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On Whovian Blasphemy March 19, 2015

“Death in Heaven” was an interesting end to a season that I believe was the best of the new series. A typical Moffat two-parter, it started strong and petered out a bit by the end… the end… the end.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely certain that the episode was going to end. I counted three, possibly four good places for the episode to conclude, but it seemed that Moffat just wanted to keep going. And going. And going. Like the energizer bunny of the sci-fi genre.

I’ll admit that I didn’t think any of the endings were particularly bad. (Though none of the additional material really seemed to contribute to the story line.) That is, none of them until the last when Santa stepped aboard the TARDIS. At that moment, my heart filled with fear.

The thing about Moffat’s writing is that it can be hard to tell whether he’s about to do something completely rational (providing that rational is truly possible in a program about a time-travelling alien) or to take the show into the realms of the ridiculous. I now had weeks to wonder whether we were about to discover “horror of all horrors” that Santa Claus is a Time Lord.

It wasn’t the idea in and of itself that was particularly difficult to comprehend. He does manage to deliver toys to the entire world in a single night and his bag is definitely bigger on the inside. It was that the idea required the introduction of a fictional character into the world of “Doctor Who”.

Much to my delight, I discovered that I was not the only fan harboring this fear. Much to my dismay, I discovered that most of my non-Whovian friends simply didn’t understand. We all know, after all, that “Doctor Who” is a fictional series. It stars fictional characters who live in a (mostly) fictional universe. Or do we?

While I try to maintain the pretense of being a “reasonable” person, I have to confess that I have occasionally found listening for the wheezing of that big blue box. A part of me longs to escape with the Doctor (or at least my idea of the Doctor) and explore the universe. To look at everything with the awe of a child encountering the world for the first time. To see sights others have never seen and to have the kind of adventures that no one else believes are possible.
I want to face the type of problems that force me to “think outside of the box”. I want to make the hard decisions. To stand up for what I believe. And to see everything turn out alright in the end. It is because of this and, despite what I know, I could never utter the Whovian equivalent of blasphemy, “The Doctor isn’t real.”

Christmas came and went and, to my delight, the show retained its integrity. I could hear Whovians everywhere letting out a long sigh of relief. Whatever they may have thought of the episode (I confess I rather enjoyed it), one thing was still certain: Santa isn’t real. The Doctor is. And that’s a world with which I can live.

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1, 3, 12: The Journey of a Whovian March 12, 2015

There’s a maxim that it’s possible to love the Doctor for the man, himself, but still favor certain incarnations. Watching forums, it quickly became evident that a failure to love the same regenerated forms as everyone else can be dangerous business. In fact, even my fiancé has expressed some concern at my lack of affection for David Tennant.

That said, my love of traditional sci-fi in the fashion of the old “Flash Gordon” serials left me more deeply attached to the classic Doctors. But even there, my favorites seem to differ from the mainstream. Yes, I like Tom Baker (I’ve met very few Whovians who don’t), but I can’t honestly say that I like him as much as Hartnell or Pertwee.

Older Doctors (not necessarily classic ones) have a unique repartee with their companions. Fathers and grandfathers, rather than lovers, they evoke a certain mystery. Like bottomless fonts of wisdom, teachers with but a few pupils. The affection they express for their companions is the same I would hope to receive were I fortunate enough to travel on the TARDIS – enough to know they care, but no so much that they become a threat to a regular romantic relationship.

This is important since, to be honest, I think my fiancé has been a little concerned that he might just end up getting left behind if a blue box suddenly materialized in front of me. A few too many episodes of Matt Smith’s Doctor (for whom I do feel some affection) have left him in a position where he can confidently cast himself in the role of Rory. Fortunately, as much as I appreciate the energy and wide-eyed-wonder of Smith’s character, he isn’t the one with whom I’d be most willing to travel. So I stick to my guns. I’m a first/third Doctor girl. Or at least I was.

I have to admit that I was quite curious when I noticed that the distinctly not-young Peter Capaldi had been cast in the role. While fans of the new series threw fits over the injustice of choosing a man old enough to be their father, I watched with ever deepening curiosity. And found myself slowly becoming a twelfth Doctor girl.

I can’t, of course, give Capaldi all the credit. While he plays the Doctor, he wasn’t the one responsible for all the throwbacks to classic “Who” that marvelously appeared throughout the eighth season. (I confess that I appreciated the bits of nostalgia scattered throughout.) But the slightly grumpy, distinctly charming incarnation grew on me with each episode.

Then “Dark Water” happened. I admit that I’m not easily spoiled, so the accuracy of the speculation about Missy did nothing to ruin the episode for me. I absolutely loved the Cybermen (and the fact that the Doctor missed something so incredibly obvious). But what I loved most was the opening sequence… the bit where Clara decides to get her due.
Despite the seemingly universal hatred for Clara, she is one of my favorites among the newer companions. (I admit to rather having liked Donna, too.) There is something about her innocence and strong will that harkens back to earlier companions like Sarah Jane. And I particularly love the strictly platonic relationship she has with the Twelfth Doctor. The result was that I felt the full impact of her betrayal in a way I couldn’t have anticipated.

I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. Waiting. Waiting to see if the Doctor would do what most people would have done or whether he would prove himself the hero I hoped he was. I bit my lip as he responded to Clara’s question regarding the future of their friendship. And I slid to the edge of the couch as the Doctor replied, “Do you really think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?”

It didn’t really matter how the series ended. It didn’t matter that I thought the Cyber Brig was a bit of an overkill or that I thought the Danny/Clara sequences went on a bit too long. I simply didn’t care. From that line on, I was a 12th Doctor girl. If I were going to travel with just one of them – Capaldi’s Doctor would be my first choice.

 

 
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