Thursday, November 28, 2013

What A Difference A Fanbase Makes


This is the first part of a trilogy.  This first essay will be detailing my views on the fans who attended The Day of The Doctor theatrical screening.  The second will be the actual review of the 50th Anniversary Special.  The third...well, Spoilers.

I had intended to watch The Day of The Doctor at home where I had recorded it on the DVR.  However, I was invited to go see the rebroadcast, for free, by one Bryan Majewski, and I decided I might as well go.  I met a few of his friends, all who were NuWhovians (fans of the 2005 revived series who had little to no knowledge of what came B.R.: Before Rose).  For them and many participating in the event, dressed as the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor (particularly with their fezzes, red bow ties, and sonic screwdrivers), they were highly excited to participate in this special occasion, but they are synonymous with something I simply don't understand. 

How can people celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of something of which the first Forty-Two years are either unknown or unimportant to them? 

For all the enthusiasm many NuWhovians had at The Day of The Doctor screening, there is something almost dismissive of what came between An Unearthly Child and Survival or Doctor Who: The Movie...unless it, like Eight Doctor Paul McGann's 'regeneration' in the webisode (and I would argue, non-Canonical) The Night of The Doctor, is actually related to NuWho. 

Yeah, Doctor Who is 50,
but those stories were before OUR time,
so they don't count...

As far as many NuWhovians are concerned, almost everything from 1963 to 1989 is something 'out there', something that exists but that little to no relevance to what they enjoy now.   Susan Foreman, Romana, Jamie McCrimmon, Omega, The Rani, The Black Guardian...these iconic Doctor Who characters and the stories they were in are unknown to those who insist they are Who fans.  That is already bad enough, but to add insult to injury, all those characters and stories have no impact on how the see the show they love (which given their importance is almost insulting to the history they insist they are celebrating).     

Before The Day of The Doctor began, I amused myself by going up to random fans and ask them what I consider to be basic Doctor Who trivia.  I selected people who were at least teens to early twenties, so I left out a cute little boy in a fez and bow tie.  I couldn't find it in my heart to pick on someone who probably had grown up exclusively on NuWho.

Before going into the theater, I just shouted to a guy in a tweed jacket, bow tie and fez, "Third Doctor?"  He didn't know.  I then shouted, "What the name of the Doctor's granddaughter?"

After a pause, he shouted, "Susan."  So far, so good.  "Susan WHAT?"  "I'm not good with names," he said.

Inside the theater, I went up to a couple: a girl in same outfit and her large male companion.  I asked them what other Time Lord had been a Companion.  She didn't know (I think she couldn't conceive of a Time Lord Companion), but to his credit he answered correctly: Romana.  He informed his friend she was with the Fourth Doctor for a while.

Having some confidence that perhaps my theory was wrong, I then asked for them to give me the Brigadier's full name.  She looked more confused, but he answered "Lethbridge Stewart".  I smiled and said, "Full Name", to which he answered hesitantly, "Lethbridge REGINALD Stewart?". 

Last question: complete the following catchphrases.  "Bow ties..." "...are cool." 
"Hello..." "...sweetie."
"Reverse the..."  Puzzled looks from both participants, and the female offered "...The Doctor's Wife?"

Think of The Children!
Won't someone PLEASE Think of The Children?!

Next group, some old and new questions.  The name of The Doctor's granddaughter?  "We know, we know..." but they didn't.  "A Time Lord that was a Companion?"  An answer came quickly, "River Song", though the group began debating whether she was a Time Lord or merely "a Child of The TARDIS" (is it any wonder I always say River Song was 'conceived by the Power of the Holy TARDIS').  "Name The Doctor's first American Companion."  Puzzled looks.

Finally, the Three Quotes.  In their defense they got all three right, but the ONLY reason they got them right was because they had heard the quote in The Day of The Doctor.  If they hadn't heard it, it is highly doubtful they would have known it or attributed it to the right person.

Those who do not remember the past,
are condemned to like Steven Moffat stories...

My point in all this is not to bash NuWhovians.  They are perfectly free to enjoy anything they wish.  I also am not so demanding that I would ask the metaphorical version of 'how many Time Lords can dance on the head of a pin?'  There are things that I don't know or remember about Classic Doctor Who.  I'm not going to ask esoteric questions delving into the minutiae of Who lore.  Even Classic Who fans may not know when the Sea Devil and Silurians joined forces or all the actors who played The Master or how often the Autons battled the Doctor.

What I DO ask constantly is how is it possible that people could celebrate something without knowing little to anything of what came before.  It is like celebrating Independence Day without knowing ANYTHING about the Second Continental Congress: who were the signers, what the Declaration says, why they did what they did.   There is this great ignorance on the part of many NuWhovians who don't know or worse, don't care about what came before Russell T Davies came to the scene.  It is important to know what came before, otherwise things as continuity fall part apart.

For Heaven's sake, we have the Brigadier's daughter Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) as a character, taking her father's place in UNIT.  Here you have a character that harkens back to the Classic series but you have "fans" who not only cannot connect Kate Stewart with a true Doctor Who icon, but who for all the proclamations of Who fandom, can't answer a simple question like the Brigadier's full name. 

Frankly, you embarrass me...

For me, it is the same as saying you are a fan of Star Trek, but think that Zachary Quinto originated the role of Mr. Spock.  This may be why Classic Star Trek fans voted Star Trek Into Darkness the worst Star Trek films, not because it was badly made (it wasn't) but instead because it took one of the iconic Star Trek characters and plots and attempted to pass it off as 'original'.  The presentation of "John Harrison" was basically a slap at those who grew up watching either the Original Series or the Star Trek films.  Those who know nothing or little of the Original Series or the films may be impressed with Into Darkness, but those who know the history, especially the hard-core Trekkers, were infuriated.

Similarly, Classic Doctor Who fans cannot do anything but watch in horror as NuWho fans, filled with fezzes and sonic screwdrivers, overwhelm the fan base.  The stories Classic Who fans grew to love (The Aztecs, The Tomb of the Cybermen, Genesis of the Daleks, The Curse of Fenric) along with continuity from the Classic Series, is being obliterated in the rush to become more and more popular (and more and more convoluted).  In one plot point of The Day of The Doctor (the actual number of regenerations) we have the great issue of trashing continuity established in The Trial of A Time Lord season with the character of The Valeyard (whom I figure NuWhovians have never heard of).  This is a source of debate, but that is for another time.

Oh, Grow Up!
BTW, are you two WOMEN?

Something established as Canon in 1986 has apparently been forgotten or simply trashed by one episode in 2013.  The Day of The Doctor renders long-established continuity irrelevant, or worse, runs the risk of not making any sense within NuWho itself, let alone the fifty year series as a whole.  Again and again for a series that for twenty-six years kept pretty solid continuity, the revived series not only muddles its own continuity but goes after long-established Who continuity to have some 'shocking twist' that is later forgotten or ignored (mostly because as I was told by one of Bryan's friends, "It's NOT suppose to make sense.  It's British!").

The NuWho fans, with their willful ignorance of what came before Eccleston came along, are more than ready and willing to NOT question whether the series as a whole makes sense.  Things that occurred immediately before The Day of The Doctor aren't remembered or thought through.  Simple information (past Companions, enemies, or established Canon in previous stories) is an irrelevant mystery to NuWhovians.  Those who say are Doctor Who fans must eventually make a decision: are they fans of NuWho, of only those stories that started with Rose, or are they fans of ALL Doctor Who, starting from An Unearthly Child to The Day of The Doctor.  If they are fans of NuWho only, then they cannot in sincerity celebrate a Fiftieth Anniversary.  They may celebrate the Eight Anniversary, but not the Fiftieth.

If they are fans of ALL Doctor Who, from William Hartnell to Matt Smith, then they have to learn more about the show's past and be willing to question when an event from a story in 2013 conflicts or contradicts in a major way with a story in 1983.      

A Poser, A Fraud, A Tool.

Answers to Basic Doctor Who Trivia:

The Doctor's Granddaughter: Susan Foreman
Time Lords who were Companions: Romana, with Susan Foreman, the Doctor's Granddaughter also acceptable.
The Brigadier's Full Name: Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
The Doctor's First American Companion: Perpugilliam 'Peri' Brown
The Complete Quote: "Reverse the...Polarity" or "Reverse the...Polarity of the Neutron Flow", used by Jon Pertwee (The Third Doctor).
BONUS QUESTION:  Who was the Doctor's first Scottish Companion?

If you answered "Amy Pond", you're a NuWhovian.
If you answered, "Jamie McCrimmon", you're a Classic Whovian.

Perhaps Chris Hardwicke can answer all those questions easily, but his unquestioning promotion of NuWho and unwillingness to promote Classic Who or call out issues with NuWho makes him a dubious Ambassador to the Non-Whovian world.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Will The Day of The Doctor Be Like?

Little known fact: the first episode of Doctor Who (An Unearthly Child, the first of a four-episode story) was rebroadcast because the show premiered the day after President John F. Kennedy's assassination, dampening the debut.  It wasn't until the following seven-part story, The Daleks, that Doctor Who took off to become the institution is has turned into.  The original run of Doctor Who was 26 years (1963-1989), then a one-off backdoor pilot in 1996, and then a revived series starting in 2005 to today.  I suspect many Doctor Who fans are more familiar with 2005+ than with much relating to 1963-89.  I say this because I have had experiences where a Whovian can wax rhapsodic about River Song but have no idea who Romana is/was.*

One can quibble about The Day of The Doctor technically NOT being a 50th Anniversary Special since there have been two gaps in new episodes (seven and nine years respectively) but people keep saying, "50th Anniversary", so I am not going to launch a war on the subject.  Now with the special coming our way, I thought I would take a few minutes to look over what I expect to happen.

First, I think the title is all wrong.  The Day of The Doctor comes right after The Name of The Doctor, and I wonder why the production team would give such a similarly-sounding title to two consecutive stories.  Further, I have never understood the NuWho fixation on the Doctor's actual name being some universe-shattering secret.  I remember when the Doctor was just a renegade Time Lord, not really any different to other Time Lords save for the fact he ran away from Gallifrey.  Now he has turned into some quasi-divine being, one whose current incarnation finds bow ties 'cool' and name tags a unique creation.

I don't think the Doctor's actual name is all that important, and don't think it will be revealed here.  However, we do have a few odds and ends.

First, we have the introduction of John Hurt as The Doctor.  IF we accept this as accurate, we then have a skewing of the numerical system that was established nearly 50 years ago.  Since Patrick Troughton took the role in 1969, we have had an orderly series of Doctors (Troughton, the Second Doctor, being the second actor to take the role, Jon Pertwee the Third Doctor, and so forth).  With Paul McGann's one-off special he became the Eight Doctor, and NuWho has confirmed this.  Christopher Eccleston=Ninth, David Tennant=Tenth, Matt Smith=Eleventh.  John Hurt's presence screws all that up.  Why?

It is understood this Doctor came at the time of the Time War, placing him between Eight and Ninth (or as I call him, Doctor 8.5).  Was he the actual Ninth Doctor?  If so, then we shift each succeeding Doctor by one, making Smith the Twelfth Doctor.  Longtime Who Canon has established and confirmed Time Lords can regenerate twelve times, which would make Peter Capaldi the Thirteenth Doctor and thus, the last of the Last of the Time Lords.  We also have established that the Valeyard, a villain from the Trial of a Time Lord season, is the incarnation of the dark side of the Doctor, who came between the Twelfth and final regeneration.

Is Hurt the Valeyard?  If so, then it totally screws up with the chronology of time since how does The Valeyard, who comes after Capaldi's Doctor, get to destroy Gallifrey?

Oy, my head hurts!

In regards to the limit of regenerations, we can get around it by claiming that River Song (who is not a Time Lord) 'gave up her remaining regenerations' to the Doctor in River's Secret Part 2 (Let's Kill Hitler).  I know NuWho insists River (the Doctor's One True Love...make me gag) has Time Lord DNA by being conceived in the TARDIS.  Few people question the logic of this (if I was conceived in a car, would that make me a Ford?), but even if we go with this, we don't know how many 'regenerations' she has.  She's used up at least four regenerations prior to turning into what she is (and already the whole River Song storyline has been torn to tatters), so does this human have twelve regenerations like the Time Lords?  Does she have less?  Does she have more?

I am fascinated to learn how Hurt's Doctor 8.5 will be handled.  It may be a trick of the Valeyard, who can alter official history.  If I were to predict something, I would predict John Hurt is NOT a Doctor.

One thing I am concerned about is the lack of acknowledgement to all pre-2005 Doctors.  Again, we may be surprised, but so far only Tenth Doctor David Tennant and his Companion Rose Tyler have been officially recognized as returning.  In both the Tenth and Twentieth Anniversary Specials (The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors) there were logical reasons as to why the Doctors were taken out of their individual timestreams and thrown together.  We do have a logic of sorts in bringing the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors (they are within the Doctor's timeline), so we do have a reason that will bring other Doctors back (minus the cantankerous Eccleston and the reluctant Tom Baker).  The first Three Doctors have passed away (although actors can be hired to play them, as they did for The Five Doctors), so that isn't a hindrance.

Should The Day of The Doctor either not acknowledge or give a passing nod to all six living ex-Doctors the episode cannot be called a 50th Anniversary Special.  If it acknowledges only the eight years of NuWho or worse, be a celebration of Tennant & Smith only or primarily, it will be a slap in the face of all Whovians.    

I won't predict what will happen (rumors are all around).  I can only hope that The Day of The Doctor pay proper credit to all Eleven Doctors, not just Tennant and Smith.

Finally, will Capaldi appear?  I'm going to say no (though nothing says Smith won't start the regeneration process at the end of the episode).

One prediction I will make is that should Doctor 8.5 be defeated somehow, it will restore Gallifrey, allowing more Time Lords to be brought back to life. 

Despite myself, I am looking forward to The Day of The Doctor.  I think it may be a celebration of the Tennant/Smith Era, I think the Hurt Doctor is a false Doctor, Gallifrey will be restored (though that renders a whole lot of the Ninth Doctor's angst idiotic) and the regeneration will begin.

Until we see the episode, these are all guesses.  In some ways, I hope to be wrong.

* For the record, THIS is Romana I: a Time Lord who became the Doctor's Companion when the White Guardian placed her with the Doctor to assist him in finding the six segments of The Key to Time.  Not only was she a Time Lord, but in many ways was a much more intelligent Time Lord than the Doctor.

This is Romana II.  On the show, she left the Doctor in E-Space, and her fate was never answered. 

Could she still be alive? 

Romana and the Doctor's granddaughter Susan were the only people pre-River to pilot the TARDIS better than the Doctor...and both 'kept the brake on'. 

Stupid joke...