Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Let’s All Calm Down About Doctor Who

Futurama Doctor WhoThat should be easy for most of you, the ninety percent of you who not only are unaware there’s a modern incarnation of Doctor Who, but who seem to instinctively want nothing to do with it. Most folks think of the curly-haired dude from the seventies and they could maybe identify the T.A.R.D.I.S. if you showed them an image of it, but that’s it. Their eyes glaze over within several words – not only is this show about a time traveler, it’s freaking British.

Why must they have their own version of everything? And why do they always have to come up with their version first?

Anyway, I love that about Doctor Who. It seems to me, you need to get on board the show about a centuries-old time traveler who regenerates into different bodies as each actor gets tired of playing him, or you need to not get on board. If Doctor Who were a boat it would be a big, silly, outrageous boat with tea and ferris wheels and a Trekkie Convention on crack for a crew, and it would be very obvious to you just by looking at it if it was the kind of boat you would enjoy riding around on.

Don’t get on the boat and start bitching about the silliness. You get yourself a cup of tea and enjoy, or you get off the boat.

So most people stay away from it – cool. I don’t blame them, it’s utterly ridiculous. I can’t imagine how one could ever enjoy the show if one were to approach it with even a hint of cynicism. And so when I’m hanging around on the various Doctor Who Facebook Pages (you heard me), I’m always a little freaked out by all the bitching, especially with regards to the upcoming 50 Year Anniversary Episode.

I can’t imagine anyone reading this far and not knowing what the 50 Year Anniversary episode’s all about, but what the hell, some people are reading about my coffee and my car rides. Real quickly, the show has been off and on for fifty years and they’re on the Eleventh Doctor, meaning that’s how many different actors have played him. In the show, The Doctor gets injured really badly and as a Time Lord his body gets regenerated into a new actor by the vast and mystic energy that powers The T.A.R.D.I.S. Which again, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is his sentient time machine, shaped like a blue emergency Police Box, which is huge and possibly infinite inside. Has a swimming pool, for instance.

Okay, now that you are up to speed, all you need to know is that for the 50th Anniversary episode, they’re going to have various actors who have played The Doctor all interact, or possibly not, or possibly some of them. Here’s an article on The Guardian about all the rumors – Digging the dirt on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode – and it seems clear that the producers are very cleverly dishing out a slew of conflicting rumors so as to render all rumors unreliable. That’s just the British, being smarter than us as usual.

But back to the actual Doctor Who fans. Good lord, you guys have to calm down and quit bitching about everything. Given how so many people find it simply impossible to even discuss the show, and given how culty and low-budget it used to be, we should kissing Steven Moffat’s ass, and BBC’s ass, and anyone else’s ass who is keeping this train running.

Yes, I know, we’re the viewers and we keep it running too. But they don’t always listen to us – have we forgotten all about Firefly? We need to Get. Behind. Our guy.

Comic Book GuyInstead it’s like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons used the Immortality Gate that The Master hijacked in “The End of Time” to turn everyone on Earth into himself, you know, when the Tenth Doctor got to spend a bit strolling through a Green Day video before regenerating into the Eleventh? Except instead of everyone turning into the Master and mocking The Doctor, you’re all turning into the Comic Book Guy, and you’re mocking me.

Honestly, how do you watch the show, come up with a laundry list of things you hate, and then watch it again? River Song is long gone, you’re still bitching about River Song?

Oh, I hate the new Companion because she’s too young and cute (just admit it, that’s what you’re all saying, I see you).

It’s not dark enough. It’s not scary enough. It makes my eyes roll. It’s too dark. It’s too bright.

Pretty soon, I’m hearing complaints that sound an awful lot like “Yeah, like that could ever happen” or “That doesn’t make any sense” or “That was dumb.”

I mean again, the whole show is utterly ridiculous. The cheerful lunacy of it is what I like, that’s part of the appeal. They can go anywhere, do anything, there are no boundaries to the show at all. Here’s how I approach it – the writers tell me what happened, and I say, “Oh. Huh. How about that?”

I honestly don’t know how you can watch the show without pretending you’re a sheep and simply following the wacky goat. The goat does fail me sometimes, but I love that goat. We’ve had some awesome times together, me and the goat.

John Barrowman, for example, who plays omnisexual immortal Captain Jack Harkness, has reported that he won’t be in the 50th because he wasn’t asked. And he really, really wants to be in the episode. Again, we have no idea if this is part of the rumor manipulation they’re doing, no idea. He could pop up in the episode or he could be telling the truth.

LaForgeBut you know, it’s like a Star Trek movie where the only way the whole cast will agree to be in it is if their characters all get equal screen time, so they have to think up shit for Geordi LaForge and Deanna Troi to do. Let’s have them turn LaForge’s contact lenses into Google glasses! Deanna, you take a bath and then get drunk down on Earth!

It gets clunky and in the way, and it seems to me they know what they’re doing. They have enough problems trying bring various Doctors and Companions together, and I don’t want to demand they include certain characters having no idea what they’re up to.

Whatever you’re cooking, make sure it has trout in it! And marshmallows! And it better be good!

That doesn’t make any sense. They’re working, in there. You guys got to shut up and give them a little room.

It seems silly to have to point out that the Fifty Year Anniversary Episode you are attempting to micromanage from your couch is the Fifty Year Anniversary Episode. Why don’t you go tell the boys at Jameson how to make Irish whiskey? Settle down, all right?

Okay, now I’m sorry I hollered at you. Let’s just all remember that words hurt and folks are busy. Mmm-kay?


PS – if you want a bunch of hilarious Doctor Who links on your newsfeed, then go to this guy’s Facebook page right here. Now keep your bitching to yourself, the new episode is on in a little bit, and if you’re going to yell at me in the comment section, do so with a British accent or I shall ignore you.

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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Television/Movies, Uncategorized


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Addicted to Die Hard

The pace in movies is like the old analogy of the frog sitting in a pan of water.  The first time I saw it was in Bob Roberts about twenty years ago, but I’ve seen it a dozen times since, recycled whenever someone wants to make a point about gradual change.

If you drop the frog in boiling water, the frog gets understandably very upset.  It tries to jump out of the water.  But if you put the frog in the water at room temperature, and then slowly increase the temperature, the frog boils alive, oblivious.

I’ve never tried that, and I don’t know why anyone would.  If you’re going to eat the frog, for crying out loud give it a quick killin’ first.  And if you’re not going to eat it, then quit screwing around with it and let it go.  Who boils a frog for the hell of it?

All of this occurred to me last night while I decided that a fun thing to do would be to get on Netflix and make it show me an episode of the old Doctor Who from the seventies, with Tom Baker – the tall, frizzy-haired, bug-eyed guy.  It occurred to me while I was watching the show because there was plenty of time to think.

I remember the show only vaguely; it was on PBS and not very often.  Also, it was a bit over my head, and anyway, you couldn’t record things very easily back then.  You had to be sitting there and watching them when they came on, run into the bathroom or kitchen during commercials.

Me and the entire population of the U.K. love the new version of Doctor Who.  In London they play it on the side of a building like it’s a college football game or something, and I’m pretty sure the last guy to play the Doctor got to meet the Queen. 

You don’t have to know anything about the show, I’ll just tell you – the episode I watched from the seventies last night was a two-hour special, and not very much happened.  Not very much at all.

A couple of mush-mouthed lighthouse watchmen took up the first fifteen minutes or so, their accents so thick I tried to turn on subtitles.  Then the Doctor showed up with his lady friend, and they walked around the fog asking questions for about an hour.  Once in a while, a glowing ball outside would float around for a minute, and they’d all spend a very long time asking each other what it might be.

I didn’t catch the end.  That’s the kind of thing I’m going to have to watch in pieces. 

They had a different idea about exciting back then.  Not a lot to work with in terms of visual effects.  Just seeing everyone walk around on a dark set, and then occasionally seeing what looked like a black velvet oil painting of a lighthouse at night, with a light bulb sticking through it at the top, a sound like a fog horn – that was enough.

These days the Doctor is flamboyant and full of energy.  Baker’s Doctor keeps his hands in his pockets a lot, and seldom smiles, and appears decidedly stoned.  Not a big shock, but a far cry from today’s version, who might be on something, but certainly not marijuana. 

There was a Robert Redford movie from about 1974 called Three Days of the Condor.  Now, since it’s based on a novel entitled Seven Days of the Condor, we might guess that the idea was, let’s pick up the pace on this thing.  And it was in fact billed as a thriller at the time.

Go on back and try watching it now.  I mean, Robert Redford’s dreamy, sure, I get that.  But it’s like just seeing people on the screen doing something – anything – that was exciting at the time.  Those people aren’t really here and they aren’t really doing that.

That was enough. 

When is the last time you watched the car chase scene from Chinatown?  It might be blasphemy, but it seems like a bit of a snooze to me.  That’s because Die Hard was like a bit of free crack the movie industry gave me back in the day.  Now it takes a lot of stuff blowing up to excite me. 

Die Hard was really the first wall-to-wall action flick I can think of, and I’ve been spoiled by modern editing and camera work ever since.  It’s not enough that some guys are trying to kill the protagonist.  I need an army of guys trying to kill him, and it has to be because he’s trying to stop them from blowing up something ginormous, and I’d prefer it if he stopped them by blowing up several other smaller things, and then by blowing up the ginormous thing anyway.

I’ve seen practically every major landmark you can think of explode in a mushroom cloud of fire and two-by-fours, just as a comically fit action star dives out of it.  I don’t know what you have to do to excite me now, but I just got out of Inception the other day – which by everyone’s account is action-packed throughout – and I though, eh. 

Little slow.

Just like every other aspect of modern life, technology is speeding up our fiction, too.  Look at James Patterson and his two hundred-chaptered books.  Short chapters make a novel fly along, let’s get this thing moving.

As a writer attending seminars and conferences, I hear the same piece of advice all over the place.  These days, you get three sentences to hook your reader, unless they’ve already set out to buy your book.  They have to pick it up, read for ten seconds, and be immediately engaged, or into the pile you go.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing – just art imitating life.  Impulse buys make the world go around.

But I sort of envy the gang from the seventies, sitting around with their lava lamps and elaborate collars, enthralled by actors in costumes, putting on stage plays in a box.

Not because I wasn’t bored last night, watching the shows they watched back then, just because I wish that I could slow down, too.


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