Meet the Ladies of WhoFest

Jan
12

On a quasi-regular basis, a group of girlfriends get together to watch Doctor Who. We catch up on current episodes during a series' broadcast and watch Classic Who to get a feel for the extensive backstory. There's usually a fair bit of laughing, along with food and wine. We like to do it up right. So who are we? Let me make introductions:

  • MRFranklin (me): If you don't "know" me yet, go read Confession #1.
  • jA : The youngest of our group (by nearly a generation), jA is someone I interested in the Doctor via Nu-Who. She'd never seen any Classic Who before we began WhoFest.
  • jE : As the only one in the group to have watched Doctor Who growing up, jE has a unique perspective among us. However, having disliked Six, she quit watching in the '80s. Many of the Classic episodes (before and after her active watching days) are still new to her.
  • jO : Though also of an age to have watched in her youth, jO didn't discover wonders of Doctor Who till I got her hooked on Nu-Who. She'd never seen any Classic Who before we began WhoFest.

This is where I'll post about the Ladies' reactions to the Classic Who episodes we view together.  Thumbs up?  Thumbs down?  What made us giggle, what made us facepalm, and what was just plain cool - it's all here in Nu-Views.

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A Dickens of a Good Time

Jan
11

Review of A Christmas Carol

Try as I might, I cannot find a way to make “Christmassy-wistmassy” sound good in a sentence.  But how else do you accurately describe the action in A Christmas Carol, which is simultaneously about as timey-wimey as we’ve seen and also unrelentingly inspired by the holiday season (and, more specifically, by its namesake)?  After a somewhat shaky start (“Christmas is canceled!”? What kind of rubbish line is that?), the episode turns rollicksome and barely pauses for breath.  Little details made me smile before the story really even began.  I mean, how can you not love Amy & Rory’s discomfiture at being caught with their barely-metaphorical pants down?  And after all that happened last series, it’s brilliant finally to see Arthur Darvill’s name in the credits.

From the title down, the whole episode is deliberately Dickensian – the Doctor himself makes a conscious decision to mimic the story when his answer to Amy’s query changes from “a Christmas carol” to “A Christmas Carol”.  Thus it’s no surprise right off to hear Kazran’s rant (“I call it expecting something for nothing!”) so closely echo Scrooge’s complaint that Christmas is “a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!”  It’s almost like a game to find as many references as you can, though perhaps it would be wise to stop before you started counting every little quasi-Victorian detail on the set.

While I’m on the topic of minutiae, I may as well mention the Doctor’s new jacket; his fabulous entrance; and the way he continues to be as frenetic as ever, delivering viciously funny lines that are all too easy to miss while you’re still laughing at the last one.  (A few of those – like the whole bit about the face spider – feel like something Moffat couldn’t bear to leave on his Wonderfully Scary Ideas clipboard despite the fact they wouldn’t support a stand-alone episode.)  I could point out how wonderful the Doctor’s comment about never having met someone “who wasn’t important” is or how well his eyes say “if only you knew” when Kazran spits his venom about trying on a broken heart for size.  Maybe I should mention the subtle use of the Doctor’s Theme when Kazran’s father tells him of the machine’s completion, and he seems to reject it, going to the drawer for the sonic screwdriver before finally rejecting the Doctor.  Or the way Amy’s exchange with the Doctor outside the TARDIS at the end harks back to the end of Forest of the Dead.

Perhaps, though, it would be more interesting to examine some of the overall themes of the episode.  With that in mind, I’ll present the rest of my thoughts on a theme-by-theme basis.

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Confession #1: I Am a Neo-Whovian

Jan
11

My folks didn't watch a whole lot of tv when I was growing up, and when they did, it was mostly PBS (public broadcasting). I suppose that's why on very rare occasions, I'd come across my dad watching some unknowably ridiculous thing and have to ask what it was. A few times, it would be Star Trek, which - as an American - is a show I learned quite a bit about, eventually becoming a bit of a Trekker myself in college (where we watched new episodes of TNG religiously). On at least one occasion, though, I remember being really taken aback at the absurdity of the two minutes of something-random I watched with my dad. That was my first introduction to Doctor Who.

It wasn't a part of the American psyche the way it was - is - in Britain. I mean, sure, I'd heard of Doctor Who and its slightly... OK, very eccentric fans. For example, the Doctor Who Club in college tended to consist of shady figures who wore long woolen cloaks around campus (come to think of it, many of them were part of the campus Druids, too...), which didn't particularly inspire the uninitiated to jump right in and join the fandom. I didn't really know much of anything about the show, though. I'm a bit embarrassed in retrospect to admit that when my husband commented that the first little house we bought was like a TARDIS, he had to explain to me that he meant it was bigger on the inside.

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