Confession #61: I Want a 50th Boxed Set


Over the weekend, reports surfaced that The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot; the unofficial-but-officially-sanctioned half-hour special written and directed by Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and co-starring Colin Baker (Six), Sylvester McCoy (Seven), and (briefly) Paul McGann (Eight); would at some point be released on DVD. The source of this information is apparently C. Baker himself, sharing the news at a Doctor Who Appreciation Society event. Details are ridiculously sketchy, pretty much only including the fact that it's slated to happen and that it will be part of a "special set" focused on Matt Smith.

Folks are already speculating wildly about what will be on this rumored set, though most (like me) seem to have settled on the idea that it will be something 50th anniversary-related. My favorite overly enthusiastic and admittedly too optimistic list of items that might be included encompassed everything from the Proms to Hurt interviews to a specially created farewell to Eleven.

Admittedly, if it does turn out to be an anniversary set, there is a lot of material from which to choose. A lot of material was only available in one part of the world or another (e.g., the aforementioned Proms, or the Doctors Revisited series which didn't make it to the UK until mere weeks before the anniversary). But how likely do we really think it is that BBC Worldwide would include videos of panel interviews, for instance? Realistically, there's a pretty short list of what they're likely to use.


Confession #51: I'm Swayed by Actors' Charms


It would not have occurred to me, years ago, to think that my view of a character might change depending on what I learned of the personality of the actor or actress depicting said character. As a society, we tend to bombard ourselves with minutiae about celebrities, so much so that even someone like me—who doesn't particularly care about the private lives and lies of "the rich and famous"—can't help but learn a few things. But more often than not, neither the dirty little secrets nor the heartwarming anecdotes had much impact on me.

More recently, though, I've dipped rather thoroughly (at least for me) into the stream of pop culture via Twitter, and from there peripherally via tumblr. The pop culture I view is heavily skewed toward Doctor Who, as one might expect, so I hear a lot of things about—and from—folks who are involved with the program in one way or another. One of the things I learned, to my own surprise though perhaps no one else's, is that how these people interact with fans really sways how I view them.

To take a case in point on the negative end of the scale, a couple of years ago, one of my Twitter friends (a self-proclaimed feminist) objected to some tweets that Simon Pegg made from San Diego Comic-Con regarding women cosplayers. Specifically, she called him out for implicitly comparing a group of slave Leia cosplayers to food (with a Homer Simpson/doughnuts comment). I won't go through the entire exchange, but suffice to say, he reacted badly and didn't do anything to curb the abuse his fans subsequently heaped on her. Now I can barely watch scenes in The Long Game in which Pegg appears (though he's a baddie there, so that helps), and get pulled out of the narrative whenever Scotty is on screen in the new Star Trek films. So bummer.


Eighties Incarnate


Review of The Doctors Revisited - Sixth Doctor

We've arrived at our median Doctor, by number the midpoint of his Regenerations to date. If you're not familiar with "Old Sixie" (as his actor Colin Baker calls him now), you're in for quite the ride.

I think more than any other, Six is a break from what we're used to associating with "the Doctor." In stark contrast to his immediate predecessor—the mellow, folksy, human one—this Doctor epitomizes the alpha-male aspects of his personalities (brash, show-off, egotistical...). As Moffat (who is joined here by fellow interviewees Marcus Wilson, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Bonnie Langford, Nicholas Briggs, and Dan Starkey) observed, Six cared about being paid attention to and about being listened to, but not about being liked (if you have any doubt, just look at that over-the-top, oh-so-'80s, coat of many colors). He would do what he felt he needed to do and not care one whit about whose feelings he might hurt along the way.

That's not to say he didn't care; he was actually quite compassionate. It's simply that his definitions of right and wrong in a given situation don't necessarily line up with what his Companion or the audience—humans, in other words—would think.

I suspect the producers had a fairly long arc in mind for Six, and that he was meant to mellow over the years. Since he didn't really get that opportunity, though, his on-screen persona (which is better developed in the Big Finish audio adventures, I understand) comes across as somewhat frightening, and quite adversarial.


Viewer, Rate Thyself


Review of Vengeance on Varos: SE (#138)
DVD Release Date: 11 Sep 12
Original Air Date: 19 - 25 Jan 1985
Doctor/Companion: Six, Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown
Stars: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant
Preceding Story: Attack of the Cybermen (Six, Peri)
Succeeding Story: The Mark of the Rani (Six, Peri)

Before watching this release, I'd seen Vengeance on Varos twice previously. The first time was when I was just getting started, watching as many pre-Hiatus stories as I could get my hands on, and the second was for my pre-Gally marathon last year. It has always been one of my least favorites.

Trying to give it a fair shake for this review, I did my best to throw all my preconceived notions - and the fiery passion with which I hate the character Sil - out the window. I think I was I was successful; I liked it more this time around.

Once I was able to get beyond (or put a mostly-effective mental block up against) Sil - a native of Thoros Beta, he is of a reptilian race that is sluglike and, at least in the instance of this individual, utterly disgusting to me - I could see there's actually a pretty good story with some interesting social commentary here.

While the plot device that gets us to Varos in the first place feels utterly contrived ("This is the one problem the TARDIS cannot overcome..."), the twisted society that awaits the Doctor and Peri is thought-provoking. Because it was actually transmitted well before the "reality TV" rage of recent years, Vengeance feels, in retrospect, rather ahead of its time. It taps into the voyeurism and detachment from violence that we all know so well thanks to our own screens today.


Confession #21: I Believe in the 13 Regeneration Limit


Common fan knowledge puts a Time Lord's Regeneration limit at 13. That is, a Time Lord can regenerate twelve times for a total of thirteen Regenerations (or incarnations). A couple of years ago, Russell T. Davies (RTD), the man greatly responsible for bringing Doctor Who back to our screens in 2005, once again added his own particular brand of fan-geekery to the mix, trying to show everyone in yet another way that he "knows better" than us.

In an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures called "The Death of the Doctor," Eleven ends up visiting Sarah Jane and her gang again. SJS-Companion Clyde, who previously met Ten, is stunned to see this regeneration thing for himself. Whilst peppering the Doctor with questions ("Can you change color, or are you always white?" "No. I can be anything."), he asks how often the Doctor can regenerate. The answer is a quick and flippant "five hundred and seven."

Apparently, RTD thought that was a hoot. He could casually rewrite decades of "canon" (whatever that means) with a so-funny-he-makes-everyone-who's-RTD-laugh line. Here's what he has to say on the whole number-of-regenerations question:

There's a fascinating academic study to be made out of how some facts stick and some don't – how Jon Pertwee's Doctor could say he was thousands of years old, and no-one listens to that*, and yet someone once says he's only got thirteen lives, and it becomes lore. It's really interesting, I think. That's why I'm quite serious that that 507 thing won't stick, because the 13 is too deeply ingrained in the public consciousness. But how? How did that get there? It's fascinating, it's really weird.

*Let's not get into RTD's own obvious ignorance/ignore-ance of the Doctor's age.

Personally, I don't think it's weird at all. And here's why.



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