Confessions

Confession #114: I've Come Full Circle on Rose

Sep
13

Several months ago, I got my daughters to agree to watch an episode of Doctor Who with me—just one. I told them if they didn't like it, they didn't have to watch any more. It turned out, though, that they did quite like it, and we ended up watching another right away.

Since then, we've watched a number of stories together, from Series Ten to The Monster of Peladon to Dalek. With the summer holidays winding down and a new school year starting, we've come to something of a viewing standstill (though I'll admit to not being overly anxious to push forward, as the next two episodes in the queue are Love & Monsters and Fear Her...), but now that we are ~85% through Rose's time as a (regular) Companion, I have to say it's made me think about her differently—again.

When I first started watching, Rose was my everything. I fell in love with the show and the Doctor through her, totally reading their relationship—starting with Nine—as romantic. I even had my own headcanon about exactly when each fell for the other, and when each ~realized~ they'd fallen for the other. I made notes (I'm that kinda nerd).

I spent a great deal of Series Four (which was airing as I caught up to it) waiting with bated breath for Rose's return. It couldn't come fast enough for me. Although Donna replaced her as my favorite modern Companion (until Series Ten), for several years I had nothing but fondness for Rose. Then I started interacting with The Fandom.

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Confession #113: I Like In-Doctor-nating Newbs

Aug
09

When I started writing this blog several years ago, I still considered myself a new fan. The original concept of the blog was to talk about the show—particularly the Classic/pre-Hiatus era—from the perspective of someone who'd only "discovered" it ~2.5 years before. It was also less common at that time to see women blogging about Who, so it seemed like a nice little niche I could carve out for myself in fandom writing.

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have morphed into something more akin to Old Guard. I'll certainly never have the same kind of cred as fans who grew up with the show in the UK, or even those here in the US who had to scramble for access via many-times-copied VHS tapes. (Along those lines, I'm really looking forward to the release of Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America by Steven Warren Hill et al., due out in less than two weeks.) However, I've noticed that as the show evolves and gains new young viewers, I have more in common with those long-term fans than the new.

I think that commonality has much to do with the fact that I am of an age with the fans who grew up with the show. As such, I relate to television in much the same way. Having been raised on 70's and 80's television, I don't find those periods of Doctor Who as foreign or off-putting as many fans of younger generations do. Nor does 60's Who seem as far out of my norm.

These are things I have to keep in mind when I want to introduce new people to our show. Depending on the kind of television the individual in question is used to, I might have to make different selections or give a different set of preparatory comments.

The general openness of a subject to the entire experiment is also important. For example, there is a big difference between a thirty-something fan who's seen all of modern/post-Hiatus Who and is interested in exploring more of the older Doctors; a twenty-something who came in with Smith's Eleven and doesn't really connect to Capaldi's older, crankier Twelve—and is pretty dubious about that whole black-and-white nonsense; and a pre-teen who mostly only knows about the show because their parent(s) watch. That necessary customization is part of the fun for me.

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Confession #112: I'm Psyched for Thirteen

Jul
19

As I scrolled through my news digest from The Washington Post on Sunday around noon, I came across a headline saying that Roger Federer had won an unprecedented eighth time at Wimbledon. "What?" I screeched. "The men's final is over?"

I scrambled for a new browser tab so I could search for the announcement. If I'd been clever, I'd have gone right to the BBC's Doctor Who page so I could watch the announcement trailer myself, but I was in too much of a rush. And then—there it was, in picture after picture splashed across my Google results page: the Thirteenth Doctor will be played by a woman. Chibnall actually had the ovaries to break with tradition and cast a woman.

I'm not even sure what sort of noise I emitted; it was enough to make my 11-year-old daughters ask what was up. When I told them they'd announced who would play the next Doctor, they scrambled to look over my shoulder—and started screaming. They jumped up and down. They made their own set of incoherent excitement noises (driving their poor father from the room in a desperate act of self-preservation). I had almost managed to calm them enough to save my own ears when it dawned on them that she'd be number Thirteen—their favorite number(!)—and they went hypersonic again.

Needless to say, our household is on the pro-change side of the equation.

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Confession #111: I Want More Globetrotting

Apr
12

One of—perhaps even The—most sought-after missing serial in Doctor Who is the early Hartnell adventure Marco Polo. It's the fourth-ever story, the earliest missing serial, and—with the exception of two of the six episodes of The Reign of Terror—the only gap in the first season of the show. It is also believed to have been a truly beautiful piece of television.

Although the audio still exists, the only visual record we have of Marco Polo is set photos. These images give us a tempting glimpse at the opulent sets and costumes that no doubt fuel the fan ardor for the serial. But is there something besides its status as the Who-footage version of a unicorn or the Fountain of Youth—or perhaps more accurately, a Tasmanian tiger—that gets fans worked up every time a rumor of its discovery resurfaces?

I would argue that one of the reasons Marco Polo ranks so highly in the minds of those pining for the return of lost episodes is its setting. Even nearly eight hundred years after the travels of the real Marco Polo, China continues to be considered fairly exotic by the standards of Eurocentric cultures like the UK and US. While setting a story in a location unfamiliar to a broad swath of your fanbase has the potential to further exoticize that location, it also has the potential both to pique audience interest and to familiarize that audience with different cultural perspectives.

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Confession #110: I'm Past Ready for New Episodes

Mar
08

I'm going to let my Fan Entitlement flag fly for a moment—something of which I don't generally approve—and say that it's about bloody time there were some new episodes of Doctor Who on the air. The first episode of Series 10 is finally going out on 15 Apr 2017 (mere days after my next Confession, incidentally), and I couldn't be more ready.

It's selfish and rude of me to be so antsy—after all, other shows have even longer waits—but going a full year between episodes in 2016 was like torture, especially given all the other Scheiße that went down last year. Since the show's return in 2005, we've generally not had to wait more than about six months for new material—even during the Year of Specials—though there have been a few larger gaps. The span between the 2011 Christmas special and the start of Series 7, for example, was just over eight months.

During Capaldi's era, however, extended wait times have become both increasingly long and increasingly standard. Right from the get-go, we had to wait eight months between Smith's departure in the 2013 Christmas special and Capaldi's debut in Series 8. The following year, there were nine months between the 2014 Christmas special and Series 9.

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