Monday, July 23, 2018

If you had asked me, I wouldn't have said the last two months have really flown by, but today's the end of the 500 and some episode marathon of Doctor Who on Twitch. When it began, I thought I would maybe check it occasionally, just catch some of the high points. Instead, that stream has been on constantly for me, and sometimes I've watched episodes more than once! Some thoughts as it wraps up:

Before this, I had often said that as a result of watching a lot of Doctor Who as a kid, my suspension of disbelief was really strong; like I couldn't see the strings in anything anymore. But did I watch a lot of Who? Aside from a few serials I know I watched as an adult, I know I had seen maybe the first episode as a special, maybe an episode or two of the Third Doctor, then mostly Tom Baker. And then, only Sarah Jane Smith, Leela, and the second Romana seemed familiar. The next two I maybe saw a couple times back then, if at all; although I know I saw at least a couple with Ace, and those would've been much later. I'm wondering if the PBS station ran the Baker episodes more, and I saw those more than once.

I knew the show had originally been aired Saturdays, a half-hour episode at a time; and I can't imagine watching it like that! I could be misremembering, but I seem to recall watching it in larger chunks, or at least daily episodes. Of course, this marathon would be even bigger servings; and would plow through a season of the show in a few days! Which is how I like to watch it, although I worry I'm not appreciating the work that went into it enough. The cast and crew put years into these silly things, and I watch them over an afternoon. Still, the fact they're watched now is neat, although the missing episodes always irk me. The irony of a show about a time-traveler losing its own history...

The pics here are from the interstitial meme segments Twitch ran between episodes, which meant if you watched a serial straight through you saw them four or five times! And they grew on you, particularly with the chat. Also, it was fun when an episode a bit was taken from would come on, and "he would say the thing!" I believe there were two Tom Baker memes, because his tenure on the show was so long: the second one, which includes him in a silly voice saying "I wouldn't even say no to a salami sandwich!" was the best. I've had more than one since then.

I mentioned before, in watching these, a pattern settled pretty quickly: every time a new Doctor or companion was introduced, I don't think I warmed to them right away, and missed the prior ones. Then in turn when that Doctor or companion came to leave, I would be entirely too attached to them by that point, and resent the new ones...That pattern continued until Tegan: not a favorite. It really didn't seem like she wanted to be on the Tardis, so why was she there? Conversely, I couldn't think of why Peri wanted to be there--she seemed to take a lot of crap from her Doctor, along with the usual running and terror--but I loved her. Hated her departure: she was apparently lobotomized, taken over by an alien slugman, then gunned down by Brian Blessed! That is retconned a few episodes later, in the most halfassed manner possible; basically, "She's OK, folks!" and never seen again. (That was towards the end of the Sixth Doctor, which I thought was far stronger than its reputation indicated, and quite liked Colin Baker's portrayal. But I know there were behind-the-scenes problems, that I don't think were on him.)

Sarah Jane's departure was a tough one: over at Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, in his Who reviews, for Sarah's first episode, 'The Time Warrior,' he refers to her as "the Kitty Pryde of Whodom!" Which is a great line, and staggeringly accurate: for a large number of fans, myself included, she's the first one we saw, the one we remember, the one we compare all the others to. Man, Elizabeth Sladen was the best. After Twitch ran the Fourth Doctor's final episode, perhaps to cheer people back up, they ran the 1981 pilot for K-9 and Company, featuring Sarah and her new K-9 versus a coven of witches. The show wasn't picked up for series, but apparently the next episode was going to be against more witches?...was that a problem then? (And I know I've said, but Siskoid's has been a great source of info during this. That said, I do disagree with him on the K-9 and Company theme, it's awesome. Every companion should do an episode of that before leaving for good...)

Later, companion Adric was written out during "Earthshock." Up to that point, per common consensus he had been somewhat annoying, prone to betrayals or bad ideas, and not particularly well-acted or written. So of course he's given a death scene that is just devastating. It goes a long way towards redeeming the character; maybe too far: you feel bad for not having appreciated him when he was there. Honestly, despite having a terrible costume and some bad writing, I didn't think Adric was anywhere near as awful as his rep led me to believe: he was a kid, prone to dumbness, like a lot of kids, which just makes his death more tragic. Attempting to stop a spaceship from crashing into earth, a Cyberman destroys the console before he can finish, and his last words are, "Now I'll never know if I was right." Still, because the ship had been cast back in time, the crash becomes the event that killed the dinosaurs; which makes me wonder: in Doctor Who continuity, the Silurians were dinosaur-descended bipeds that built a civilization on earth millennia before man evolved, and I wondered if they might not resent the Cybermen for launching a spaceship and a moody teen at them...(Looking it up, the Silurians might have already been in hibernation then, since they did so around the time the moon started orbiting earth!)

Right this second, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you if I watched anything besides Doctor Who the last two months...I even almost caught up to the upcoming season with almost all of Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor. He did 40 episodes over four years, which doesn't seem like enough. The stream didn't run on the weekends, except after a glitch in running the Third Doctor serial "Invasion of the Dinosaurs, they reran the whole thing on a Saturday. I liked it better than the last Jurassic Park movie...

Doctor Who can be incredibly silly: rubber monsters, creeky sets, dodgy effects, so many quarries, plot holes, padded serials where they escape and get captured and escape again, and so forth. And yet. You'd have to ask someone else if it's loved because of that, or in spite of it. For me, it's like seeing the Companions come and go, and remembering your own friends that you were with what seemed like constantly, all the fun and adventures, until one day they were gone, or you were, and looking back at that version of yourself you can barely recognize them. And you wonder how many friends you said goodbye too, or did you pull a Doctor and just ghost instead? I think it's safe to say watching Who can make me a bit melancholy, even though I hate that word.

Ugh, I wish I could get a regeneration. Wearing a bit thin, or rather looking a bit long in the tooth. I would be a terrible Companion, though, since I would make it my mission to absolutely wreck the timeline. Just really get in there and jam it up, good.

Along with a respectable amount of salami, this marathon got me to buy a light-up Tardis for my desk, where it sits next to the Enterprise. Aside from some not-Lego ones, the only other Who figure I have is a K-9 that is six-inch scaled or close. I continue to alternate between being okay with, and kicking myself, for not buying an eleven Doctor set from Hastings before it closed. Still, I think those were five-inch scale, and would seem tiny with Marvel Legends. But would I ever find it dirt cheap again...? Arrgh.

One of the few snags in Twitch's marathon: there were a few holes caused by the estate of Dalek creator Terry Nation, so there weren't any Dalek episodes not written by him. Which meant they had to skip "The Five Doctors," and there's barely a Dalek in that one! Luckily Rifftrax did that one last year. Friday (I think) Twitch started ads for their next marathon: Knight Rider. I...I appreciate the effort, but I think I'm good, thanks.


Dale Bagwell said...

I'd watched some of an episode from the Baker stuff. As I kid in Florida, it was my local station's PBS that introduced for the second time to Dr.Who (I was REALLLY young the first time I heard and saw Dr. Who theme from the Baker years, re-runs by then)

Yeah, in light of all of the advances of today's technology, it does tend to make it hard to get through an episode sometimes. Part of the charm? Sure I guess.
Which leads to a somewhat related topic of discussion, how it it that my generation and younger seemingly has ADHD-like attention spans, yet binge watch entire seasons. How the fuck does that work? Maybe they're not really binging, instead getting on their phones or do a=other stuff while its playing the the background. Yeah, that's got to be it.

You might have and I never noticed it before, but have you done any Dr.Who or Who-like skits before? I'm sure Kurt and 'Pool would just LOVE to run into that storyline minefield....

googum said...

I'm 90% sure Pool is going to introduce himself as the 17th Doctor at some point...If somebody made proper, six-inch scale Doctor figures, I'd have to be in for at least some. Man, a Mezco 1:12 Fourth Doctor would be sweet as hell, although that costume might be a bit tough with all the layers.