Wow, letters in the title. That feels so last month.
But, this being Doctor-Who-Boxing-Day, normal service has been resumed. So, until I do my threatened anti-50, in which I count Doctor Who‘s political fails in minus numbers, we’re back to titles which utilise the alphabet.
I’m only half joking about the anti-50. I had my doubts and worries all along about the whole concept of the anniversary countdown. It seemed churlish to include bits of Doctor Who that I hate, of which there are plenty. I mean, if you can’t be positive on the big birthday… Besides, the whole concept of the Jubilee originates as an apocalyptic and insurrectionary notion in ancient Jewish resistance to Roman power, a carnival of the oppressed… so it’s supposed to be a radical celebration. On the other hand, relentless positivity just isn’t what this blog does (as you’ll have noticed). There’s plenty of writing out there (some of it very good) focusing solely on what’s great about the show. From the standpoint of ‘social justice Who fandom’ (which, I’m delighted to learn from tumblr, is a thing), it makes no honest sense to just be panglossian about the series. Anyone who has trudged through my whole countdown will have noticed that I increasingly allowed criticism to creep into the posts, as context. But, ultimately, I came to praise the Doctor not to bury him. And, while I stand by that, it always worried me a bit.
Another thing I regret about the 50 is the amount of stuff I had to leave out. At several points during the project, I felt lost for ideas… then I would immediately find that I had too many ideas to fit into my diminishing numbers. I ended up quite surprised by what I covered and what I didn’t cover. I was totally going to do an entry for ‘The Krotons’, ‘Kinda’ and ‘Snakedance’, ‘Inferno’, ‘The Mutants’, ‘The Savages’, ‘Turn Left’, ‘The Next Doctor’, ‘The Ark in Space’, ‘The Face of Evil’, ‘The Brain of Morbius’, ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’, etc., etc., etc. Somehow, they didn’t get in. Somehow, I ended up talking about ‘The Underwater Menace’ rather than, say, ‘Genesis of the Daleks’. Weird. But I suppose that’s what happens when you commit yourself to a tight schedule in which you must, essentially, make up some (hopefully) passably coherent stuff, totally on the fly, two or three times a day.
This leads me to a clarification I desperately want to make: the countdown may be a list, but it definitely isn’t a ‘Top 50’. It’s not a list of what I consider to be ‘the best’. There is no hierarchy intended here at all, though I do consider some of the stories I wrote about to be superior to others. Indeed, I repeatedly found myself writing about episodes that, on the whole, I don’t like, over episodes that I adore but which I had to sideline. I’m broadly in sympathy with Lawrence Miles’ opinion, expressed in this much-misunderstood post, that ‘ranking’ lists are just not a worthwhile thing to do, and that Doctor Who really only makes sense in historical context. …