Some great artwork

I don’t have much to say today, so I thought I’d post a few pieces of fan artwork that I found on the Internet. Unfortunately, I don’t know where some of these come from; they’re just stored in my folder with no attribution. If you know where they came from, please let me know so I can cite them and give the artists the credit that they’re due.

Mimi-na at deviantart.com is a fantastic artist, and I recommend checking out her work at the link. I love the characterizations of all the companions in this piece, both in the drawings and in the choice of font for each “Doctor!” She did a companion piece for the male companions which I also love but don’t have on this computer for easy upload, so go check it out on her DeviantArt page. (yes, I’m lazy).

Scotty309 at deviantart.com is another fantastic artist, and here’s a piece he did with the Tenth Doctor and the Master. He started a larger piece with this as the center but never finished, but the work-in-progress is so beautiful that I have it as part of my cycling desktop background.

The credit on this next image says “Ten Monkey Studios,” I think, but I can’t find anything on the web about it.

Lastly, this piece makes me smile every time I see it. The Ninth Doctor looks so horrified, and I don’t blame him! The Fifth Doctor looks quite satisfied with his lot.

We know who you are

One of my friends is celebrating the approach of the Doctor Who Christmas special and the last episode of Matt Smith by changing his Facebook profile image to the Doctors, in order, while also posting a quote or bit of dialogue for that Doctor. Today’s Doctor is the Tenth Doctor, and the dialogue was from “The Christmas Invasion,” when the Doctor brings down Harriet Jones with six words. This reminded me of one of my absolute favorite characters in the show, Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North and later Prime Minister of Great Britain.

MP for Flydale North, with Indra Ganesh and a disguised Slitheen

MP for Flydale North, with Indra Ganesh and a disguised Slitheen

We meet Harriet Jones in “Aliens of London/World War Three,” when she’s the MP for Flydale North, describing herself as a “faithful back-bencher.” Being American, I had to look up this term: according to Wikipedia, it means that she serves her constituency without holding high office or having the power to influence policy. In other words, she’s no one important. She arrives at 10 Downing Street for an appointment with the Prime Minister, only to find that on that fateful day, aliens have crashed in the Thames and the government is running crazy trying to figure out what to do, as the PM is nowhere to be found. Her appointment with him has been cancelled, but she sticks around, hoping to get a word in with him anyway. As she’s waiting, she starts to notice weird things happening, and she discovers that the acting PM and his staff are disguised aliens. No one will listen to her, but she finally finds someone to talk to, the assistant of the “alien expert” brought in to deal with the situation – Rose and the Doctor.

Harriet is established in this episode as a woman of great inner strength who was content with making the best of her little corner of the world but stepped up when disaster struck. She began to panic when first confronted with green aliens who killed people and wore their skins as a disguise, but once she was able to deal with it by revealing what she saw to Rose, she took control of the situation: she sorted out the emergency protocols, helped the Doctor figure out what was going on and how Jackie and Mickey could kill the Slitheen that was attacking them, and fully understood the consequences of the Slitheen plot and the options they had for combating it. She was also completely willing to sacrifice herself for others: she offered herself for Rose when the Slitheen was about to kill her, and later, she made the call to fire the missile at 10 Downing Street in order to save the world from nuclear war. At the end of the episode, with the lack of effective leadership in the wake of the destruction of 10 Downing Street, Harriet steps

The Prime Minister and her right-hand man, Alex

The Prime Minister and her right-hand man, Alex

We meet Harriet again in “The Christmas Invasion,” in which the alien Sycorax intercepted a British space probe while on the way to invade the Earth; thus, they speak to the British government to ask for the humans’ surrender. Harriet was PM – she had ushered in Britain’s Golden Age and worked tirelessly for her country (“Never off-duty.”) – and took control of the UNIT operation speaking to the Sycorax. Teleported to the alien ship (without fear, I might add), she was placed in the unenviable position of choosing between killing 1/3 of the Earth’s population or selling 1/2 of them into slavery. The Doctor arrived to save the day, but after the alien spaceship left, she decided to have it blown up by Torchwood. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want the aliens to go out and tell the universe about the Earth, inviting more species to come and invade, because the Earth has to defend itself; it can’t rely on the Doctor who isn’t always available. The Doctor disagreed, of course, and had her removed as PM.

Manager of the Subwave Network

Former PM and builder of the Subwave Network

The thing is, she wasn’t wrong, and she stood by her decision. While she was sorry for murdering the ship full of Sycorax, she never wavered in her conviction that the Earth had to stop relying on the Doctor and learn to defend itself, and this brings us to her third appearance, in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End.” It was three years since she was deposed as PM, and she hadn’t been idle. With funding from the Mr. Copper Foundation (nice tie-in there), she built a communications network designed to stay hidden but allow the Children of Time to communicate with each other in the case of global catastrophe. When that catastrophe arrived, she contacted all of the major players, meaning that she’s been watching the Doctor’s movements and figuring out who the Earth can rely upon. If she had not done all of this, there would have been no way to call the Doctor back to Earth, and the Daleks would have won. All because of her strength and conviction. And in the end, when the Daleks were trying to shut the network down, she made sure that they found her and not the others, sacrificing her life to make sure the others would survive to fight on.

My favorite of her scenes has to be the showdown between her and the Doctor directly following the destruction of the Sycorax, because of its complexity. She and the Doctor were both right. The Doctor knew that there are protocols that the denizens of the universe follow, that the Sycorax acknowledged their defeat and were leaving in peace. He also knew that the humans killing the Sycorax would send the wrong message to the stars, that the humans were not civilized. He then deposed her because she disagreed with him, aborting “Britain’s Golden Age” that he had mentioned before, during “World War Three”.*   She knew that the Earth had to defend itself, that it couldn’t rely on a single man to always be there, no matter how powerful he might be. She knows killing the Sycorax while they were fleeing wasn’t right (the tears she choked back after she gave the order demonstrated that), but it conveyed the message she wanted to send, that the Earth does have the ability to defend itself. She and the Doctor throw into light that what’s right and wrong are not always cut and dried, that it’s possible to draw two conclusions from the same situation and have them both be right.

And that’s Harriet Jones: strong, courageous, caring, devoted, driven, not afraid to make the difficult decision, not afraid stand up for herself and her people. It’s very sad that she only got three episodes, but those were three fantastic episodes for a wonderful character.

* You might argue that he deposed her because she had committed murder, but his line was “Don’t challenge me, Harriet Jones, because I’m a completely new man. I could bring down your Government with a single word.” His anger and her defiant response goaded him into proving that he could bring her down, and in doing so, destroyed Britain’s prosperous times. In a way, this is really a low point for the Doctor, where he lost control. On the other hand, “The Christmas Invasion” was designed to show you who exactly the new Doctor was – a cheeky gob, a valiant champion, the man who gives his enemy a choice, no second chances, willing to spend Christmas with his family – and I would argue that this bit shows you another key characteristic of the Tenth Doctor: that he is going to have trouble controlling his dark side, and that he will eventually fail.

The greatest mystery

“The Day of the Doctor,” whether you liked it or not, was a pivotal episode in Doctor Who because changed the whole direction of the show, transforming the Doctor from the man mourning the deaths of billions of people to the man searching for his lost people. The story was very timey-wimey, and there have been countless discussions on the Internet about how it all fits together and whether or not the show maintains its already tenuous consistency. I’ve spent a few posts on this going over all of the details, because that’s the kind of thing I love. I’ve come up with my own theory on how a lot of it works, and I’m happy with it, even though I don’t think anyone else subscribes to it: my husband thinks it’s stupid.  However, I haven’t addressed the biggest mystery in the episode: In the Undergallery scene, were the statues under the shrouds played by Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy?

The Undergallery from The Five(-ish) Doctors Reboot.

The Undergallery from The Five(-ish) Doctors Reboot.

I truly believe that yes, they were. You see the scene from two different angles: from behind the statues in The Five(-ish) Doctors Reboot (shown in the image here) and from the corridor in “The Day of the Doctor” (I couldn’t find a pic of it). The Doctor’s lines are different between the two scenes, but for efficiency’s sake, both scenes should have been shot in the same filming session. Though I know nothing about filmmaking, I would think that it would be more cost effective to do all scenes filmed in the same spot for the same purpose. And it doesn’t make sense to go through the effort of bringing in Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Jemma Redgrave and setting up the complex set, with all of the sand on the floor, for a completely separate filming.

The one true clue to this mystery are the statues. In both scenes, the statues have approximately the same positions. They’re both about the same height, which would indicate they are Mr. Davison and Mr. Baker. Interestingly, the statue to the right of the one in the back, which can’t be seen in this image but can be in “The Day of the Doctor,” is substantially shorter than these two, and that hints that it’s Mr. McCoy. In the later Undergallery scene, when the Zygons reveal themselves, all of the statues are taller (since the Zygons are huge) and the same height, so the figures under the shrouds in the first scene are not Zygons. (Not to mention, they’re not shaped like Zygons.)

Of course, none of this evidence is conclusive: there could easily be three other people under those shrouds, or they could be simple props. However, in this interview with Colin Baker (and it’s a great interview, by the way), he says this:

GGC: “I think I know the answer to this one, but Mary Jo would like to ask, were you really under the shrouds in the 50th anniversary special?”

CB: “We were.”

GGC: “Really?”

CB: “Well, we were!”

GGC: “OK, OK. I want to believe it so badly-“

CB: “Then you should believe it.”

So there. I believe that Mr. Baker is telling the truth, and Doctors 5 through 7 actually did appear in “The Day of the Doctor.” You have no idea how happy this makes me, to see that all of the classic Doctors had a part in the 50th anniversary (“The Night of the Doctor” is officially a part of the show). I love all of the Doctors, and their actors. Brilliant!

Expectations, part 2

We started watching “Revelation of the Daleks” last night, but didn’t get to see more than the first part of it. So far, the plot is extremely complicated and we haven’t really been able to figure what’s going on yet. The weirdest thing though is that every so often, this DJ comes on and talks. He’s watching the events of the episode on video screens and commenting on them cryptically using an American accent, usually in some stereotyped style (one of his costumes is Elvis). He’s extremely annoying and his appearances completely ruin the atmosphere of the story. I hope he turns out to be something important, because otherwise he’s terrible.

I was browsing back to old posts and I saw my list of expectations for “The Day of the Doctor,” and I thought it might be fun to see how well I predicted what we might see. So, here we go.

I want to find out the War Doctor’s history.

Check!

I would have liked to see at least one scene in which the War Doctor was actually a warrior, fighting the Daleks, as in carrying a gun like a soldier and shooting them, something no other Doctor would do. No, crashing the TARDIS through the platoon of Daleks doesn’t count.

I want to see the War Doctor fire the Moment.

Check!

Ok, so technically he didn’t fire the Moment, but that was the whole point of the story. The Moment was there and he was going to fire it if they didn’t change their mind. Close enough.

I don’t want to see the Nightmare Child, the Skaro Degradations, the Would-Be King and his army of Mean-whiles and Never-weres, and other previously-mentioned denizens of the Time War.

Check!

On the other hand, I felt the depiction of the Time War was pretty weak: just a bunch of Daleks shooting at civilians. Where was the “war turned into hell?”  I suppose that Doctor Who has never been a truly violent show, but I would have expected Moffat to have come up with some scenes of terror, not just pathos.

I want the Tenth Doctor to have one really good, energetic, Tenth Doctor moment.

Bzzt!

The Tenth Doctor  had three focused moments – accusing Elizabeth I of being a Zygon, threatening the rabbit, and questioning who he thought was the Zygon commander – and he failed in all three of them; they were all simply comedy. In fact, most of the Tenth Doctor’s appearance in the show was only for comic relief. Disappointing.

I want the Eleventh Doctor to remain the focus of the show.

Check!

Perfect and well-done.

I want to see the War Doctor regenerate into the Ninth Doctor.

Bzzt!

Yes, he started to regenerate, and yes, his features started to change, but this is how it really should have been.

Actually, I had been hoping that they wouldn’t show the regeneration and then released a video like “The Name of the Doctor” which showed the full regeneration. I had hoped that while Mr. Eccleston had declined participating in “The Day of the Doctor,” he would have done a small video, like Mr. McGann had done. Oh well.

So there you have it, I got 4 out of 6. Not bad!

The future he needed to see

If you haven’t already guessed, I really liked “The Day of the Doctor.” Not having cable service, I downloaded the episode from BBC iPlayer then, after seeing the 3D version in the theater, I watched the download once every day until it expired. So I’ve seen it eight times. It’s gone now, and I can’t watch it again until I get the blu-ray next week. It’s ok, though. The rabidness has worn off.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it, though (as demonstrated by my previous post about timelines). I go through the story in my head a lot, not only because I like it, but because there’s so much in it to think about and understand. And I find it’s somewhat like a Sandman book. You can read a Sandman book thirty times and find something new in it each time. “The Day of the Doctor” is not nearly as deep as The Sandman, but I do still find new things.

I’m not sure if today’s new thing is actually deep, or it’s just dumb old me not noticing something painfully obvious to everyone else. Near the end of the episode, when the Doctors decide to change their personal timeline, the War Doctor says,

She didn’t just show me any old future. She showed me exactly the future I needed to see.

When I first viewed the episode, I have to admit I wasn’t really sure what he was referring to. Granted, I was in a movie theater surrounded by three hundred fans during the climax of the episode we had all waited for months for – critical analysis was the furthest thing from my mind. After the next viewing, I thought he was referring to seeing the two future Doctors and realizing that they were great men for doing what they had to do and continuing to strive towards saving the universe. But that wasn’t it either. This future only solidified his determination to fire the Moment.

I won’t go through the rest of the process of revelation. Eventually (yesterday, actually), I realized that the everything in the show was the future that he needed to see. He needed to see all of the following things in order for them to come up with the ultimate solution to the problem.

  • The future Doctors regret firing the Moment, and while they still agreed it was the right thing to do at the time, they would do anything to prevent it happening again. Thus, they found a different solution to the same dilemma facing Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and perhaps it’s possible they could find a different solution to the Last Great Time War.
  • The Moment is the only thing that can allow the Doctor to enter and leave the time lock.
  • The Zygons froze themselves using the stasis cubes. Can you do that to a planet?
  • Same software, different face: Like the different screwdrivers, all of the Doctors are the same man, different face.  The War Doctor is the Doctor.
  • Same software, different face, part 2: The Doctor is the only person who can get in and out of the time lock, and has thirteen incarnations over which to do the calculations.

Perhaps the Doctor would be clever enough to come up with the solution on his own, but given the time constraint he had, the loss of any one of these ideas could have prevented the solution. Certainly, if you subscribe to the timeline theory I posted yesterday, you could say that the Moment tried to do this during the show’s main timeline but failed because War Doctor did see some or all of this. It took her “second try” to show him the future he needed to see and create the new timeline in which Gallifrey stood.

I find that I like writing that ties things into each other this well – everything in the plot leads the characters where they need to go – while sounding like a simple story on the surface, and I applaud Mr. Moffat for this episode. Thanks for bending my brain in weird directions!

 

The evening of the Doctor

The day finally came and went: we went to see “The Day of the Doctor” in 3D in the movie theater! It was a long wait, and it was completely worth it.

Warning: Spoilers! Don’t read more if you don’t want to get spoiled.

I went in costume as the Fifth Doctor; my husband unfortunately was unable to wear his Fourth Doctor costume, and I think he now regrets it in hindsight. We arrived at the theater an hour early, and had to wait in line, as the theater didn’t let us in until half an hour before the start. There weren’t too many cosplayers there, and most of them were dressed as the Eleventh Doctor: there was one Tenth Doctor, one TARDIS (completely with a light on her head), a couple of the dolls from Night Terrors, and a few people with partial costumes (for example, Tenth Doctor-like suit jacket over a Doctor Who t-shirt). The only classic Doctor was me, and it was quite gratifying to hear people saying to each other, “Oh, look, it’s Peter Davison!!” I did get in on a group picture with the TARDIS, the Tenth Doctor, and one of the Eleventh Doctors, and one of the picture-takers promised to email me a copy.

Probably one of the coolest things about the entire night, though, was simply watching “The Day of the Doctor” on the big screen in a group of fans. The energy in the atmosphere was tangible, and there is nothing like a room of 300 people who share your interests and are laughing and clapping together. The applause that broke out when the Ninth Doctor appeared on the screen was exhilirating. I wish that Mr. Eccleston could have seen it, so that he would know how much we loved his Doctor and wish that he would ever return for events like these. The appearance of the Twelfth Doctor also caused an eruption of applause and screams. The Christmas special can’t come soon enough.

But, to the show itself. It was brilliant. Steven Moffat managed to pull together all the things that an anniversary special needs to have: a coherent plot that isn’t too convoluted, more than one popular Doctor, great interaction between the principals, references and in-jokes for the fans, and a resolution that depends on the current Doctor (rather than on one of the guest Doctors, as it happened in “The Five Doctors”). The show was fun and exciting. Added to this was a taste of things to come, the intimation that the Doctor now has a quest, which pulls the show into the future.

We all knew, going into the episode, that it was going to be dealing with some pretty serious stuff. Eleven, in the previous episode, “The Name of the Doctor,” did not want to face the memory of the War Doctor, and certainly seemed to have succeeded in forgetting about him again by the beginning of the special. However, right after the wonderful black-and-white opening and the school sign with Ian Chesterton’s name boldly displayed, the atmosphere is set: this is still a Doctor Who episode and we know it will sparkle with humor and clever dialogue. The tormented War Doctor is introduced, and the Moment, and then a fez falls at their feet. Where did that come from? We’re shown where, because it’s all a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey film-making. The three Doctors together get into scrapes and find solutions in typical Doctor fashion – leaps of logic and manipulation of time. Just that much would make a good regular episode.

And then the main conflict: can the War Doctor do what he needs to do to end the Time War? He does, but not how you expect it to happen, as Clara inspires the Doctors to find another solution, a solution that requires assistance from all of the Doctor’s incarnations, and the thirteen of them (yes, thirteen!) appear to enact the plan, and Gallifrey stands.

There are a few bits of the episode that didn’t work for me, but I’m not going to nitpick them here, and anyway, in any story, there are things to nitpick, but they don’t necessarily ruin it. “The Day of the Doctor” succeeded in all of the things that make Doctor Who fantastic, and enjoying it on the big screen with a crowd of fellow fans was definitely the way to go.

Happy 50th, Doctor Who! Thanks for everything!

My fifteen favorite episodes

Today is the Eve of the Day of the Doctor! I pretty much have to stay off the Internet for the next three days to avoid being spoiled before the theatrical release. I actually considered having cable installed just for this month so that we could see “The Day of the Doctor” with everyone else, but I couldn’t quite justify that expense.

Everyone has been posting their lists of the best Doctor Who episodes, so I’m doing my list, though mine are my favorite episodes, not necessarily the best episodes. For example, I think “The Ark in Space” is one of the best episodes I’ve seen, but I wouldn’t rate it in my favorites. This list is very much entrenched in the new series, because I haven’t seen a whole bunch of the old series yet.

These are the episodes that I like to re-watch the most. I couldn’t pare it down to ten.

15. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

This episode has three great things about it. First, Rory and his incredible devotion. Second, the time travel loops in the second half that end up saving the day. Third, the Pandorica speech. It’s one of the greatest monologues in the entire show. It’s too bad that the aliens leaving was just a bluff.

Favorite scene: The Pandorica speech. “Let someone else try first.”

14. The Eleventh Hour

I love regeneration episodes. Well, ok, “Time and the Rani” was terrible. But still. This one  introduces the Eleventh Doctor, in all his quirky, chaotic glory. It’s a fun romp, and ends with him walking through a montage of the ten previous Doctors.

Favorite scene: Um, the Doctor walking through the montage of the ten previous Doctors.  “Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically, run.”

13. The End of Time

I also love direct references to the history of Doctor Who. This show has an incredibly intricate universe, so let’s see more of it! This episode has the Master, the Time Lords, Gallifrey, and Rassilon, maddened by the Time War. Oh, Rassilon, how far you have fallen!

I tried to be honest about how much I rewatch these episodes, so this one is rated low on the list simply because it makes me cry every time and I often refuse to watch it because I’ll be crying for the rest of the day.

Favorite scene: The showdown between the Doctor, the Master, and Rassilon. “The link is broken. Back into the Time War, Rassilon. Back into hell.

12. Vincent and the Doctor

And I love historical episodes. Poor Vincent. Amy and the Doctor really changed his life, even if they couldn’t change his destiny.

Favorite scene: Anything that references Van Gogh’s life and paintings. The re-creation of the bedroom at Arles was fantastic. (This is much like the insertion of Agatha Christie novel titles into the dialogue of “The Unicorn and the Wasp.”)

11. Rose

Christopher Eccleston introducing himself as the Ninth Doctor in a spectacular way.

Favorite scene: Rose enters the TARDIS for the first time and finds out about the Doctor. Rose: “Are you an alien?” The Doctor: “Yes.”

10. The Five Doctors

“The Five Doctors” is not a great episode; the plot is actually pretty terrible. But seeing the four Doctors (First, Second, Third, and Fifth – Tom Baker chose to not participate in this special) interact with each other is priceless, and makes this episode a whole lot of fun.

Favorite scene: The first three Doctors examine the inscription and try to show up each other. Second Doctor: “It’s Old High Gallifreyan, the ancient language of the Time Lords. Not many people understand it these days.” All three of the Doctors: “Fortunately, I do.”

9. Voyage of the Damned

A great adventure episode, and the look on Ten’s face when he sees where the Titanic is going to land is priceless.

Favorite scene: The Doctor promises to save everyone. “I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m nine hundred and three years old and I’m the man who’s going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below.”

8. The Lodger

Ever imagined what life would be like if Eleven moved into your house? This is it. Hold onto your hat.

Favorite scene: While there are tons of great Eleven scenes here, I love watching him play football.

7. The Doctor’s Wife

Written by Neil Gaiman, this episode has a great plot and sparkling dialogue, which is what Neil Gaiman always delivers. And it cements the relationship between the Doctor and the companion he’s been with the longest.

Favorite scene: The Doctor finds out who Idris really is. “Ah, it’s my thief.”

6. The Girl in the Fireplace

This episode touched me so much that I actually wrote a fanfic about it – my one and only fanfic ever, probably. The development of Ten’s relationship with Reinette is beautiful, and so sad.

Favorite scene: The Doctor returns to the bedroom to find that Reinette has grown up. “It is customary, I think, to have an imaginary friend only during one’s childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.”

5. School Reunion

I could watch the scenes of John Smith’s introduction to Sarah Jane and Sarah Jane’s finding the TARDIS and the Doctor over and over again.

Favorite scene: Sarah identifies John Smith as the Doctor. “It’s you!”

4. The Christmas Invasion

This episode is excellent for so many reasons. It demonstrates very clearly how lost planet Earth is if the aliens arrive and the Doctor is not there to help. It deals with Rose realizing that the Doctor is far more alien than she imagined, and helps her accept this new person she thought she knew. And it lets the Doctor be the undisputed hero at the end, demonstrating all of the salient points of his character, so that we know exactly who he is when the season preview starts rolling.

Favorite scene: The Doctor’s monologue, up until challenging the Sycorax leader. “Or are you just a kalak pel gahsa kree salvak?” (Yes, I typed that without having to look it up.)

3. Smith and Jones

This is one of my favorite “sit back and hang out” episodes. It’s full of action, great dialogue, and the type of eccentric comedy that Doctor Who excels at. When I just want a quick injection of insanity, this is my go-to episode.

Favorite scene: The Doctor in bed, being examined by the medical students. “Perhaps a visit from psychiatric.”

2. The Next Doctor

Jackson Lake’s story is so tragic and yet so wonderful, I feel compelled to watch this episode over and over again, at least once a week. David Morrissey would have been a fantastic Doctor. Perhaps he will be, in the future sometime.

Favorite scene: The reveal of the new Doctor’s identity.

1. Human Nature/Family of Blood

There are so many reasons I watch this episode so often.  One is Mr. Tennant’s amazing performance as both the Doctor and the completely human, 1910s teacher John Smith. Another is Harry Lloyd’s performance as creepy Jeremy Baines/Son of Mine. And, of course, the story of John Smith, his beautiful life, and his sacrifice to save his village, his school, and the universe.

Favorite scene: The Doctor returning to ask Nurse Redfern to travel with him. This is the first time Mr. Tennant is playing the Doctor, rather than John Smith, and the Doctor’s alien nature is palpable, almost jarring and repulsive.

Honorable Mention 1. Time Crash

“Time Crash” is easily my most watched episode, though I couldn’t include it in the above list because it’s only a mini-episode. Beyond the fact that Ten and Five are my favorite Doctors, the dialogue and comedy are just fantastic. I’ll pop open YouTube any time and watch this really quick.

Honorable Mention 2. Doctor Who Children in Need (2005)

Another mini-episode, this adds a lot to the story, between Nine’s regeneration into Ten and the beginning of “The Christmas Invasion.” Rose doesn’t just accept that Ten is the Doctor: he has to convince her.

Honorable Mention 3. Midnight

I include this as an honorable mention because I love this episode but don’t watch it often because it is simply too intense. On my list of best episodes, it’s easily in the top three, but I can’t put it on a list of favorites because I can’t make myself watch it very often.

Honorable Mention 4. Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways

I’ve actually not watched these two episodes in their entirety more than a couple of times, but I watch Nine’s farewell to Rose all the time.

Honorable Mention 5. Enlightenment

“Enlightenment” is a very surreal episode from the Fifth Doctor’s period, and while it’s pretty good, it’s not great. However, it has this one scene in it that cracks me up every time. The Fifth Doctor and Tegan are attending a reception held by the Eternals, and one of the Eternals is talking to Tegan while Five is standing nearby. He spots a bowl of celery on the buffet table and spends the rest of the scene in the background, covetously inspecting the stalks of celery and eventually selecting one to replace the one on his lapel. I’ll pop in the DVD just to watch this, and even though I’ve seen this scene multiple times, I still don’t know what the Eternal and Tegan were talking about.

“The Night of the Doctor” mini-episode

I’ve been trying to stay away from “The Day of the Doctor” spoilers, so much so that I haven’t watched the two trailers and am very careful about what articles I read. My friend told me that the first of the two recent trailers had no spoilers, but my husband watched it and said that she was wrong. We think that she doesn’t really know enough about the Last Great Time War to recognize that the object in front of John Hurt was the Moment, and that’s a spoiler.

Today, BBC released the new mini-episode, “The Night of the Doctor.”  Here’s the link, because I really hate embedded video.

The Night of the Doctor

Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor

Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor

I’ve only watched it once, because I’m at work and yes, I’m trying to be productive, but I think I’ll watch it a few more times at lunch. I was very pleased to see the Eighth Doctor again. Not that I know him at all – I saw his movie when it was first broadcast in 1996, but don’t remember a thing about it. It’s been moved up to the top of Netflix queue, though.

I know that people will take away from the episode that it’s now proven that the War Doctor (his name in the credits) is the missing incarnation between Eight and Nine, but the most important thing to me about this episode is the Time Lords. They used to be the custodians of the universe, managing time and making sure everything happened as it should, but this episode shows how far they’ve fallen. They are now as hated and feared as the Daleks. The End of Time showed us their corruption in person, but this episode demonstrates their effect on the rest of the universe – how horrible the war was, and how the other races despised them. And, through the voice of Cass, the Doctor realizes that he must get involved, to right all of the wrongs that his own people have perpetrated.

And it’s the Eighth Doctor who stops running from the war, from the responsibility he has as a Time Lord and as the Doctor, and chooses to sacrifice himself to create a Doctor who can save the universe from his corrupted race. For the incarnation that we, as the audience, remember the least, what an incredible legacy.

The Forgotten

Having exhausted the available television episodes of the new Doctor Who series and only getting classic series episodes every so often (Netflix is only so fast), I’ve been experimenting with the other available media. I haven’t yet decided if I want to go through the trouble of listening to the Big Finish audio works, but I have been looking into the novels and comic books. I’ve read Only Human, which was good enough; while the story wasn’t particularly compelling, the author wrote the Ninth Doctor very well. I am now in the middle of Beautiful Chaos, a Tenth Doctor novel that is so far magnificent.

I’m less excited about delving into the world of Doctor Who comic books, if only because I have a slight prejudice against them. I very much enjoy graphic novels when they are excellent – my favorites include The Sandman and Marvel: 1602 – but I feel that when comic books are average, they really aren’t worth reading, and when they’re bad, they’re terrible. It’s very difficult to find information on which Doctor Who comic books are considered good, but when I saw the synopsis of The Forgotten, I had to get it.

It describes itself as a Tenth Doctor adventure with Martha Jones, and says that all ten Doctors appear in it. That’s all I needed to persuade me to order the book: if you’ve read my other posts, you know that I have a soft spot for tales which include previous incarnations.  The book arrived in the mail yesterday and I read it.

I’m going to say right now: Get The Forgotten and read it.

If you’re missing the Tenth Doctor, this will be a breath of fresh air. If you like previous incarnations, the comic is a treat. But the story is very inventive and well-told. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but I will suggest that you pay close attention to everything that’s said; if something seems like it’s out of place – that it doesn’t match with the history you’ve seen in the show – then it’s probably important.

The other thing that’s wonderful about this book is the title. When you finish the story and figure out just how it all fits in, you’ll see that the title is all-important. The Tenth Doctor realizes what he really had forgotten, before the book had started, even, and remembering now, he knows how it important it is and it shapes what happens to him next.

In other words, this is a fantastic story, well-crafted and imaginatively told, that brings out the Doctor’s history to the front and center, and is tightly integrated into the television series. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Truth out of humor

If you don’t read the website Cracked.com, you really should. It bills itself as a humor website, but it’s so much more than that. My favorite part of it is its daily lists of interesting things. They usually delve into pop culture, but they also do lists on science, history, etc., which appeals to my inner nerd. (Inner nerd? Who am I kidding? I’m completely nerd. And geek. I am proud to say I am both nerd and geek.) The site will publish articles submitted by others, but they have a stable of excellent writers; my favorites are John Cheese, Gladstone, and David Wong.

Among today’s articles is Gladstone’s The 4 Worst Moments from Otherwise Great Artists, and coming in at #4 is the Ghostbusters reference in “Army of Ghosts.” Now, personally, that reference made me laugh out loud and I don’t find it to be a bad moment in Doctor Who, but sure, I can see why other people would find it to be horrible.  I also absolutely love the caption under the photo of David Tennant in the article. If Mr. Tennant is making Gladstone question his heterosexuality, then he (Gladstone) really needs to watch Casanova.

Gladstone mentions in his article that he is a great fan of Doctor Who and links his article about how the show became his religion. It’s a very interesting article about how the Doctor is a god, what that really means, and why people will connect with the show on almost a religious level. You should read it, because Gladstone is a brilliant writer and any synopsis I make here will only dilute what he says. I’ll summarize by quoting him: “I mean the Doctor is a god. But one we can see and understand. And he loves us more than all the other creatures in the universe. He would die for us, but what he really wants to do is live with us.”

Now, I’m not so sure that I could call my newfound devotion to Doctor Who a religion. An obsession, yes, but a religion? No. But why is the show so compelling? I’ve discussed this with my husband many times, and it’s hard to figure out and put into words. I have other things that I’m fan of – Star Trek: The Next GenerationFirefly, Jane Austen novels – as well as past things that I no longer follow rabidly such as the X-Men and Spider-Man. (I define my fandoms as things that I’ll go out and search for merchandise of. I really like Big Bang Theory, but I have no interest in BBT merchandise. And yes, I do have Mr. Darcy t-shirts, as well as a really nice Regency gown.) However, I’ve never before had the experience of any show or book so completely taking over my waking thoughts. I can re-watch the episodes over and over again, with only the discomfort of my brain telling me that it really isn’t that healthy to watch “The Christmas Invasion” for the fourth time in a week.

Gladstone’s article is right on target: The Doctor is a compelling character because he fights for us and protects us, because he is lonely and needs us as much as we need him, and because he can fail and he can die, thus demonstrating that “horrible events can occur… and that doesn’t mean we are lost or unloved.” The best episodes are all about the ways in which the Doctor fails while he succeeds: losing his control in “Dalek” and then learning something new about Daleks (and himself) from Rose, not returning to Reinette in time, killing John Smith to become the Doctor once again, being unable to curb the rising panic of the humans trapped in shuttle bus, not realizing that all of his enemies unified to trap him in the Pandorica, losing Amy and Rory to the angels…

The episodes are very real: clean wins are rare, the Doctor must often defeat himself to win the situation, and he is constantly learning from his experiences.  This is what makes the show compelling: The Doctor may be alien and evolved so far beyond human understanding, but he is still learning and growing, and he still cares so much for all other life in the universe that he’s willing to die to make it right. We get to watch all of this happen, and we can’t not come back to see what he does next.