Year of the Doctor

2020 was the Year of Doctor Who for me. It began with “new Who” no longer being available on Amazon Prime. This was a HUGE disappointment as I was counting on them adding the 13th Doctor rather than removing the show altogether. 🙁

A quick Internet search revealed that HBO Max would be the exclusive home for Doctor Who. Aargh!

AFTER canceling Prime, I ordered the DVDs for series 1-10. Yeah, not my best move since it meant waiting longer for the order to arrive. Oh well. My sister, nephews, and I had introduced Mom to the show the previous summer and we’d been watching almost weekly so we could now continue watching together.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores and governors issued stay-at-home orders in mid-March; these weekly family gatherings took a break for a bit. As Hollywood closed productions on shows I was watching, I started to turn more and more to BritBox to watch classic Doctor Who episodes.

I was somewhere in Peter Davison’s 5th Doctor era when the year began. My reward for getting through 2 seasons of the 6th Doctor was Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor. Oh, what fun! But it was his next companion, Ace (played by Sophie Aldred), that made everything better.

Ace is awesome

Finally a 3-dimensional companion! She came with a shady past, a knack for insults, sensible shoes for adventure, and a penchant for explosives.

The more I watched, the more I loved her.

  • She calls the Doctor “Professor” more often than not and he rarely corrects her. In no other incarnation does The Doctor tolerate a name other than “The Doctor.”
  • Since Ace is a modern teenager, there’s a lot of British slang which I found refreshing.
  • Ace regularly finds ways of insulting people without actually cursing and the results make me laugh every time: bilgebag, toe rag, birdbath, bog brain, pimplehead, and face-ache, for example.
  • The writers reveal an interesting past over several stories. Before Ace, we basically learn all we’re going to about a new companion during their first story. While there is often character development during their travels with the Doctor, you generally don’t learn anything else about their life before they joined the TARDIS “crew.”
  • I like the rucksack of stuff, including her homemade explosives, Nitro-9, and a roll-up ladder.
  • She takes on a Dalek with a baseball bat and uses a slingshot against Cybermen. And of course the use of Nitro-9 in most stories. She might admit to being scared, but you can count on her not to run away.
  • Especially in the last season, The Doctor expects her to blunder her way through their adventures and counts on her not to follow his directions. Most other companions also disobey their Doctor and bumble into the middle of something. It usually results in their capture, requiring the Doctor to rescue them. But Ace appears with explosives or silver bullets that save the day.
  • I’m glad to see the Doc and Ace walking off together for unseen adventures at the end of Season 26 (rather than Ace leaving if there had been a 27th season).

I finished Classic Who at the end of May and immediately ordered Sophie Aldred’s At Childhood’s End novel with Ace and the 13th Doctor. So good! I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down… I’ve re-read it 2 more times, always in a single day. (Well done, Sophie; write more Ace stories please!)

Now, what to watch? Without anything new on broadcast tv, I continued to turn to Classic Who which I could watch on 3 different channels: BritBox, Retro TV (specific time each day), or on Pluto TV (24/7 Classic Who channel). Pluto airs the same 50 or so episodes in about 4.5 days. In early fall, they aired only one 7th Doctor/Ace story, “The Curse of Fenric,” and I couldn’t stop watching it. After Thanksgiving, they changed which episodes they aired and added 3 more Ace stories. I’m not feeling quite as compelled to watch every time. But I like tuning in to the 3rd or 4th Doctor, too.

Lego & Doctor Who

All of this Ace watching led to some inspiration: Why not recreate some favorite scenes in Lego? It’s taking longer than I anticipated to finish, but it’s been fun to think about, plan, and build.

I have plans for more elaborate recreations. Dust has been annoying in post-production.

Circular Gallifreyan

I continued to watch new Who (with and without the rest of the family) and was curious about the circle/line designs in the TARDIS during Matt Smith’s and Peter Capaldi’s era. Were these available as prints to purchase? Apparently not.

However, it led to the discovery of circular Gallifreyan as an alphabet, created by Loren Sherman in 2011. I learned the alphabet and made my own designs, inspired by various Doctor Who quotes (now available as note cards).

My sister gave me the DVDs for the 13th Doctor’s 2 seasons and 1st holiday episode for Hanukkah. Finally, new episodes to watch. Jodie Whittaker is fantastic as the Doctor! Instant love for her portrayal of this iconic character. Looking forward to seeing the next season… eventually.

In a nutty year where “control” wasn’t often possible, immersing myself in 30+ seasons of time traveling science fiction television was escapism at its best. Therefore, I say “Thank you!” to everyone who brought the show to life since November 23, 1963. Long live Doctor Who. 🙂

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