Category Archives: Doctor Who

Oh, My Giddy Aunt!

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The history of science fiction and fantasy television is riddled with tragedies.

There are the minor tragedies; the mishaps and unfortunate choices and events that mar what would have otherwise been shining testaments to the greatness of quality entertainment. These sad disappointments are exemplified by declines in quality such as The X-Files turning into the paranormal version of Moonlighting, Linda Hamilton being written out of Beauty and the Beast, Lost being revealed as random and pointless after the first season, Farscape not being renewed after a cliffhanger ending…

There are the major tragedies; those devastating losses and errors in judgment that cause your inner geek to sob itself into catatonia and to shrivel pathetically into a fetal position, its only sign of life an occasional mewling shudder whenever the pain becomes too acute and unbearable.

The premature cancellation of Firefly is the most recent of these tragedies. Eleven years and a miraculous sequel movie later, the wound still feels fresh.

But sometimes it’s the oldest scars that cut the deepest. I hadn’t been born when Doctor Who first aired in 1963. It wasn’t until the 1980s that I discovered the show, becoming an instant, rabid convert after just half an episode (it was the last half of episode four of The Power of Kroll that did it). But even as a latecomer to the fandom, I still remember that sense of outrage when I first learned of the BBC’s practice of destroying old tape, effectively erasing from existence entire swaths of television history. Luckily, Doctor Who remained relatively unscathed in comparison to other programs. We could at least see the majority of William Hartnell’s stories, and bits and pieces of Patrick Troughton’s years. Other shows weren’t so fortunate. Luckily, Doctor Who has long been adored around the world by a very obsessive and passionate fanbase, making the search for missing episodes something of a priority. The result has been the successful discovery of several missing episodes over the last several years.

Until today, the number of episodes still missing numbered at 106. Now, today, we Doctor Who fans can gleefully giggle and tingle over that number dropping to 97.

The rumors of found episodes have been circulating for a while, but it wasn’t until the BBC confirmed that episodes had, in fact, been found, that I began hoping that, through some miracle, the found episodes would include the final episode of The Tenth Planet (William Hartnell’s final episode, marking the first time that the title character regenerated) and the entirety of The Power of the Daleks, possibly one of the best Dalek stories of all time, and also Patrick Troughton’s first story.

I didn’t get my wish, but what we did end up getting was almost just as good, because we got two Second Doctor stories, and more Patrick Troughton is always a good thing. The Enemy of the World is a wonderful find because of Troughton’s dual role as both the Doctor and the maniacal and devious dictator Salamander. Even better may be that all but one episode of The Web of Fear was found. This one is notable for being the second appearance of the Great Intelligence (the Big Bad of New Who Series 7), as well as the first appearance of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, better known as the Brigadier, one of the show’s longest-running recurring characters, and a beloved fan-favorite.

I can hardly be bothered to care anymore about the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode, or any other specials or celebrations. More of the brilliant Patrick Troughton is the best 50th Anniversary gift ever.

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Steven Moffat is Such a Fan

Apparently Steven Moffat can’t do anything right, even when he blatantly is.

There is no accounting for taste. Sometimes we just like what we like, and preferring one era of Doctor Who over another is not only all well and good, but completely expected and accepted. It would actually be strange if Doctor Who fans didn’t have preferences. In fact, Doctor Who has been on the air for so long, it would be a little strange if long-term fans didn’t have eras they actively disliked. I myself have a couple eras that I find extremely problematic. However, it would be nice if, when we engage in our complaining, we ranted about stuff that actually had some bearing on what’s appearing on screen.

Some of the complaints about current Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat that I’ve encountered come in the form of griping about how he doesn’t reference past episodes enough. Some feel that Moffat needs to be referencing Classic Who more often. Others are hungry for more references to the first three series of New Who, when Russell T. Davies (RTD) was the show-runner.

These types of complaints are misguided on the face of it, because they ignore one of the best and most consistent traits of Doctor Who, which is that Doctor Who is a show that constantly changes. Complaining that Moffat’s Who isn’t loaded with nods, references, and connections to the past is kind of like complaining that the Fourth Doctor era doesn’t mention Susan, Ian, and Barbara enough, or that it doesn’t have episodes about the Tribe of Gum, the Sensorites, and the Zarbi. Well, of course it doesn’t. Those are stories and characters from the First Doctor.

But even worse is that Moffat’s Who is, in actuality, loaded with references to past episodes.

I guess Moffat could squeeze even more references in, if he wanted the show to be nothing but a self-referential exploration of Doctor Who nostalgia, but that would be short-sighted. Besides, that’s what the episode The Name of the Doctor was already all about.

And I suppose when some fans say they want more references to RTD Who, what some of them are actually saying is that they still want the show to be about how Rose was the Doctor’s one true love, or that they want Martha or Donna or Jack to return, but that would also be short-sighted. Fans rabidly clinging to a handful of companions year after year, when their stories have already finished and gone, is anathema to a show like Doctor Who.

And finally, I imagine that one strong disagreement with my assertion that Moffat’s Who is full of references to the past is that many of the references are obscure and not direct, to which I would respond by repeating that this has almost always been the case with Doctor Who.

What follows is a simplified, probably short list of references to Classic and RTD Who that are contained in Steven Moffat’s three series and specials. Much of this is pulled from the TARDIS Data Core (http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Who_Wiki), a very helpful and informative site. I highly recommend exploring the Data Core if you want to dig further into these many points of continuity.

I certainly don’t expect anyone to actually read this entire list, but it should give us an idea of how thoroughly Moffat’s Who is entrenched in the program’s greater continuity. Steven Moffat is so obviously and unabashedly a Doctor Who fan.

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The Eleventh Hour

“Do I have a face that no one listens to? Again?” is an obvious reference to the entirety of both Classic and RTD Who and how his companions typically don’t listen to him.

The opening scene with the crashing TARDIS is a continuation of the final scene in RTD’s The End of Time.

“Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey” is a catch phrase coined by the Tenth Doctor.

“What? What? What?!?!” is one of the Tenth Doctor’s catch phrases.

Opening the TARDIS with a snap of his fingers was originally done by the Tenth Doctor.

The Shadow Proclamation is a nod to RTD Who

We see images of all the previous Doctors and of creatures from both Classic and RTD Who.

The Eleventh Doctor’s lingering, glowing regeneration energy was a precedent established in RTD Who.

The Doctor being late to return for Amelia is making use of a trope firmly established in Classic and RTD Who. It’s comically common how often the Doctor never arrives where or when he wants to.

“You are not of this world.”

“No, but I’ve put a lot of work into it.”

This is an obvious reference to every time the Doctor has saved the Earth in Classic and RTD Who.

The Doctor telling the Atraxi to “run” is a nod to the Tenth Doctor telling Harriet Jones “I should have told [the Sycorax] to run.”

The Doctor’s immediate and virulent dismissal of carrots is a nod to companion Mel trying to get the Sixth Doctor to drink carrot juice.

The Doctor calling Earth a Level 5 planet is an RTD concept.

The Beast Below

The Doctor again refers to himself as “the last of the Time Lords,” an RTD invention.

A “Magpie Electricals” sign, first seen in RTD Who, makes an appearance.

The Earth being abandoned due to solar flares is a plot point established in Classic Who.

A Dalek makes a brief appearance at the very end.

Liz Ten mentions the royal family’s relationship with the Doctor as established in RTD Who.

A quick exchange between Amy and the Doctor establishes that the Doctor had family/children, but doesn’t talk much about them, a theme that has popped up in both Classic and RTD Who.

Victory of the Daleks

Daleks.

Threatening the Daleks with a Jammie Dodger is similar to the Fourth Doctor making the same kind of threat with a Jelly Baby.

When the Doctor threatens to send the Daleks back to “the void,” he’s referencing a plot point and concept from RTD Who.

Dalek Saucers have been seen in Classic and RTD Who.

The Doctor identifies the TARDIS as a Type 40 TARDIS, another nod to Classic Who.

The Daleks escaping through a Time Corridor is another nod to Classic Who.

The entire story is essentially a retelling of the Classic Who story The Power of the Daleks.

The Time of Angels

The Weeping Angels first appeared in RTD Who.

River Song also made her first appearance in RTD Who.

The crash of the Byzantium was first referenced during RTD Who.

The mention of “High Gallifreyan” is a nod to Classic Who.

There is a mention of perception filters, a concept from RTD Who.

The Doctor having his ego bruised by River Song being a better TARDIS pilot parallels the Fourth Doctor being annoyed when Romana claims that she is a better pilot.

The Doctor saying that he’s not a taxi service echoes dialogue from the Fifth Doctor.

The Doctor can speed read, which has also been seen in Classic and RTD Who.

Flesh and Stone

Events from RTD Who (the CyberKing, the Dalek invasion) are used to establish a plot point about history disappearing.

The Doctor kissing Amy on the forehead before leaving her in a dangerous situation echoes similar moments with Zoe and Jo Grant in Classic Who.

Vampires in Venice

The Doctor’s library card has an image of the First Doctor, the address of the junkyard where the TARDIS was located in the first Classic Who episode, and the name Dr. J. Smith, the alias that the Doctor has used throughout Classic and RTD Who.

Amy talks about all the running they do, a trope established by RTD Who.

Perception filter again, from RTD Who.

Amy’s Choice

The Tenth Doctor’s relationship to Elizabeth I is given a mention.

The Dreamlord’s comment about the Doctor loving redheads is a clear nod to Donna Noble from RTD Who.

The Doctor is called “the last of the Time Lords” and “the Oncoming Storm,” both monikers from RTD Who.

The possibility that the TARDIS “jumped a time track” is a nod to Classic Who.

The Doctor derides the TARDIS Instruction Manual, a joke that references Classic Who.

The Hungry Earth

The return of the Silurians, a Classic Who monster.

The Doctor ends up taking Amy to the wrong place after promising to take her to the beach. This has also happened with Martha Jones and Donna Noble (RTD Who) and Sarah Jane Smith (Classic Who).

The Doctor mentions the fate of the first Silurians he encountered in Classic Who.

Cold Blood

The Doctor asks for celery, a nod to the Fifth Doctor.

Fixed points in time are mentioned, which have previously been used as integral plot points in RTD Who.

The entire story strongly parallels the Classic Who story The Silurians.

Vincent and the Doctor

We see images of the First and Second Doctors.

The Doctor rifles through a chest full of junk and conveniently helpful devices to find what he needs. This has been seen in both Classic and RTD Who.

The flirting between Vincent and Amy echoes the flirting between Shakespeare and Martha.

The Lodger

Flashes of Classic and RTD Who Doctors and monsters.

Brief glimpse of Rose Tyler.

The song the Doctor sings in the shower is a song that has been sung by the Third Doctor.

“The Oncoming Storm.”

Craig’s “What? What? What?!?!” echoes the Tenth Doctor.

We see all the Doctor’s previous incarnations again.

The Doctor telling Craig “don’t spend it all on sweets” echoes the Ninth Doctor saying the same to Adam in RTD Who.

The Pandorica Opens

Silurians, Judoon, Sycorax, Sontarans, Autons, Cybermen, Daleks… All creatures who have appeared in Classic or RTD Who, or both.

“I… am… talking!” has been uttered by both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors.

The Big Bang

The Seventh Doctor also once wore a fez.

A Christmas Carol

The Doctor is unable to perform a card trick, much like the Ninth Doctor.

The Doctor has a photo of himself and Einstein, lending credence to the idea that the two are friends, as originally mentioned in Classic Who.

The Doctor wears a scarf that is similar to that worn by the Fourth Doctor.

This is not the first time the Doctor has seen flying fish, as the First Doctor mentioned having seen flying fish.

The psychic paper fails, as it did twice during RTD Who.

The Impossible Astronaut

References to River Song’s first episodes, which belong to the era of RTD Who.

“Brave heart, Canton,” is a reference to the Fifth Doctor’s “Brave heart, Tegan.”

Day of the Moon

“Magpie Electricals” makes another appearance.

The Doctor tastes something to get more information from it, a habit established by the Tenth Doctor.

Dwarf star alloy has been mentioned in both Classic and RTD Who.

The Curse of the Black Spot

Captain Avery was mentioned in Classic Who.

Two objects occupying the same space is a concept that has been used in Classic Who.

The Doctor’s Wife

The Time War.

The Doctor mentions having rebuilt the TARDIS before, which he has done in Classic Who.

Mentions using rift energy to refuel the TARDIS, an idea which originated with RTD Who.

A canonical reason is given for the long-running “unreliability” of the TARDIS.

Mentions the existence of older control rooms.

The Cloister Bell, a Classic Who invention, sounds.

The Ood, an RTD Who creature.

The Doctor mentions the Sixth Doctor’s umbrella.

Sending messages by Hypercube is from Classic Who.

The Tenth Doctor’s console room makes a return.

The first instance of the TARDIS trying to communicate psychically happened during the first series of Classic Who.

Deleting rooms to create energy was established as an ability of the TARDIS in Classic Who.

The Eye of Orion is a Classic Who reference.

The TARDIS says she likes being called “old girl,” which is a reference to all the times previous Doctors actually called her “old girl.”

Reference is made to the Classic Who idea that the Doctor stole the TARDIS.

The Third Doctor once travelled by TARDIS console alone.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People

“One day, we will get back. Yes, one day.” –The First Doctor

“Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.” –The Third Doctor

“Would you like a jelly baby?” – The Fourth Doctor

“Hello, I’m the Doctor.” – The Tenth Doctor

A Good Man Goes to War

Another mention of the Doctor having family, a running theme that pops up occasionally since the early days of Classic Who.

Cybermen, Judoon, a Silurian, and a Sontaran.

“I am so sorry” echoes one of the Tenth Doctor’s catchphrases.

Nods to River Song’s first appearance during RTD Who.

The Untempered Schism from RTD Who is mentioned.

Let’s Kill Hitler

A repeat of the RTD Who banana gag.

We see holograms of past RTD Who companions, Donna, Martha, and Rose.

The TARDIS being in a state of Temporal Grace is a concept from Classic Who.

River surviving being shot during the few hours after her regeneration is similar to the Tenth Doctor being able to regenerate his hand because his regeneration was still fresh.

Night Terrors

Sontarans and Daleks get a mention.

Perception filters, again.

Jelly Babies.

The Girl Who Waited

Ejecting parts of the TARDIS for extra power is mentioned again.

Rory’s “I am so, so sorry” echoes one of the Tenth Doctor’s catchphrases.

The God Complex

The Minotaur is related to the Nimon, a Classic Who creature.

We see photos of a Sontaran, a Silurian, a Tritovore, a Hoix, a Catkind, and a Judoon, creatures who originated with Classic or RTD Who.

Weeping Angels.

Cloister Bell.

The Doctor calling the Minotaur beautiful echoes the Tenth Doctor’s sentiments upon encountering some alien creatures.

Closing Time

K-9 reference.

Cybermen.

Cyber-controller.

Cybermats!

“I don’t like it!” is from the Second Doctor.

The Doctor goes on a farewell tour before his impending death, just like the Tenth Doctor.

Being able to fight and reject the Cybermen conversion process was established in RTD Who.

The Doctor mentions that he sometimes forgets who he is, which has actually happened a few times in Classic Who.

“Not a rat, a Cybermat!” is a line from Classic Who.

The Wedding of River Song

Classic Who’s Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart gets a lovely and sad mention.

RTD Who’s Charles Dickens makes an appearance.

A Silurian.

Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness get a mention.

Drawings of Weeping Angels, Daleks, Cybermen, and Silurians.

Elizabeth I gets another mention.

The question “Doctor who?” was asked in the very first Classic Who story.

Dalek.

The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe

The Doctor mentions Jabe, the tree creature from the Forest of Cheeb from RTD Who.

Classic Who established that the Doctor can briefly survive in the vacuum of space.

Asylum of the Daleks

The Oncoming Storm moniker is used again.

Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks since the first series of Classic Who.

The Asylum is similar in style to the Dalek city where the Doctor originally met the Daleks.

Different Daleks from the entire history of Doctor Who make an appearance.

Several encounters between the Doctor and the Daleks in Classic Who are mentioned.

The Doctor’s knack for manipulating and using teleporters has been seen and mentioned in RTD Who.

The Doctor mentions that he is familiar with Dalek prison camps, which he is, from Classic Who.

The Daleks have converted humans to Daleks before, in both Classic and RTD Who.

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Silurians.

The Doctor again claims that the TARDIS is not a taxi service, a nod to Classic Who dialogue.

Psychic paper, an RTD Who invention.

A Town Called Mercy

The characterization of the Doctor relies on his history of committing terrible acts. In other words, the Time War, an RTD Who invention.

The Doctor mentions the Master.

This is another episode about how the Doctor needs companions to keep him grounded, a conceit firmly established by RTD Who.

The Power of Three

U.N.I.T. is a Classic Who invention.

Kate Stewart is the Brigadier’s daughter, so she is a direct connection to Classic Who.

The Doctor mentions K-9 again.

The U.N.I.T. base under the Tower of London was originally seen in RTD Who.

The Doctor telling Brian about his past companions is a broad reference to all Classic and RTD Who companions.

The Angels Take Manhattan

The Doctor using regeneration energy to heal River’s hand is continuing a trend of regeneration energy being used for purposes other than regenerations, an idea that was originally used in RTD Who.

River says that the Doctor doesn’t like to see his companions age, which was a character trait established in RTD Who.

The Snowmen

Silurian and Sontaran.

Clara’s observation that the TARDIS is “smaller on the outside” only works as a joke because it relies on decades worth of characters observing that it’s “bigger on the inside.”

Strax’s inability to differentiate male from female is similar to the Sontaran Linx from Classic Who having the same confusion.

The Great Intelligence is an enemy that the Second Doctor faced during two different adventures.

The Fourth Doctor once dressed as Sherlock Holmes.

The Bells of Saint John

The Great Intelligence again.

The Doctor says that travelling short distances in the TARDIS is difficult, which has previously been stated several times in Classic Who.

The Anti-Gravity Olympics were also mentioned to Rose Tyler.

The Rings of Akhaten

The Doctor mentions his granddaughter, who we can only assume must be Susan, the first Classic Who companion.

The Time War.

The Doctor’s speech refers to events that he experienced during Classic Who.

Cold War

The return of the Ice Warriors, a Classic Who creature.

The Doctor activates the HADS, which was previously used by the Second Doctor.

The Doctor has a doll with blond hair, which might be an obscure reference to Rose Tyler.

The entire story is a nod to the Second Doctor’s style of “base under siege” stories.

Hide

The Ghostbusters references echoes a similar reference from RTD Who.

The Doctor says he used to have a place for umbrellas, referencing that some of the Classic Who console rooms had umbrella racks.

The Eye of Harmony from Classic Who is mentioned.

The Cloister Bell sounds.

Fixed points in time are mentioned again.

Psychic paper.

The Doctor poses as someone from Health and Safety, which he once did during RTD Who.

The Doctor mentions Metebelis III, a planet visited by the Third Doctor.

The Doctor visits a pocket universe, which he has done a few times in Classic Who.

The Doctor wears a red spacesuit which looks like the one worn by the Tenth Doctor.

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

The Time War.

The Great Intelligence is mentioned.

Dialogue from several old companions and Doctors can be heard.

We see the Seventh Doctor’s umbrella.

The Eye of Harmony.

Cloister Bell.

The TARDIS changes its interiors, something it has been able to do since Classic Who.

The Doctor derides the fashion sense of the Time Lords, something they have had a problem with since the days of Classic Who.

The Crimson Horror

The Doctor referring to a “gobby Australian” was a reference to Classic Who companion Tegan Jovanka.

“Brave heart…” was another Tegan reference.

Silurian and Sontaran.

Nightmare in Silver

Cybermen.

The possessed Doctor imitates past Classic and RTD Who Doctors.

We see images of all the Doctor’s past regenerations.

The Doctor takes advantage of the Cybermen’s weakness to gold, which has not been seen since Classic Who.

Cybermats are mentioned.

The Name of the Doctor

The Great Intelligence.

Silurian and Sontaran.

The Valeyard, an evil incarnation of the Doctor from Classic Who, is mentioned.

The Sycorax (RTD Who), the Daleks, and the Cybermen are mentioned.

The Doctor’s deeds being undone and the stars going out echoes what happened when the Tenth Doctor was killed prematurely.

We hear dialogue from several past Classic and RTD Who Doctors.

We see the TARDIS being stolen by the First Doctor.

We see a glimpse of Susan.

We see footage of or flashes of every single past Doctor.

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Hate Steven Moffat all you want, but let’s stop pretending that he’s not a fan of Doctor Who and that he’s ignoring Doctor Who continuity. The truth is, one of the reasons his version of Doctor Who is the way it is, is because he enjoys Doctor Who very much, and because he understands Doctor Who very, very well.


When Fans Hate

**Some not-so-nice imagery and language may follow**

What is it about fandom that causes fans to voice such hate and anger toward the writers and creators of their favorite shows, movies, and books?

Sorry, that’s rhetorical. I actually know the answer to this question. I’m sure we all know the answer to this question. I well know the feeling of being disappointed, even resentful, when a franchise you once loved has declined in quality, or when it’s gone in a direction that seems to be abandoning everything that made you like it in the first place. It’s silly, but it’s almost like a sense of betrayal when you witness a beloved property go completely off the rails. For me it’s happened with Star Wars, Star Trek, Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies, Northern Exposure, The X-Files

So I get it. I really do. I understand where the hate and anger come from, and I understand why the hate and anger is triggered.

But hate and anger? Really? Disappointment, frustration, sadness maybe, a sense of loss that something you were enjoying is slipping away… but hate and anger?

I was going to write in length about a specific television writer who has been spawning more spiteful, over-the-top, disturbing fan hate than I ever recall seeing before, the kind of stuff that’s typically only reserved for child molesters and occasionally politicians, but it’s just not worth it. With this kind of rant, you’re either preaching to the choir or pounding your head against a brick wall. Many of you will probably already know who I’m talking about, and if you do know who I’m talking about, there’s a chance you’re one of those who thinks the hate is justified. I just wonder how some of us have become so bitter and twisted that we can decide, based solely on disliking his style of characterization and plotting, a few awkward interviews, a few out-of-context quotes, and a sarcastic sense of humor, that a man we don’t even know is a proud and evil misogynist, racist, and homophobe. I wonder and worry about those of us who have jumped to conclusions such as “he probably rapes his wife,” and I’m greatly perplexed by those of us who wish for horrible things to happen to him, such as “I hope someone cuts off his cock and shoves it down his throat and chokes him to death.”

It’s gotten so bad that I’ve seen people not even question the validity of the accusations; “I used to really like his work, but then I heard that he didn’t like women. What a douche!” I feel like I’m seeing mob mentality in action; “You say he killed someone? Lynch him!” Even when someone says something nice about him, it often comes with a disclaimer; “I know he’s a misogynist, but…”

Try reading Dave Sim’s Cerebus if you want to actually experience the writing of a vocal and proud misogynist.

Honestly, people. Let’s get some perspective.

Or maybe the problem is that I’ve been perusing the wrong online communities lately. I really hope that’s the problem.


Making the Doctor a Woman

*possible spoilers if you haven’t finished Series 7 of Doctor Who*

The character of the Doctor has always been male. It’s possible within the context of the show for the Doctor to become female.

Some fans are adamant about wanting the Doctor to stay male, some fans are adamant about wanting the Doctor to become a woman. Both sides can devolve into extreme nastiness when it comes to attacking the other. It’s nearly impossible to state your preference for the Doctor to stay male without being labeled as sexist or misogynist. It’s nearly impossible to state your preference for the Doctor to become female without being accused of being an agenda-pushing nut.

Both sides have a point. Too much of the pro-male crowd is clearly revealed to be sexist creeps once they begin arguing their point (“We’ll get stories about how she can never choose an outfit and how she’s on her period every month!”) Too much of the pro-female crowd is revealed to be agenda-driven whack-jobs (“Shame on Moffat for casting another man! He had a chance to deliver a powerful message to female fans across the world! I hope the sexist bastard chokes and dies!”).

Both sides have perfectly valid and sensible reasons for their preference.

On the one hand, the Doctor frequently experiences regeneration, which changes his appearance, his physical age, and his personality. Even his tastes change. The show has revealed that there has been at least one Time Lord who sometimes changed their gender when they regenerated. End of story. It’s completely possible for the Doctor to become female, and some fans think it would be interesting to see what a female actress would do with the role.

On the other hand, the Doctor frequently experiences regeneration, which has always resulted in him remaining male. This has happened ten times, soon to be eleven times (possibly soon to be 12 times, but more on that later). Clearly a precedent has been set, and to suddenly start making even more drastic changes in the Doctor’s appearance, when it’s obvious that he’s physically or mentally locked into a particular type of form or mentality, would seem strange, even by Doctor Who standards.

Some fans don’t really care one way or another, but whatever. Neutrality can be admirable, but non-position is boring.

Like it or not, we will eventually have a female Doctor. I’m firmly convinced that this is a foregone conclusion. I think that maybe Steven Moffat, the current show-runner of Doctor Who, is setting the show up to finally give us a female Doctor. I think that maybe, just maybe, Moffat has concocted a way to give us a female Doctor that will be an attempt to keep both sides of the argument happy.

The following points begin to paint a picture:

  1. Moffat’s Who has been placing a huge emphasis on how much the Doctor hates endings.
  2. Moffat has recently stated that he recognizes the canonical conceit that the Doctor can only regenerate twelve times, meaning that it’s possible that there can only be thirteen incarnations of the Doctor.
  3. The Series 7 finale The Name of the Doctor reveals the existence of a Doctor who may be a forgotten/hidden incarnation, meaning that the next Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, may be the thirteenth incarnation.
  4. The same episode spoke of the name of “The Doctor” as though it were a title as much as a name. The Doctors that we know don’t refer to the forgotten/hidden incarnation as “The Doctor” because he didn’t live up to the title. The Eleventh Doctor calls the name of “The Doctor” a “promise” that the forgotten/hidden Doctor broke.

So what we have is a perfect setup for the Doctor having to face his true, final death, which is thematically perfect because it’s been repeatedly noted that the Doctor hates endings. Combine this with the idea that “The Doctor” is a promise and title as much as a name and you have the perfect setup for a completely new character to take up the mantle of “The Doctor.” Kill off the Doctor, and have someone else take up his name. Have the Doctor breath his true, final breath, while someone else takes up his promise to help and heal the universe.

Steven Moffat has created a framework that, if followed through on, would allow the BBC to cast a woman as the Doctor without making the actual Doctor a woman.

I’m surprisingly okay with this idea.


Head Cannon

Headcanon: An idea, belief, or aspect of a story that is not mentioned in the media itself, but is accepted by either the reader themselves or the fandom in general. If it is confirmed by the author of the story, it becomes canon.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=headcanon

Yes, I know, I misspelled “canon” in the title

But it’s okay, because there are exactly two times when it’s acceptable to use the spelling “cannon.” The first is, of course, when you’re talking about a “cannon.” The second is when you like the metaphor that’s created by the incorrect spelling. The image of a “head cannon” carries a bigger, more immediate punch than the fuzzy idea of creating fictional realities in your head that clarify and expand upon someone else’s fictional creation.

Actually, that fuzzy idea carries quite a punch, but come on… head cannon!

And it works metaphorically, because it describes what it sometimes feels like to suddenly be hit with an idea about a character or story or relationship that fits so perfectly with the fictional world that you and the writer have been co-creating in your mind; like a booming cannon has just gone off in your head.

It’s amazing how headcanons can result in two people experiencing two remarkably different stories.

As a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, I’ve developed a consistent image of the Doctor as being a largely unknowable, alien, asexual being. This completely flies in the face of how the character is often presented in New Who. Many (probably most) fans are watching a show that is all about how much the Doctor loves and longs to be with Rose, and how much the Doctor loves River, and they’re developing headcanons about how Rose and the Doctor’s clone are living happily ever after and making babies in an alternate universe, or how River and the Doctor are sharing deeply intimate and passionate moments off-camera.

I, on the other hand, am full of headcanons about how the Doctor is so alien and so irrevocably separate and distant from humanity that the concept of romantic love forever eludes him. He is hesitant to express feelings of romantic love because he doesn’t actually feel them. He pretends, he plays, he goes through the motions, he lies to others, and he lies to himself. He does these things because it suits his present purposes, because he’s sad, because it’s fun, because it’s sometimes easier, because he’s often a childish vagabond, and because he does, after all, care about his companions and friends. He just doesn’t love them.

Head cannon: A metaphorical cannon that blasts away at a story’s flaws to make a great story even better.


My First (and probably only) Piece of Fan Fiction

Settled

Though the sky was streaked with clouds, Bad Wolf Bay was bright with the sun. Rose Tyler was cold. A chill wind was blowing in from the endless, desolate waves of the sea, but the cold Rose felt was the numbing iciness of her soul sinking and her heart breaking. Again.

She had been aglow with warmth and hope and love and triumph. She had used the broken, jagged pieces of her spirit to fuel her indomitable fire, to persevere against all obstacles and all impossibilities, and to win her way back to her Doctor. No power in all the multiple universes could stop her from being reunited forever with her soul mate, but somehow, again, she was losing him. Her mind clawed and grasped for any shred of hope, tore and screamed against the futility of it all

The Doctor’s other self, his copy, his shadow, his newly born human form, leaned into her, his soft mouth pressing so slightly against her ear. Shivers ran down her neck at the sensation of his sweet, tickling breath, and he whispered those never heard words that had haunted her dreams for a seeming eternity.

“Rose Tyler. I love you.”

Her soul mate. A different vessel, perhaps, but the same memories, the same feelings, the same desires. The same soul. He would love her forever, grow old with her, and they would be happy until their dying breaths. And he needed her. He needed her to mend his broken psyche, to make him a better man. It would do. It would more than do.

*     *     *     *     *     *

He lay on his back, the firmness of the grass and earth a comforting but cold cradle as he gazed up at the stars. There were a few differences between these points of light and those he knew from the parallel universe he originated from, but the similarities were numerous enough to serve as constant reminders of his travels and adventures through all of space and time. These travels and adventures were not his own, but those of his other, true self. They belonged to the last of the Time Lords; to the Doctor. But he remembered them all as though the time had been his own. His enemies, his friends, the wondrous worlds and universes and times he had moved through like a mote of dust that left ever-expanding ripples in its wake. These moments burned in him like raging stars, like sharp points of light that eternally adorned the dark vastness of his essential self.

But that had been years ago. Years that felt like a blink to his centuries old mind housed in a frighteningly mortal and decaying body, but years none-the-less.

Her voice called to him from the front door, lilting, as usual, with flirty playfulness.

“You comin’ in, Mr. Smith? Mum’s got supper on.”

Within an imperceptible instant, with the reflexive ease of constant practice, his memories flashed back, rewinding in a blur through the days, nights and years of his time spent with Rose Tyler on this alternate Earth. Their freelance work with Torchwood and U.N.I.T., her happiness when he accepted his teaching job, the melancholy pleasure of helping his students strive toward their dreams, laughing and playing with Jackie’s child, the hours spent entwined within Rose’s limbs and kisses, always feeding her undying passion for him. And then, finally, that moment on the shore of Bad Wolf Bay.

*     *     *     *     *     *

He had known the Doctor’s thoughts as clearly as if they were being spoken aloud. He had known what the Doctor was asking of him through the communication of a single glance. He and the Doctor were, after all, nearly the same person.

Travelling with Rose had been a balm to his loneliness and guilt. She was brave, and young, and fun, and she had allowed him to sometimes forget the weight of his past. She had made it easy for him to sometimes pretend that he was carefree and happy, and he had missed that when she was gone, and he had felt guilty about losing her, and truly happy at finding her again.

But standing at Bad Wolf Bay, seeing her pain and her hurt, he acutely felt and understood the terrible damage he had done to her. While he had been playing at forgetting, she had been falling in love. He had, of course, always known this, but he had also believed she would eventually come to her senses and move on. Yet here she was, willing to kick a hole through the universes to be with him. She would break before allowing herself to truly say goodbye. She was too far gone to survive this and maintain any sense of true happiness, and she did, at the very least, deserve to be happy.

So the Doctor had asked his human self to make a sacrifice for the sake of poor, sweet, simple, lovesick Rose. The Doctor had caused such damage to his friends over the centuries, but at least the Doctor’s human self was in a unique position to mend some of the damage he had caused this one.

*     *     *     *     *     *

His fleeting reverie ended. He pleasantly and lovingly called back to her.

“Be right there, luv.”

Where he should have felt the warm beating of his second heart, he felt instead a cold emptiness. The stars would never again be his. He would forever deny himself access to the threads of time and the fabric of space. It was a small sacrifice to make. This life, after all, would be over in a blink. The number of beats remaining to his single, human heart was mercifully few.

She called again from the front door.

“I love you, you know. Don’t want you ever forgetting.”

“And I love you, Rose Tyler.”

The lie always came easily. He did, after all, have centuries of practice.


The Sum of Its Parts

Doctor Who is truly a remarkable thing. Any science fiction or fantasy fan who has not had the pleasure of watching Doctor Who owes it to themselves to at least dip a toe here or there to get a feel for what they’re missing.

Doctor Who is also a truly strange thing.

Doctor Who is often not very good. When you watch Doctor Who regularly, you are constantly on the verge of witnessing the show take a precipitous dive in quality. Sometimes these falls seem to take an endless amount of time before hitting bottom and bouncing back, but it always bounces back hard enough to become something worth watching again.

There is absolutely no consensus among the fans on which parts are worth watching and which parts are not.

Doctor Who is always worth watching.

There is a seemingly endless amount of minutia one needs to learn in order to fully understand Doctor Who:

  • He is called “the Doctor,” not “Doctor Who.”
  • The Doctor is a Time Lord who hails from the planet Gallifrey.
  • All Time Lords are Gallifreyans, but apparently not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords.
  • Gallifreyans have two hearts.
  • Time Lords can cheat death through a process called regeneration, which triggers a complete change in appearance and personality.
  • Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times, meaning that Time Lords have thirteen lives.
  • The Doctor has regenerated several times and been played by several actors.
  • The Doctor is hundreds of years old.
  • Time Lords are observers, with laws, rules, and customs that prohibit and limit interfering with other worlds and the threads of time.
  • The Time Lords are all dead.
  • The Doctor is something of a rebel who fled Gallifrey hundreds of years ago.
  • The Doctor travels through space in time in a machine called the TARDIS.
  • Thanks to a faulty “chameleon circuit,” the TARDIS is permanently disguised as a 1950’s London Police Box.
  • TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.

And on and on and on and on. A list of everything you need to know in order to understand Doctor Who could span several pages. At least.

But forget most of that stuff. Once such a list becomes too detailed, half the items would start contradicting the other half anyway. The only thing you need to know to truly understand Doctor Who, to comprehend Doctor Who, to grok Doctor Who at its most base level, to slip your mind sideways into a mode that understands why Doctor Who is remarkable at its core, is that the Doctor’s space/time ship, the TARDIS, is bigger on the inside than the outside. Small blue box the size of a phone booth on the outside; big space/time machine inside. And not just big. Huge. Vast. Infinite. If not actually infinite, then capable of infinite combinations and variations.

It is this simple conceit of a space/time machine that’s bigger on the inside that makes Doctor Who remarkable. Not because this is a fun idea, which it is, but because it’s a perfect metaphor.

The TARDIS is a metaphor for stories and books, which can take you anywhere and anywhen, and which are “bigger on the inside,” because they are only made of words, but open up into images, ideas, worlds, and lives.

The TARDIS is a metaphor for the mind, which is housed in the all-too mortal meat of the brain, but which holds the sweeping vastness of the imagination.

The TARDIS is a metaphor for the heart.

The TARDIS is a metaphor for love.

But these metaphors are not what makes Doctor Who remarkable or special. It’s this. The TARDIS is a metaphor for Doctor Who itself. What makes Doctor Who strike into and become permanently embedded in the heart of a die-hard, lifelong fan, is that the show itself is also bigger on the inside. Doctor Who and its central image of the TARDIS are representations of the same idea; “bigger on the inside.” They orbit each other and resonate, each amplifying the other to create a show that is the most perfect celebration of the imagination in the history of genre television.

Any movie or television show can be said to be “bigger on the inside,” but Doctor Who is different. Doctor Who is a show that demands the active participation of your imagination. You cannot passively consume Doctor Who and take what you see at face value. It won’t hold together. Its continuity will eventually stretch beyond the breaking point. Its moments of contradiction, ill-defined plotting, bad melodrama, shoddy characterization, cheesy effects, tonal shifts, and meta storytelling will eventually shake the strongest, most rigid suspension of disbelief. You either choose to simply not care about these “problems,” or you imagine your own explanations and images that make the show bigger and better than it sometimes actually is.

The notoriously cheap and shoddy effects (even for their time) of Doctor Who from 1963 to 1989 are a perfect example. You can’t be engaged in or scared of stories with poorly blue-screened rubber monsters if some part of your imagination doesn’t turn them into something “real.” I don’t love those classic episodes in spite of their cheap effects, but usually because of them.

And how do you explain multiple accounts of the destruction of Atlantis without concocting some explanation involving time travel and alternate timelines or dimensions?

Things get very interesting when you begin to notice all the “gaps” that are peppered throughout the show’s long history. Those moments that are between stories and off-screen where the Doctor and his companions could be experiencing countless adventures. If the show was cancelled tomorrow, never to return, the framework that already exists from first episode to last holds within it infinite story possibilities.

This is why I love Doctor Who. Greater than the sum of its parts. Bigger on the inside.

Doctor Who is not simply a story. Doctor Who is its own storytelling medium.


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