Good Timing, Geek Timing

The timing is right, at least.

Doctor Who has ended its run in time for … Star Wars.

In case you hadn’t heard, they’re making a new Star Wars movie. You’d think that would have made the news, right? Well, they are. And it’s coming out next week or something. Here’s the trailer. Sort of.


[The YouTube: Honest Trailers]

I’m still not sure if I’m going to go to a theater and see it. Especially since it leaked that Kylo Ren is really Jar Jar underneath the getup. So, I’m still wavering on going.

Anyway, what to do until next Thursday? I could re-watch this season’s Doctor Who, I suppose. Yeah. That’ll work. I’m watching Doctor Who again. I know I won’t be disappointed with that.

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Happy Doctor Who Day

Geek alert.

It’s Doctor Who‘s birthday. The TV show. You know how all you comic book fans with your Batman and your Deadpool and your Richie Rich…

Well, Doctor Who fans are just as bad. This is the anniversary of the first episode of the show, which aired November 23, 1963 in the UK. And most Doctor Who fans, particularly those in the US, didn’t watch it. But we don’t care. We’re fans. So, we want to wish The Doctor and Doctor Who a happy birthday.


[BBC]

A happy day. And it seems like only yesterday that we were mourning the loss of Clara.

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Doctor Who fans, you knew I’d mention this…

DoctorBasilOkay, Doctor Who fans, you knew I’d mention this. The accompanying image is where The Doctor told Osgood, “Basil.”

Now, if you’re not a fan of the show, you won’t care. If you’re a fan, but haven’t seen the episode that aired this past weekend, well, *SPOILERS*

Kinda.

If you saw the episode, you saw that The Doctor told Osgood that his first name was “Basil.”

(Oh, and shameless plug for Larynn’s review of the episode over at Doctor Who LaB.)

Now, who among you were actually surprised when The Doctor said his name was Basil? Did you really think he would say “Frank” or “Harvey” or “Sarah” or “Mr. Right” or “Spacemonkey” or “Lactose the Intolerant” or “Keln.” Not that those aren’t good names. They’re perfectly fine names. But, for The Doctor, does any name fit more than Basil? Okay, maybe Spacemonkey. But, really, when you think Doctor Who don’t you really think “Basil?”

Of course you do. And so does Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi and everyone else who works on the show or watches the show.

I’m unsure whether to say “thank you” or “you’re welcome.” Either will do.

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The Force Awakens or Batman v Superman

So, which are you most excited about? The Force Awakens or Batman v Superman? Well, why not both?

Here’s the trailer for Batman v Superman with the audio for The Force Awakens


[The YouTube]

Me? I don’t know. Might see them both. Might see neither one. Might wait for them to come to home video and just watch them on the big screen color TV. For now, I’m going to keep watching stuff on the small screen like Doctor Who.

Which reminds me. Check out the Doctor Who LaB podcast at http://DoctorWhoLaB.com where romance author Larynn Ford and I review both new and classic episodes. You can subscribe to it on iTunes and listen to it while waiting in line to watch The Force Awakens. Or Batman v Superman. Or both.

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Relax!!!

You’ve nearly made it through the work week. Perhaps this will help you finish the week. Perhaps not.


[The YouTube]

If you’re in the mood for more Doctor Who, there’s the Doctor Who LaB podcast that I keep nagging you about. Larynn and I have a new episode up. We talk about a really really old serial from the early days of the show: An Unearthly Child (conclusion, episodes 2, 3, & 4). Find out why the TARDIS looks like it does, and learn how time travel can be like playing with fire.

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Geek alert: Doctor Who LaB

DoctorWhoLaB-CoverArt1I’m going to briefly hijack the Website to promote a little project I’m currently involved with. Or, with which I’m currently involved. Whichever is gooder English.

It’s a podcast called “Doctor Who LaB” and, yes, that capitalization is correct. (Maybe you’ll figure out why by the time you’re done reading this post.)

As you may know, I spent some time watching Doctor Who from the beginning. As in, from 1963 to the present. Sure, you remember.

Anyway, after that, I introduced Larynn Ford (an author in my local area) to Doctor Who. She was intrigued enough with the show after meeting Colin Baker last year at DragonCon that she decided she wanted to watch it. But, she started with Christopher Eccleston, and watched all the shows up to the new season. (She still hasn’t seen any Colin Baker episodes.) She liked the show a lot, so we decided to start a podcast. Which is just what the world needs: another Doctor Who podcast.

What do we have to offer that’s different? Well, we plan to watch all the episodes and talk about them. All the episodes. All 800+ episodes. Every last one of ’em.

But, about us, well, there’s a classic Who fan (me) and a New Who fan (her). She’s a romance author, and I’m a computer geek. She likes Country and I like Classic Rock. I’m from Georgia and she’s from Alabama. Okay, that last one isn’t much of a contrast. (Unless you are actually from either Georgia or Alabama, then it’s like night and day.)

Anyway, we have two different perspectives looking at the same thing. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. If you want to hear this train wreck, you can find them at LarynnFord.com. It’s also on iTunes (links are at LarynnFord.com).

Now, back to teh funneh.

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Dreams do come true

A few months ago, I was speaking with local (to the Columbus area) author Larynn Ford, and mentioned that I was seriously looking at going to DragonCon. She certainly knows me well enough to generate that “What? You?” look.

Same look I got when people who knew me a long time saw me using a Mac. Same look I got when someone saw me eating a salad. Same look I always get when I do something that makes people wonder if I was replaced with a Pod Person. Because I’m not the DragonCon type.

Anyway, I mentioned that Colin Baker — the Sixth Doctor for those that need that explained to them — would be there. She was one that needed that explained. She’s never seen an episode of Doctor Who, whether the new series of the old series. She knew it existed, and wasn’t really surprised that I would like the show, since it’s one of those “really weird British shows.”

Though the explanation of who Colin Baker was helped her understand why I would consider going to DragonCon, she still wasn’t convinced I was in my right mind. Until she suddenly changed the subject.

“Oh, did I tell you about this weird dream I had?”

“No,” I said. Then I thought better. “Maybe.” That way, if she started telling me about it, and I really didn’t want to hear about it, I could say, “Oh, yeah, you told me.” Then maybe she’d stop.

“Well,” she said, “I dreamed I was asleep…”

“Are you sure that was a dream? Maybe you were really asleep,” I offered.

“Shut up. I was dreaming that I was asleep. Then I hear a strange noise, so I got up. It was coming from down there.” She pointed down the hall toward her daughters’ old bedrooms. “There was this strange woman there.”

“That makes two that were in the house,” I thought. I knew better than to say that out loud. Aloud, I said, “What do you mean, ‘strange’?” I figured this would be the inspiration for another one of the characters in one of her books.

“She had curly blond hair and a really odd dress. It was made up of a bunch of different colors. Red, green, blue, all kinds of patterns and checks. Really odd looking dress.”

I thought for a second. “Hang on.” I reached for my iPad and typed something in the search box, and found the result I wanted. “Was this her?”

TheDocctor6

“THAT’S HER? Wait. That’s a guy. Who is that?”

“Colin Baker. That’s the outfit he wore as The Doctor.”

We bought DragonCon tickets that night.

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Doctor Who – Epilogue

TheDoctor13sAs I watched all the episodes of the Classic Doctor Who show, I wrote my thoughts down. Then, when I was done, I mulled over going ahead and watching the newer stuff. That meant watching The Movie, and Paul McGann’s Doctor. So, I did. Had to buy it, sight unseen.

Eh. McGann himself was okay, but I didn’t like The Doctor being involved with a companion. Sure, there’s no question that The Doctor and Ramona had a thing going on, but that was off-screen. The show wasn’t about that, it was about Adventures In Time And Space. I loved that Sylvester McCoy opened the movie as The Doctor. He never explained how he had destroyed Skaros but then was able to travel to Skaros and get The Master’s body.

And, they should have had Anthony Ainley reprise the role of The Master for the opening. Or at least used his image from clips and paid him for that. Nothing wrong with Eric Roberts’ portrayal.

And, after watching The Movie, I watched the other episodes (the newer ones, from 2005 on) and specials. And Webisodes.

Yeah, it’s okay. But, there are things I didn’t like. And, me being me, I’m gonna tell you what I didn’t like. I’ll assume you have seen the newer episodes, and specials, and webisodes, up to and including Peter Capaldi’s Doctor asking Clara if she knew how to fly the TARDIS.

The Doctor and companions being more than simple companions? Don’t like it. Maybe that’s why I really like the dynamic with The Doctor and Donna. She is truly a friend of The Doctor. The relationship was more like The Doctor (2.0) and Jamie. That worked well. And The Doctor and Donna worked well.

Rose? Not a fan. Even her surprise appearances don’t thrill me. The Brigadier’s occasional returns were treats. Rose’s? Not so much. Rose should’ve ended up with Mickey. Not the early Mickey, but the later Mickey.

Martha? Good companion, but the whole “feelings” thing was what ruined that. Her ending up with Mickey was good, for both of them. I’d like to see them return.

Donna? Love her. She’s up there with Sarah Jane Smith and Jamie McCrimmon in the whole hierarchy of companions.

Amy and Rory? Yeah, they’re good. But the best thing to come out of their time with The Doctor was *SPOILERS* River Song.

River Song? Yeah. More River Song. Somehow. That relationship with The Doctor worked. That’s wasn’t a young, silly girl having a crush on the Time Lord (Rose, Martha, etc), it was a real relationship that stood the test of Time And Space.

Clara? She’s alright. Let’s see how they wrap all that up. But so far, they’ve done okay with here.

Ah, but the show isn’t called The Companions. It’s Doctor Who. And, The Doctor is the star, or stars, of the show.

Paul McGann, I though was just okay. Least favorite Doctor for some time. His later surprise appearance in The Night of the Doctor brought him up in my eyes a bit. I want to see more of that Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston was okay. About the time I got used to him, he bailed on he show. Shoulda stuck around for three years, at least.

David Tennant? Yeah, he was alright. Probably coulda played The Doctor for a lot longer. Overall, liked him. Not Peter Davison or Patrick Troughton liked him. But, he was fine.

Matt Smith? His biggest problem was the scripts. The whole “Oh, I know what to do because myself from the future suddenly appeared and told me what to do” got a little old. It’s called the TARDIS, not the Deus Ex Machina.

Oh, and John Hurt? Yeah. He was alright. Particularly when he was keeping Matt Smith’s and David Tennant’s Doctors in line, he reminded me of William Hartnell keeping Jon Pertwee’s and Patrick Troughton’s Doctors in line.

Oh, yeah. The villains. Some of the classic villains returned, and it was hit and miss.

The Autons? They did those right. Those were truly the Autons chasing Rose and The Doctor around when the new series launched. With better makeup and effects. That gave me hope for the new series.

The Sontarans? I like what they did with them. Nothing. They are true to form. Better makeup, just as with the Autons. The Sontarans are definitely the same villains as in the old show. And that’s a good thing.

The Cybermen? Nope. Well, not the ones from the alternate universe. They did have the ones from Mondas, the real ones, appear later. I think. They looked kinda like the original Cybermen. So, I’ll just tell myself those are the real Cybermen and be happy.

Daleks? Nope. Daleks can’t fly. That ruined everything. It was a shock when they could elevate up stairs when taking on The Doctor (7.0). Now, they can suddenly fly? Nope. That’s wrong.

The Master? He’s been okay. Season Eight featured too much of The Master. When they scaled it back, it was wonderful to see him appear. Roger Delgado was fantastic, as was Anthony Ainley. I would like to have seen more of Derek Jacobi as The Master, but John Simm was good in the role. I want to see more of The Master. Once a season. Maybe twice, to throw us off.

New villains? Well, the Weeping Angels were kinda neat. But those fart aliens? Americans, I suppose. None of the other ones stand out, all these weeks after finishing the new series.

But, overall? Yeah, the new series is okay. Maybe Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will be a return to the Classic series. More actual story and less generic blowing stuff up.

I’m looking forward to the 8th season of the new series when it returns in August. So, maybe I do like the new series after all.

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There Be Dragons!

DragonConLogoHave any of you been to DragonCon?

You know. That thing in Atlanta every year with all the weird people running around.

No, not Freaknik. The other one.

No, not the SEC Championship. The other one.

No, not the World Series. That never happens. No, I’m talking about that science fiction fantasy weird sh*t happening that they do every year. Yeah. That one. Have you been?

I’ve been in Atlanta when it was going on. Didn’t realize it until I saw a bunch of Klingons walking down the street. I was at a Sons of the American Revolution thing, and somehow wound up near the Klingons. Didn’t have my musket with me, which was probably a good thing.

Anyway, I’ve never been. One of my sisters has been. Maybe two. Maybe all three, I don’t know. It’s not the kind of thing I’d want to bring up. Not normally, at least.

Anyway, I’ve know about the existence of DragonCon for some time, but have never been. Never wanted to go. But, I’m going this year.

I’m going for one reason, and one reason only. The Doctor will be there. If you have to ask “which one?” then you can’t go and see him. It doesn’t matter. But, it is one of the classic Doctors. I wouldn’t go just to see David Tennant, Matt Smith, Christopher Eccleston, Paul McGann, or Peter Capaldi. But, one of the classic Doctors? Yes. Only four of those first seven are still alive. And, though I’m a latecomer to the world of Doctor Who, I’m enough of a fan to want to go see one of the original Doctors at a sci-fi convention.

So, I’m going this year. First time. And, yeah, there are some other people that might be interesting. But, I’m going to see The Doctor. And I’m not sure what it’s going to be like. So, if any of you have been before, let me know what to expect.

I’m thinking a bunch of weird people running around all dressed up like some Nerd Nightmare. I suspect the Klingons will be drunk on their asses each night. Or, maybe just the chicks that go to the Klingon Keg parties. Yeah, that.

So, like I was saying, tell me what to expect. And, if you’ll be there, maybe we’ll run into each other. No, I won’t be dressed up like Princess Leia or anything.

Harvey might, though.

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Classic Doctor Who – The End

L-R: The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor

L-R: The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor

In December, I mentioned that I was thinking of watching all of the episodes of the classic Doctor Who series. I wrote:

…I’ve been hearing how great Doctor Who is. So, maybe I’ll watch that, I thought.

Just kidding. I had no desire to watch Doctor Who.

I remember Doctor Who from way back. Used to catch an occasional episode starring Tom Baker on PBS many years ago. I thought the whole thing was silly. Not Monty Python silly. Just silly.

But, I kept hearing about how great Doctor Who (the current version) was. So, I looked into it. And, I found out it wasn’t really a reboot, but a revival. They kept the original timeline in place, and began the 2005 series with the Ninth Doctor.

Mmmkay. Maybe this won’t be the JJ Adams-ing of Doctor Who. Maybe I would watch it.

Well, watch it I did. You see, I’m the kind of person that won’t pick something up in the middle. I want to go back to the beginning and get the full effect. So, I watched all the episodes.

That was hard to do. You see, many episodes from the first six seasons no longer exist. Since, with very rare exception, all the stories are multiple episodes (I’m calling those serials) there are some serials with one or more missing episodes. Additionally, ten of the first 49 serials are completely missing, with another 16 serials missing one or more episodes, but not all. In all, 97 episodes are missing from those first six seasons.

BBC animated eleven episodes, and used the still-existing soundtrack combined with stills and surviving video clips to reconstruct five others. Fans have still images, clips, and home movies to reconstruct the other 81 missing episodes. BBC has also done reconstructions of two entire serials as single episodes, but those are heavily edited.

So, with all that, plus with the episodes that exist on DVD, iTunes, or Amazon, I have now seen every episode of the classic Doctor Who.

I liked it.

The Doctor

The Doctor (William Hartnell)

William Hartnell is my favorite. He created the role. Or, the role was created for him. And, with him in the role, The Doctor was mysterious and definitely in charge. Plus, I’m the same age Hartnell was when the first episode was broadcast.

Patrick Troughton was a treat. He always livened up the screen. He reprised the role more times than any other actor who played The Doctor. Come to think of it, he might actually be my favorite.

Jon Pertwee was a joy. I didn’t remember him as The Doctor until I saw him as The Doctor. I don’t know, prior to this viewing, that I ever saw any of his episodes (and I suspect I did not) but I did recognize him as The Doctor. Somehow.

Tom Baker was everyone’s favorite. But not mine. Of course, he was the first actor I remember seeing in the role, but I didn’t always enjoy the show. That’s when the show got a little preachy.

Peter Davison, I liked. I didn’t remember much from his stint, but I did like many of his serials. He may be my second-favorite Doctor. Toss him, Troughton, and Hartnell into a hat (they all wore hats, get it?) and whichever name you pull out is my favorite.

Colin Baker was around the least of any of the actors that played The Doctor. He was in only 31 episodes over two full seasons, and one serial in another.

Sylvester McCoy was the one I knew the least, though he was in more episodes than Colin Baker. McCoy appeared in 42 episodes over three full (but short) seasons.

My Phone

Yes, I have a TARDIS case for my iPhone. Shut up.

Each one, during his time, was The Doctor. The companions were ever-changing, and despite the seven actors (eight, actually) that played the first seven incarnations of The Doctor, the lead character was the constant.

Oh, about the companions. My favorite? Well, Sarah Jane Smith. But, I also likes the group of Susan, Barbara, and Ian. Jamie wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t dislike him at all, plus I can’t imagine The Doctor (2.0) without him. So, maybe Jamie is my second-favorite companion.

And Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, though he wasn’t actually a companion, was a regular on the show for some time. I liked him. A lot. Took some getting used to, but he’s definitely someone who was a joy to see return after his regular run ended. The others? Yeah, they were okay. I like the cute chicks the best. There were very few I didn’t like.

Who didn’t I like? Kamelion. K-9. I suppose I’m robotist. And, while a lot of people hated Mel, I didn’t. She was okay. Product of her times.

So…

Was it a worthwhile experience? Yep. For me it was. I now understand the Doctor Who universe.

Should you watch them all? I don’t know. If you have Hulu Plus, you’ll find that as the largest online repository for streaming existing episodes. And, if you subscribe to Hulu Plus and want to check some out, like the early stuff, that’s a great place to do that. But, should you?

Well, if you have to ask, the answer is “no.” I’m not saying don’t watch them. What I’m saying is unless you want to watch them — really want to watch them — don’t.

But, if you do want to watch them, go ahead. You’ll enjoy it.

I’m glad I did this.

Addendum: Actually, I did more. I kept watching. And, even though this was The End, there is an Epilogue. Next week.

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Classic Doctor Who Season 26

DoctorWho26 - 1

The last scene of Doctor Who

Last year, I decided to watch the classic Doctor Who series. And now I have.

I just finished Season 26, which was the last episode of the classic series before it was canceled.

The Doctor’s clothing changed. He still wore an outfit similar to that he wore the previous two seasons, but they were a darker color. The darker color matched the darker tone of the show. If it was part of an attempt to revitalize the show by bringing some of the initial mystery back to the character of The Doctor, it didn’t work. Ratings for the season were at an all-time low, even though the season’s serials increased in viewership from one to the next. Even so, the season averaged only 4.2 million viewers over the 14 weeks.

The season featured old friends, old villains, and new villains that were actually old villains. Or something.

The old friends part was easy, and a treat. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) made his final appearance in Doctor Who in a story, Battlefield (4 episodes), that touched on the legend of Arthur. There’s some silliness with crossing from universes or alternate realities — apparently Arthur and everyone from that existed, just not here on our Earth — and they all knew The Doctor as Merlin. Or something.

Anyway, the story is all convoluted, with Mordred being Arthur’s nephew, as some tellings of the Arthur story go, instead of his illegitimate son by his half-sister, as some other tellings of the Arthur story go.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart unwraps Bessie from mothballs for The Doctor and Ace

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart unwraps Bessie from mothballs for The Doctor and Ace


The story features Jean Marsh as Morgaine, Mordred’s mother and Arthur’s half-sister. Only, Mordred’s mother was Morgause in some tellings, and Morgan le Fay (AKA Morgaine) in others. Kinda hard to keep straight. But, about Jean Marsh. She played The Doctor’s companion, Sara Kingdom, in Season Three’s The Daleks’ Master Plan, and the character Joanna in Season Two’s The Crusade. This was her first appearance on the show since William Hartnell left.

Jean Marsh is always good to see, but I was particularly happy to see Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier. Even though I didn’t like the whole change to the storyline during most of Jon Pertwee’s stint as The Doctor, setting the series on Earth, I did like some of the characters, particularly Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Without the Earth-based shows, the character wouldn’t have developed like it did. So, there is that.

Ace’s character was developed in both Ghost Light (3 episodes) and The Curse of Fenric (4 episodes). The first serial involved the history of the place the young delinquent Dorothy (AKA Ace) has burned down, and the other set the stage for her mother’s troubled upbringing, with Ace as a catalyst for that.

The Master (Anthony Ainley) was in the final serial of the season (and the classic show), Survival (3 episodes). It ended with The Master again trapped in an impossible situation, and was intended to be the end of that character. Again.

It was known that the show might not be renewed for a 27th season, so after the first episode of Survival aired, the next day, 23 November 1989, the 26th anniversary of the initial broadcast of the first episode of the show, Sylvester McCoy recorded a voice-over that was added to the final scene.

There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace; we’ve got work to do!

On 6 December 1989, the final episode aired. The show was canceled early the next year by BBC, and the show would fade into oblivion.

Except…

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) appears in the 1993 Children In Need special

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) appears in the 1993 Children In Need special


On 26 and 27 November, 1993, as part of an annual fundraiser called Children In Need, several actors from the series reprised their roles for a short two-part special. It was a cross-over of sorts with characters from EastEnders, another BBC show.

Neither the special, titled Dimensions in Time (2 episodes; 7 minutes, 5 minutes) was done partially as a 30th anniversary celebration of the show, which still had a following. There had been a move to make a 30th anniversary special featuring all of the living actors that had played The Doctor, but The Dark Dimension never got off the ground. However, since the actors’ involvement had been secured, they agreed to do a charity show, forgoing pay as long as it was never made commercially available. It’s not, although bootlegs are available.

Briefly, Dimensions in Time featured The Rani having created a temporal trap that had snared the first two incarnations of The Doctor (William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, both deceased), and was trying to capture the other five. Her attempts succeeded in having The Doctor change into his various incarnations, as well as his companions being replaced by others. For example, The Doctor (7.0) became The Doctor (6.0) while Ace became Mel. This kept up, and featured, in no particular order within the story, Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. Tom Baker appeared early on, making an attempt to contact his other selves. Companions who appeared included Ace (Sophie Aldred), Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Romana (Lalla Ward), Sarah Jane Smith – (Elisabeth Sladen), Nyssa – (Sarah Sutton), Leela – (Louise Jameson), Peri Brown – (Nicola Bryant), Melanie Bush – (Bonnie Langford), K9 (John Leeson/Matt Irvine), Liz Shaw (Caroline John), Mike Yates (Richard Franklin), and Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling).

While the show isn’t considered canon by either Doctor Who enthusiasts (or EastEnders fans, either), it was all in fun, and for charity. Which must count for something.

And so, to wrap it all up …

Eh, I’ll do that later.

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Classic Doctor Who Season 25

DoctorWhoSeason25Several week ago, I began watching the classic Doctor Who series. Several people told me I ought to watch the new series, saying I’d like it. So, I decided to watch the old series instead. I figured I’d watch a few episodes, get bored, and use that as an excuse to not watch the new series.

Hasn’t worked out that way. After a little bit, I became a fan of the show. The old show. Still haven’t, as of this writing, seen any of the new series. And, until I actually start watching any of the new series, I don’t know if I will. But, if I do, I’ll have the complete backstory.

I’m up to the last of the incarnations of The Doctor before the show was canceled. And, Season 25 is the next-to-last season of the classic series.

This season was just plain weird. If you remember the 1980s, you know that was a weird time. If you have ever watched British TV, you know it was weird. So, 1980s British TV? Weird2.

The season featured two of The Doctor’s most famous opponents: the Daleks and the Cybermen. Remembrance of the Daleks (4 episodes) shows the destruction of the Daleks home world, Skaro, which was the setting for the serial that introduced them, Season One’s The Daleks.

Remembrance of the Daleks has several references to the first serial of the show, Season One’s An Unearthly Child. It included action at Coal Hill School, where Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton worked before they began traveling with The Doctor. Additional action took place at the I.M. Forman (sic) junk yard at 76 Totter’s Lane, where An Unearthly Child had its opening scene. One character was expecting The Doctor to be an older, white-haired man. The episode took place in November 1963, on a Saturday, based on a scene that had a TV in the background, playing a BBC station break, that said “This is BBC Television, the time is quarter past five and Saturday viewing continues with an adventure in the new science fiction series Doc-” before the scene abruptly cut. Also, Ace picked up and opened a book on The French Revolution, similar to what Susan did in the first episode of An Unearthly Child.

Ace reads a book on The French Revolution at Coal Hill School, November 23, 1963

Ace reads a book on The French Revolution at Coal Hill School, November 23, 1963, in Season 25’s Remembrance of the Daleks


Susan reads a book on The French Revolution at Coal Hill School, November 23, 1963.

Susan reads a book on The French Revolution at Coal Hill School, November 23, 1963, in Season One’s An Unearthly Child.


Silver Nemesis (3 episodes) featured the Cybermen, who were responsible for The Doctor’s death (and regeneration) in Season Four’s The Tenth Planet. Silver Nemesis aired on the 25th anniversary of the very first Doctor Who episode, giving the “silver” an additional meaning.

The show’s silver anniversary serial also featured an appearance by none other than the most famous Doctor Who fan, Her Royal Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, and Defender of the Faith. Okay, it was some actress who was made up to look like her. But I had you there for a second, didn’t I?

There were reports that the show runners attempted to get the Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) to appear on the show. The royal family responded that it would not be appropriate. So, they made up some woman (Mary Reynolds) to look like the Queen, and had her out walking her corgis.

The other two serials in the season were just plain weird. The Happiness Patrol (3 episodes) featured a lead female villain that was supposed to be a parody of Margaret Thatcher (yeah, more left-wing British TV stuff). It also featured pink-haired women running around killing people who were unhappy. And a walking … thing … made of candy that was the official executioner. Or something.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (4 episodes) featured a galactic circus, weird clowns, a rapping ringmaster, a werewolf, and other such nonsense. Those wacky Brits.

Yes, the one with the pink-hairs and the one with the clowns were weird. Just plain weird. But, the Daleks and Cybermen ones were okay. Kinduva mixed bag for the show’s penultimate season.

The classic series concludes with Season 26. Hulu and iTunes are locked and loaded.

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Classic Doctor Who Season 24

DoctorWhoLogo24I’m nearly done with watching the classic Doctor Who series. I started with the episodes that aired on BBC in November 1963, and have seen every episode — or reconstructions of missing episodes — since. I’ve just finished Season 24, which was Sylvester McCoy’s first as The Doctor.

Before I get into that, there’s a little matter of some off-screen events that impacted the Doctor Who universe. Between the end of Season 23 and the start of Season 24, Patrick Troughton died. He had made what would be his last appearance as The Doctor in Season 22’s The Two Doctors, reprising his role and playing opposite Colin Baker. During the off-season, he had appeared at a science fiction convention here in Columbus, Georgia, and died of a heart attack during the convention, on 28 March 1987.

I mentioned in my Season 23 wrap-up that Colin Baker was fired from the show after that season completed. The reason was that the Controller of BBC One was displeased with the tone of the show, and a complete overhaul was planned, including replacing Baker as The Doctor.

BBC offered Baker the opportunity to film a regeneration scene in the first serial of Season 24, but he counter-offered to do the entire season, concluding with a regeneration, because he would have missed out on other work by taking a short-term role. According to one interview, he never heard back from BBC about the counter-offer, and the season opened with a regeneration.

Time and the Rani (4 episodes) featured a cold opening, only the third time this had happened, after Castrovalva (a repeat of the regeneration from Tom Baker to Peter Davison from Logopolis) and The Five Doctors (William Hartnell’s farewell to Susan from The Dalek Invasion of Earth). The cold opening shows the TARDIS being attacked and finally landing on a planet. The Doctor and Mel are crumpled on the floor. The Rani enters and has her henchmen secure The Doctor. When they roll him over, he is in the midst of a regeneration, and resolves in Sylvester McCoy’s likeness.

For the scene, McCoy had donned a wig and lay on the floor to play the unconscious Doctor (6.0), making him the only actor to play two incarnations of The Doctor (6.0 and 7.0).

Time and the Rani was the first full stand-alone serial to feature Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), although she had appeared in Season 23’s The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids. Since Mel had obviously joined The Doctor during his sixth incarnation, and the series was now into his seventh incarnation, the plans to actually have a full introduction couldn’t be realized. The only other companion who didn’t have an introduction episode was Susan, who was already with The Doctor, her grandfather, when the series began.

DoctorWhoBus

The Time Bus

Delta and the Bannermen (3 episodes) was Mel’s penultimate episode, but caught my ear from all the oldies music playing. My eyes caught the time-traveling bus in space looking a little like Pearl Forrester’s space van from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

MST3KVan

Pearl’s Van

Mel was definitely an 80s girl, with big shoulders and big 80s hair. And a screamer. Bonnie Langford was a child star in the U.K. and had played Annie on stage in that country. She was 22 when she first appeared in the role, making her the first companion born after the show was first broadcast. The first episode of Doctor Who aired in November 1963, and Langford was born in July 1964. Although some fans of the show didn’t like the character, Colin Baker once called her one of the most professional actors with whom he had ever worked.

Langford left the show at the end of the season, with the character Mel deciding to leave The Doctor and travel with rouge spaceman Sabalom Glitz. Dragonfire (3 episodes) featured a chance encounter with Glitz, whom The Doctor (6.0) and Peri had encountered in Season 23’s The Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet, and The Doctor (6.0) and Mel had dealings in that season’s The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe.

The Doctor picked up a new companion, Dorothy Gale McShane, who went by “Ace” (Sophie Aldred). Despite Ace being younger than Mel, Alred is older than Langford. Ace was sixteen when she began traveling with The Doctor, though Alred was 26 at the time.

Sylvester McCoy’s portrayal of The Doctor featured his carrying an umbrella, as Colin Baker’s had done, carrying many things in his pocket, as Tom Baker had done, and taking a more comedic approach, as Patrick Troughton had done.

The short season meant not much time to learn much else about this incarnation of The Doctor, although he was immediately more likable than his previous incarnation.

And, we only have two more seasons to go.

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Classic Doctor Who Season 23

DoctorAndValeyard

The Doctor and The Valeyard

I’m watching the classic Doctor Who series, because someone wanted me to watch the new series. Or something. I’ve been doing it so long, I’m not sure on how it all came about.

I’m up through Season 23 now. That’s Colin Baker’s second full season as The Doctor. It’s also his last. BBC would fire him after the season ended.

Before we get to all that, though, let’s take a quick look at Season 23.

Rumors were that BBC had canceled the series after Season 22. In fact, they moved it back to a Fall schedule for budgetary reasons. That allowed them to go an entire fiscal year without the expense of a Doctor Who season.

Besides the return to the Fall, Season 23 was a little different. The format returned to 25-minute episodes, after going 45 minutes per episode the previous year. However, they didn’t increase the number of episodes. During the first six seasons, there had been 40-45 episodes per season. That schedule took its toll on both William Hartnell and Patrick Traughton, who both lasted around three seasons each in the role of The Doctor. Since Season Seven, there had usually been around 25 episodes per season. That may have been why Jon Pertwee stayed for five seasons, and Tom Baker for seven. Peter Davison only left after three because he was following Patrick Traughton’s example of three and done. Traughton had been The Doctor that Davison grew up watching, and was, to him, The Doctor.

With the extended episodes in Season 22, the number of episodes was cut back, making the actual show content consistent with what had been the norm since Season Seven. However, when they went back to 25-minute episodes in Season 23, they left the number of episodes as the contracted number. Season 23 ran 14 episodes.

Season 23 was also a single story, The Trial of a Time Lord. The trial used three stories as evidence in the trial, then added a fourth story to wrap up the trial. While the entire season was considered a single 14-episode serial, the various phases of the trial consist of stand-alone stories that could have aired outside of the framework of the trial.

The Doctor was on trial for meddling. Yes, that was how the Season Six serial, The War Games ended, which concluded with a trial by Time Lords, and The Doctor being sentenced to be stranded on Earth as Jon Pertwee.

The show played it up as him being tried for it again, violating our double jeopardy standard. However, all of the evidence used Colin Baker’s likeness as The Doctor, so it was actually a second trial for The Doctor continuing to interfere with time and worlds in space.

The second story in the trial, known as Mindwarp (4 episodes) — although that was not officially the name of the story — included the death of Peri (Nicola Bryant). That storyline was changed in the final story, The Ultimate Foe (2 episodes), with Peri’s death being said to have been altered records. According to one report, Nicola Bryant filmed her final scene for Mindwarp thinking that her character had been killed off by having her brain removed. She was said to have been unhappy with the in-season retcon of that. Didn’t stop her from taking money for appearing in officially licensed (and considered canon) audio programs years later.

New companion Mel with The Doctor

New companion Mel with The Doctor

A new companion, Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), commonly called “Mel,” was introduced with no fanfare in Terror of the Vervoids (4 episodes). It was presented as testimony from the future, after she had joined The Doctor in his travels.

The trial concluded with the surprise that the prosecutor, known as The Valeyard, was actually a future incarnation of The Doctor. The Master (Anthony Ainley), who appeared in, but not as, The Ultimate Foe (2 episodes), was conspiring with The Valeyard, and called him “an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor’s nature”, adding that he came into being somewhere between The Doctor’s “twelfth and final incarnations.” Along with the High Council of Gallifrey, The Master and The Valeyard were covering up a massive crime by convicting The Doctor, sentencing our hero to death, with The Valeyard gaining all of The Doctor’s remaining regenerations. Or something.

Anyway, The Master turned the tables on The Valeyard, but ended up allowing The Doctor to escape and defeat The Master. The High Council was overthrown, The Valeyard escaped, and everything went back to normal.

Except it didn’t.

Because of the complaints against the show for its violence, the head of BBC programming wanted to completely overhaul the show, including casting a new actor as The Doctor.

None of that was known when Season 23 ended. As far as Colin Baker knew, he would be back in the TARDIS the next season. But, it was not to be. He offered to appear in the full season, with a regeneration at the end, but BBC wanted to begin with a regeneration, and offered him one serial of the next season. That would have caused him to miss other work with little return, so he declined.

Let me finish the Colin Baker years by saying that I wasn’t at all unhappy with his portrayal as The Doctor. However, he had the shortest run of any actor up to this time (December 1986). His character had one season to settle in before the disruption of a trial, then he was fired. I think had he remained in the role longer, he would have grown on me more. Despite the firing, Baker reprised the role in official audio plays in the years since.

Oh, there is an interesting story on how they handled the regeneration from The Doctor (6.0) to The Doctor (7.0) in the next season, without Colin Baker’s participation. But, we’ll save that for Season 24.

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Classic Doctor Who Season 22

TheTwoDoctors-2Season 22 of the classic Doctor Who series marked a couple of changes in the show. BBC returned it to once-weekly, but increased the length of each episode from 25 minutes to 45 minutes. Keeping in mind that putting two 25-minute episodes together, removing the opening and closing credits from the middle, and omitting the cliff-hanger and recap, meant that each 45-minute episode contained almost exactly the same amount of show content.

The season consisted of six serials comprising 13 episodes, or what would have been six serials and 26 episodes. Looking ahead, I saw that the series would return to 25-minute episodes the next season.

There was no cast change in this season. Colin Baker had assumed the role of The Doctor in the previous season, and his companion, Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) would remain the entire season. This is the first time since Season Eight that there was no introduction or farewell for either The Doctor or any companion during the season. In every other season, at least one companion or an actor playing The Doctor had a first or last episode.

Around this time, there were movements in the UK opposed to violent television shows. Doctor Who was one of the shows targeted. And, there was a lot of violence in the show. Tegan’s character had left The Doctor, complaining of all the violence, so the show did acknowledge that. But what did they do about it? Why, they stepped it up a notch.

The serial Attack of the Cybermen (2 episodes) featured Cybermen killing people with their bare hands, something that was not common on British television. The attack by The Doctor (6.0) on Peri in Colin Baker’s first serial was roundly criticized, because it was consider so shocking to the audience. Attack of the Cybermen also featured the return of a villainous henchman, Lytton, who had worked for the Daleks in the previous season serial, Resurrection of the Daleks. By the conclusion of the serial, he was redeemed, and The Doctor regretting misjudging him in the end.

Vengeance on Varos (2 episodes) reminded me of The Running Man in a way. The residents of the planet are entertained by a steady stream of violence, torture, and execution. There are a couple of characters that don’t interact with any other, just watch all the happenings on the TV, and comment. Kinda like a Greek Chorus. Vengeance on Varos introduced the worm critter Sil, who would show up again.

The Master made a return appearance in The Mark of the Rani (2 episodes). They referenced his last appearance and apparent death at the hands of The Doctor (5.0), but said he wasn’t dead after all then went on about their business. Oh, and the Rani (Kate O’Mara, who died in March) is another evil renegade Time Lord. There are a lot of them. The Master, The War Chief, The Monk, The Rani, Morbius, Barusa … well, let’s just say there are a shipload of them.

We get treated to evidence of a story that never aired. Timelash (2 episodes) makes mention that The Doctor (3.0) and Jo Grant had visited the planet Karfel before. In fact, portraits of The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo (Katy Manning) are seen. Oh, and H. G. Wells shows up.

The violence continues up through the final serial, Revelation of the Daleks (2 episodes), in which there are disembodied heads, limbs blown off, and general mayhem. There are Daleks, after all. Oh, and “synthesis of food protein is people!”

The season was so-so. Nothing against Colin Baker as The Doctor. I thought he was fine. And, the violence wasn’t an issue for me. I was a fan of Breaking Bad, after all. No, it’s just that the stories were a little tiresome. But not all of them.

The Two Doctors (3 episodes), which was the fourth of the six serials to air, was a treat. Patrick Troughton reprised his role as The Doctor (2.0), along with Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon. I liked the opening effect of the serial, which featured The Doctor (2.0) and Jamie in the TARDIS, and in black-and-white. The scene shifted to color, and the story got underway.

Two separate stories ran, featuring The Doctor (2.0) with Jamie, and The Doctor (6.0) with Peri. They eventually ran into each other, and saved everyone, defeating the Sontarans along the way.

The Doctor and The Doctor

The Doctor and The Doctor

The writer, Robert Holmes — who had contributed many characters and concepts to the series over the years — was a vegetarian and used the serial to promote the absence of meat in a diet. With a hammer. Over the top. At the conclusion, The Doctor and Peri adopted a vegetarian diet.

Still, it was a treat seeing Patrick Troughton as The Doctor again. It was his last appearance in the role, and he would die less than 25 months after the serial aired, at a science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia.

There was one more aspect to Season 22 that was unusual. Airing as part of the BBC series Jim’ll Fix It, a short adventure featured The Doctor, Tegan (Janet Fielding), and a child named Gareth Jenkins defeating the Sontarans. It was presented as a short episode of Doctor Who, complete with opening credits. The ten-minute presentation was part of the show where Jimmy Savile make children’s wishes come true. He’d “fix it” so things they wanted could happen. Young Gareth Jenkins was a fan of the show and had his own outfit that resembled that of The Doctor (6.0).

By the way, Jimmy Savile was a pedophile and used his position as host of children’s programming to gain access to children. Most of the reports of his perversion came to light after his death in 2011.

And, on that sorry note, we’ll leave Season 22 behind, and head to Season 23.

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