Jodie Whittaker is amazing, but why do you have to ruin the surprise?

I’m excited that a woman will be playing the Doctor. Jodie Whittaker looks like a perfect fit. Her eyes are intelligent, mysterious, and otherworldly. She’s so Doctorish. I’m glad the show is moving in a new direction.

I’m also happy Chris Chibnall is taking over as showrunner. The program has grown a little bit stale over the last few years. Steven Moffat isn’t a bad writer, but his episodes feel like reheated leftovers to me. And most of his season finales left me more confused than satisfied.

(But I did love the 2015 season, especially the finale. Heaven Sent and Hell Bent were solid gold masterpieces. My heart rate surged when the Doctor finally returned to Gallifrey. He stood the desert, squinting his eyes. He bent down and told the little boy, “Go to the city. Find somebody important. Tell them I’m back. Tell them I know what they did. And I’m on my way. And if they ask who I am, tell them I came the long way round.”)

I don’t have a problem with a woman playing the Doctor, but I do have a problem with the BBC announcing the new actor ahead of time. Don’t tell me what’s going to happen. Don’t tell me who the next Doctor will be. Surprise me. That’s what good TV shows are supposed to do.

I was nine years old when I first saw the Doctor regenerate. I had no idea who the next Doctor would be. I didn’t even know he was going to regenerate. In fact, I had never even heard of regeneration. I was sitting in my dark living room floor on a Saturday night, staring up at the TV screen. I watched the Doctor run through a bleak wasteland carrying Peri in his arms. He staggered into the Tardis and dropped her. He slumped over the console and hit a few buttons, wheezing and panting. Then he collapsed on the smooth, white floor. He closed his eyes. Then his face began to glow. Psychedelic colors and lights flashed and swirled around him. Visions of his old companions appeared in the air and circled around him.

When the Doctor sat up again, he had a new face. And curly hair. It wasn’t Peter Davison anymore. It was Colin Baker.

I ran into the kitchen and told my mother that the Doctor had just turned into someone else. She laughed. The next day, a friend of mine explained what had happened.

It would be nice if the Doctor’s regeneration still came out of the blue with no warning at all. It would be nice if the BBC didn’t ruin the surprise for me.

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You can click here to check out my latest book on Amazon. Drake Novak is a malevolent alien who draws his energy from the pain and suffering of other life forms. He comes to Earth in a stolen ship, takes over a factory, and keeps all the workers in abject misery. He soaks up their sadness the way a plant absorbs sunlight. Then the Galactic Precinct sends a young rookie cop to arrest Drake Novak. But when Malpheus Mallock arrives on Earth, his tracking device stops working. He lands on the front lawn of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine. They feed him fried chicken and mashed potatoes. They show him baseball games on TV. The whole time, Malpheus struggles to find Drake Novak. 

Thanks for the lousy Christmas present, Matt Smith

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If you’re not a fan of Doctor Who, this post probably won’t mean anything to you at all. I won’t hold it against you one bit if you don’t read it.

I just learned that Matt Smith will leave the show in this year’s Christmas episode. My heart sank as I read the news earlier today. I didn’t really like him when he started playing The Doctor in 2010. I thought he was a very talented actor, but I didn’t feel like I was watching Doctor Who. I felt like I had accidentally stumbled across a wacky sitcom designed to pay homage to Doctor Who. Somehow, the tone was just wrong. It was too silly, too slapstick. Even the Tardis interior looked like a fun house. Rory, Amy, and River Song were wonderful characters, but I didn’t feel like they belonged in the same universe as Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, and Martha Jones. (This is just my opinion and it doesn’t really mean much. I know I’m just one of ten thousand people on the internet, rambling and over-analyzing this silly old TV show.)

But I finally accepted Matt Smith as The Doctor after watching The Snowmen this past Christmas. I loved the scene when Clara boldly followed him into the Tardis … and then he turned back very slowly and grinned at her as she looked around, speechless and awestruck. At that moment, something clicked. Matt Smith really did come across as an ancient, mysterious, brilliant, lonely Time Lord. I also loved Hide and Journey to the Centre of the Tardis. I could write 50,000 words about Hide, but I’ll be kind and spare you. (By the way, I’m not saying I hated all the previous episodes. The Doctor’s Wife, written by Neil Gaiman, was a classic. And the cinematography in that episode was some of the most dazzling stuff I’ve ever seen.)

As I was saying, Matt Smith is leaving and I’m disappointed. I ride this same, miserable roller coaster every time the character regenerates. It’s just part of being a Doctor Who fan, I guess. A new actor steps in … and it takes a year or two for me to get comfortable with him playing the role … and then I really begin to like him … and then he steps out … and the whole aggravating process begins all over again.

I still remember the first time I ever saw The Doctor regenerate. I was about ten years old, sitting on the carpet in front of the TV with my face too close to the screen, watching the show on Channel 8, the PBS station in Georgia. The episode was called The Caves of Androzani. At the end, Peter Davison collapsed onto the floor of the Tardis … and wild, psychedelic designs swarmed around his face. Then he transformed into Colin Baker — a posh, dignified man with curly hair. He abruptly sat up and started talking about change.

The next morning, in Sunday School, I asked my friend Joel if he had seen it. Joel nodded emphatically and said, “Yeah! He regenerated!” Joel was much more knowledgeable about Doctor Who than I was. He often explained these concepts to me, telling me all about Daleks and Cybermen and so forth.

Anyway, it’s about to happen again soon. The fiftieth anniversary episode will air on November 23 and then, unfortunately, Matt Smith will appear as The Doctor for the last time on Christmas.

What a lousy present.

 

Click here to download a copy of my novel, Under the Electric Sun.

A work in progress — Elena Levon portrait attempt

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I’ve spent most of the evening working on this portrait, but I think I’ll probably just scrap it and start over again. In a way I like it, but in a way I loathe it. This is supposed to be a picture of Elena Levon, a Russian model I discovered here on WordPress. (She was kind enough to click “like” on one of my older posts. When I went to her page and saw her, I immediately wanted to draw her.)

Oh well. I need to turn my brain off and relax for the rest of the night. There’s a voice in my head, a cruel voice that never shuts up, telling me I have to be productive in one way or another ALL the time. Even today, on the third day of my three-day Easter weekend, I’ve stressed myself out with this portrait. I need to let myself rest.

So I’m going to retire to the couch now and watch “The Bells of Saint John” again. (That’s the latest episode of Doctor Who.) Here’s a question to Doctor Who fans: did they change the Tardis set since the Christmas episode? In “The Snowmen,” it seems like there was a stairway in front of the door, leading down to the console. And now it’s not there. Or maybe it’s all in my head…

One of the best scenes in “Doctor Who”

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I’m going to share a clip from my favorite TV show with you. Before I do, I need to give you some background. “Doctor Who” is a British science fiction series that began in 1963 and ended in 1989. It was known for its low budget and cheesy special effects. I fell in love with the show when I was very young and watched re-runs of it every Saturday night on Georgia Public Television throughout my childhood. I’ve never outgrown it. In 2005, the program came back with a bigger budget and high-quality special effects. I’m not ashamed to tell people I’m a fan anymore.

The program is about a mysterious old alien, known only as The Doctor, who travels through time and space in a ship that’s much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. (It looks a little bit like a phone booth on the outside — but “Doctor Who” was around long before “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”) Everywhere he goes, The Doctor saves planets and rights wrongs. He always has one or two traveling companions with him, and they’re usually from Earth.

Over the years, several actors have played the character. The second one, Patrick Troughton, is one of my favorites. This is a scene from an episode called “The Tomb of the Cybermen,” made in 1967. The Doctor is having a tender conversation with Victoria, played by Deborah Watling, who just began traveling with him in the previous episode. Victoria is dealing with the loss of her father.

People can snicker at the cardboard sets and the cheap special effects as much as they want, but the writing and the acting are beautiful here…