Lazy Doctor Who – A New Podcast!

Lazy Doctor Who Art

No, those are not my feet and not my socks, but I do have some socks very much like them. This picture does, however, refer to my new podcast, Lazy Doctor Who. “Our” new podcast, I should say. Steven and I have started our own Doctor Who podcast. It was inevitable, really. Two podcasters living together, both loving the same show, it was only a matter of time. Maybe the world doesn’t need another Doctor Who podcast. Maybe Steven and I don’t need to do another podcast, but gosh darn it, it’s fun! And it’s a wonderful way to spend some quality time together.

When we decided to move in together, it was a given we’d embark upon what Paul Cornell calls “the pilgrimage”–watching all 50+ years of Doctor Who from beginning to end. We had to put it off a while because of Steven’s other podcast, The Memory Cheats. The conceit of that lovely little show was that he and his cohost Josh talked about classic Who stories from memory. Rewatching those eps with me would be cheating on The Memory Cheats. Now that he and Josh have completed their run (congrats guys!), Steven is free to watch with me!

When we started talking about the pilgrimage, we were excited. Steven was particularly happy to watch a show at our own pace, without having to blog or podcast about it. When he said that, I silently pined. Watch a tv show (Doctor Who in particular) and not podcast about it? Is that even allowed?

So I started plotting. Continue reading

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Romanadvoratrelundarriffic!

Patron-inspired posts are back! I’ve been quiet for a while, but I hope to change that in the coming month.

RomanaMeglos

I’m a big Romana fan from way back. As I’ve said before, Romana 1 is (often*) my favorite companion of all time. But she’s not the Romana I’m here to talk about. Today, I’m talking about Romana 2, and I’m still pretty thrilled about it. When I was younger, I waffled back and forth as to which was my favorite incarnation. The reason I often wobbled back to Lalla Ward’s portrayal was she was still “Romana”—as smart and savvy as ever, but she was just so gosh darn warm. Her Romana was a more open and instantly-friendly** version, and that suited (and suits) me just fine.***

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about good old Romana II here is one of my fabulous patrons, Darren, requested it! But the excitement I feel isn’t just because I get to talk about my beloved Romana 2. Continue reading

Why I Love (and Am) Nyssa

nyssasmile

I love Nyssa. I’ve always loved Nyssa. Lots of people don’t, and that makes me sad. It doesn’t usually make me sad when people don’t like companions (or even Doctors) I love. Why does this? Because Nyssa is me. More than any other companion ever, Nyssa reflects who I was as a young girl. There were plenty of other companions I wanted to be (Sarah Jane, Romana, even Leela), but Nyssa genuinely reflected me. It’s taken a couple of decades, but I’ve finally come to realize that that was a pretty great thing.

Note that, at the time, I didn’t see myself as Nyssa. I just liked her because I liked her. I think as little kids we don’t think too much about why we like things. They’re just neat. Leave it to the stodgy adults to dissect stuff until it barely means anything.*

So anyway, I thought Nyssa was neato. I still do. Now I’ve thought about why. In breaking it down, I can now clearly see that the things I did and do appreciate about her are facets and reflections of myself—perhaps more at that age than at present, but there’s still a lot of her in me.

Nyssa is smart. There’s no question about it. Nyssa knows her stuff. She can communicate with the Doctor—much of the time on his own level. In some ways she’s a spiritual successor to Zoe. She doesn’t quite have Zoe’s panache or bravado or spunk, but she’s got the brains for sure. Adric’s a bit of a genius too (as he never lets us forget), but Nyssa’s genius extends beyond the realm of numbers. She’s able to *do* things with her intelligence. Which brings me to the next in the list of her outstanding qualities. Continue reading

New Doctor Who Through Classic Who Eyes

I am still learning how to watch Doctor Who.  I know that’s an odd thing to say, given I’ve been watching it since 1983, but to be honest, that’s precisely why I find myself unsure of how to watch it now.

When I was a child, I consumed everything with the same wide-eyed guileless wonder.  There was no cynicism, no irony—just deeply felt joy and excitement.  Watching classic episodes first experienced in that way dredges up those same feelings, even now.  I get echoes of childish thrills when I watch “Seeds of Doom” or “Full Circle” or even “Warriors of the Deep,” and that creates its own problem—trying to reconcile my ingrained wonderment with my adult recognition that the effects are really rather crap.*  That’s not the issue I mean to talk about now, however.  That’s something I’m familiar with, having re-watched plenty of beloved childhood films and tv shows.  I think we’ve probably all had that experience by now.

What I’m talking about here is my inability, still, to comfortably watch new Doctor Who.  Note that I still adore it.  I am not made uncomfortable by it.  I’m just not at a place where I can watch it…100% comfortably.

You see, new episodes bring on a frisson of cognitive dissonance.  Doctor Who is the show I love above all others, yet new episodes don’t strike me in that pure, innocent way the classic series did.  It can’t.  I’m no longer a five-year-old, oblivious to the flaws and seeing the show in its Platonic ideal state.  I’m now in my mid-30s, and I have a television degree under my belt so I’ve been trained to look for those flaws.  I can’t miss them, and once I’ve seen them, I can’t unsee.  Missing the flaws completely and ignoring them purposefully are two very different animals.  My brain expects the former, experiences the latter, and then seizes up in an awkward “reverse-squee.”

Thus after my first viewing of a of new Who episode, I’m in the weird position of always saying “it was pretty good.”  My gut reaction can never be better than that, nor worse.  I find it impossible to hate on anything because…well because it’s Doctor Who!  There is no hating Doctor Who in my world.  On the other hand, I can’t quite ride the emotional high that other programs** can give me, because I have this long history of unconditional adoration the new show can never quite live up to.  There will always be an emotional gap, and that gap itself irks me like an unfilled cavity.

So even after watching my favorites of the new show,*** there’s a teensy part of me that’s hollow.  That is in no way the fault of the show.  It’s poor wiring on my part, and it’s why I’m still “learning” how to watch Doctor Who.  I have to find a way, as a grown up, to let that childish expectation go—to recognize that I’ll never feel quite the same way about Doctor Who, and to further recognize that that’s ok.  I need to get better at ignoring not only the show’s flaws but my lack of a five-year-old’s glee.  Then I need to replace that artless glee with the more sophisticated glee of a 35-year-old—a 35-year-old watching a show created by folks who clearly felt that same naïve glee when they were wee ones.

I’d like to think I’m not the only one with this problem (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I were).  Has anyone else felt this way?  Do you longtime fans (of roughly my age) struggle with unreasonable and immature expectations like I do?  Or have you lot all successfully put your inner moppets to bed so you can look upon new Doctor Who with fresh and jaded eyes?

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*And the performances may be off and the lighting is ridiculous and what the heck are they wearing? …

**Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, Red Dwarf, Firefly, Leverage

***”Dalek,” “Doomsday,” “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood,” “Blink,” “Utopia,” “The Impossible Astronaut,” “Asylum of the Daleks”…  (Ok, I should not have started listing those.  I keep wanting to add more.  Stopping now.)

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.