I’m on vacation this week, catching up on pending writing projects. The weather has been miserable, heavy rains for days in a row, but I’m not complaining. We stocked up on supplies on the weekend and we don’t need to venture outside until next weekend, so everything’s good. It’s also been on the cold side. Yesterday and today it barely made it to 40° and the overnight temperatures will be below freezing for the next two days. I know that’s not drastic for most of my readers, but it’s chilly for around here. Perfect weather for crock pot meals and sitting by the fire.
The past couple of days, our entertainment has consisted mostly of Doctor Who-related viewing. We didn’t see the 50th anniversary episode until Sunday evening, but it was well worth the wait. The pre-show was mostly a waste of time until Smith and Tennant showed up. Where do they find these people? The episode itself was nigh unto perfect, and much of that has to do with John Hurt, who brought a certain gravitas to the show while at the same time taking the piss out of some of the newer Doctors’ behaviors. He poked fun at their dialog (timey-wimey) and at their reliance on a tool as a weapon of defence (what are you going to do? Build a cabinet at them?). It was great seeing Rose/Bad Wolf again, and I’m still utterly charmed by Clara. I especially liked the moment where she showed them the door was unlocked.
The Zygons were cool, the 3D art was an awesome idea, and the whole Elizabeth I running joke was explained. I loved the scenes where Tennant talked to her like she was an alien, only to discover she was the real thing. I also liked the way they used the nature of time to solve certain problems. The other cameos, especially those late in the episode, were a very nice touch indeed. Though I’ve come to accept Smith and his idiosyncratic Doctor, seeing him next to Tennant only emphasizes how perfect a Doctor Tennant was. He’s the real deal, through and through. I’m intrigued by the story possibilities that the resolution to this episode presents. Brilliant.
Then we watched Graham Norton, which had both Smith and Tennant, in addition to Emma Thompson and Robbie Williams (plus some British comedian I’m not familiar with). This was one of the funniest episodes ever. Thompson is a hoot, and Williams (not to be confused with Robin Williams) brought the house down when he described witnessing his child’s birth from the business end as being similar to watching his favorite pub burn down. Smith and Tennant have good chemistry together, even on a chat show, and they were good sports when Norton used the red chair to allow Whovians to ask them questions. Tennant signed one fan’s arm for a tattoo. Smith recognized the guy from Comic-Con—the guy had waylaid him in the hallway and Smith confessed to being pretty drunk at the time so the signature the guy subsequently had tattooed might be a bit dodgy.
Yesterday we watched An Adventure in Space and Time, a movie that tells the story of the creation and launching of the original episodes of Doctor Who. David Bradley was perfectly cast as William Hartnell, the first Doctor, a man who had lofty aspirations as an actor but who fell in love with the role. He took everything about it seriously, including being highly demanding as to the nature of every button on the TARDIS console. It’s an uplifting but tragic story as Hartnell is pushed out of the job when illness makes him unreliable on the set. It was an unlikely team that brought it to fruition: a Canadian idea man, the first ever female producer at the BBC (played by an actress who has appeared on a Doctor Who episode) and a gay Indian director. It’s hard to tell how much of it is based on reality, but it’s nice to think that the producer did indeed see kids imitating Daleks while on the subway to work the day after their first appearance. The cameo by another familiar face toward the end, well, I could have done without that, but it wasn’t a terrible disruption to the timeline. It’s interesting to realize how close the show came to being scuttled by the Kennedy assassination, which happened on the same day as the premiere.
Then, for a nightcap, we watched The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written and directed by Peter Davison, who I’ve always considered to be “my” Doctor. He’s the one I wrote about in my Doctor Who short story “Leap Second.” The 30-minute comedy is about Davison, Colin Baker (Doc #6) and Sylvester McCoy (#7) trying to get involved with the 50th Anniversary episode, by hook or by crook. It’s chock full of Who cameos and references. Of course, Davison tries to use his familial ties to get on the inside: his daughter is married to Tennant. Sylvester McCoy is supposed to be in New Zealand working on The Hobbit (a fact he brings up all the time—he even wears a Hobbit t-shirt through most of the episode). There are appearances by Sean Pertwee (son of Doc #3—he’s seen on a set talking to Olivia Coleman, “Ellie” from Broadchurch) and John Barrowman (and a funny bit about his orientation), Moffat, Russell T. Davies and even Peter Jackson. It’s a hoot and a half. I laughed my butt off. Did they succeed in their quest? May-be!