)

So here is my very quick* rundown on the Doctor Who podcasts I’ve been listening to (listed in the order I discovered them):

  • Radio Free Skaro – My first love in the world of Doctor Who podcasts, and still my favorite.  Steven, Warren, and Chris strike exactly the right balance of informative and entertaining.  Their personalities couldn’t be more well-suited to podcasting together.  There’s truly something for everyone.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether they’re rehashing the news or doing a commentary, I find myself laughing out loud regularly (sometimes even during the multitude of interesting interviews they get with the behind-the-scenes folk of the Doctor Who world).  I’m not sure how they manage to sound so professional while simultaneously being ridiculous and off-color, but they pull it off brilliantly.
  • The TARDIS Tavern – Sean and Steve have created a virtual pub at which I would give my eye teeth to become a regular.  Seriously, if this place really existed, I would become an alcoholic in no time.  I find it hard to imagine a better time than sitting around, drinking, and talking about episodes of Doctor Who.  I would love to hang out with these guys.  I whipped through the TARDIS Tavern back-catalog faster than that of any other podcast!  While I haven’t adored every guest “bartender” they’ve had, I do appreciate the variety of opinions they get by having so many different folks pass through the Tavern.  I love being a proverbial fly on the wall there!
  • Two-minute Time Lord – Oh what a happy day it was when I finally gave 2MTL a listen for the first time!  I positively fell in love with Chip’s “concentrated commentary.”  He talks the way I think (or possibly the way I wish I thought)–not so much in the content of what he’s saying (although that’s quite often bang-on the same too), but in the way he phrases things and how he clearly comes at the Doctor Who universe from a place of affection.  I always find myself re-listening to the two-minute episodes several times, just to ensure that I haven’t missed something.  And I almost always have!  He packs a staggering amount of content into a brief amount of time.  2MTL is the TARDIS of podcasts in that way.  It’s somehow bigger on the inside…
  • Doctor Who: Mostly Harmless Cutaway – I actually have TARDIS Tavern to thank for my fandom of DW:MHC.  I adored the Tavern’s frequent guest host Josh so very very much that I just had to find out what his other podcast was like (and have since determined that I would follow him anywhere).  Turns out it’s a great podcast in its own right.  Mastermind Eric runs a pleasingly-not-so-tight ship that, in addition to Josh, often includes guest cohosts such as Sean from TARDIS Tavern, Cat from Sci-Fi-Party Line (a fun podcast that covers all kinds of sci-fi), and a droll Austrailian fellow whose name seems to change with each appearance.  Listening to these folks is the closest I get to sitting around chatting Doctor Who with a room full of friends.  Good times indeed!
  • The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast – This was another case of following a podcaster I like–well two, actually.  I loved Sean on TARDIS Tavern and DW:MHC, so it seemed natural to check this out, but I hesitated because I don’t really read Doctor Who books.  Then I heard an episode of DW:MHC recorded at Gallifrey One** that prominently featured DWBC-cohost Erik.  I was sold immediately.  It doesn’t even matter that I don’t read the books.  I love hearing Erik and Sean talk about them, and I look forward to hearing the guest-readers they have recite passages from the books they review.  For not being a fan of audio books, I really enjoy that bit.  Probably because they seem to get such excellent talent each month.

I heartily recommend each and every one of these podcasts.  It really felt like a whole new world opened up to me when I discovered they existed.  I feel like I should also give an honorable mention and a quick shout-out.  Honorable mention to The Platformer Podcast.  It has nothing (well, very little) to do with Doctor Who, but two of the three lovely co-hosts were mentioned above.  I never thought I’d enjoy a technology-based podcast, but I find myself looking forward to this one every week!  The shout-out goes to Kyle Anderson, writer for (among other things)  First of all, if it wasn’t for Kyle, I’d have never discovered any of these podcasts, so I’m pretty much forever in his debt.  Secondly, Kyle himself has become one of my favorite podcast guests.  The guy knows his stuff, and more importantly, knows how to talk about it in an entertaining manner.  (And as of recently, he’s co-hosting a podcast of his own.  If you enjoy bad movies, or people talking about them, you may find that the WTF Are You Watching?! Podcast is relevant to your interests.)

Ok.  So when I sat down to write this, it was supposed to be about a certain spreadsheet I’ve mentioned on twitter, but as it seems to have turned into something else entirely–something huge, apparently, I think the spreadsheet post will have to wait until later.  Stay tuned!  (How’s that for a teaser?***)

*It may not look “very quick,” but trust me, I could go on and on (and on) about each of these.

**I’m told Gallifrey One is the world’s premiere Doctor Who convention.  I’ll get to find out in February, as I’ll be attending for the first time.  So exciting!  I will probably be starstruck meeting all these podcasters in person.

***I know, I know.  It’s pretty lame.  Unless you dig spreadsheets like I do, that is.  I really dig spreadsheets.

Doctor Who: A Video Home System

Last week was a special week in Doctor Who for me.  As I mentioned, I recently acquired a number of episodes on VHS.  No, before you ask, I didn’t pay for them–unless the effort of lugging them from my parents’ house to mine counts.  (And it shouldn’t ‘cause my dad carried them out to my car, and my houseguest carried them in to my apartment.)  So as you’ve probably surmised, I snatched these from my parents—from my mom, specifically.  She’s been trying to clean out the house and get rid of stuff.  When she asked if she should toss them, I said no way!

My original plan was to take them, sort through them, and ditch all the episodes that are easily accessible via Netflix (either streaming or on DVD).  And that’s still my plan…really…uh huh…  No, seriously, it is.  I just wasn’t prepared for the emotional reaction I’d have to holding those tapes again.  My houseguest, C, was laughing at the squeaky sounds I was making at being reunited with my “old friends,” as he called them.

They really are old friends.  The number of hours I spent watching (and labeling—Mom was rubbish at labeling promptly) those clunky things is beyond measure.  They literally got me through one of the worst summers of my life.  And then my brother came along and wanted to watch them too, so I started right back over at the beginning with him.

So anyway, it looks like they’ll be staying for a little while at least.  I’m simply not ready to part with them just yet.  And they don’t look half bad all stacked up along the wall next to the TV.  It’s like (retro) modern art.  (Or so I’ll keep telling myself.)

They’re sorted by Doctor (1-8).  It’s pretty clear which eras my mom favored.  There are very few repeats in there.  I haven’t looked through them thoroughly yet, but I think there may be three different copies of the Trial of a Time Lord season, so picture the Colin Baker stack a good deal shorter.  Also, please note that almost all of these were recorded on EP, which means there’s about 6 hours of Doctor Who on each tape.

So this should give you an inkling of what it was like to grow up in my household.  Doctor Who took precedence over just about everything else.  In fact, there was one time in particular when Dad had a friend visiting, and the Green Bay Packers were playing some important game at the same time Doctor Who was on.  Catastrophe!  That particular problem was solved by Mom renting a motel room for that Sunday, taking the VCR, and taping it there.

Come to think of it, that wasn’t the only time Mom went to a motel in pursuit of Doctor Who.  One weekend the Madison PBS station was having a Doctor Who marathon.  Problem: we lived near Milwaukee, so we couldn’t get the channel.  Solution: Mom got a motel room halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, took the VCR, and spent the entire weekend taping Doctor Who.  It’s worth pointing out that we were not exactly well-off, and renting motel rooms (and even shelling out for VHS tapes) were not insignificant expenses for us.  But for the good Doctor, ‘twas all worth it.

One thing I meant to do and forgot was to go through Mom’s box o’ memorabilia.  I think she got rid of some stuff over the years, but I know she still has a bunch of items from the various cons she attended back in the day.  She’s got autographs from most of the actors who’d played the Doctor by that time, old fanzines, bookmarks, lots of neat stuff I only half-remember because I wasn’t allowed to look at it unless she was there to make sure I didn’t ruin anything.  Maybe next time I’ll remember to delve into that treasure trove of memories.

Until then, I’m well-fixed with my precious precious videotapes.  Scoff if you want, but right now, the cockles of my heart are about as toasty as they get.

Doctor Who: Underworld (and Overjoyed)

I learned something Wednesday night.  I learned that videotapes that are old enough to legally drink alcohol in the US can still be perfectly watchable.  Well, perfectly watchable for me, anyway; I have a pretty high tolerance for poor video quality.  Last weekend I liberated some very old VHS tapes of Doctor Who (on which I’ll elaborate at a later date).  Then Wednesday night was my every-other-Wednesday with my brother, which it seems has become Doctor Who night.  (Though he suggested Blake’s 7 for next time.)  We decided to give one of the old tapes a whirl.  I nudged us toward “Underworld” ‘cause (as I mentioned before) TARDIS Tavern will be covering that episode soon.  In point of fact, the reason they’re covering it is because Doctor Who Magazine’s 2009 poll ranked it among the five worst Doctor Who stories ever.

Um. What?  No seriously, WHAT?

D and I figured out we hadn’t watched “Underworld” since 1994.  He didn’t really remember it at all, but I had fond memories of this episode.  I was more-than-half-ready to be unpleasantly shocked to reality by how badly my memory cheated.  This, despite Radio Free Skaro-Chris’ repeated assurances that it’s a good one.  (I mean, the guy loves Pertwee; what could he possibly know?)  But he, and my memory, were spot on.  I still adore this story.

Ok, the effects aren’t great (D pointed out that the episode 1 cliffhanger had the ship buried in what looked like Grape Nuts cereal), but I’ve never watched Who for the effects.  I watch for the stories.  Always have.  Always will.  And this one was right up my alley.  I mean RIGHT up my alley: nods to Greek mythology, a nearly-endless quest, Time Lords as gods, a fledgling rebellion, a technologically-advanced society that’s devolved into slavery and mysticism…  The list goes on and on.  I would hug this episode if I could.

And on top of all that, it’s a really fantastic Leela story.  I’ve always loved her, but not having seen any of her stories in a while, I’d forgotten how hilarious Louise Jameson could be–starting with the very first scene when she near-fumbles about the TARDIS console for a bit before eventually shouting for the Doctor.   Or her next scene in which the Doctor and K-9 think that an artifact is 100,000 years old.  Leela sagely nods and agrees, “Me too.”  Later she’s hit with a pacifying ray and becomes all soft and sweet.  It’s a brilliant piece of acting which had me laughing out loud.  I think my favorite Leela moments come when she’s the voice of experience with regards to scientific knowledge and technology.  Compared to the Doctor, she’s quite the ignorant savage, but when they encounter a race who knows even less than she does about spaceships and the stars, she very matter-of-factly assumes the role of slightly-put-upon mentor.  And she underplays it just perfectly.  I love it!  LOVE. IT.

D felt pretty much the same way.  He called it “bizarre” that this episode landed in the bottom five.  (Seriously, I think he was nearly offended by that fact.)  I’m curious to hear how the TARDIS Tavern boys feel, but honestly,  I don’t really care overly much what anyone else thought.

I loved it.  Full stop.