When Anna originally asked me if I would be interested in doing some guestblogging on what I call “the orange blog,” she suggested that I could think about writing about Doctor Who companions — possibly from the original series — and why they are awesome. This is largely because I spent a lot of time complaining about the bloggers who complained about the length of Amy Pond’s skirt. (Short version: who cares about the length of her fracking skirt? If you’re staring at her legs, you are totally missing the point. End short version.)
I considered this, but then another friend — the wonderful Lola — suggested in an email that a primer for those baffled but intrigued by the Doctor Who universe and fandom might be a good idea. And before I could plan, really, I was already suggesting “rules” and a collection of episodes to Anna via chat. What follows has been cleaned up and expanded, but still.
For those who don’t know the series, welcome! The TARDIS has lots of space; find a seat and hang on. For those who do — well, I hope what follows is at least a little bit funny.
2. Never lose faith in the sonic screwdriver. And prepare to be charmed by its regenerative capacities. From originally looking like a tire pressure gauge, it now looks like some kind of whacky mini-LCD flashlight crossed with a tire pressure gauge. And it goes “chirp” a lot. Enjoy this.
3. Time Lords. Time Lords are…a real bitch, honestly. In the original series — 1963-1989 inclusive bar a couple of BBC worker strikes in the ’70s and ’80s — the Time Lords were, more or less, supposed to be the magical deus ex machina good guys. The Doctor (no spoilers here) is a Time Lord — if he is awesome, then shouldn’t his planet be just overflowing with awesomeness? Well, yes, and no. If you look closely at the original series Time Lords (I’m thinking here of things like the last part of of the Patrick Troughton episode War Games where the Time Lords force the Doctor to regenerate and exile him to Earth and the first several season of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor where he’s dealing with the exile and, by the way, having had bits of his memory tampered with also by the Time Lords) they’re not so sweet and kindly. They’re actually pretty devious, rather self-centered, and capable of being quite cruel. The Doctor makes more than one reference (The Deadly Assassin, The Five Doctors) to the Time Lords’ history and how it “ain’t all lavendar.” In the new series, head writer Russell T. Davies and, in his turn, current show-runner Steven Moffat, have taken that idea and run further and faster with it than I think anyone expected them to. If you’re an old series fan (like me) who always secretly thought the Time Lords were probably on crack, The End of Time (the last of the David Tennant specials) will warm the twisted cockles of your heart. If you’re a totally new fan, enjoy the cracktasticness of having illusions destroyed.
(Peter Davison.) Note celery.
5. There have been 10 other regenerations of the Doctor. If you don’t like this one, there are plenty of others to choose from! but, please: leave others to their enjoyment. Almost every fan has a particular regeneration of the Doctor they consider to be “theirs.” It’s often the first Doctor you encounter but doesn’t have to be (hey, it’s a fandom: there are no real rules here!) If you love Peter Davison (5), that’s awesome; I’d love to listen to you enthuse for hours on why celery is the greatest thing ever; but, please, don’t knock Matt Smith (11) for not being David Tennant (10). And so on and so forth.
10. The Master. Just — remember that name. It will be important and when you need to know why — you’ll know why.
|The Master. (John Simm).|
11. Okay, here’s why: the Master is, along with the Daleks, the Cybers, and the Sontarans, one of the longest-running and most popular villains on the show. He has been through at least two official regenerations (I’m counting Roger Delagado, Anthony Ainley, and John Simm here although there are eight actors who have played the part one way and another) but more bodies than that and is, as Time Lords go, so far at the end of his regeneration rope (having started in the show at 12 back in the day with Jon Pertwee and the Third Doctor), that his rope has given up and gone home (see point 14). He makes up what he no longer has in regenerations through body-stealing and black magic.