Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back to the Beginning: "An Unearthly Child"

So I was on a trip to Washington DC last week. on one of the evenings, instead of going out and exploring, I sought the refuge of my air-conditioned room and some very old friends. It is hard to believe that Doctor Who first appeared on TV screens in 1963. This is especially true since I was born in 1968. They say that our experiences make up our reality, and the reality is that when I was born, Doctor Who was into its fifth season, second lead character, and thirteenth companion. The current serial airing when I materialized on this planet was "The Invasion" (hmmm, I have that in my DVD archive, maybe I will have to review that one next).

"An Unearthly Child" was a four-part serial, airing from November 23 to December 14, 1963. It was the first Doctor Who story, and at that point, nothing was known about the Doctor. Just that he was a cranky old man in a box with his granddaughter, and a couple of people he picked up along the way. The Doctor's backstory evolved as the show went on, and so did the story telling. That being said, if you have never seen this serial or read the Target Books novelization, here, for your reading pleasure, is a summary of the first Doctor Who story to grace our screens:

It all began in a junkyard as they say. The first part of the serial opens on a foggy London night, and a patrolman checks the gate at I.M. Foreman Scrap Merchants, 76 Totter’s Lane. He walks away, and the gate opens and the camera enters the yard and settles on a police box as we hear a distinct humming noise. Fade to Coal Hill School, where two teachers, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton are talking about a student named Susan Foreman. They are bothered by the fact that she seems absolutely brilliant, but astoundingly dull in other ways. Barbara had tried to visit her grandfather, a “doctor,” but found that the address on file with the school office was the junkyard at 76 Totter’s Lane. They decide to follow her home and try to solve the mystery that is Susan Foreman. The teachers leave Susan and she picks up the book and immediately upon starting to read exclaims “that’s not right!”

The teachers watch her entering the junk yard and follow her in. They discover the police box, and soon encounter an old man. They hear Susan‘s voice inside the police box and argue with the old man about it, thinking he knows something about it. Susan opens the door and Barbara and Ian force their way in, discovering that they are not inside a police box, but a very large, complex machine with Susan inside.

The old man instructs Susan to close the door, and Ian argues with the old man about wanting an explanation how a police box can contain a vast room such as the one they are in. Susan calls the ship they are in the TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. The old man tells them that he and Susan are exiles, cut off from their own planet without friends or protection. He talks of them being wanderers in the fourth dimension of time. Ian tries to leave and gets shocked by the console. The old man and Susan argue about letting them go, and Susan tells him that if he tries to leave, she will leave him and the TARDIS. He activates the controls and the TARDIS takes off and lands in a rocky wilderness area. The first part of the story ends with a shadow looming menacingly near the TARDIS.

The second part opens with the same exterior scene of the TARDIS and the menacing shadow. The shadow is cast by a cave man who looks at the TARDIS in disbelief. The scene switches to a tribe of cave men where one of them, Za, is trying to make fire while being ridiculed by an old woman. Za and a woman talks about who will be leader of the tribe and whom her father will give her to. The scene switches to inside the TARDIS, where Barbara and Ian regain consciousness after having been knocked unconscious by the TARDIS’s trip.

Ian argues with the old man, calling him “Doctor Foreman,” to which the old man replies “doctor who?” They talk about the ship having gone back in time, but Ian is skeptical. They all exit the TARDIS, and Ian is dumbfounded, and the old man is wondering why the TARDIS still looks like a police box. Everyone starts exploring, Ian, Barbara and Susan exploring separating from the old man. Barbara refers to him as Doctor Foreman and Ian says “That’s not his name, who is he? Doctor Who?” The Doctor lights his pipe, and is attacked by a caveman named Kal who thinks that the Doctor can show him the secret of fire allowing Kal to take over the tribe. Susan, Barbara and Ian go to his aid and find that he has been taken. They take off in search of him as the scene shifts to the cave.

Za is having a hard time keeping his position as leader in the face of a challenge from Kal, and as Kal returns to the cave carrying the Doctor. Kal convinces the tribe that if he can bring them the secret of fire, that he should be leader. The Doctor awakens and tells the tribe that he would make fire for them, but he can’t make fire without matches. This adds to the conflict between Kal and Za. Kal threatens to kill the Doctor, but is interrupted by Susan, Ian and Barbara. They are overpowered by the tribe and imprisoned in the cave of skulls. Za and the woman’s father discuss her being mated with Za. As the second part ends, the four travelers discover that the cave gets its name from being littered with skeletons and skulls and that the skulls have all been split open.

In the main cave, an old woman of the tribe departs while the others are sleeping. In the cave of skulls, the travelers use a sharp edged stone to try to cut their bonds, and the Doctor tells them to use a sharp piece of bone. The old woman leaves the main cave and is seen by the woman, Hur, who wakes Za and they follow the old woman. The old woman comes into the cave of skulls, and tells the travelers they will not make fire. Hur tells Za that the old woman went to kill the travelers, and they go to follow her, overhearing her telling them that she will she them free if they do not make fire. The old woman frees them, and they escape through a back entrance to the cave of skulls.

The travelers escape into the forest at night and are pursued by Za. The travelers stop to catch their breath and Barbara is startled when she trips over a fresh corpse of an animal. They are being stalked by a wild animal, but they are saved by Za, who kills the animal, but is gravely wounded in the fight. Barbara goes to help the wounded Za, followed by Susan. Hur resists their help, and Ian tells them he is their friend and wants to treat his wounds. They argue over helping Za, and they make a stretcher to carry Za. Kal goes to the cave of skulls and questions the old woman, and Kal kills her.

While building the stretcher, the Doctor picks up a rock, and is stopped from killing Za by Ian. They begin to carry Za back to the TARDIS. Kal wakes the rest of the tribe and leads them out to stop the travelers, blocking hem from reaching the TARDIS as the third installment ends.

The final installment of this first serial starts with the travelers being taken prisoner once again. In the cave, an argument breaks out over who killed the old woman, Kal accusing Za. The Doctor tricks Kal into showing the tribe his bloody knife, forcing him to confess. The Doctor and Ian provoke the tribe to drive Kal out, and they are once again imprisoned in the cave of skulls for their trouble. They make fire for the tribe believing this to be their ticket to freedom, and give the fire to Za. Za is attacked by Kal, and in the fight, Za kills him. They ask to be set free now that they have given Za fire, but Za keeps them prisoner, forcing them to remain and join the tribe.

As the tribe celebrates the return of fire, the travelers use the fire to trick the tribe into believing that they are dead and escape. The tribe follows when they discover the deception and give chase, but the travelers reach the TARDIS and escape as spears are thrown at the vanishing TARDIS.

Friday, June 17, 2011

TARDIS DVD cabinet starts to get off the ground!

So here is the starting point. Phase 1 of the project was to build the inner cabinet. I decided that the base should be put on right away too. The main construction is pine, but I used a heavy particle board for the base in order to give it more stability. Once I got this much built, I took it outside and started in on it with my can of "TARDIS blue" spraypaint. I think that the results speak for themselves.

I am debating on what to do next, the doors or the top. I will also need to add a back to it. The plan (at this point) is to use 1/2" plywood for the back, and 1/4" plywood for the doors. The top will be kind of tricky to build, as will the corner posts. One TARDIS DVD cabinet project I had
seen included corner posts that would themselves open up. I don't know
if I am up to that level of woodworking yet. Heck this is only my second "major" project. As it is, it currently stands five feet tall and the final product with the top will be 5'6" tall.

The doors will be rather tricky, as will mounting them in such a way that they don't get hung up on the corner posts when I open them. The amount of detail on the doors, especially the windows will make this a difficult project. As always, I will post updates as I finish things, however it will be a while before I can continue to work on it because next week will be pretty busy for me.

Until next time, might I recommend taking in a little classic Doctor Who while we wait for the next half of the season?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything has a beginning ...

Welcome to the first day of summer vacation! So far I have worked around the house a bit, watered plants and played videogames for three or four mind-numbing hours. I now have a headache, and I am going to put up a nice blog post about beginnings. Everything has a beginning.
For instance,my TARDIS DVD cabinet has a beginning:
I know it just looks like a pile of wood right now, but trust me, there is a TARDIS lurking in there somewhere, waiting to hold my Doctor Who DVD collection! If it turns out, I already have a request for one.
Doctor Who had a beginning too. Doctor Who premiered on November 23, 1963. If I had been born ... and in England .. I would say it was a birthday present three days early. Alas, I had another five years and three days before I would make my premiere. It just so happens that Doctor Who premiered the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. Talk about your coincidences.
I started watching Doctor Who in the early 1980's and the home video market had yet to develop, so my first exposure to the serial that started it all was through a Target Books novelization:
I now have the episode on DVD as a part of a Box set called "The Beginnings":
Anyways, in honor of beginnings, summer vacation, my TARDIS DVD cabinet and Doctor Who, my next post will be a nice look at "An Unearthly Child," the story that started it all! Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Ok is it just me or are the story lines getting really strange? I know that I keep saying that I'm old school....but come on......I just can't handle all of the cliff hangers.

So we start with the Dr.(s) trying to help everyone stay calm. But if you are a true fan you know that won't last to long. I did like the fact that the two Dr.s switch shoes. Matt did a really good job at this one. We really couldn't tell which one was which.

I did think that Jennie was a human, but that didn't last long. Of course none of our questions where answered-again-just have more questions. I'm reallying starting to hate the new writer. He reminds me of Chris Carter(X-Files). Takes a lot away and then gives you nothing. But I'm rambling again......

I just don't know what to say about this one. I was so confused after watching it. I called Jim and asked him WTF!!! So until the next one, I hope that we get more answers then questions this time. But River Song is back!!! I can't wait to see who she is (I hope).

"A Good Man Goes To War"

After a long wait, I am finally watching the mid-season finale of Doctor Who. We got ourselves ready for it by watching the repeats of "The Rebel Flesh" and "The Almost People". Of course, we ended with the Doctor using the sonic screwdriver to dissolve Amy into a puddle of flesh after promising to find her. Somewhere along the line, she was replaced, and the real Amy Pond is in labor somewhere. Amy is about to have the baby ... but who is the baby? What about the little girl who regenerated at the end of "Day of the Moon." I know we find out just who River Song is. Does she start traveling with the Doctor? Will we be treated to a regular dose of the very awesome Alex Kingston? Watching the end of "The Almost People," I can definitely say that Matt Smith is finding his voice as the Doctor. And who is the woman with the eye patch? And dagnabit, this had BETTER not be to be continued over the summer! It is about to start, so lets find out together what is about to happen!
Awww, look at the little baby. Amy is holding her baby and is surrounded by armed troops. OK, the cloaked people look like Autons ... and the "Last Centurion," Rory is definitely the father according to Amy. Rory faces down the Cybermen, and seems to have become a man in his own right. OK, anoying Amy intro is over and the show is moving forward at a breakneck pace. The hot soldier chick KNOWS the Doctor. The monks are "the headless monks," ok, I guess they aren't Autons. It was how they held their hands that made me think that. Looks like the fat one is about to lose his head ... really, he should try to be more cool, calm and collected.
The Doctor can be anywhere in time and space, and in old London, the TARDIS arrives in the home home of a Silurian? A Sontaran nurse? What the heck? River Song breaking IN to prison? And she is looking rather OLD. The Doctor is getting people together to find Amy, and River Song can't be there until the very end because today is the day that he finds out who she is. The Dorium Maldovar [I initially identified him as the Duke of Manhattan] ... is he behind all of this? Or is it that he is just someone people come to for advice? And it looks like he is about to go to war for the Doctor!
The leader of the troops is giving his army a pep talk. The hot soldier visits Amy and tells her that she met the Doctor when she was a little girl. The headless monks actually ARE headless, but of course one of the cloaked figures is the Doctor. One of the headless monks is killed and the Monks kill a couple of the troops in response. The Doctor heads out, and I suddenly remembered "The Time of Angels" last season where the army was made up of priests. The Siluruans, Sontarans and the fighters from "Victory of the Daleks" last season have joined the fight for the Doctor. Wow!?!?!? Former enemies fighting on the Doctor's behalf?
Eye patch lady is trying to leave with the baby, and Rory and the Pirates have taken control of her personal ship. The Doctor wants the colonel to order his men to run away. Rory is having problems working the sonic screwdriver, and he calls her "Mrs. Williams" ... love it. A crying Roman with a baby ... definitely cool! Melody Pond ... love the name.
The Sontaran is starting to freak me out. He produces vast quantities of lactic fluid? Yikes. Oooh, the Doctor's own cradle. Spiffy! Now it's time to find out who it is that wants the baby. The baby is part human, part Time Lord?!?!?!? So Amy's baby may have been conceived in the TARDIS while it was traveling in the time vortex. The Doctor is facing the possibility of a new "Time Lord" being born, and eye-patch lady reveals that this is a long war against the Doctor, and now the time has come for the counter-attack.
Whoops, Dorian Maldovar just lost his head. The battle starts, and the baby was a ganger. Looks like eye-patch has the baby. Amy blames the Doctor for losing the baby, and Lorna (the hot soldier) dies. River Song arrives and confronts the Doctor, telling him that he needs to change his ways before Doctor ceases to mean healer and instead means destroyer. She tells him who she is ... and he runs off on his own, leaving River to take everyone home, revealing that she is Amy's daughter! Holy CRAP! Now we have to wait a really, REALLY long time before we get a fresh infusion of Doctor Who.
So, during the break, we will spend some time walking down memory lane, building a TARDIS DVD cabinet, and generally being online Doctor Who buddies! Stay tuned!
[CORRECTION: The character I identify as the Duke of Manhattan is actually Dorium Maldovar, the person who sold River Song a vortex manipulator last season in "The Pandorica Opens." Thanks for the assist Sarah!]

Monday, June 6, 2011

"The Almost People"

"Trust me, I'm the Doctor." The ganger Doctor is having a wee bit of a crisis because of what he inherits from the Doctor's past regenerations. Maybe this will be a chance for Steven Moffat to tell is whether or not Paul McGann counts or not. Hearing the Doctors complete each other's sentences is a little confusing. One of the Doctors is wearing the wrong shoes. The Doctors are working their brains trying to get everyone out, and the gangers are engaged in a philosophical discussion about their lives and existence. There are a few instances when I am not sure who is a ganger and who isn't. Is anyone else confused by this? Rory is definitely not too sure about Jenny: is she a ganger? Isn't she? Is there more than one ganger Jenny? The survivors from the mine along with the Doctors and Amy are being choked to death by acid fumes in the tunnels and head for the evac tower. Ganger Jenny comes to the other gangers (sans Rory)and tries to inspire them to lead a revolution against the humans.
Amy is having problems with two Doctors, and she definitely has a preference for the actual Doctor instead of the ganger Doctor. The Doctors get power back and the crew calls the mainland to request evac and destruction of the gangers. Amy heads toward the wall, seeing/sensing the woman with the eyepatch. The Doctor dismisses it as nothing, but Amy isn't convinced. She tries to mend fences with the ganger Doctor, and she tells him about seeing the Doctor killed in "The Impossible Astronaut". The ganger Doctor snaps and assaults Amy. The ganger Doctor starts to explain what the flesh wants, but they cut him off and don't listen to him. Rory hears Jen calling for help and finds Jenny and ganger Jen together. I am starting to think that there are two ganger Jens.
Jen fights her ganger, and tosses her into a puddle of acid, killing her. Amy wants to go find Rory, and the Doctor sends the ganger Doctor, and Jenny has Rory help her to turn a valve, but first uses his hand to activate the override (she is a ganger, I am sure of it). The gangers intercept the shuttle and the ganger foreman guesses the password. Jenny and Rory find a pile of discarded faulty copies, and she talks about who the "real monsters" are (I SO know that she is a ganger now). The ganger Doctor finds human Jenny (I was right) and he gets knocked out.
OK, the doctor and the crew so through a hallway full of eyes. Rory finds them and leads them into a trap, and he learns that he has been tricked. The other gangers turn on Jen, and she runs off hoping to start her war against mankind.
The Doctor and the crew are trapped with one of the acid vats, and Jimmy is splashed with acid and dies in his ganger's arms, asking his ganger to carry on for him and take care of his family. He talks to his son on the holo call. Everyone goes to depart, and Jen blocks their exit, transforming herself into a predatory creature The TARDIS drops in. The ganger Doctor blocks the door so that they can escape, revealing to Amy that they had switched shoes so that they could use Amy to learn about the flesh.
The Doctor delivers everyone to where they need to be and sends the foreman on a mission to solve the problems of the flesh. The Doctor, Amy and Rory go abck into the TARDIS as Amy starts having contractions. The Doctor zaps Amy with the sonic screwdriver, saying that she hadn't been there for a long time and she dissolves into flesh. He promises to find her, and the episode ends with Amy in a white room on a medical table going into labor...

To be continued .... next week, in the mid-season finale!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blogging late again this week.

Because of school commitments, I will be blogging late again this week. While our new episode is airing, I will be running sound for our school play entitled "The Good Doctor," If you can believe that. It is a Neil Simon play, and our performances are tonight and tomorrow night (Doctor Who night). So My plan is to watch the new episode, "The Almost People" and blog about it on Sunday morning. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bought some wood and some TARDIS blue paint ...

I am one woodworking project away from starting project number two! My first woodworking project is an air-conditioner insert for my bedroom window. I will probably finish that tonight. My second will be to start my TARDIS DVD cabinet. I will thoroughly document the construction in this blog.

I will be building it in four phases. Phase 1 will be the interior shelves themselves. Phase 2 will be doors and a base. Phase 3 will be the "police box" sign along with interior lighting. Phase 4 will be the corner pieces and top.

The final product will be scaled down to stand 5'6" tall (minus the dome light, which I have not decided wether there will be one). Wish me luck in this grand building adventure!

A week without WHO ...

Doctor Who fans rejoiced this year when BBC America committed to airing the episodes on the same day as they are aired in Britan. No more waiting, knowing that there was Who out there you haven't seen yet. No more resisting the temptation to peek online for spoilers. Now, we are offset by a week thanks to Memorial Day of all things!

The folks at BBC America are not stupid. They know a ratings cash cow when they have one, and Doctor Who has consistently gotten stellar ratings for the BBC's U.S.-based cousin. But what happens to crop up in the run up to a spectacular mid-season cliffhanger? A blasted U.S. holiday that signals the start of the "get off your lazy butt and go out and do stuff outside" season while network TV is in reruns. Rather than compete with a hiloday weekend filled with barbeques and beach outings, they decided to delay Doctor Who by one week in order to preserve their viewing numbers.

Uhhh, ok ... good idea. The fans come second to advertising revenue, and a bad showing in the middle of the season would mean that BBC America might lose a few hundred thousand in ad revenue per week next year. But ... since it is ad revenue that keeps Doctor Who on the air ...

Let me start over: BBC America made the wise scheduling move of delaying the broadcast of Doctor Who, thus improving the shows long term survivability....

More later this week with "The Rebel Flesh," and I promise not to go online and find out who River song really is and ruin it before "A Good Man Goes To War" airs in two weeks.