Friday, May 3, 2013

Counting Doctors

Hi! Dave-El here, here in my fortress office converted storage room storage room to bring forth another edition of the world renowned nationally known citywide sensation laboring in obscurity blog I like to call That Damn Blog I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You.

We're going to talk about Doctor Who today. But first....

A Christmas Tale of Bitter Disappointment
 
Yeah, I know it's May, just bear with me because this is going to connect to Doctor Who, okay?
 
 
Now I'm giving away my age here but one December many years ago when I was but a wee Dave-El and presents were slowly (too slowly, c'mon) amassing under the tree.  One day, I saw a very flat gift in the shape of a perfect square. It was a record album.*
  
*Record albums: a form of music delivery involving a black disc made of hard vinyl kept in a cardboard sleeve. These "record albums" would be play on a "record player"...dammit, go to Wikepedia and look this up yourself. I have a story to tell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albums
 
Now this was going to be a perfect gift to play on my new hi-fi stereo** that I had gotten over the past summer.
 
 
**You're probably wondering, "How OLD is this guy?" You're about to find out.
 
 
But what album was it? Oh, there were a lot to choose from. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Next by Journey, Foreigner's self titled album, Little Queen by Heart, News of the World by Queen, the possibilities were endless.***

***Yes, these are from 1977 and yes, I am old.

Mostly cream album cover with black-and-white image of tall, bearded gentleman holding the hand of blonde, cape-wearing woman. In the top right-hand corner, it is captioned "FLEETWOOD MAC" and "RUMOURS" below it. 
 
I would've been happy with Streisand Superman...
 
    
 
..you know, for the shirt.****

****I just want to cuddle.
 
I knew it couldn't be Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra because it was a double album+ and the package under the tree was clearly just one record.

+"Huh? 'Double Album'? What are you..." Just let it go, OK?
My parents knew not to buy ABBA...because I already owned all of ABBA's albums including the one that had just come out, ABBA: The Album. (Yeah, they were that damn awesome. Everybody else had an album; ABBA had THE album!) This is the one with "Take a Chance On Me" and I dare you, I double dog dare you to not smile when you hear it. Go on-
 
<Dave-El's computer here! He said he was going to talk about Doctor Who and instead he's rambling about record albums from the 70's. And ABBA! Yeesh! Well, let him ramble. While he only uses barely 1/2 percent of my total computing capacity to look up comic book stuff and fetish porn, I've been using the rest of my power to develop a strategy for world conqu-- oh, he's shutting up now.>

..and that's why ABBA was so fucking great!

 
Where was I? Oh, yeah....

So my mind was abuzz with so many possibilities. I would sit cross legged on the floor trying to discern the contents beneath the Christmas wrapping. Day after day I pondered this strange and enticing mystery. Finally Christmas came and I ripped the paper from the package to reveal a record album by.....
 
Sha Na Na.
 
I was a young, naive, insular boy growing up in a small predominantly Baptist southern town and I, at that time, did not know the word "fuck". But if I had...
 
Now why the hell did I tell you I like Doctor Who only to go on this rambling remembrance about records from over 35 years ago? Because I can't help thinking of that experience as we head towards Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.
 
Now I'm not one of those internet trolls who criticizes things before they're seen or even before finished being made. I have no doubt that Steven Moffat will deliver a cracking good story.
 
But ever since Russell Davies brought the show back in 2005 and we Whovians realized that our long journey through a barren landscape of no Doctor Who (other than that mirage we saw in 1996) was finally over, we dared to cast our eyes to the future. 2013. The magic year. The 50th anniversary of when a couple of school teachers happened upon a box that was bigger on the inside and travelled in time and space, piloted by a strange man who called himself only...the Doctor. Yes, 50 years!
 
As the years rolled by and we drew closer to the magic year, our imaginations ran wild. It'll be a party to beat all parties!! Maybe we could have a multi-Doctor extravaganza!! All the still-living actors from Tom Baker to Sylvester McCoy. Hell, even Colin. And Paul McGann. Oh dear Paul who carried the franchise on the back of just one (not very good) movie; maybe this time he could have at least one good onscreen appearance! And the new boys too:Chris and David and Matt!! Wowza!! It will be great!!
 
As of now, it looks like it's just going to be these two guys:
 
 
 
Well, we knew David Tennant would be back. The ultimate fan boy made good, there was no chance he wouldn't want to be a part of Doctor Who history. Apparently Christopher Eccleston, who doesn't give a shit about Doctor Who history, was approached about appearing as well but decided not to join the fun. (Man, he takes himself way too damn seriously.)
 
But Tennant told Doctor Who Magazine that it's just him, no other past Doctors. Of course, he was telling people, "No, I haven't been called or anything" not too long before that so maybe there's hope. But probably not. So far we've seen only one appearance of a classic Doctor on new Who, back in 2006.
 
 
Those few minutes of the short featurette, "Time Crash" (written by Moffat) had the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, crossing the time stream with the Tenth.++

++Also, David, this is going to be your future father-in-law!

It was a short whimsical piece, rather silly, but it gave a taste of a classic Doctor paired with one of the best writers of modern Doctor Who and it was a revelation of how the classic Doctors could be with a good writer. Ask Peter Davison who only got to act in one script by the legendary Robert Holmes who, I would dare say, was the best writer of classic Who. That story was "Caves of Androzani", Davison's last episode. Peter later remarked that if more of the scripts had been of that caliber, he would've stayed longer. That Davison gave way to Colin Baker just makes that missed opportunity all the more painful.

The idea of Steven Moffat or Russell Davies writing dialogue for any of the classic Doctors would be mind shatteringly awesome. Another prime example of what that might be like is a reading by Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor, that he gave at a convention appearance. He read the Doctor's "moment of awesome" Stonehenge speech from "The Pandorica Opens". Matt Smith acted the hell out of that scene; McCoy, with barely a glance at the paper in front of him, delivered those same words with a power of his own that was magical to hear. 

But sadly that does not appear to be for the 50th anniversary, or at least as far as we know. And perhaps we should not be surprised: anniversary specials have not always gone easy for Doctor Who.




10th Anniversary: Current Doctor Jon Pertwee was joined by 2nd Doctor Patrick Troughton for "The Three Doctors". Jon and Patrick instantly clicked as two sides of the same Time Lord bickering with himself. But the First Doctor, William Hartnell, was too ill to do more than read some lines from a cue card for pre-taped bits that were inserted in Parts 1 and 4.

20th Anniversary: Hartnell had since passed away and a decision was made to recast Richard Hurndall. There was some consternation over that choice but I thought Hurndall did very well. But the big hiccup was Tom Baker's refusal to return to his iconic interpretation; so the 4th Doctor was played by some unused stock footage.

30th Anniversary: We really, really do not want to talk about "Dimensions in Time", do we?

40th Anniversary: Wow! 40 years! Let's celebrate by having a bunch of people sit around and talk about the show.

So, fellow Whovians, as we sit on the metaphorial floor by the metaphorical Christmas tree and we see a present in shiny wrapping. (Hey, I brought it back around to that album thing!) It appears to be...TARDIS shaped. And we don't have to wait until Christmas; we'll get this one in November. But whether or not we will be satisfied or disappointed rests more on us than the actual thing itself. Our expectations can be our own undoing when it comes to enjoying these amazing little fictions into which we have invested so much of our energy and passion.

Remember the Sha Na Na album? I sold it to an uncle who just loved Sha Na Na so he was happy and I made two bucks which I spent on comics books so it turned out alright in the end.

But as we close, if you're still hankering for the massive multi-Doctor epics, let me leave you with this:

 
 

 
 

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