That’s kinda how I feel right now.
When I noticed Mighty God King’s request for guest-bloggers to post in the blog, I very nearly immediately sent an e-mail; I’m only a sometimes-commenter, but I’m a pretty regular reader of these here posts. I’m doubting anyone has noticed, though, so I figure I’ll start with an uber-brief intro: I’m Will Entrekin, a writer who just moved from Los Angeles, where I studied at the University of Southern California, to Denver, where I’m now ungainfully unemployed. My only real credential to be here in Mighty God King’s blog is that one of my teachers was Irvin Kershner; besides that, I feel quite a bit out of my depth here.
Very much like anyone might feel having been given the keys to the TARDIS.
I’m new to Who; while I grew up receiving Star Wars toys every year for Christmas and had both Luke in his stormtrooper uniform and Anakin in his robe, I missed way more than I ever absorbed.
I can’t really discuss comic books, as I didn’t get my first one until my grandmother gave me a box of my dad’s old comic books when I was 14 or so.
The only comic books I remember are Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham, and Scott Lobdell’s run on X-Men (plus: The Age of Apocalypse).
I discovered Doctor Who only this past year, when I saw someone mention the show as containing his single favorite depiction of Shakespeare. I’m a pretty big fan of all things Shakespeare, so I went and sought out the episode. I was, at first, more impressed by the somewhat-hot witch and the guy who played Shakespeare than by the Doctor, until the Doctor banished a Carrionite. But it wasn’t the banishing; it was in the way he did it, and the child-like glee that suddenly burst few during the confrontation.
That’s what hooked me, and that’s what kept me watching. Episode after episode.
Really, the thing I most love about Doctor Who is that it’s gotten me thinking about science fiction, genre, and stories.
Years ago, I read Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor discussing genre to state something along the lines that genre is an authorial choice; it is a deliberate decision that ultimately permeates the work. It is more about the scope and the thrust of the work than about the elements therein.
The longer I watched Doctor Who, the less it felt like science fiction (or any genre, for that matter). Oh, sure, Daleks and whizzy spaceships and the Ood and suchlike, but ultimately, for all the alien-ness of the series, for all its distant planets and incredible lifeforms, it truly seems to do its best when it concentrates on its human-ness, regardless of the Doctor’s actual origin.
(Being a new Who, I can’t compare Tennant to other Doctors. I’ve read about them and their personalities, but really the most I’ve seen has been a handful of segments/flashbacks in Doctor Who Confidential; to be honest, that may well be enough. I probably shouldn’t say that because you never can tell after all, but Tennant is now the ur-Doctor for me, and while I don’t necessarily worry that the others will pale in comparison (I can’t imagine Christopher Eccleston paling in comparison to anything, for that matter), it’s the comparing itself that bothers me. A bit like Daniel Craig and Casino Royale; I simply can’t imagine anyone playing Bond so well, while Connery, in my head, is now more associated with William Forrestor and the senior Henry Jones.)
When I think of my favorite books and shows and movies, they are usually the ones that reach just a bit further than they’re generally expected to, or handle stories in different ways. Jurassic Park and Quantum Leap spring most immediately to mind, being not so much about dinosaurs and time travel, respectively, as about reactions to those elements.
Tennant brings to the Doctor an amazing, child-like glee inspired by everything he encounters. When rumors circulated that he was going to depart and a new Doctor might be in the works (thanks to the season-finale cliffhanger, mostly, I think), I couldn’t really think of someone who’d perform the role as well (I gave a nod to Eddie Izzard. I’m not sure how he’d pull it off, but I’d watch it). But what really impresses me is that everyone is so human (and well acted); I’m thinking of the Master from last season’s finale, for one.
That’s what Who taught me, as a writer (and a reader); that you can tell the biggest, boldest, most epic story in the world on the most impressive canvas in the universe, but if you don’t have that human element, if you don’t focus on the characters in the story, well, it’s empty as space, really.
But what do you think? Am I missing something not watching the Eccleston run, or Baker’s episodes? Is my story theory way off?