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On The Subject of Companionship In British Science Fiction Television Shows Involving Time Lords

March 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, by now, it will be no spoiler that Steven Moffet and crew over at BBC’s Doctor Who have cast the new companion to make her appearance during the special Christmas episode during season seven.


Jenna-Louise Coleman, seen here in a still from the upcoming BBC series “Titanic”, is a very popular young lady right now. (photo: HuffPo)

It seems I can’t go anywhere online today without seeing the name Jenna-Louise Coleman. Across Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, it seems like every Whovian has their own take on whether or not Coleman is right for the job. I’m reserving judgment for when we actually meet the mysterious companion she’s set to portray. But if you’re dying for information on the young actress, RadioTimes.Com has done up a decently extensive list of information about her entitled “Everything You Need to Know About Jenna-Louise Coleman. It’s important for me to add that there are no spoilers in the article about Coleman’s involvement with Doctor Who, but rather a list of her previous credits as well as a couple of YouTube videos to give you a sense of her acting ability and personality.

Speaking of YouTube videos, here is a brief interview with Coleman about the role:

Just a few more words on Coleman. This is a link to the Anglophenia blog post on Steven Moffat’s announcement. WARNING: There are spoilers in their post, as they list off all of Moffat’s announcements from this morning, some of which do spoil some things. Sort of. I wish I hadn’t read most of it, and if I had more of a warning that the announcements would be as spoilerish as they were, I probably wouldn’t have read it at all. Keep that in mind.

There’s also this HuffPo piece about the new companion, which also contains some spoilers, so read at your own risk.

And now, because absolutely no one asked, here is a list of my top ten favorite Doctor Who Companions, in order:

10: Martha Jones (Tenth Doctor)

Martha barely makes it on my list because, quite frankly, I often found her more annoying than entertaining. Granted, she has part in some of my favorite “New Who” episodes, but even given that, I can hardly stand her character.

9: Harry Sullivan (Fourth Doctor)

Oh, Harry. Some of the earliest memories I have of watching Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor are of Harry being along for the ride. Uptight and very British, he always provided a counterpoint to Baker’s sometimes over the top silliness as The Doctor.

8: Leela (Fourth Doctor)

Because why must everyone in a science fiction program be ultra-futuristic or super-modern? Why not introduce a savage into the mix? Leela may have been from a primitive background, but that didn’t stop her from also being very smart and helpful to the Doctor on many occasions.

7: Tegan Jovanka (Fourth Doctor, Fifth Doctor)

Come on, look at her. So 80s, so “new wave”. She was the first post-Sarah Jane Smith companion that I harbored a crush on. Though she’s not just good looking, she’s also strong willed.

6: Rose Tyler (Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor)

This is the one I feel I’m going to get the most shit about. I love Rose, I do, but she’s highly overrated and I often found her almost as annoying as Martha. But she is the first of the “New Who” companions, which does make her special.

5: K-9 (Fourth Doctor, Fifth Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Seventh Doctor, Eighth Doctor, Tenth Doctor)

Yes, the robot dog is rated higher than Rose Tyler. Is it a nostalgia thing? Most likely. But I don’t care. I’ve wanted a real K-9 for years. He’s also the Doctor’s longest running companion to date.

4: Captain Jack Harkness (Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor)

New school badass. Captain Jack Harkness won me over in his very first appearance and I’ve been a fan ever since. I was happy when they made him lead character on Torchwood, a good show by it’s own right, though I don’t enjoy Torchwood as much as Doctor Who. That said, Torchwood: Miracle Day, was phenomenal television.

3: Amy Pond(/Williams) and Rory Williams (Eleventh Doctor)

I list them both as one, because they really work better as a duo. I have a lot of love for the episodes where it’s Amy and The Doctor together, as well as the episodes where Rory flies solo with The Doctor, but the episodes where they play off each other are often the best. I’m really going to miss these characters when they’re gone.

2: Donna Noble (Tenth Doctor)

Also a controversial listing, depending on who you ask. When Donna Noble first appeared in the episode entitled The Runaway Bride, I found her terribly annoying, almost as annoying as Martha Jones, and I was utterly relieved when it looked like she wasn’t going to be the new companion. So imagine my surprise when, in the next season, she returned to be just that. I was angry at first, thinking “Her? Come on!” but after only a handful of episodes with her as the companion, I grew to love Donna Noble. She’s one of the companions I miss the most and I hope there’s room for her to make an appearance during the 50th Anniversary season.

1: Sarah Jane Smith (Third Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Tenth Doctor)

Sarah Jane Smith, the companion by which all other companions are judged. Sarah Jane was one of the first companions I became familiar with when I first started watching Doctor Who and has stuck in my mind since as the gold standard of companions. She made an appearance, along with K-9, in an episode of “New Who” entitled “School Reunion” during the Tenth Doctor’s run and the noises I made when she appeared on screen were the same noises I imagine a teenage girl would make if she should meet a Jonas brother. The fact that I had a crush on her growing up certainly didn’t hurt Sarah Jane’s chances of being my number one companion. Sadly, Elisabeth Sladen passed away last year. When I read the news, it was as though a friend of mine had died. It saddens me to know she won’t be a part of the upcoming 50th Anniversary special. Who will care for K-9 now?

Some of you may notice that I left River Song off the list. There’s a good reason for this. It’s not that I hate the character of River Song, in fact you could say I dislike Martha Jones even more, but there’s definitely something about her character that bugs me. I often find during episodes she’s in that I don’t so much mind the things she does or says, but maybe the way she does or says them? I’m not sure, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know I dislike her just enough that I end up not enjoying the episodes she’s in as much as I would if she were not in them. There are a few exceptions, one of which being the episode entitled “Let’s Kill Hitler”, which is considered a “River episode” in as much as it features her heavily and the main plot centers around her. I loved this episode and feel it would be less enjoyable had she not been a part of it.

So, I can’t really explain it. It doesn’t make sense to me, either, but I felt I should leave her off the list entirely because of it.

Nearly thirteen hundred words on the subject of Doctor Who. I’m sort of a nerd, guys.

Doctor Who Related Nonsense or How To Let Go Of Your Doctor

January 7, 2012 2 comments

A Word of Warning: Ahead, there be spoilers.

When I was much younger than I am now, and after having discovered the joys of a funny old British sci-fi show entitled Doctor Who on my beloved local PBS station, I witnessed the following:

What you see there is the fourth Doctor, as played by the legendary Tom Baker, regenerating into Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor (well, technically, it’s the fourth Doctor regenerating into the Watcher, who regenerates into the fifth Doctor. Don’t ask). This was difficult for me to watch for a few reasons. First of all, Tom Baker was my Doctor. I vaguely remember seeing an episode or two with Patrick Troughton (second Doctor), and I know I saw at least a couple of episodes with William Hartnell (first Doctor) before PBS settled into the Tom Baker years. But once Baker hit the screen, I was hooked. The hat, the scarf, the jelly babies. Plus, it was the first time we’d seen the Doctor as a fun-loving guy. The first Doctor was the wise old man, a sense of which we all still have of the Doctor, somewhere beneath whatever personality has taken over since. We still see him as that wise old man underneath all the silliness. The second Doctor was the mad scientist, the third Doctor was all business. But the fourth Doctor seemed to genuinely enjoy flying through space and time in a bright blue Police Box. And who wouldn’t? Sure the fourth Doctor had moments of seriousness (usually whenever anyone tried to fuck with Sarah Jane Smith), but he had this overall childish charm about him, which I loved.

So, after many episodes (seriously, Baker portrayed the Doctor in over 170 episodes), he was definitely my Doctor. So when the time came, as it inevitably does for every Doctor, that he must regenerate to stay alive, it was a rough moment for me. I felt so betrayed, so violated. Here was this Doctor that I had grown to love and admire and he was being taken from me. It wasn’t the same as when any of the previous Doctor’s regenerated, because none of those other Doctors were my Doctor. This was my Doctor, and he was regenerating into someone else entirely. I swore I wouldn’t like this new Doctor. Peter Davison? Who the hell does Peter Davison think he is, coming in here and replacing Tom Fucking Baker? What an asshole.

But I grew to appreciate Davison, as I grew to appreciate the remaining Doctors as well. The great thing about Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor was the fun and silliness that he brought to it, as I mentioned above. But that fun and silliness has stayed with the Doctor throughout all later regenerations, in some detail. Maybe not Paul McGann (eighth Doctor). I don’t remember the movie very well, as it’s been a long time, but as I recall, Paul McGann’s Doctor was a bit over-serious. I may be wrong.

But in 2005 when the series Doctor Who itself regenerated (see what I did there?), Christopher Eccelston (ninth Doctor) brought some of that fun-loving nature back into the role. The ninth Doctor, for me, was the most intense Doctor. This was a version of the Doctor who had definitely seen some shit (some shit = the Time War and the death of every other living Time Lord). But there are still episodes where he’s able to crack jokes and have a good time. That’s an element that is vital to the Doctor, I feel. It’s humanizing.

Enter David Tennant (tenth Doctor). I think it’s fair to say that David Tennant is the Tom Baker of this new generation of Doctor Who fans. Tennant has had the longest run of these new Doctors, much as Baker held the longest run in the old series. He was much more upbeat and cheerful than the Doctor that came before him, though he also held on to the ability to be somber and reflective. Tennant had the uncanny talent of combining personality traits from several of the past Doctors into one being. So, it’s clear why so many people love him.

But then…

That’s David Tennant regenerating into Matt Smith (11th Doctor). This regeneration was met with a few different reactions, that I have heard. The loudest one being an outcry of mourning the loss of “the best Doctor ever” that was marred by a tint of absolute rage toward Matt Smith and the BBC.

I was also quite sad to see Tennant go. I love everything he did as the Doctor and some of the best episodes of Doctor Who, and I mean EVER, came and went under his flag (if you’ve never seen Blink, then you’re doing yourself a disservice). But you see, I had already experienced this pain. I had already felt this sense of betrayal, this unfounded hatred of an actor I had never even seen before (well, Smith had briefly appeared in a previous episode of Doctor Who), so I was already well aware that it would pass, if I was only able to give the new guy a chance.

A lot of the new fans have embraced Matt Smith, some are even calling him their Doctor, which is wonderful. But there remains a large cross-section of fans that are holding on to the Tennant years so tightly, that they can not see how much of his portrayal of the Doctor is still very much alive within Matt Smith’s performances. You must remember that this is the same character. Each actor brings something different to the table, but in essence, it’s the same guy with a different face, and so far, each actor has done a decent-to-phenomenal job of working that fact into their performance. I know people who stopped watching the show completely after Tom Baker’s regeneration. These people have never seen any of the following Doctors, they never saw the 1996 movie with Eric Roberts as The Master, they’ve never seen any of these new episodes at all. All because, simply put, why bother? “If Tom Baker isn’t the Doctor, I’m just not interested.”

And I’m finding this to be true of this new generation of Whovians. Many seem to have adopted a “if it’s not Tennant, I simply don’t care” view of the show, and I feel horrible for them. Because there have been some truly amazing episodes to come out of this “Matt Smith era” and I feel as though they are either not able to fully enjoy them, or even worse, not watching them at all. Sometimes as a fan of something, you need to loosen your grip on it, just a bit, to fully enjoy it. If one takes a step back and looks at the greater picture, they are often able to find more enjoyment in it.

So, for those of you out there who dislike Matt Smith because he’s Matt Smith and you don’t like him, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, especially regarding something of fandom. But if you dislike Matt Smith for no other reason than he is not David Tennant, I implore you; Please rethink it. Please go back to the start of Smith’s run and try to watch these episodes with fresh eyes. Because they’re really something magical.

And to those of you who are huge Matt Smith fans and who want him to play the Doctor forever, hold on. Your time of outrage is coming, as well.

The Strange And Wonderful Thing

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment

When I left for work this morning, the wind was powerful and cold. The skies were gray and the snow refused to melt and it seemed as though Winter would never leave. When I returned home from work a little while ago, and I came in to this office and looked outside, I noticed that something strange and wonderful had happened.

I opened my window and a gust of wind blew in, but it was not the bitter cold of a Winter morning. Rather, it was the crisp and fragrant air of a Spring afternoon. I looked outside to see the snow receding, the grass showing through. I leaned out of the open window and craned my neck to the side and saw a rather large number of birds sitting at the very top of the tallest tree in our back yard, all of which were tittering away, as though they were discussing the change in season. Around these birds, I noticed the first bit of green I have seen on a tree in almost half a year.

I feel as though Spring will finally visit Minnesota soon, and it feels good. Though, Mother Nature has lied to me before. We’ll see.

I had wanted to say something about the passing of Diana Wynne Jones here. I had wanted to talk about how important her books are to one’s childhood and what kind of person she was (I did not know her personally, but you can tell a lot about a person by how they write, and Diana was obviously a very dear and brilliant woman).

But it seems as though Neil Gaiman has perfectly summed all of that up here. So, you should probably go read that instead. It gives a rare look at her from the perspective of someone who knew her and knew her well.

Chris Moriarty also had a lovely post about Diana here, entitled “10 Things I Learned From Diana Wynne Jones”.

The horrible and almost apocalyptic events occurring in Japan right now are impossible to comprehend. When shown footage of the tsunami, when shown images of the damages and when told the numbers of lives lost, it’s almost too much to wrap one’s mind around. But then you’re told about the current nuclear crisis and it all becomes even more astronomically incomprehensible.

That is why they are in such dire need there. That is why everyone should donate whatever they are able to, be it a dollar or ten or more.

To do so, grab your cell phone and text “JAPAN” to 90999. That will automatically donate ten dollars to the Red Cross. You can also go to RedCross.Org.

This HuffPo article lists many other ways you can help.

Some slightly happier news, the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series premieres on HBO on April 17th. The only thing I can think of that makes me happier than that is the premiere of the latest season of Doctor Who on April 23rd.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hum the Doctor Who theme song while I do dishes. As I normally do.

Mostly Doctor Who Also Casting

May 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Today was Casting Day!

Not big Hollywood type casting, but rather oh-my-god-my-arm-is-broken-and-crooked-and-sweet-christ-how-are-we-going-to-keep-it-from-moving type casting.

The hour or so drive to the orthopedic was spent discussing Doctor Who and wishing we could attend Comic-Con International in the near future.

X-rays were taken, we were told the arm is healing well and the cast was applied. The boy wanted green and was devistated to hear the nurse say “Oh, I think we’re out of green!” before she left to see what colors they did have.

She returned with a little bag marked “Green”.

The boy was happy again. Even happier when he learned we were eating Mexican after his appointment.

Speaking of Doctor Who, we’re caught up on this year’s series. We’re right on schedule with Britain (you needn’t know how) and looking forward to the latest episodes.

The more I see David Tennant as The Doctor, the more I realize he’s one of my favorite Doctors so far. Tom Baker is a hard one to top, though. I’m not sure I can say the words “I like him better than Tom Baker” aloud without choking on them.

Here’s a bit of Doctor Who geekness that had me giggling like a fanboy this morning:

That’s the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, meeting the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, in the wacky sort of way you meet a past version of yourself whilst flying around time and space in your TARDIS (have I mentioned I love Doctor Who?).

I was introduced to Doctor Who at the same time I was (sort of) introduced to Anime.

I was a teenager watching PBS late one evening (as I did quite often and still do, from time to time), when I saw an episode of an animated show called “Urusei Yatsura” and fell in love (I’d seen anime prior to this, in the form of Voltron, Robotech, Speed Racer, and Astro Boy, but this was the first time I’d seen something subtitled).

After Urusei Yatsura was Tenchi Muyo! and after Tenchi Muyo! it was Charlie Rose. This was my Saturday evening from then on. I would stay up and watch my animated programs and then, depending on the level of interest I had in that night’s guest, I’d watch Charlie Rose.

But something struck me as odd. Whenever I would tune in a minute or two early to Urusei Yatsura, I was treated to the credits of some old program that showed words disappearing into what I could only assume was some sort of acid trip colored intergalactic worm hole (I was close) in the background, all while eerie-but-catchy techno-before-techno-existed type music played.

“Huh.” I’d say, intrigued.

One fateful Saturday, I made the effort to tune in an hour earlier.

I saw on my television screen an old man in a fedora and a long scarf running around saving the world from alien forces. I learned he was an alien himself, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. I learned that the TARDIS (which stands for Time And Relative Dimenstion(s) In Space and is The Doctor’s primary mode of transporation) was stuck as a Police Box circa 1950, but that we humans would never notice that fact. I learned that Daleks are bad, K-9 is a good dog and that no matter how many companions the old man had, he was doomed to travel alone.

This was The Doctor.

The Doctor has stayed with me over the years. He’s become a part of me. In 2005, I learned they were revisiting The Doctor. The ninth regeneration for the good Doctor and I really enjoyed the entire series. At the end of the series, The Doctor regenerated again, this time from Christopher Eccleston into David Tennant, who remains the current Doctor.

I’ve seen old black and white episodes, I’ve seen episodes from the sixties with hilarious hair and super technicolor visuals, I’ve seen eighties episodes, I’ve even seen the movie from 1996.

Such is my love of The Doctor. And I’ve found a woman who shares my love of all things Doctor Who, as the wife has been watching The Doctor’s adventures since she was a little girl as well.

Funny, the things that connect us.

Happy Doctor Who Day

April 18, 2008 Leave a comment

A quick one, sorry.

Tonight will be Doctor Who and we will rejoice. The level of Doctor Who love in this household lately is amazing, as is the level of anticipation for this new season. It seems far longer than it has been since the last season.

On a brief adventure to Casey’s last night for carbonated syrup-laced beverages, I noticed a list of outside chores Boss Lady had left for me for today. I get the joy of showing up in jeans and a t-shirt and working out in the sun all day.

Few things can compare to working outside. Such a simple pleasure. Fresh air, sunshine, the smell of freshly mowed lawns. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Early this morning, after the wife had left for work, I re-read the five thousand or so words I had completed of what will be my first novel. I was suddenly struck with a far better way to start it, however.

So I did. I opened a fresh word document and began to type, using the previously written words, in a seperate window, as a base on which to build. I was able to write a solid opening before retiring to bed. I then wrote a few more solid paragraphs when I woke up until just now, when I realized I should really get dressed and go to work.

I’m excited. I think I know how to continue now.

Onward I go. Wish me luck.

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Mumblings of Science Fiction and More of the J.K. Rowling Thing

April 16, 2008 3 comments

With the temperature staying in the mid 60s and a decent wind rustling the trees, today was the sort of day that made you feel good to be oustide. Walking to the store and back was a fun thing, for a change. To think that less than a month ago, it was a cold and frigid landscape of white and gray is astounding when breathing in the warm Spring air, looking around at all the rich greens and browns.

Today was a good day.

In my previous entry, I commented on this article in which was information on a lawsuit filed by Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling.

Andrew Wheeler feels she’s wrong.

It’s truly interesting hearing from an established publisher on this topic and, while I still side with Rowling and hope she wins, I also tend to agree with a few things Andrew has mentioned.

Printed fan work is one thing. Go to your local Borders and look for any book on the topic of Star Wars. You’d be surprised how many there actually are (or perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised). Not all of them are official. In fact, many of them are unauthorized. And those will sell many copies right alongside the “Official” Lucasfilm produced books on the subject. No copyright infringing.

But from what Rowling is claiming in the suit, many of the facts in this fan’s Lexicon is taken verbatim from the books. There is, reportedly, very little original content in it. And by original content, I mean words about Harry Potter written uniquely by this man. Not just copying and pasting from the books (again, reportedly, as I’m not familiar enough with the books to recognize the similarities).

I believe therein lies the difference.

Of course, I’m no publisher.

Author Dan Ronco thinks we’re entering a new golden age for science fiction.

It is eerie to think of all those ideas envisioned by SF writers that are now becoming a reality.

Here, have some of the best book covers ever printed.

Doctor Who gives Ben Templesmith a hard on.

Doctor Who by Ben Templesmith gives me a hard on.

Springtime In Minnesota

April 11, 2008 4 comments

Sometime last week, I opened our front door to find a vision of green grass and of cascading raindrops. I stepped out onto our porch, inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with the refreshingly crisp air, and smiled. After a long and brutal winter, Spring had finally arrived.

I returned inside, got dressed, and went for a walk in the rain. Something I hadn’t done in far too long. I enjoyed myself so much that I fetched the camera and took this picture:

I was planning to post this in a blog entry heralding the return of spring. It was to be an entry chronicling my long walks in the rain, how much I enjoy breathing the post rain air, how happy I was to be without snow once more.

This morning I awoke to find this:

I was not pleased.

The man with the perfect hair, the wicked smile and the killer suit standing in front of a green screen on the television said some areas had gotten over a foot of snowfall. One look outside and I believed him.


Ben, cleaning the snow off the car.

Ben was happy to clean off the car until we told him he’d have to help me shovel the driveway as well.

Then he was rather unhappy.

The snow was cleared and we went about our day (grocceries, mailing of bills, various boring activities).

The weatherman reappeared upon our television screen, wicked smile and all, and he reassured us that the snow would dissipate and the sun would be seen again very soon.

This time I was not so quick to believe.

The wife and I had heard that The Sarah Jane Adventures would be airing tonight, on Sci-Fi. Being the huge fans of all things Doctor Who that we both are, we were sure to tune in.

It was… Fun. And lighthearted. And I got the feeling that, while the show had the same producers and visual effects team as the new Doctor Who series, it may not have had the same writers.

It was very corny and funny and more like a taste of a low calorie version of Doctor Who than anything else. But I enjoyed it very much and will be tuning in again next week.

Coincidentally, the new season of Doctor Who begins next week as well, and the amount of arm flailing and fanboy-and-girl giggling in the house is absurd.

I’ll leave you with this link, which details how a Florida law has been passed allowing people to take guns to their place of employment.

I’ll just let you ponder that for a bit.

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