Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Instant "no-costume costumes" for the next WHO con

Some people don't have the time, money, or skill to sew something beautiful and elaborate for a convention costume. But don't let that stop you! Here are three "no-costume costumes" you can try.

Instant Family of Blood impression---
Step 1: Cock your head to one side.
Step 2: Inhale deeply through your nose.
Step 3: Hold your breath.
Step 4: Say "I smell Time Lord," or something similar.

Instant Captain Jack Harkness impression---
Step 1: Fall on the ground due to some unspeakable act of violence.
Step 2: Lay very, very still for 5-10 seconds
Step 3: Gasp for air, lifting your head up off the floor
Step 4: Stand up and dust yourself off.

Instant Slitheen in human disguise impression---
Step 1: Be overweight.
Step 2: Fart.
Step 3: Pretend nothing happened.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Triumph of Intellect and Romance Over Brute Force and Cynicism

Since you're reading this blog, you probably know that late-night talk-show host Craig Ferguson -- a lifelong fan of DOCTOR WHO -- had Matt Smith as his guest November 16th, 2010.

I thought the interview itself was rather unremarkable, oddly enough -- Ferguson is so smart and funny that it's rarely possible to match him with a guest who's more interesting than he is -- but that's not what I want to write about here, anyway. The big deal for me was that everyone who spoke on air during the show made some mention of an opening segment that CBS Legal wouldn't allow them to air. This despite hours of rehearsal and an enormously enthusiastic response from the studio audience! And they repeatedly added (winking at the camera) that they "sure hoped that segment didn't find its way onto the internet."

Which of course it immediately did, thank goodness. And as you watch and listen, you can guess the legal trouble: Ferguson set words to the DOCTOR WHO theme as recorded by the band Orbital, who I imagine were not consulted about this performance of their music. Too bad, too, because (a) I think the Orbital guys would, if consulted, have thought this was hilarious and (b) I think it's good advertising for their recording -- I'd buy it after this if I hadn't already!

So with apologies to CBS and Orbital, here's the segment. If you haven't seen it before, brace yourself...

And here are the "lyrics" as best I can make them out:

In 1963 the BBC premiered a show about an alien
who travels through space and time to combat powers of evil
(He's a force for good in an otherwise uncertain universe)
You are correct in your summation of his character,
my profane rabbit friend!

The show has been running in Britain almost fifty years
with many different actors in the role of the Doctor
(The Doctor doesn't die he just regenerates)
The crocodile/alligator speaks the truth!

One thing is consistent, though, and this is why
the show is so beloved by geeks and nerds:
It's all about the triumph of intellect and romance
over brute force and cynicism
(Intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism...)

So here's my question. Has Craig Ferguson, in the midst of being intensely silly, defined and explained the show more eloquently and succinctly than anyone else in the last forty-seven years?

The triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.

By George, to paraphrase Henry Higgins, I think he's got it.

I plan to write more in another post about the "romance" aspect of his thesis. But for the moment, what do you think of his basic assertion? Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Looking Forward to Gallifrey 22

My Dad and I plan to be at the next "Gallifrey" convention in Los Angeles, and I am excited for lots of reasons!

I am especially looking forward to meeting the people from one of my favorite eras of Doctor Who: the Fifth Doctor!  Peter Davidson is promised to be there (for real this time!) as are Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse, and Janet Fielding.  It’s basically the entire crew of the famous “crowded TARDIS” together in one place!

I am also looking forward to buying more Daleks - five inch RC ones if I can find them.  I am also hoping to be wearing a fez.  Yes, my Dad's getting us both fezzes.  And why?  Because fezzes are cool. 

For my costume, I plan to go as Adric -- only with a fez.  My dad's costume will be less interesting; he’s just going to add the fez to whatever he’s wearing at the time.   We're hoping to buy genuine fezzes made of wool and not one of those cheap five-dollar fezzes that you get at a craft store.   But we’ll see.

But why the fezzes, anyway?   Obviously, in honor of the Doctor’s fez in The Pandorica Opens.  But an even better reason is because my dad and I enjoyed the episode of The Two Minute Time Lord podcast in which Chip jokingly ranted about people going to the convention wearing fezzes.  He predicted that Gallifrey 22 would be one gigantic sea of fezzes. So naturally we want to try to let him know we are fans of his show by deliberately wearing the dreaded fez.  And we hope hundreds of other fans will do the same!

I wonder what his response will be…

Star Whale

I know a lot of people don't care much for The Beast Below and Vampires of Venice. I, personally, however, enjoyed the entire first year of the Eleventh Doctor very much. Why people disliked Vampires of Venice I don't know, but I have a guess on why people didn't care much for The Beast Below...

The Star Whale was an interesting idea, but my hunch on why people didn't like the episode was because of apparent flaws in the logic of the whale: how does it survive in space, and why does it throw up the Doctor and Amy inside the spaceship?

This goes back to a statement I think Jules Verne made about science fiction: It cannot be as such without scientific evidence to back it up. Truth be told: there is an explanation on how it survives. Perhaps it survives on atomic particles or asteroids. It may even make its own food by moving near stars and absorbing their energy, like a plant or algae does with our own star. It may even be partly heterotrophic (searching for food) and partly autotrophic (making its own food). Another explanation: the reason it was coming to Earth was not to help the people, but to find food.

Oh, and about the vomit?  If it really was a kind of whale, it would have a blowhole.  So the reason the Doctor and Amy weren't spewed into outer space was because they went through the blowhole and not out the mouth. Earth whales do not "throw up" out their mouths, but vomit from their blowholes. That blowhole was, possibly, connected to some part of the ship, and would expel the Doctor and Amy into a sort of storage area, allowing them to escape unnoticed.

That's what I think, anyway.  What do you think?


Doctor Who was - and still is - a popular science fiction program across the globe. One aspect of the show I especially admire is that the hero resists using violence whenever possible. We've now seen him in eleven different personalities -- starting with the crotchety old man first seen in a junkyard, who turned into the fun-loving, recorder-playing "cosmic hobo," and so on. Whenever the Doctor "dies" and regenerates, his personality, attitude, and taste in clothes all change. But one thing remains constant: he will never fire a gun.

Many people think that, to have a good story, you have to have cars exploding, or guns firing during every frame of the film, or people getting sucked into jet engines. Sure, Doctor Who has a lot of that, but that's not all it is. Despite the violence in it, the main purpose of the show is to how bad violence is, not to show how it can be used to get your way. As the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davidson) says to Davros: "I just haven't had as much practice with killing as you have."

Here is a paradox: I also enjoy the ultra-violent Daleks - they are exact opposites of the nonviolent Doctor. Their mantra, "Ex-ter-mi-nate," sends terror down the backs of anyone who knows what they are and what they're up to. But the Doctor, one way or the other, manages to stop them. Yet, despite the fact that he could destroy the Daleks at any time, he always gives them a chance to get away - not because he wants to, but because he abhors killing, and doesn't want there to be more deaths than are truly necessary. That's who the Doctor is: a role model for people in our violent culture.

What do you think?