Thursday, February 2, 2012

It’s Just a Big Ball of Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey… Stuff

When I signed up for the Science Fiction Experience, I had these grand ambitions to read several books. I even listed some then acquired more from the library and a used book store. On top of my Sci-Fi reading, I also planned to watch some Sci-Fi movies as well as a popular BBC show. Well, this little show, called Doctor Who came into my life and literally stole it from me! It took three weeks of staying up late watching 3-4 episodes a night to get caught up on this show. It really takes a toll on you! I’ve only just started to recover but it has been worth it!

I started my viewing with the rebooted version that began in 2005 and watched everything up to the latest Christmas episode. I’m a big fan of Firefly, Buffy, Xena and Hercules. Doctor Who was very reminiscent of these shows but also has a style and life of its own. Its monster-of-the week, with continuing storylines, great character development as well as characters you really care about. There are light hearted and silly moments, and there are the moments that make you think and cry. Yes, you will cry. I don’t know if that’s the worst or best part of this show!

Doctor Who is one of the longest running television series. It began in 1963 and went through several incarnations of the Doctor, before ending in 1989. The eight Doctor was featured in a 1996 movie. After that it would be several years before the series was “regenerated” in 2005 and it is this version I watched throughout January.

The Doctor is a Time Lord, a humanoid alien with two hearts from the planet, Gallifrey. We are never told his real name, he is always known as the Doctor. He travels in a blue police box called a TARDIS, a time machine that would later be revealed, takes the Doctor where he needs to be. The Doctor often travels with companions, who join him in the TARDIS as he explores the universe, righting wrongs, saving the world or just out for some fun in the sun.

Now it’s time to get into the thick of the Doctor Who universe. And I tried not to reveal too much, but just in case, as River Song would say, SPOILERS!

So, Allons-y!

The Doctor:

We first meet the ninth incarnation of the Doctor when he rescues Rose Tyler in a department store from mannequins that have come to life. He is a bit goofy, but it’s forced, like he’s trying very hard to hide something behind the goofiness. After saving Rose, then all of London from an attack of the living plastic, he asks Rose if she would like to go along with him on the TARDIS. And so their journey begins.

Throughout their journey we learn that the Doctor is now the last of the Time Lords. We also learn that it was the Doctor who caused the destruction of the Time Lords and their planet Gallifrey, in order to end a brutal war that had raged through all of time and space between the Time Lords and the Daleks, an alien race who have removed all emotions and live encased in a mini-spaceship floaty thingy that you don’t want to mess with.

The Doctor being the last of the Time Lords is a recurring theme throughout the series. It often touches upon the loneliness of the Doctor and how he tries to compensate this with his traveling companions. But this also presents another dilemma. The Doctor is extremely old, about 900 years old. He also has the ability to regenerate. If he’s been mortally wounded, he regenerates, taking on a new form. He still retains all his memories and bits of his previous personality, but he looks completely different. He has lived for a very long time and he has the added protection of being able to regenerate. His companions do not and they are often put in danger as they travel through time and space, confronting the Doctor’s enemies such as the Cybermen and the Daleks. Sometimes the companions have no choice but to leave, some will leave on their own. But it always ends up the same, the Doctor alone, looking for company and the whole cycle and troubles start over again.

The Doctor being old and clever you would think he would learn his lesson not to drag innocent people into danger. He has tried to go it alone but his loneliness usually becomes too great that he needs to have someone with him, as a traveling companion and as someone who can keep him on a leash. He can be harsh and when his anger gets the better of him, quite ruthless. It’s a double edge sword, travel alone and try to rewrite time and have it backfire on him, as in Waters of Mars, or have a companion to stay his hand (The Runaway Bride) but that companion then be in some kind of danger. It’s this conflict that never grows old as you watch and makes the Doctor a complicated and fascinating character.

In this series the Doctor is played by three different actors, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. Each portrays the sorrow of the Doctor and the whimsy and awe of this being who is a Time Lord. I liked each actor for what they brought to the series. I do like David Tennant’s version the best. But we did get to spend more time with him so if the other two had longer runs it would be a very difficult choice.

The Companions:

The companions usually meet the Doctor under unusual circumstances. Rose met the Doctor as she was about to be attacked by living mannequins in a department store. There is Mickey, Rose’s boyfriend, who has traveled with the Doctor as well as Captain Jack Harness, a Time Agent from the 51st Century, who pops up every now and then. Martha Jones met the Doctor when the hospital she worked in was stolen and transported to the moon. Donna Noble was a reluctant stowaway on the TARDIS. The TARDIS crashed into a young Amy Pond’s garden after the Doctor regenerated into the eleventh incarnation and they end up dragging Amy’s poor husband, Rory, along for the ride. And well, River Song is a very different, interesting and confusing story aaaannnnndddd I’ll just let you watch to find out…

Anyways, in these first meetings, the companions help the Doctor save the day and keep him from going too far, which he has the tendency to do.

And of course the companions have a tendency to fall in the love with the Doctor. It happened with Rose and Martha and maybe not so much with Amy (before she was married) where I think it may have been more of an infatuation. But it felt like Rose was the one the Doctor may have fallen in love with too. Martha spent a lot of time pining for the Doctor but of course she had the misfortune of traveling with the Doctor after Rose, so he could not return the same kind of feelings she had for him.

I think at this point of my life, I don’t know if I’d say I'm over the whole swooning thing, but to have two companions in a row trying to gain the affections of the Doctor was a little tiring.

There was a bit of this too with Amy until she was set strait by the Doctor that she was really in love with her fiancée, Rory, which, I don’t know about those two. There really was more chemistry between Amy and the Doctor, to me, than Amy and Rory.

Amy also fell into the trap of wanting to know everything about the Doctor or being offended when he kept something from her. There seemed to be a lot of trying to stake a claim on the Doctor’s affections with the younger companions. Even Captain Jack fell into the trap!

That’s why Donna is my favorite companion. To me, some of the best comedic and heart breaking moments of the show involved Donna.

Having rejected an offer to travel with the Doctor, she ended up changing her mind and went out to find him. But it wasn’t because she was in love with him. As happens after traveling with the Doctor or experiencing an adventure with him, it changes people. They find it hard to go back to their “normal” lives of working in a shop or as a temp. Donna was looking for an escape from her life and went looking for the Doctor. She was very much his equal. She didn’t get jealous of the other companions she would later meet and she was very adamant that there would be nothing romantic happening between them. She was also one of the few companions who would question him, stand up to him and give him a piece of her mind. I loved the maturity she brought to the adventures and gave a very strong shoulder for the Doctor to lean on after a very hair raising experience aboard a bus on the planet of Midnight, an episode that will always haunt me, especially the end when the Doctor returns and without a word Donna knows exactly how to comfort him. (And because I loved the Doctor and Donna so much I MUST get this!) So when it comes time for Donna to leave, it’s not by choice. It still breaks my heart when I think of how she had to leave.

Paging Doctor Donna!

Yes, you. YOU. You’re the best. You’re more than just a temp from Chiswick. Never forget…
oh damn!

*Sniff* Love, me *Sniff*

The Creatures:

The Daleks and Cybermen are the Big Bads in the Doctor Who universe that crop up here and there. The Daleks want to exterminate anything that isn’t like them. The Cybermen just want to turn everyone into them.

They cause enough drama and commotion to make things interesting but I found the other one-off creatures much more interesting. Such as:

The adipose are, literally pieces of fat with legs, arms, a face and one itty-bitty baby fang. These innocent little things are formed from the fat of overweight people through a revolutionary drug for weight loss. Sounds like a win-win situation until too many are formed from one person killing them.

Then there’s the Silence. I thought the idea of the Silence was very unique and original; the way they were forgotten once you stopped looking at them. It sent a chill up my spine as each character would look down to find marks on their bodies that they left themselves as a sign that they had seen a Silence. However, the look of the Silence:

reminded me a lot of the Gentlemen, from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Hush, and the Strangers of Dark City:

It’s the whole pale faces, dark suits, and being hella creepy that does it.

The Weeping Angels turn into stone statues once you look at them. If they catch you they throw you into a different point in time and feed off of your energy of what could have been. Makes sense? No, but who cares! Just watch the episode Blink because it’s just nifty! And… OH MY GOD! The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers has been invaded by them!

Don't turn your back, don't look away, and don't blink!

Out of all the creatures, big and small in the Doctor Who universe, it was the Isolus that became my favorite. It’s a spore-like creature that travels through space in large clouds filled with millions of their brothers and sisters. And what do they do? They play. It’s that simple. They don’t want to take over the world or are out to destroy the Doctor. They just don’t want to be alone. They are not meant to be alone. Their simplicity and innocence just struck me as so unique and creative. When you learn this lost Isolus latched onto this one lonely girl in the Fear Her episode, you feel so sorry for the Isolus because it is just looking for company. It’s a lonely child, separated from its siblings and trying to survive by finding others to keep it company.

The Gadgets:

The TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is what the Doctor uses to travel through time and space. And yes, it’s bigger on the inside as most companions are shocked to find out.

I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman so when it finally came time to view the episode he had written I was super excited. It was this man who gave a voice for the TARDIS and it was just wonderful! The TARDIS revealed she takes the Doctor where he needs to be and the fact that there’s a pool inside just makes it awesome. The TARDIS is the Doctor’s one true and constant companion, the only thing he has left from his world. So to have been given a voice to communicate with the Doctor and to have to give that up, it’s just another reminder of how truly lonely the Doctor is.

Psychic paper allows the Doctor, or whoever uses it, to make someone see what they want. It’s also been used to send messages to the Doctor. Practical uses: movie and concert admission. Have you see ticket prices these days!

Sonic Screwdriver: Opens doors (unless made of wood), scans… stuff, turns regular glasses into sunglasses and probably not very useful when trying to hang shelves.

Favorite Doctor Who Moments:

The Doctor explains time

The Doctor and Donna meet again (I love how this video added a silent movie track to accompany it. So perfect!)

The Doctor is poisoned

Why I love River Song

These snippets just give you a taste of the fun you could be having if you watch this show!

Questions I now have:

1. Season 4 saw the return of Rose and only because the breakdown of time was affecting the parallel world she was in. After the events in Season 6, with time occurring all at once, did the same thing happen in Rose’s world? And can she come back and yell at them for causing a ruckus?

2. River gave her regenerative powers to the Doctor in the episode Let’s Kill Hitler. I know this means River no longer has the ability to regenerate now but does that mean the Doctor now has all of what she had left added to what he had left?

3. What’s a good forum to discuss Doctor Who? The sites I found hurt my eyes with their bad design and teeny tiny print.

Man, look at this post! I think this is the longest thing I’ve written up so far! I’ve been working on it for over two weeks! So obviously that means this show is great and I love it. It has its highs (BLINKBLINKBLINK and a bunch of other episodes) and like any show it has its lows (Planet of the Dead, you can skip that one). I mean, seriously, a show that introduces you to a baby in one episode, that named himself Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All, and refers to everyone as “not-mum” or “peasants” is a must watch, right?! Even Venessa liked it, even if this was her reaction most of the time:

And she was known, from time to time, to sneak out of bed and watch over my shoulder.

Yes, I have seen the light at the end of the sonic screwdriver. Though I would have preferred a light shining upon this kind of screwdriver:

You probably didn’t think I would get so long winded with this overview, did you? Well, if you would prefer the short version, and so you don’t forget that I am a Californian: LIKE, OMG! I HEART THIS SHOW’S FACE SO MUCH!!!!! LOL! IT’S, LIKE, SO AWESOMESAUCE!!!!!! *Flips hair/Snaps gum*


  1. I just watched the weeping angels episode. It was so creepy.

  2. Waitwaitwait...Tennant, Tate, Much Ado? WANT!!!

    I've been working my way through Doctor Who for the last several months and love it SO MUCH! I'm halfway through Season Six, so almost caught up now. And trying to figure out what River knew at which time vs. what the Doctor knows is making my brain want to explode recently...

    Agree on Tennant as my favorite Doctor. I really enjoyed the dynamic with Rose, Martha's unrequited love thing got old fast, and Donna was just so much were the companions for Smith's Doctor.

    You wrote so much I don't even know where to go with a reply, so I think I better just say, YES, you're right, it's AMAZING and stop before I get any more incoherent... :)

    1. The clips of Tennant and Tate in Much Ado About Nothing I watched on youtube were great so it's a must to watch the rest I believe!

      And my head hurts too trying to figure out the whole River thing. It's why I didn't get into so much :) But she is an awesome character along with everyone else.

      This show has so much going for it. It's so hard to focus on one thing to talk about without being distracted by some other great moment to discuss.

  3. My wife and I spent the last few months of last year catching up with all the Tennant and now Smith episodes and I must say the show is way near the top of my favorites.

    You will cry is an understatement. I can't even count the number of times I was either silently crying or near to sobbing based on what was going on in various episodes. I enjoyed each Doctor for what they brought to the series and every time I thought I might not like a Doctor or companion as much, they quickly made me fall in love with them. I think Rose and Tennant's Doctor will always be my absolute favorites, but I'm crushing pretty hard on Amy Pond right now and Smith has been a lot of fun.

    Thrilled that you are part of the fan club! There are not enough great shows on television like this, let alone great SF shows.

    1. When we no longer have shows like Buffy or Firefly, it makes me appreciate Doctor Who that much more and hope it's here for a very long time because like you said, there's not a whole lot of really good SF shows currently.