Howdy all. I’m in New York this weekend visiting friends (Alex Reed, actually, and his equally fabulous wife Meredith), and also seeing Frankenstein Upstairs by Mac Rogers, the fine gentleman I did those Slate pieces with. So that will all be very fun.
Also, you may notice that there’s now a TARDIS Eruditorum page up top – that includes a live-updating table of contents, an explanation of the project, and a very half-assed stab at the oft-requested glossary of idiosyncratic terms. Thanks to Anna Wiggins, who is ostensibly hacked together in Perl, but is actually mostly written in Lisp.
Obviously there are rumors of a “massive” missing episode find. That’s interesting. But none of us know anything, and nobody who does know anything tells the likes of us anything, so there’s not much to talk about in terms of the mechanics of the missing episode hunt as a phenomenon.
Still, let’s think for a bit about the idea of the missing episodes. At this point we have audio releases and reconstructions of all of them. It is trivial to watch a missing story. No, you don’t get the original story, but you get something that tells you a lot about what happened in the original story and is perfectly fun to enjoy. It’s easy to have informed opinions about Enemy of the World without seeing more than the 25 minutes that exist. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe Power of the Daleks to be one of the great television stories of the 1960s, and deserves to be mentioned along with Cathy Come Home and The Prisoner.
It’s also possible to watch and enjoy them. My wife and I watched Power of the Daleks. She loved it. It was a fun way to spend a few evenings. The reconstructions are perfectly enjoyable things to watch. They are lacking, yes, but they are not inadequate. And this is an important thing to realize about the status of the missing episodes.
All of which is to say that just about the least interesting thing about the missing episodes is that we can finally watch the stories, as though that is some magic and enjoyable event. If you want to watch Evil of the Daleks, go do it. It’s easy. Don’t wait until November. Yes, the publicity of a big release would get more eyes to the stories, and that’s neat, but the interesting thing about a missing episode find is not the release of new fun into the world.
It is instead the addition of information to the history. The fact of the matter is that the people these are of interest to right now are knowledgeable fans with research interests, whether professional or hobbyist. What we’re interested in are things like what the Rills looked like and which delegate is which, or the subtleties of Hartnell’s acting in The Massacre. Or seeing that Zaroff/Troughton scene in The Underwater Menace Part Two.
Which is to say, quite separate from the question of what Hartnell and Troughton-era stories you like or don’t like, and without speculation of whether we’re ever going to see any more missing episodes, what are your thoughts about the idea of a massive episode find? What does it mean for what we know about the program?
On a less dramatic note, James has sent me some fabulous design work for the Hartnell book and for the mug/t-shirt version of the Hartnell design that the Kickstarter funded. More on that soon, but for now, other than mugs and t-shirts, is there any sort of TARDIS Eruditorum merchandise you desperately want? Do you have a burning need for a print of James’s Troughton cover, or have you always felt the Pertwee design would look amazing on a throw pillow? Knowing to ask these questions is now part of being a writer. Tell me your answers.
(As a guide, we’re going to go with a Zazzle storefront, and can in theory make anything they make. If you think a TARDIS Eruditorum iPhone case is a thing that should exist in the world, you can basically make it happen by saying you want to buy it.)