Ramblings

The Sixth Doctor in Doctor Who: Legacy

The Sixth Doctor in Doctor Who: Legacy

Sixth Doctor released in Doctor Who: Legacy!! I’m stoked. First, it’s a new Doctor, yay! Second it’s a classic Doctor, double yay! There was a Reddit interview that had implied that the game was only going to be dealing with the reboot series for a while, so I am very happy that the statement didn’t apply to Doctors. My understanding is that the Seventh Doctor will be released soon. I am crossing my fingers for the Fifth Doctor in the next couple of months (though I hope he’s not a healer; I expect he will be, though). The Sixth Doctor is a gold character, and his special power is poison – does 3% or 6% damage each turn for five turns. I think it’s a very appropriate power for him.

One thing that I’m glad the show didn’t do is give the Time Lords too much psychic power. As far as I can tell, Time Lords have telepathy (ability to read a person’s mind and/or transfer thoughts to a person), but usually require touching the target to do it. They have some amount of mind control (the Doctor used it sparingly in the classic series, and the Master used it a lot), but they don’t have other psychic powers. The only instance of telekinesis happened when the Tenth Doctor was infused with the psychic energy of all of the people on the entire planet (“The Last of the Time Lords”), and there otherwise haven’t been instances of other Time Lord psychic abilities, though other species have demonstrated them (clairvoyance, precognition, psychometry, etc.).

This is a good limit. The Time Lords are more powerful than humans, but they’re not all-powerful and they’re certainly not perfect, giving them room to be good heroes and good villains. Moreover, even though their powers are difficult to use, requiring physical contact with the target, the Doctor limits himself with his power because he is morally opposed to reading another’s thoughts without a very good reason. This self-imposed limitation brings him closer to us humans, which makes what he is – the lone, vulnerable man doing everything he can to save the universe – even more heroic.

One thing that doesn’t come up much is that the different incarnations of a Time Lord can telepathically communicate with each other. It happens in “The Three Doctors,” and also happens in the graphic novel The Forgotten (though in that case, the separate incarnations were projections within the Matrix). The communication does take effort: in both cases, the all the Doctors had to concentrate to make contact; they can’t read each others’ minds casually.  I think it might have also happened in “The Day of the Doctor,” though not nearly as formally. Once Eleven refuses to fire the moment, both he and Ten say that the Daleks don’t know that there are three Doctors now. Immediately after this, War and Ten concentrate, then say

War Doctor: Oh! Oh, yes, that is good. That is brilliant!
Tenth Doctor: Oh, oh, oh, I’m getting that, too! That is brilliant!

Ten already said that having three Doctors was a great advantage, and then he gets the final revelation. It could easily be that they thought it through and figured it out at the same time, but it really does sound like they read the idea from Eleven.

Who knows? I like the idea and choose to believe it. I love it when they use old ideas again, and I especially love it that they didn’t spell it out, leaving it as a fine story for those who don’t know, but a treat for those who do.

Doing it right

With the Christmas special only twelve days away, the hype is building for the regeneration of Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi. While regeneration episodes always make me giddy, I can’t claim that I’m really excited for “The Time of the Doctor.” The greatest part of that is because of the 50th anniversary events: I was so excited for the story of the War Doctor and the appearance of both Mr. Smith and David Tennant in the same episode – and the event was as good as I’d hoped – that I’m still on the fadeaway from it.

Part of it also comes from the fact that I didn’t watch the show until very recently (has it only been 4 months since I first saw “Rose?”) and regret not having seen the handoff between Mr. Tennant and Mr. Smith. I still cry every time I watch The End of Time. Can you imagine how heartbreaking it would have been if I had seen it with the rest of the world? And I still maintain my stance on publicizing regenerationsThe End of Time would have been far more dramatic (and traumatic!) if we didn’t know that Mr. Tennant was leaving and therefore the Tenth Doctor was regenerating at the end of the episode.

I do, though, have the advantage of viewing the events in the light of hindsight, after all the dust has settled and we can see how events panned out, and something struck me recently about the Ten to Eleven handover. The last four episodes of the Tenth Doctor were shown in 2010, as specials, rather than part of a season of 13 (or 14) episodes. The reason for this was that Russell T. Davies was stepping down as executive producer, and Steven Moffat was given a year to adjust to taking over.

Think about this. The BBC let Doctor Who basically take a year’s sabbatical to let the show adjust itself to a new leader and a new cast. That’s a year without (or at least with lessened) revenue from one of its biggest hits. Is this a British thing or a BBC? Because I cannot imagine an American company allowing a hit TV show a year off. They’d be too concerned about losing momentum, advertisers, and merchandising opportunities, not to mention the logistics of storing the sets and making sure that the actors and staff will be coming back after a year. To me, though, the BBC, at least with respect to Doctor Who, is more concerned about doing it right, rather than following the bottom line.

There’s been a couple of other instances of this kind of thing. As you know, I’ve been playing the iOS/Android game Doctor Who: Legacy. Yesterday, they posted on their Facebook page,

“As you may know if you follow us on Twitter / FB — we made this game for you the fans and really care what you think. Last week, someone in the community had a really cool idea for a special Xmas level we could release—so we worked quickly with the BBC and we’re pushing to have this in by Christmas Day! This is in addition to all of the content already planned between now and then. Thanks and please keep the ideas coming.”

This might not seem momentous, but it is. Look at what they’re saying: The makers of DW:L, Tiny Rebel Games, are not part of the BBC. They are an independent company, and their request to put in a fan-suggested level, which requires licensing approval at the very least (and probably a lot more), was responded to by the BBC quickly enough that they’re able to promise the content to the fans within a week of the idea being proposed. This is absolutely amazing. I work in gaming industry, and when working with licensed properties, you’d be lucky to get a turnaround time of a month, even when the game team and the property are part of the same company. The BBC must be doing something right: either their management is very efficient, or they are taking the time to be very responsive to their partners.

One last very small instance. I had a technical problem with DW:L on my iPad yesterday, and, not finding a main website for the game (I didn’t look too hard), I sent a note off to their Facebook page asking for help, and I received a reply within ten minutes. This means that their social media team is alive and paying attention. They don’t just consider their Facebook page as a place to put up images to get people to play their game: they use it to engage with their players. Being an avid gamer (at least, before Doctor Who took over my life), I’ve been on many, many forums and support sites, and only the very best get back to you quickly and talk to you as a person. The vast majority say that they’ll get back to you within 48 hours and send you form letter responses of “have you uninstalled and reinstalled” to the most detailed error descriptions you give them. Which do you think makes me want to continue playing the game?

This is why it’s important to do it right. Maybe spending less time and money on infrastructure and support may increase your bottom line right now, but it’s worth the time if you want to build a community of consumers and fans that will endure.

Just some fun stuff

I finally added pics to my Fifth Doctor Cosplay post!

I’ve been watching some of the extras on the blu-rays I got this week, and I highly enjoyed “Music and Monsters” on the Series 3 set, which showed the making of the Children in Need concert in Cardiff, back in 2006. It made me sick to think that if I had gotten into Doctor Who back when it rebooted, I might have been able to attend this concert, or any of the Doctor Who Proms. I love orchestral and concert band music, and the concert looked wonderful. Oh, the missed opportunities.

One of the things I really love, when going through bloopers and behind-the-scenes material, is finding out little bits that were altered on the fly from the way it was written in the script and that turned out really well. Here are a couple I’ve learned about recently.

  • In “Smith and Jones,” when Martha enters the TARDIS for the first time, she’s talking about how the room is just crammed into the police box as she passes the Doctor, then says, “It’s bigger on the inside.” David Tennant asked if he could mouth the phrase at the same time she says it, since the Doctor has heard it so many times and expects it. That addition, followed immediately by the sarcastic, “Is it?” made the scene so much funnier.
  • In “The Poison Sky,” when everyone was wearing the gas masks, Mr. Tennant forgot his line and filled it in with the first thing he could think of, which was “Are you my mummy?”  This ad-lib was a great reference to a memorable Ninth Doctor episode and made me laugh out loud. Luckily, the actor who was supposed to speak next kept his wits and asked the Doctor to focus, and the scene continued.

And just because I’m doing stream-of-consciousness here, I also love when real life affects the show.  Such as…

  • The Tenth Doctor’s love of the Fifth Doctor reflects Mr. Tennant’s own love of the Fifth Doctor. I don’t know if the trainers and brainy specs were chosen by him to mimic the Fifth Doctor, but if they were, that’s wonderful.
  • Matt Smith was planning to be a footballer when an injury made him switch over to acting. I love to watch the football scenes in “The Lodger” because you can see that he really is a good athlete.
  • Mr. Tennant requested the long coat, saying he wanted a coat that “goes down to here,” indicating his ankles.
  • Mr. Smith chose the suspenders and bow tie look, so that he would look like a “boffin” (go look it up, Americans; I had to). The brown tweed sport jacket is his own.
  • Mr. Tennant is a huge fan of the show from back in the classic days. During the Ninth Doctor’s run, Christopher Eccleston was credited as “Doctor Who,” but when Mr. Tennant became the Tenth Doctor, he insisted that the credits be changed to “The Doctor,” as they should be.
  • Peter Davison was also a fan of the show, and when he became the Fifth Doctor, he also insisted that the credits be changed to “The Doctor.”

Ok, done for now. Hope you’re having a great Sunday!