Confession #95: I Like Odd Correlations


A couple of years ago, when the fiftieth anniversary rolled around, we were marveling at the fact that Remembrance of the Daleks was as far behind us as An Unearthly Child was behind Remembrance. Now Survival, which marked the end of the original run of the series, is as separated from the present as it was from the show's beginnings (give or take a couple months). Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey indeed.

This kind of temporal comparison fascinates me (something I realized when a different pop cultural correlation occurred to me the other day: Star Wars (the third top-grossing film of all time) came out thirty-eight years ago; Gone With the Wind (all-time top-grossing film) came out thirty-eight years before Star Wars). One can come up with all sorts of interesting pairings—whatever time frame you can think of can yield a new perspective.

For example, nearly fifty-two years down the line from An Unearthly Child, the effects and staging of the episode look positively archaic. At the time, though, it was stretching the medium in new ways. And, after all, it was technological leaps and bounds beyond the cinema of fifty-two years before. In that year (1911), feature films were still a brand new phenomenon. The Italian silent film L'Inferno (The Inferno, from Dante), released in 1911, was perhaps the third or fourth feature film worldwide, and became (Wikipedia tells me) what some consider the first blockbuster.


Confession #94: I Won't Evangelize


I'm going a bit off the beaten path from my usual approach with my confession this week. What I have to say probably counts as an Unpopular Opinion, and it may shock some of you, so ready your burning brands and pitchforks. Despite what I've implied plenty of times before, Doctor Who isn't for everyone.

You heard me. Some people simply shouldn't be brought into the fold—shouldn't even try. "What?" I hear you say. "That's ridiculous! Our Show has something for everyone!" Well, yes; there's an awful lot of variety in the ~250 televised stories, never mind the vast additional oeuvre of books, audios, comics, and so on. But I argue that there are still some people for whom even this extensive selection is not enough in which to find a truly enjoyable story.

Heresy, I know.

Yet Doctor Who works best for those of us willing to overlook—or better yet, embrace—the silly or way-out-there-unbelievable to find something deeper inside. It may be a personal lesson we embrace, teaching us about tolerance or personal responsibility or the value of vulnerability. Perhaps it's a vision of how life on Earth could be, good or bad (usually, but not always, based on how some alien culture works). Or maybe it's just a thrilling adventure that lights a spark of joy and wonder.

But not everyone is built to "get" speculative fiction. There are folks whose entire pleasure reading list consists of non-fiction works. Some of these people may go so far as to classify any fiction, let alone spec fic, as frivolous, pointless drivel. (Okay, perhaps "drivel" is taking it a step too far...) In other words, some people simply aren't wired to enjoy the kind of wildly imaginative, quasi-scientific storytelling that is Doctor Who's stock and trade.


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


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.


Confession #92: I Like Change


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.


Confession #91: I Believe in Canon


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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