Confession #102: I Take the Broader View


Last week was rough. The big thunderstorm that rolled through town on Tuesday was excitement enough, what with trees and branches downed everywhere and power out for as much as a couple days for some folks. But then Wednesday night the epidemic of police violence against Black citizens hit close to home.

Less than five miles from my home, on a stretch of road I've driven countless times myself, a Black couple and child were pulled over nominally due to a broken taillight. The man, whose name was Philando Castile, did not leave the scene alive.

Aside from this particular tragedy happening in my neck of the woods, Philando's death affected one of my micro-communities directly. You see Philando—or "Mr. Phil," as he was known to the kids—worked at my daughters' school.

So why am I bringing it up here, of all places? There are several reasons. First and foremost, it's what's been on my mind. And though I don't get a lot of traffic on the blog, especially since I changed my weekly posting schedule, this is where I have the largest platform. As a white person—a white American, specifically—I feel like I have to stop hiding behind my desire not to invite conflict (good God, I hate facing personal conflict) and speak up when and where I can.

But it's not entirely unrelated to Doctor Who, either. Because when it is at its best, the Doctor (and the show in general) makes us challenge our usual perceptions.


Confession #101: I'm Tired of Speculating


About two and a half weeks ago, on 23 Apr 2016, we got the latest big news in the continual evolution of our show: the announcement of the new Companion. In a two-minute video titled "Friend from the Future," we were introduced to Pearl Mackie's character Bill as she and the Doctor hid from Daleks. Fandom immediately began passing judgement.

I will admit that first impressions can be important in forming an attachment to a character, but I find it astounding that some fans have already decided they either love or hate Bill based on 124 seconds of footage. I only read a few reactions (mostly along the lines of, "Why won't she shut up? What part of 'killing machines' doesn't she get?") before I stopped paying attention.

Frankly, I'm tired of all the speculation so far ahead of the fact.

Regardless, it's kind of the bread and butter of fandom (especially for those of us who blog) to leap into the speculative fray. I'm therefore essentially duty-bound to give you my own thoughts on what may be in store for us once Bill's adventures aboard the TARDIS come to our screens. Long time readers will be shocked (sarcasm) to hear that I am "cautiously optimistic."

Here's the thing. While I can see the point of those who think Bill's lack of chill when faced with Daleks makes a poor addition to a potential Companion's résumé, all we have by which to judge her is this tiny snippet of time during which she is immersed in a completely foreign situation. We have no idea what led up to that moment, what else she may or may not have been exposed to while with the Doctor up to this point, or what else in her life might have led her to find him in any way credible. In other words, we know nothing, Jon Snow. (Sorry—wrong franchise.)


Confession #100: I'm Still a Neowhovian


Five plus years ago, when I decided to start this blog, it seemed to me that most of the opinions I was reading online about Doctor Who were being offered up by "old school" fans—the ones whose formative years included watching Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, or Peter Davison and who really seemed to know their shit. I'd been searching for a way to talk to more people about what I thought of the show, and figured writing a blog that came at it from the POV of a newb (I'd been a fan for only about two-and-a-half years at that point) could be my niche.

Since then, of course, fandom has continued to grow. Being "new to Who" is hardly uncommon these days—there's even a Twitter hashtag about it. Further, as time marches on I have moved gradually toward that Old Guard territory, especially as I include the entirety of the pre-Hiatus/Classic run in my personal brand of fandom. I feel like some sort of weird hybrid (no Series Nine capital letter there, though) between those drawn in by the modern revival and those forever faithful to whichever flavor of the original run they grew up with.

At my core, though, I know I am still a neowhovian. Much as I adore the serial format and other hallmarks of the pre-Hiatus years (not least the various Doctors), I still view those stories through a lens of history rather than one of nostalgia. For me, nostalgia comes firmly in the form of the Ninth Doctor and Rose. Every time I hear the synthesizer sting screaming into those brass-heavy bars and the frenzy of the strings' "Chase," a sense of rightness and anticipation washes over me. To my brain, nothing will ever be so quintessentially Doctor Who as Series One.


Confession #99: I'm as Fangirly as Anyone Else


In midst of the announcements of the upcoming regime change in Doctor Who land, one major detail was left unresolved: the status of Peter Capaldi's position as the lead. This week we learned that Capaldi has been asked to stay on, but hasn't yet made a decision about whether or not to accept that invitation.

My reaction to this revelation was a combination of elation that the door hadn't been closed entirely on the possibility of seeing Capaldi under a different showrunner and extreme wariness; I know how uncertain my desired outcome is. I recognize that there are plenty of folks on the other side of that fence, but that fact baffles me. I have never for a moment wished anything less than a T.Baker-esque tenure for Capaldi's Doctor, so when I run across folks who think he's the Worst Doctor Evar, I just can't relate at all. As I reflected on that chasm of differing opinion, I realized that I am, in fact, a Capaldi Fangirl.

I almost hesitate to apply the label "fangirl" to myself, simply because of the vitriol that seems to come with it. For some people, being a fangirl is the worst possible thing another fan can be, a close cousin to the "fake geek girl."

I find it interesting to note that there is a strongly gendered component to this particular struggle. It's almost unheard of for someone to disparage another as a "fanboy" when it comes to expressing love for a thing (though it's not uncommon when discussing certain anti-social behaviors), nor do you hear accusations that someone is a "fake geek guy."


Confession #98: I'm Wary of Change


Moffat's out; Chibnall's in.

The news is now weeks old, and every podcaster and other blogger seems already to have offered their thoughts in some shape or form. Having spent these weeks taking in others' opinions, I can't say for sure that giving myself time to stew on it all has allowed my own views to mature, but they have at least solidified.

My initial reaction was twofold. On the one hand, I was ecstatic to hear Moffat's time was finally coming to an end. Regular readers will know I have long since tired of Moffat's style of arc storytelling, though I have still enjoyed individual stories (or pieces of them) and one-liners, so this should come as no surprise.

On the other hand, I was none too thrilled with the choice of Chibnall as heir to the throne, despite having been braced for it for months based on speculation in various corners of the Internet. Why did I feel that way? Let's review Chibnall's writing credits.



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