Confessions

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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Confession #109: I'm Bummed Capaldi's Leaving

Feb
08

About a week ago, the news officially broke that Series Ten will be Peter Capaldi's last as the Doctor. Although I'm terribly disappointed, I cannot honestly say that the news surprises me. After all, three seasons is pretty much the standard tenure for a Doctor, and there will often be a casting change with the changing of the production team guard.

While I have enjoyed the vast majority of Capaldi's adventures—almost entirely due to the man himself, in some cases—I must also admit that there were scripts that left him high and dry. I suspect much of what I didn't care for boiled down to having Moffat's hand on the tiller (except for that one episode that was just plain dreadful IMO—now let us never speak of it again). After all, the things that troubled me most about Matt Smith's tenure as the Doctor were certain characterizations from Moffat's pen; I'd really hoped that Capaldi would escape his influence for at least a single series. Alas.

In contrast, some will be happy to see him go. Many of the objections to Capaldi's Doctor that I've seen over the last couple of years have centered on his prickly personality. I suppose I can see why some fans would find that archetype alienating. Perhaps that reaction to Capaldi is as natural for those who most adored Smith's Eleventh Doctor as the immediate, opposing reaction was for me. As my fandom was formed upon the fairly dour Ninth Doctor, I have found a somewhat more staid (though never completely sane) incarnation comfortable and refreshing.

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Confession #108: I Don't Feel Very "Neo" Anymore

Jan
11

Exactly six years ago today, my first post appeared on this blog. It's a little hard to believe it's been so long! When I started out, I had a lot to say. I was still less than three years into my fandom, and really didn't have anyone to talk to about the show, at least not in any in-depth way. I had only just joined Twitter, in order to promote the blog, and hadn't even heard of Gally until I'd been on Twitter for a while. (That was back in the day when one could still decide on a whim in August to go to Gally the following February, rather than needing lightning-fast fingers during a brief few-minute window in May.)

So it felt exciting and energizing to try to connect with other fans and share my take on things in a way I'd not seen discussed. I didn't feel like most of the folks whose opinions I was reading at the time could relate to my perspective at all, and I hoped to add a new voice to the mix.

Since then, I've developed a great many fan friendships, some of them close. I've had conversations both online (here on the blog and elsewhere) and in person about any number of Doctor Who-related topics. I've experienced my second realtime regeneration and all the feels that accompany the change in lead actor. I've met many cast, crew, and production team members. I've been on a bunch of panels at both Gally and my local con CONsole Room.

And the conversations have changed.

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Confession # 107: I'm Feeling Undervalued

Dec
07

Since the show's rebirth in 2005, and its subsequent booming popularity in the US, the Powers That Be (PTB) have done a pretty good job including fans on this side of the Pond in various events and celebrations that might interest us. They've not generally made us wait for a later broadcast date for new episodes, occasionally even giving us simultaneous access (like the around-the-world release of the 50th anniversary special), and have made an effort to include American stops on their publicity tours.

These last few months, though, I've felt undervalued as a North American fan. Specifically, there are two multi-part storylines that have been delayed significantly for the US audience: Class and The Power of the Daleks.

Power is widely regarded as one of the best stories out there; I often see it at or near the top of "What lost story would you most like to see returned" lists (along with Marco Polo). In the UK, the 6-part animated reconstruction was released online one downloadable episode per day beginning on 05 Nov 2016. Just over two weeks later, the entire serial was available for purchase on Region 2 DVD, with online/downloadable color and blu-ray versions yet to come (31 Dec 16 and 06 Feb 17, respectively).

By contrast, the US got a cinematic version (one night only!) on 14 Nov 16 (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand got similar options), with a weekly episode airing on BBC America starting on 19 Nov 16. For those of us who weren't able to make it to a theater on the 14th nor have ready access to BBCA, the wait extends out to 24 Jan 17, when the R1 DVD will be released from a single outlet (Barnes & Noble, for those wondering).

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