Saturday Waffling (July 13th, 2013)
“Hello faithful readers,” says the man who has listened to maybe a few too many Russell T Davies commentary tracks recently.
I’ve been writing the last handful of bonus essays for the Tom Baker book, but I feel like it needs one, maybe two more of those bonus essays not actually on stories that I write for the books. Stuff like the UNIT dating or “How Does the TARDIS Work” essays from past books. I’ve got one on the very obvious topic of what, if anything, Genesis of the Daleks changes about Dalek history, and an end-of-book “Now My Doctor” essay, but I feel like I need at least one more.
The book’s on the first three Tom Baker seasons – Robot to Talons of Weng-Chiang. Ideal topics are things I didn’t cover particularly in the entries and things that would benefit from a bit of a wonkish approach. Ideas and requests in comments, and a hat tip in the book if I use your suggestion.
Speaking of suggestions, have you ever thought, “you know, TARDIS Eruditorum is absolutely great, but it would really be a lot better if only it were about My Little Pony?” Thankfully, if you haven’t, Jed Blue has, and has been blogging the hell out of Friendship is Magic over at My Little Po-Mo. I admit freely to not having gotten around to watching Friendship is Magic yet, despite the cheery adamance with which Web Kobold Anna Wiggins has hyped the series. This, however, has not proven any barrier to enjoying Jed’s marvelous work, and I admit to having made a noise not entirely unlike a squeal of delight when I discovered that a My Little Pony blog overtly modeled on my work existed.
In any case, Jed’s Kickstarting a book version of My Little Po-Mo over here. He’s a good bloke and deserves to have this come together, and I hope you’ll go kick him $10 or $20. If nothing else, it’s clear that Friendship is Magic is a tremendously important show in the development of popular culture, and Jed’s doing bang-up work with it.
And if you’ve got a bit of cash left after that, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought Alan Moore’s Kickstarter was pretty cool. If you’ve not seen the first two of the five “Jimmy’s End” films, they’re basically Alan Moore writing David Lynch movies, a phrase that should parse as “shut up and take my money” to more than a few of my readers. But it’s at goal now and doesn’t strictly speaking need your support, whereas Jed’s only a couple hundred bucks short of goal and a nice push from you lot would be more than enough to bring him over the line.
July 13, 2013 @ 1:31 am
Given "Ark in Space" etc I reckon an essay on matter transmitters would be very apt. 🙂
July 13, 2013 @ 2:14 am
I'd like to see an essay about how the TARDIS translation circuit works to sit alongside The Masque of Mandragora. Or perhaps something along the lines of "What if Tom Baker left after three years?".
July 13, 2013 @ 3:02 am
So what exactly is the Key to Time besides the Most Powerful Plot Device In All Of Creation? Or is that the point?
(I haven't read those posts yet, I started following the blog the very next season. But the Key to Time is simultaneously awesome and nonsensical, and I like that about it)
July 13, 2013 @ 3:45 am
Love the above suggestions. Maybe a piece on underrated Harry, and how he could've fitted into more stories – and what the impact of that would be.
July 13, 2013 @ 4:40 am
The cheery adamance with which various people hyped FiM is exactly why I haven't watched it yet. Listening to them, I suddenly realise why my persistent enthusiasm never convinced anyone to start reading Discworld…
July 13, 2013 @ 4:50 am
:: spends several minutes trying to work out how to phrase a reply which will make Daibhid immediately go watch FiM ::
:: fails ::
July 13, 2013 @ 6:49 am
Alongside "Terror of the Zygons" you could discuss "Zygon: When Being You Just Isn't Enough" and explore other films that are tangential to the series.
July 13, 2013 @ 7:16 am
You could write an essay about Tom Baker's creative control over the series, and the amount of influence he had on the show.
July 13, 2013 @ 7:23 am
I quite like that What If.
July 13, 2013 @ 8:16 am
Perhaps an essay where you go in depth about why Hinchcliffe made such an impression on fandom?
Oh and I kicked PoMo over the moon. Essays ho!
July 13, 2013 @ 8:38 am
This is interesting … but maybe not as true as is popularly imagined. It's often said that the show became the 'Tom Baker Show'. But I think the opposite is the case.
As he often states in interviews, the show saved Toma Baker from a destitute life of sleeping on people's floors and being a general low-life loser. He himself became Dr. Who and loved it. He loved all the adoration he got which would never have been given him if he'd played any other role. So he gave himself into it totally. There's loads of quotes I love from interviews about him never smoking in public, or how he made grandmothers' bosoms tingle because of the association of cuddling small children while watching the scary bits in Dr. Who.
I think the only other actor like this was William Hartnell. The show also gave him a brand new lease of life and he was reluctant to leave at the end. There used to be a very painful interview with Tom Baker (now pulled off YouTube for copyright reasons) with Sue Cook on the Nationwide programme in 1981. Tom Baker is talking about his imminent departure, and he was seething with barely contained fury and anxiety. He really didn't want to stop being Dr. Who, and didn't know what on earth to do next. He didn't want to go back to being Tom Baker. There's a transcript here.
So, I don't think the show became the Tom Baker show at all. It was the other way around. Conversely, I think the Show was definitely the Jon Pertwee Show between 1970-75, when it was all a big vehicle (sometimes literally!) for Jon Pertwee's tastes and what he preferred to show of himself.
July 13, 2013 @ 8:39 am
I can't remember, have you covered merchandising in the 70s (excluding spin-offs and other media, I remember Pescatons)? Early Baker was the era of collectible Weetabix figures and scenes, after all. And I'm sure you can find plenty of other stuff, possibly just by finding the relevant doco on the DVDs (I'm sure I've seen something), and then add your trademark spin.
July 13, 2013 @ 8:54 am
Have you tried offering money?
July 13, 2013 @ 11:14 am
The effects and consequences of having the same companion for different Doctors.
July 13, 2013 @ 11:34 am
Very interesting – but seems more appropriate for the next volume, and his departure.
July 13, 2013 @ 12:03 pm
Or could you do an essay "Now my Companion: Sarah Jane"?
July 13, 2013 @ 1:18 pm
Actually, I've followed Phil's link to My Little Po-Mo, and this might actually do it…
July 13, 2013 @ 1:20 pm
I could, but that wouldn't really be a new essay – it would just be me taking my piece on LIs Sladen's death and polishing it up a bit. (As for Hinchcliffe, the end-of-book wrapup probably covers it.)
July 13, 2013 @ 1:21 pm
I'm almost certain to write that, but it's next volume.
July 13, 2013 @ 1:21 pm
You know, if all else fails I might just move that essay to the Tom Baker book so I have something. 🙂
July 13, 2013 @ 1:22 pm
Ooh, the translation circuit. Interesting.
July 13, 2013 @ 1:39 pm
An article about the plot relevance, symbolism, nutritional facts and weapon uses of the great and powerful jelly baby would be nice.
July 13, 2013 @ 1:43 pm
Perhaps a survey of the Hammer horror films? You could be suitably wonky, introduce tons of source material, and stay in your wheelhouse all at the same time. Of course you'd have to (get to) watch a lot of movies, but there's worse fates in life.
July 13, 2013 @ 2:02 pm
I like this idea, and it would offer the possibility, not only to explore that What If?, but that essay would also offer another perspective on Tom's Doctor. I remember, I believe from the Ark in Space or Genesis of the Daleks commentary track, that Harry was originally intended to do action-man type plot roles. This was because one original concept they had for the transition was to hire another older person to play the Doctor. Then 41-year-old Tom Baker walks into the audition and blows everyone away (rather like Matt Smith's audition). So they had Ian Marter fulfill the terms of his initial contract and then let him go.
I remember Lis Sladen mentioning (and it was the Ark in Space commentary, I'm sure of it now) that she regretted Marter leaving the show when he did. I think watching some Sladen-Marter banter, commentary-Tom said, "It's hard to believe Ian Marter doesn't exist anymore." And commentary-Lis then speculates on what might have been.
Marter's novel Harry Sullivan's War might be worth covering in this regard.
July 13, 2013 @ 2:03 pm
No, wait, I know! An essay on why having the surname "Baker" is of use if you want to be involved in the show, regardless of whether your first name is Bob, Tom, Colin, Pip, Jane, or even George. 😉
July 13, 2013 @ 2:09 pm
Jane, you continue to have awesome ideas. In fact, here's a pivotal Hammer film that would fit perfectly before the Brain of Morbius essay.
It even stars Dr Who.
July 13, 2013 @ 5:37 pm
Zimmerman got off. 🙁
July 13, 2013 @ 5:52 pm
Maybe something about how incoming producers get saddled with ideas and stories initiated by their predessecors?
Season 12 strikes me as being one where Hinchcliff got saddled with a lot of stories that he didn't really want – the return of Daleks and Cybermen, a UNIT story to kick things off and an aborted story that ultimately led to the decision to make the 2-part Sontaran Experiment. The 'Hinchcliff' era proper doesn't seem to really start until Season 13.
Terrence Dicks has similarly spoken of how the decision to leave the Doctor stranded on contemporary earth was a poor one, and how in the Pertwee era they tried to move away from and subvert this template as quickly a possible.
So, maybe something about the transition from one producer's era to another (forgive me if you've already covered this)?
July 13, 2013 @ 8:32 pm
You know, TARDIS Eruditorum is absolutely great, but it would really be a lot better if only it were about Teletubbies?
It is March 31 1997, The Chemical Brothers are at number 1 with 'Block Rockin' Beats'. Campaigning for the 1997 general election is in full swing with Tony Blair's New Labour being clear favourites…
July 13, 2013 @ 9:17 pm
The most interesting thing about jelly babies, at least for this American, is watching Whovians pretend not to find them absolutely vile.
July 13, 2013 @ 10:32 pm
Oh wow, Phil, I didn't realize you actually read the blog! Thank you so much for the glowing praise and the plug!
July 14, 2013 @ 4:05 am
For an essay can I suggest The Scarf as an enduring popular image of the Doctor. By Popular I mean of the people: clearly the scarf is an artifact of the Tom Baker years but it had resonance long after his departure. Is the scarf just a visual metaphor for Baker or something deeper?
Much as I can appreciate Peter Davison's performance in Castrovalva, part of my love for the show quietly died when he unravelled the wool. I know more now about rebirth and renovation, but at the time it did hurt.
July 14, 2013 @ 6:52 am
The American gulag fails to get its hands on another victim. Works for me.
July 14, 2013 @ 8:19 am
This is not a case where justice has been done. A 17 year old boy is dead and the man who killed him is free. It's not a case where some innocent has escaped by the skin of their teeth. There is no question Zimmerman shot Martin. Zimmerman deserves to spend life behind bars. He is a murderer and no matter how much you dislike the American justice system, you can't seriously think that a murderer should be out on the streets.
At the very least he might get convicted of the sexual assault charges levelled against him and still get locked up.
Pen Name Pending
July 14, 2013 @ 11:30 am
On Sarah Jane: perhaps you can discuss how she (and her role) changes not just with the new Doctor but with the new kind of story? She's not so much the feminist journalist but more of a typical companion (also sometimes more of a damsel because of the horror genre). And yet she's still beloved.
July 14, 2013 @ 2:45 pm
I'll keep my fingers crossed!
July 14, 2013 @ 3:58 pm
You must have some freaky jelly babies in America. British ones are among the most inoffensive forms of confectionery there are.
Do you also find it interesting watching people "pretending" not to find fish and chips vile? Or black pudding? Or Guinness? Or bubble and squeak? Or Marmite?
July 14, 2013 @ 7:27 pm
Something must happen to the babies during shipping. I've never had a good baby here in the States — it's like they're, I dunno, not stale but something kin to stale, like all the flavor's been leeched out, and the texture's just a bit too gummy — but the babies I've had in Britain were all, as you say, most inoffensive, though I'd never go so far as to describe them as joyful.
July 14, 2013 @ 7:28 pm
I am not changing my last name to Baker. Well, not unless I change my first name, too.
July 14, 2013 @ 10:32 pm
Heh heh heh. My mum once went out with a guy whose surname was Rennie. She decided she couldn't bear to become Jenny Rennie! (She did nurse someone called Buttercup Clutterbuck, though.)
July 15, 2013 @ 8:09 am
Received fan wisdom is that Hinchcliffe was happy to have Daleks and Cybermen. The quote that comes to mind is "Wheeling out the Faithful Retainers" or something like that. However, it seems that Hinchcliffe/Holmes pushed the scriptwriters to do more with their originally submitted scripts: fairly sucessfully with the Dalek script, less so with RotC.
July 17, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
I've heard them described as fairly good, if not the best thing in the world, by people who bought them from candy stores in the US.