Saturday 17 September 2016

Saturday Teatime: 31 Questions about Doctor Who

I saw this question and answer meme on Script Scribbles' tumblr, reblogged from and, since I want to write more about Doctor Who because it is my number one fandom ever, I thought this would make a nice introduction to how I view the series.

1. Top 3 Doctors

Sylvester McCoy, Matt Smith, Patrick Troughton... so basically that one interpretation of the Doctor as barely trustworthy trickster really works for me.

2. Top 3 companions

Leela, Ace, Rory. So again I have a type and its action companions.

3. Favourite quote

Can't beat the closing monologue from Survival: “There are worlds out there where the sky is burning; where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do.”

4. Favourite Dalek story

Remembrance, which was the first appearance of the “modern” view of Daleks that was based more on memories of the awesome, all-powerful, gigantic armies of the things from the TV21 comic rather than the four of five you'd get in any given TV story which, okay, was what you got here but it felt like more. For me, watching it on VHS before we had Dalek and The Parting of the Ways, it was the first time the Daleks felt like the scary monsters they were meant to be.

5. If you could pick any companion to travel with any Doctor, who would it be?

Jo Grant with the Tenth Doctor. I think he could really do with having that constant optimism about the place, someone to keep his brooding in line like a less cynical Donna, basically.

6. How much EU have you seen?

I've been around a while, long enough to have got in on Big Finish at the ground floor so most of their material; I own all the Virgin novels and have read about a third of them; I read the Eighth Doctor novels religiously until about The Domino Effect or thereabouts; not as many Past Doctor novels as I'd like; and, I've been reading the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip since the beginning of the Eighth Doctor era. I've also got horrible nth generation rips of the Audio Visuals and a spotty collection of BBV/Reeltime videos and CDs. There's a massive gap of Bernice Summerfield audios I haven't listened to, having given up on the series after about series four and not picking it up again until the box set era but I'm catching up on that.

7. Favourite companion/Doctor relationship?

Seventh Doctor and Ace, especially once Hex joins them in the audios. I like the way that Ace is presented as more of an equal partner and more of a rounded character than any companion since Romana and the audios (less the novels, I feel) really played to that as they aged Ace and had the Doctor be more forthcoming to her about what they were doing and what the plan was. Once Hex joined the crew it really solidified, I think, because by then Ace had been travelling with the Doctor for years and there was a sort of pecking order where, in effect, Hex was her companion and she was mentoring him as the Doctor had once mentored her.

8. OTP?

Amy/Rory. Obvious answer, I know, but I spent so much of Series Five rooting for them to work things out that it just has to be them.

9. NOTP?

Okay, this is young person language so I'm basically relying on Urban Dictionary to define it for me as my “least favourite pairing”, in which case First Doctor/Vicki. I get that it sort of works on a character level but the age difference and the quasi-incestuous guardian/ingĂ©nue dynamic just... no, absolutely no.

10. Any ships?

Not really. I rather like the idea of Bernice Summerfield and River Song but as to myself... I've never really viewed Doctor Who as a very shippable show probably because I encountered it years and years before I knew that shipping and fan fiction and all that were a thing. There's certainly no character relationship that gives me feelings of “aw, they would be so cute together” the way, say, Weiss and Blake do in RWBY (yes, Monochrome shipper, right here).

11. First Doctor you saw

Pertwee. See question 13.

12. Favourite Doctor

McCoy. Not just for the EU stuff but I genuinely feel his era was a breath of fresh air and offered a genuinely new and interesting take on the Doctor. They didn't (and probably couldn't) go as far with it as they might have done but the EU has certainly picked up the slack there.

13. First story you saw on TV

According to a helpful list of early-90s repeats I found on the internet (I love how you can find anything out these days), Planet Of The Daleks. First story I ever saw, actually.

14. How long have you been a fan for?

If I had to put a date on it I'd guess since 1995? Certainly earlier than 1996 given how much I was looking forward to the TV Movie.

15. If you could travel with one Doctor, who would it be?

Eleven. You seem to get more actual holidays and peaceful trips with him.

16. Favourite TARDIS interior

The first Eleventh Doctor one. I love the multi-level construction with all its nooks and crannies and all those random bits and pieces used to make the console. Funnily enough, I hated it when it first turned up in The Eleventh Hour but it really grew on me.

17. How much classic Doctor Who have you seen?

Every one there is to see except the most recently recovered episode of The Underwater Menace, which I keep meaning to get to, plus the Loose Cannon reconstructions of all the missing episodes.

18. Favourite Cyberman story

I think Spare Parts is genuinely the only Cyberman story ever to really deliver on the body horror that The Tenth Planet promised but could never deliver because of logistics. If forced to choose a TV story... The Invasion, but not really for any reason involving the Cybermen themselves who, as a selling point, rank leagues below getting to watch Patrick Troughton and Kevin Stoney having an eight episode battle of wills co-starring Nicholas Courtney.

19. Favourite one off monster

The Sycorax.

20. Least favourite story

Terminus, a swirling vortex of wasted potential and the crowning example of how important the script editors were on the classic series. Under Christopher H. Bidmead's hard SF fairy tale approach Stephen Gallagher produced Warriors' Gate which was complex and layered and gave Lalla Ward possibly the last genuinely good and storyline relevant companion departure of the classic series. Under Saward's very militaristic, dark and gritty vision of the series we get a script with a lot of complex ideas executed in the laziest, most simplistic fashion possible. Bear in mind these stories were made under the same producer less than two years apart and Terminus went into production mere weeks after the same team moved heaven and earth to make Arc Of Infinity look like an epic even though the script was utter crap.

21. Did you cry whilst watching any stories?

No. I am manly... okay, the final speech from Survival brings a tear to my eye every single time and I get the sads watching Ten's goodbye to Rose.

22. Least favourite Doctor (why?)

I don't hate him but there's a lot about Pertwee that doesn't click for me. There are times when he was fantastically lazy as an actor, visibly ungracious on-screen towards his co-stars and I just struggle to see him in the overarching character of the Doctor. I love a lot of his stories and his chemistry with Katy Manning is a gold standard most Doctor/companion teams can only dream of but... stacked against all the others actors to play the role, he ranks as the least good.

23. Least favourite companion (why?)

Dodo. No slight against Jackie Lane who fought against apparently crippling stage fright to give us what we got but there's no substance to the character. Under John Wiles she is literally written as an idiot to make a malicious point about young people and then she's reduced to being the most utterly generic “young girl companion” of the classic series. She has one or two genuinely great scenes in The Gunfighters where we see what we were potentially missing out on and then she gets promptly written out, all promise unfulfilled.

24. Any eras that you would like to know better?

The Second Doctor era, which the recent unearthing of previously missing episodes proves we are missing so much of just listening to soundtracks and photo reconstructions.

25. Favourite EU companion?

Dr. Evelyn Smythe. Unbeatable as a character and, frankly, an all-important element in Big Finish's redemption of the previously salvageable Sixth Doctor.

26. Favourite episode (or top 3 if that's too hard)

Not in any particular order: Heaven Sent, Carnival of Monsters and The Brain of Morbius.

27. Weirdest piece of merchandise you own

I don't own that much merch, to be honest, but I think I still have the TARDIS tin The Trial Of A Time Lord VHS box set came in back in the day.

28. Anything you want to see in the next season

For Capaldi to not regenerate at the end of it.

29. Thoughts on the current Doctor

Capaldi's great in the role and, in all honesty, his “Third Doctor but rude” routine seems more in line with Moffat's personal conception of the Doctor than the character he wrote for Matt Smith. I think that might be the secret of getting two great Doctors out of the Moffat years: he was pretty open about the fact he wanted an older Doctor to start but was blown away by Smith's audition, so he ended up writing the Doctor that emerged from that and then when it came time to cast his second Doctor he had the chance to write his ideal Doctor.

30. In your opinion, will the Doctor ever be ginger?

Eh, maybe. To be frank, I think its sadly more likely than the Doctor being a female or black or desi actor or anything other than a white man and you can't get whiter than a ginger.

31. Thoughts on the sonic glasses?

Love 'em. Glad to have the screwdriver back at the end of Hell Bent but I love seeing the writers come up with new gadgets.

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