Confessions

Confession #93: I Don't Believe in "Good Old Days"

Aug
26

In a recent online discussion about whether "Moffat detractors" are numerous or just loud, I saw someone posit that those fans "usually want RTD and Tennant back." After countering that assertion—and another that fans familiar with pre-Hiatus Who are more likely to like Moffat (what?)—with both my own experiences and the opinions of several of my friends (none of whom have ever suggested anything so absurd as to bring back a previous Doctor for regular episodes), I got to thinking about the human tendency to wax nostalgic about "the good old days."

Are the Good Old Days ever really as good as we remember?

I think fandom is much like parenthood (or any number of other experiences), in that once an era is well and truly in the rear-view mirror of our lives, it is far easier to remember the good parts than the bad (barring any truly traumatic moments). We look back on the episodes that made us fans and think, "nothing will ever be quite as good as it was when X was the Doctor," or "when Y was in charge," and pine for a time when everything was "as it should be."

Since it's only been about seven years since I came into the fold (as opposed to many of the folks my age, especially Brits, who have now been fans for nigh on forty years), I don't have the breadth of experience to speak to what it was like to be a fan during the pre-Hiatus/"Classic" era, but I can extrapolate from what I've read or been told by others.

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Confession #92: I Like Change

Aug
05

Someone asked me recently whether or not I thought Jenna Coleman would stay through the end of Series Nine. The question surprised me, since I'm doing my damnedest to avoid any hints, clues, or photos-from-the-set that might tell me anything about upcoming episodes, but some of that is unavoidable (like the return of certain characters), and I hadn't heard any rumors that suggested Clara might leave.

If recent years have taught us anything, it's that keeping a secret from Doctor Who fans is nigh impossible these days. Whether it's a BBC insider accidentally leaving a file server open to the public or someone inside the production team letting something slip at an inappropriate time or place, nothing big has managed to stay under wraps lately. I would thus be super surprised if we're getting a Companion switch this series, as that's the kind of news that even I wouldn't be able to avoid.

Having said that, I think it would be cool to be proven wrong.

You may recall from my S7 and S8 reviews that I much preferred Clara during this past series, once she stopped being a plot point and became an actual character, though I'm also not super enamored of her. She doesn't exactly rub me the wrong way—I'm not campaigning for her immediate removal, or anything—but I am ready for a change.

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Confession #91: I Believe in Canon

Jul
29

I don't understand other people's brains.

For the most part, I think I do pretty well; after all, as a fiction writer I regularly practice putting myself in different characters' headspaces, actively working to expand my empathy. But I'll admit that I still fall prey to the human tendency to believe everyone else basically thinks like I do at the core, just with different likes, dislikes and preferences. Then every once in a while, I get a sharp reminder that it's not true.

Take the case of the social media comment called to my attention this week. I won't go into great detail, but the thrust of the point (aside from some juvenile name-calling and derailment) was that in this fan's opinion, Capaldi wasn't worthy of the mantle of Doctor, and therefore didn't "count" in their mind.

Usually I'm glad to agree that there's no such thing as canon in the Whoniverse. Even within the thirty-four televised seasons, there are so many self-contradictory ideas that each fan pretty much has to decide for themselves what they want to believe when an inconsistency crops up.

Then there are the media that spanned The Wilderness Years: novels and audios and comics, each with their own cast of regular characters, key in-universe events, and die-hard fans. When no one thought the show would ever return to television, the franchise understandably took a new direction, and a great many fans went along for the ride. Who is to say the stories they hold near and dear can't be canon?

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Confession #90: I've Underrated Martha

Jul
22

Martha Jones came on the scene at an awkward time—awkward for me, that is. The way I was introduced to the show, I had zero time to process the loss of my first Companion before another was thrust upon me, and I was not ready to move on. Sort of like the Doctor, then, I didn't really give her a fair shake. She didn't get the affection and respect from me that the character really deserved.

As I look back on her time in the TARDIS, though, I realize that I really have given Martha short shrift. Just by being there, by taking up space on screen and refusing to be shoved aside, she did more for representation of diversity than anyone else in the show's history.

It's not just her existence as a black Companion that makes her significant (and a better character than I've been able to internalize before); she has some brilliant moments that turn the old, comfortable "standard operating procedure" on its ear.

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Confession #89: I Like Obscure Species

Jul
08

It's fairly safe to say that anyone who calls themselves a fan of Doctor Who knows about Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels. Most have probably at least heard of Sontarans, Autons, the Ood, and the Silents, too. But with a series history over fifty years long, there have been a vast number of species introduced, of which many only make brief appearances. For most of them, one would likely have to watch multiple times even to catch their names.

Creatures of various ilk are a hallmark of the show, and one can't help but speculate that writers sit around trying to out-weird each other with their creations. Sometimes there's probably a hope in the back (or even forefront, in a few documented cases) of their minds that their new monster will be the next big hit, the next Daleks.

Mostly, though, these aliens are simply the means to an end—a way to tell the best story the writer knows how to tell at that moment. They serve one particular purpose, and then they're never seen again. It's some of these obscure species that I find charmingly bizarre.

Take, for example, the Chumblies (from Galaxy 4).

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