A couple of new videos that I’ve been watching this week:
The first is Sarah Slean’s latest, “The Devil and the Dove”. It was shot in the Newfoundland town where Sarah composed some of the songs from her most recent double album. It’s got great visuals, thanks to director Scott Cudmore’s treatment of the song.
The screen-cap above is from a really fun video that summarizes series 5 and 6 of Doctor Who, but in a format that would be more at home in 1990s video gaming. This should tide me over until the new season begins this fall.
Just a few days late for Doctor Who‘s 48th birthday, but it’s still fun to watch nevertheless.
Earlier this fall, a video has been released featuring the cast and crew of The End of Time, David Tennant’s final serial, singing along to the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”. Such joy to watch! And look at the freeze-frame that was used: Timothy Dalton, David Tennant, and John Simm, in costume, dancing and singing. You can’t get any better than that! (Watch out for a surprise appearance by the Proclaimers themselves.)
But Who fans being Who fans, we don’t want to be left out of the fun. The video below is a collaboration of fans from all over the world, also singing along to “500 Miles”. This is an impressive feat, considering the editor had to go through many submissions to make the final version. I’m also impressed by the countries represented by Doctor Who fans; we are everywhere! Particular props go to the gentleman who dressed as the 1st Doctor.
But as great as the song and both videos are, I’m wondering why this song, with the lyrics “I would walk 500 miles”, was chosen. Doctor Who is all about running! But I guess that’s just a runner’s biased opinion.
I picked up DWM 424 last summer partly because of its look back at The War Machines, the story that saw the debuts of Polly and Ben Jackson (but more on them later). And it is a great cover photo.
Series 6 will start in one week! For the first time in the Doctor Who revival, a new series will start with the same Doctor and companion(s) that ended the previous series. What you may also not know is that Amy and Rory are the first companions of the Doctor to be wedded while still companions. I am not counting Donna’s wedding at the end of End of Time, because she was no longer the Doctor’s companion; moreover, he still could not contact her, lest her mind implode (again). But it wasn’t always this way.
I’m always peeved about the many transgressions I’ve encountered during my travels on transit. Here are some from the last week:
- A gentleman turning up his music player’s volume to the point that I can hear the music spilling out from his earphones.
- A lady clipping her nails on the SkyTrain.
- A blatant fare evasion episode; I’m sure this person waited right at the rear doors of the bus just to get on through those doors.
With series 6 of Doctor Who debuting in three weeks (for the first time, a same-day affair for the UK, USA, and Canada), that got me thinking about what the Doctor would do if he rode public transit in Vancouver, and he encountered the same things I did this week.
One thing I could think of is using the sonic screwdriver to change remotely the volume of that music player. Another one could involve using the sonic to create interference to mobile phones, whenever a loud, annoying conversation is taking place.
An idea I’ve always liked involves psychic paper and claiming to be a fare inspector, specifically targeting those who have deliberately entered through the back doors. The Doctor could create enough of a scene and get other passengers to shame the fare evader off the bus. So what else could the Doctor do to stop bad behaviour on transit?
And with Series 6 so close, here are two official trailers, the first from the BBC, the second from BBC America. (Hat-tip to the Doctor Who News Page for getting the excitement started.) Save that date – April 23!
Enjoy the season with two themed videos. The first is more recent, and you might have already seen it. What if the nativity story took place today? (I first saw this on Price Tags.)
And an excellent CGI rendition involving two Doctors, a runaway sleigh, and K9! “Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home!”
There is clearly a new-series bias, based on the top six vote-getters to the Radio Times online poll.
And just in time for the 47th birthday of Doctor Who, I’ll present a list of my favourite companions, essentially spanning all 47 years:
Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill): One of the first companions to travel in the televised adventures, Barbara was a history teacher who was presented with the ultimate temptation for someone in her profession: a chance to change history. Her attempts to stop the ritual sacrifices of The Aztecs (1964) led to one of the 1st Doctor’s most impassioned lines: “You can’t change history. Not one line!” Barbara complemented the other members of the original TARDIS crew so well that I consider that grouping one of the best in the series.
Polly (Anneke Wills): I’d say Polly was my first Doctor Who crush, back from when I started watching in the late 1990s. Sure, there aren’t many existing episodes featuring Polly, but that didn’t stop me. I also love how she was paired with Ben, who sought to protect her at every opportunity. Apart from Ian and Barbara, Ben and Polly were the only other pair of companions who entered and left the TARDIS together, which is quite remarkable for a series that had quite a revolving door in the 1960s.
Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen): Oh, Sarah. She’s high on the list of girls you’d take home to meet the parents. The longest-tenured companion of the classic series (by longevity vs. number of episodes), Sarah became part of the golden age of Doctor Who. Although her feminism was brought down during her tenure, especially after the Doctor regenerated, Sarah had the tenacious spirit that endeared her to three Doctors (3rd, 4th, and 10th) and many, many fans, both then and now, thanks to The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Leela (Louise Jameson): Created as eye candy for the dads while their children watched the program, Leela was the savage warrior whom the Doctor tried to instill some of the knowledge of the universe, akin to the Eliza Doolittle-Henry Higgins relationship of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. She had the greatest loyalty to the Doctor, which made her departure from him all the more disappointing. Did I mention Leela mostly wore the skins from her first story?
Donna Noble (Catherine Tate): The best of the new-series companions, Donna in Series 4 was a refreshing change from the last two head-over-heels-for-the-Doctor companions. Her line to the Doctor in “Partners in Crime” (“You’re not mating with me, sunshine!”) essentially established their relationship in the TARDIS. Right from her first appearance as “The Runaway Bride,” Donna was the one who had to stop the Doctor from escalating his actions, and it was evident in the post-Donna, gap-year specials, particularly “The Waters of Mars”. Here’s Catherine Tate and David Tennant in a Comic Relief sketch from 2007:
Happy 47th, Doctor Who!
I guess Wikipedia is actually good for something: yesterday, I read about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius happening on this day in 79 CE, so I went back and listened to the Big Finish audio The Fires of Vulcan (synopsis). Featuring the 7th Doctor and Melanie, it’s similar to the 10th Doctor story “The Fires of Pompeii” in that the Doctor and Mel get tangled with the locals, trying to retrieve the TARDIS before Vesuvius erupts.
I then returned to Wikipedia today, and found out that on this day in 1572, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurred, during which French Protestants (Huguenots) were targeted and murdered, starting in Paris and eventually fanning out all over France. Doctor Who made a story from this (synopsis), culminating in the first night of the massacre. As with The Fires of Vulcan, I dusted off the CD to listen to this classic story, as it only exists in audio form. Originally aired way back in 1966, it features William Hartnell playing the 1st Doctor, as well as the Abbot of Amboise in a rare double act. Indeed, the plot of The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve is darker in tone relative to contemporary Doctor Who serials generally, and as an historical story in particular.
I find it interesting that both of these events (and the Doctor Who stories that arose from them) happened on the same day. As a student of history viewing black-and-white Doctor Who for the first time in the late 1990s, I appreciated Sydney Newman’s original remit of the show to entertain and educate. I’m quite keen on stories set in Earth’s history, and some of them (The Aztecs for example) can rival among more traditional sci-fi stories as among my favourites.
Although some stories in the Doctor Who revival are set in the past (and many of those, like “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, are quite good), I’m slightly disappointed that none of them is a pure historical. I might have mentioned it before, but maybe it’s time for the production team to return to this format, if only as an “experiment.” What would make this experiment more bold is to move away from the more obvious time periods (WWII for instance) and choose a period of history not yet covered in the Doctor Who canon. It just might prove to be a lesson for the cast and crew, as well as the audience!
I started to type this while listening live to the latest Doctor Who Prom. (I wrote about the reaction of the first DW Prom here.) It happens to fall on the same day as the North American airings of the Series 5 finale, “The Big Bang”. (You can listen to the Prom for the next week on the BBC Radio 3 iPlayer).
At a high level, I really liked this season. I had some apprehension whether Matt Smith can suitably take over from David Tennant. By about the third episode, “Victory of the Daleks”, I think Smith has made the character his own. The alien qualities of the Doctor (as a Time Lord from Gallifrey) makes this character quite memorable. Two examples highlight this quite well.
The first is his interactions with Rory in “Vampires of Venice”, particularly when he tells Rory that Amy kissed him at the end of the previous episode:
Rory: Did you kiss her back?!
Doctor: No, I kissed her mouth.
The other is in “The Lodger”, where the Doctor tries to pass as human in order to get back the TARDIS and Amy. The whole episode can stand as a highlight of this, but I looove this statement from the Doctor, after being told that his pub-football side will annihilate the next opposition:
Annihilate? No, no violence, do you understand me? Not while I’m around, not today, not ever. I’m the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm — and you basically meant beat them in a football match, didn’t you?
The Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond, has that vivaciousness and vulnerability that matches up against the Doctor’s alienness. Karen Gillan and Matt Smith (and to an extent, Arthur Darvill, who I hope returns next year with on-screen credit in the opening sequence) definitely have that on-screen rapport that shows in their performances.
It all comes together under the guidance of head writer and co-executive producer Steven Moffat. He who brought us the best stories of the first four seasons has taken the same brilliance in this lead role in the production of Series 5. The overarching theme of “cracks in time”, culminating in the two-part finale, was clearly his stamp on the series — a thoughtful premise that inevitably interweaves most of the stories together and brings it all back to the first episode and the importance of one Amelia Pond.
So, after considering all that, I’m inclined to place Series 5 rather high in my ranking of the series in the Doctor Who revival, but just under the still-can’t-be-beaten Series 1, which set the bar quite high in terms of the overall production values.
And now, the long wait until Christmas!
In time for the 46th anniversary of the airing of the first-ever Doctor Who episode, here are a few great creative videos that can be found on the YouTubes.
The first one is constantly being replayed on my iPhone. Forget Debbie: what if Doctor Who did Dallas? The effort done here was superb, right down to the fonts. Never mind that this could only really be used for “Journey’s End“; it’s quite awesome!
The second one is quite recent (and hat-tip to Doctor Who Blog), but this one uses CGI to “recreate” The Wheel in Space as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Whoever did this should be allowed to do the full animation restoration of the missing episodes of Wheel in Space!
The third mashup involves a classic clash between the Doctor and the Master… with lightsabres!
And from the same guy who brought you that one, while not a mashup per se, it does gather all 10 Doctors together in what could certainly be an epic adventure:
Hope you’ve enjoyed those. Happy 46th, Doctor Who!