CTTO

KateThis week, The Parker Institute for Time Travel Studies (The PITTS) has asked our Chief Time Travel Officer (CTTO) to look back at his favorite science fiction shows over the years, to include more than just Doctor Who. He was given the choice of time travel devices for this effort, including a TARDIS, a Delorean, a stopwatch, and a hot tub.  Being a button-down preppie type, Parker asked for a BMZ Z4, as we expected. He was dismayed that we had not tailored the Z4 with a flux capacitor, and the weather hasn’t been stormy anyway, so he chose the stopwatch, thinking it looked good with his summer wool trousers (it doesn’t). So, without further ado, our CTTO’s list:

The Twilight Zone:

My favorite episodes are two of the show’s creepiest, “The Hitchhiker” and “Long Distance Call.” I don’t know why I keep one foot in the horror camp, considering how horrible it is there, but since it’s in my tagline (“science fiction, fantasy, horror, history, mystery, whiskey”) I figure I best get with the program, as it were.

Star Trek: The Original Series

This one’s easy. There are three episodes I could watch anytime, anywhere. The original pilot (“The Cage”) with its mysterious cast that wasn’t; Harlan Ellison’s incomparable “City on the Edge of Forever”, which is one of the best romances ever put on the broadcast TV; and the truly testosterone-driven guy episode (“The Doomsday Machine”). “They say there’s no devil, Jim …”

The Outer Limits

“Demon with a Glass Hand” because anything written by Harlan Ellison is superb, and “It Came Out of the Woodwork” because of that one foot in the horror camp thingie (yep, I said thingie … comfortable in my own skin).

Space: 1999

Keeping with the foot-in-horror one more time, this absurdly stupid TV series produced one of the scariest hours of programming ever with “Dragon’s Domain.” It’s the kind of thing that’d keep me up at night if it weren’t for the whole whiskey thing (see tagline, above).  Tentacles. Lots of slimy tentacles.

The X-Files

Gotta go with “Paper Clip” here for its incredible kitchen-sink mix of conspiracies and contemporary mythologies. I need to visit the grassy knoll one day.

The NEW Battlestar Galactica

Did you notice I said new? I’m referring, of course, to the re-imagined series that began in 2003, and not the commode-ringed insult to our intelligence and eyes that came out in the late 70s. Anyway, fave episode? The one titled “33”, hands-down. The whole concept could be made into a novel (note to self).  An attack coming every 33 minutes?  No time to sleep.  No way to even think.  Oh, hell, yes.  Great show!  The original Battlestar Galaxative?  Makes me wanna pour bleach in my eyes.

LOST

There are almost too many to list here, considering it’s one of my favorite shows EVER, but I think I’ll give the nod to “The Constant” when Desmond is jumping back-and-forth between his Army service and modern day, including finding Penny. Another gem is “Through the Looking Glass,” and it’s damn hard to discount the Pilot. There’s something about pilots (which means Jules Winfield and I are on the same page).  There’s a picture of Kate in her underwear above; the purpose of that is eye candy (#shameless #lech).

Firefly

All. Of. Them.  Every damn episode.  “Well, my time of not taking you seriously is coming to a middle.”

Classic Doctor Who

I haven’t seen as many as I’d like, but for now “City of Death”, penned by the best science fiction humorist ever, Douglas Adams, is never going to be far from the top in my book. Have I ever mentioned just how CUTE Romana is? Oh, yeah, I did. But it’s worth repeating. Also, since she’s not so terribly much older than I perhaps my crush on her is a good bit more acceptable than a crush might be on, say, Jenna-Louise Coleman, who’s probably young enough to be my daughter. I really need to look into using time travel to age backwards.

New Doctor Who

“The Name of the Doctor”.  Despite my sister-in-law’s (sister’s-in-law?) insistence that there’s only one Doctor (David Tennant) the seventh series finale of Doctor Who is a masterpiece of humor, horror, sentimentality, action, adventure and mystery. If the series had never hit a homerun before (it had) they certainly did with this.

And so, back to you …

The PITTS would like to tolerate thank Parker for his insight. His essay has been logged and filed in its proper location: the circular cabinet.

Peace.

Copyright (c) 2013 Keith Parker. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners and are used for entertainment purposes only and as provided for by the “Fair Use” copyright clause.

Cyborg

Cyborg.  Ha!  Gotta have a huge shout-out to my man, “MirkinFirkin”, and his hilarious blog, www.JustJiggleTheHandle.com. If you’re a fan of the satirical newspaper, The Onion, you will love his satire. He is a riot. The shout-out is specifically related to his mention of the Cybermen from Doctor Who. Until yesterday I honestly did not know the difference between a robot and a cyborg.  How weird is that?  I’ve read/watched SFFH my whole freakin’ life … didn’t have a clue.  I’d better learn really freakin’ fast, though, because we got us a new novel in the works; it’s set on an alien planet where robots with human brains (i.e., cyborgs) are preparing the way for human colonization when they discover (wait for it!) an ancient evil. Did you expect anything less from a Lovecraft fan?

More on the novel in coming months, but for now I will say that the “robots” do not look anything like Doctor Who‘s Cybermen. Why? Because I think the Cybermen look like shit. Seriously. I hate them. They remind me of something I’d see in a bad episode of Lost in Space (but that’s redundant, isn’t it?). In fact, I’d rather kick back and watch reruns of the original Battlestar Galaxative rather assault my eyes with that garbage.

But, enough whining. People whine too much these days. Doctor Who is fun. That’s what TV is for.

Before I close, though, another shout-out is in order to my friend and fellow Birmingham-Southern physicist, James Archer (who is not a cyborg) for reminding me that everything in the universe has a starting point and an ending point.  Everything that can exist does exist, at least according to prevailing theories (theories in the sciences are the same as facts for you and me).  Now all I have to do to comfort myself (perhaps a nice glass of whiskey) is find a theory for emergent consciousness.  That should be simple like radar, as The Stooges once said.

  • A man walks into a bar and asks, “Where’s the Doctor?”
  • The bartender replies, “Doctor Who?”

Peace, from

Keith

Copyright (c) 2013, Keith Parker

Yabe

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 7.40.13 PMWelcome to Yabe Auctions!

Ending times are nonnegotiable; condition assumes caveat emptor; quantity to be verified by purchaser, also caveat emptor; Just Buy The Damn Thing prices listed when available.  Current bid is given by the Yabe Auction username.

The following items, culled by the noisome scholars at The Parker Institute of Time Travel Studies (The PITTS), and submitted for distribution through the publishing arm known as Fish and #TARDIS Sauce, have been made available through Yabe Auctions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Corporation of Redundancy Corporation.

Did we mention caveat emptor?

PSYCHIC PAPER

  • Ending: Anytime you want it to.
  • Condition: Vintage, as used by Second Doctor
  • Quantity: 15 in stock
  • Just Buy the Damn Thing: £ 42
  • Current Bid: Don’t you already know?

TRIBBLE

  • Ending: Aboard Klingon warship
  • Condition: Trilling
  • Quantity: Geometrically increasing
  • Just Buy the Damn Thing: For a Drink
  • Current Bid: <SOLD: Cyrano Jones>

STRANGE WINE

  • Ending: Auction is over
  • Condition: In the sewers
  • Quantity: Overstocked
  • Just Buy the Damn Thing: You already did
  • Current Bid: <SOLD: Hitler, Selling Roses>

1961 FERRARI 250 GT CALIFORNIA

  • Condition: Wiped with diaper
  • Ending: Never
  • Buy It Now: N/A
  • Quantity: <100
  • Current Bid: <Mr. Fry>

K-9, Mark II

  • Condition: Robotic
  • Ending: In e-space
  • Just Buy the Damn Thing: N/A
  • Quantity: One
  • Current Bid: <Romana>

CUSTARD

  • Condition: Spoiled
  • Ending: In the ER
  • Just Buy the Damn Thing: Payment due when services rendered.
  • Quantity: Too much of a good thing.
  • Current Bid: <No bidders>

ISHER WEAPON

  • Condition: A Fine Weapon
  • Ending: When you think you are free
  • Just Buy the Damn Thing: Negotiable, auction only
  • Quantity: Based on market forces, of course
  • Current Bid: <Robert Hedrock, but he has plenty of time to wait>

All sales final

Copyright © 2013 Keith Parker

Lust

Clara_imageI’ve noticed I frequently post a picture of Doctor Who’s companions on my blog. Lest you think I’m a total lech, the main reason for doing this is to draw attention to my blog. After all, photos of Romana, Rose, Clara (pictured), or Susan have a lot more sex appeal than tintypes of septic tanks. That’s just good ol’ common sense. But there’s something deeper

something Freudian

about my consistent choice of hot babes pretty women to punctuate my web logging these days. And that “something” has to do with romance. In New Who — as well as many classic Who episodes with Tom Baker — there is a romantic tension that exists between the Doctor and his Companions. And the Doctor is usually unaware of it. And while he does show considerable affection for his mates on ye olde TARDIS the Doctor doesn’t seem to take a hint very well. You could justify this because he’s not human, or because the stakes are so high that he doesn’t have time for love, or because he’s immortal and will outlive whoever he does fall for. But really, the dude is just clueless. Women notice him, but he doesn’t reciprocate. And this characteristic, rather than being rude or chauvinistic, adds to his charm … or so it would seem.

(I will add parenthetically, which is why this paragraph is in parentheses, that the Doctor does notice his Companions from time-to-time. Clearly he is in deep anguish about Rose. And on a lighter note he chews his wrist off at the sight of Clara’s tight skirt. But these are exceptions, not the rule.)

So why am I so curious? I think it’s because at heart I’m a romantic. I’ve probably always known this, but I really had to admit it after a college friend reviewed my novel (here) and told me that my “adventure” was actually a “romance.” She was right. It turns out — through no fault of my own — that I am fascinated by the intercourse interplay between guys and girls. And Doctor Who (the man) is in many ways my own opposite. The beautiful girl is right under his nose and he completely misses her flirting, suggestiveness, or explicit passes.

How am I the opposite? Well, I was the one who noticed the girls back in the day. Another obsession we writers share is people watching. If I were attracted to a girl, no detail was too small to notice: her clothes, her eyeglasses, her legs, her jokes, her snorts, or that (unbelievably) cute way she’d have of tucking her hair under a baseball cap with the pony tail sticking out. And yet, ironically, romance was often elusive as hell.

“It’s not that you’re unattractive, Keith. I just don’t want a relationship right now,” she’d said, right before she started dating the other guy (we’ll call him David).

But this has a happy ending. After crossing that Rubicon from my teens to my twenties, I met the girl of my dreams; I even married her. But I spent many years wanting to be that Doctor Who archetype, that absent-minded, bumbling, good-looking free spirit. Maybe I am some of these things, some of the time. But I am not all of these things all of the time. He is not I, and vice versa in reverse. And we have to live with truths. So, whether you’re a plumber, artist, attorney, Time Lord, burglar, or engineer, it’s important to remember what that succinct bastard William Shakespeare said: “To thine own self be true.” You actually have no choice, no matter how many time machines you have.

Years truly,
Keith
(Bane of David)

Text copyright © 2013 by Keith Parker

The photo and Doctor Who are copyright © 2013 by the BBC

One

200px-Tenth_DoctorToday, The Parker Institute of Time Travel Studies (The PITTS) addresses one of the pressing issues of our age.  This topic is bigger than the global economy, cheaper than a Kardashian wedding, and happier than a college kid with a keg.  It is the question of The One … the question of whether there is only one Doctor Who.

My sister-in-law, who’s never cared much for science fiction, is now hooked on the show.  She said you have all these ridiculous episodes chock-full of plastic-headed aliens, and yet you can’t look away.  Nope, you sure can’t.

Commenting on a scene with Matt Smith, she said, “I don’t know who that man is, but he’s not the Doctor.  He’s an impostor.”

“Who is?” I said.

In a word — or a name — she replied, “David Tennant.”

And so there were have it.  David Tennant, a.k.a. the 10th Doctor, is her Doctor.  I’ve heard many similar sentiments about Tom Baker, especially among my friends who were sentient in the 70s.  So, I asked her to tell me — off the top of her head — what she likes about Tennant.  She said,  “He’s passionate, caring, intelligent and soulful.”

And he is! He’s all these things.  And yet, none of my sister-in-law’s impressions were the same as mine.  It’s not that I disagree with her; I agree he has all the characteristics that she mentioned.  But if you asked my impression I’d tell you that he’s fun-loving and funny, yet distant and lonely.  What does this say about us?  Does it say that my SIL and I see the world differently?  Actually, we don’t.  We have very similar opinions and tastes.  And we’re from the exact same demographic; how much different would our reaction have been if we came from cultures on opposite sides of the planet?  Maybe the difference would be stark; maybe not.  What this says to me is that character loyalty is a deeply personal attachment.  The development and emergence of characters from novels, short stories, films and TV have a profoundly different affect on us all, providing a lens into our own personality.  Like eyes being the lens to the soul, the characters we love are like mirrors on our selves.  Or they’re people who we think are mighty fine (like Clara Oswald).  Either way, it’s fun to sit back and explore the possibilities.

During this long holiday weekend here in America the good people (read: me) at Fish and #TARDIS Sauce ask you to remember that time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana.  Until next time, peace and hair grease.

Years truly,

Keith

Copyright © 2013 Fish and #TARDIS Sauce publications, a paleolithic branch of The PITTS.

Change

Smith_2578796bThis week The Parker Institute for Time Travel Studies (The PITTS) takes a hard look at three major changes that rocked the science fiction and fantasy world this past week.  And when we say “hard look” we’d like to make sure you understand that this is serious.  And by “serious” we mean sober.  Except that it’s not really healthy to be too sober, so maybe we’ll have a cocktail to cut through the pressure.  And if we’re going to have a cocktail, then we might as well have a glass of wine with our dinner, and if we’re going to have a glass of wine with dinner then there’s really no reason we can’t have an after-dinner cognac.  And that’ll pretty much mean that we aren’t taking a “hard look” at anything at all.  Instead, these are simply post-buzz ramblings devoid of emotional or intellectual depth …

So, without further ado, what happened?  Well, primary to this blog is that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, creating a vacuum in the incredibly rich story that’s developed over the past four years, with an intense, mysterious chemistry between The Doctor and Clara Oswald, and a parallel mystery about the doctor’s name and (eventual) demise.  agotAnother occurrence in speculative fiction circles was the passing (read: violent, bloody death) of certain character(s) in A Game of Thrones.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we lost one of the true giants of fantasy literature recently.  One of the last of the Golden Age Science Fiction writers, Jack Vance, died on May 26th.  If you’ve never read Vance, you need to run — not walk — to your nearest e-book reader and devour his writing.  You can find his catalog here: http://www.jackvance.com/ebooks/shop/?q22_category_filter=dying

Bad things come, they say, in threes.

Is that the case here?  It seems like it.  Which makes me wonder about one of the main reasons I write this blog: time travel.  What would happen if I went back in time to May 25th?  If I were to do this, what could I possibly do to change these three events?  Nothing.  I desperately wish Matt Smith were not leaving Doctor Who, but even if I were to go back prior to his announcement, and if I cashed out my retirement and bought a plane ticket to the UK, and if I were to successfully track him down, what good would it do?  Odds are, he made his decision weeks, if not months, ago.  Or what if I went a different direction and landed my steam-punk Wellsian on the set of HBO?  Could I actually do anything about the second season finale of AGOT?  And then what about Mr. Vance?  I do not know the circumstances surrounding Mr. Vance’s death, but he was 96-years-old, and had achieved status as one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy authors of the 20th Century.  What exactly needs to be changed?

If you’re wondering who, as it were, I think the new Doctor should be, the thought that keeps circling back to me is that we need another Tom Baker; we need an actor or actress who is, in essence, the embodiment of the Doctor the way that Baker was.  More than any other Doctor, the line between the character and the actor was very fine in those days.  Beyond that, I don’t have a strong opinion on the matter.  And I’m not sure it’d matter if I did …

And that is a segue into my closing thoughts: I’ve often said time travel is a form of wish fulfillment, but in this case the wishes don’t come true, do they?  And maybe that’s a good thing, because I’ve developed a quasi-Buddhist attitude toward life in recent years and putting myself in a state of angst really does no good.  The reason we suffer is because we try to control those things that are out of our control.  I do not know if this is truly “Buddhist” but it was the best that my Western mind could come up with as I studied that beautiful philosophy.  As the author of Elephant Journal put it:

And, of course, if you’re looking for a more “Western” approach, there was a Galilean who said something similar:

  • 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
    • The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 25:34

happy buddhaMy goal is not to preach.  My goal is to espouse optimism, to let you know it’ll all be okay.  And to let you know that I think we all need to laugh more.  Along those lines, let me redirect you to one of the funniest authors in the blogosphere.  He goes by the pseudonym Mirkin Firkin, and writes some of the most outrageous and hilarious blog posts I’ve ever read.  You can find his blog here: http://justjigglethehandle.wordpress.com.

Until next time, “Don’t Panic!”

Years truly,

Keith Parker

Owner, Fish and #TARDIS Sauce

Copyright © 2013

Custard

keep“Haven’t got a hotdog in there, have you?  I’m starving.  I know, it’s the Cyberman of food, but it’s tasty.” ~ The Doctor

I knew I’d found a show to call home when I googled “Doctor Who food” and came up with 351,000,000 damn hits.  That’s more hits than there are people in these United States of America plus Nebraska.  By contrast, the same search with Star Trek gave me 145,000,000.  In fact, it was Star Trek that gave me the idea for this post.  In “The Trouble with Tribbles,” Jim Kirk pulls a tray chock-full of tribbles out of the ship’s replicator.

“My chicken sandwich and coffee,” he says.  “This is my chicken sandwich and coffee.”

We were watching this episode at home during the run-up to Star Trek Into Darkness.  When I spoke these lines in perfect harmony with William Shatner, not only did I garner a sideways look from my wife (I wonder if she’s sitting in a lawyer’s office right now?) but I realized we SF fans tend to go a bit off the deep end when it comes to knowing our shows.

Since Doctor Who has a rather unorthodox (weird?) set of characters and plots, I wondered if fans had taken the time to compile lists of the more nutritious elements of the program.  Well, ask a stupid question …

So, just for fun, here are some of the more colorful concoctions from our favorite time-travelling creatures.  All puns intended, which is a bit like All Saints Day, but without the soul food …

  • Custard with fish fingers … (The Doctor ate that horror when he first met Amy)
  • Soufflés that Oswin/Clara made … (Gotta do something while trapped inside the insane asylum of the Daleks, I guess)
  • Romana gave K-9 a sponge cake that went sentient … (Never thought about conscious dessert; it’s usually conscience.)
  • Barbara Wright ate grapes sometime in … (Well, when in time.)
  • Kronkburgers … (How many billion of those have been sold?)
  • Lenta … (Kinda like your mom making you eat your English peas, only those didn’t double as mother’s little pill, did they?)
  • Mammoth casserole … (Wonder how that’d go over at a good ole Southern funeral?)
  • Protein bars … (Who said this show wasn’t ahead of its time?)
  • … (Nothing to see here, folks.  Move along.)
  • Yogurt … (Caution: Spoiler … the 11th Doctor’s favorite food.)
  • Brainy Crisps … (They’re not just for breakfast anymore.)
  • The aroma of Karamine pudding … (Like Paris in Spring, only different.)
  • And, lo, there are the ubiquitous Jelly Babies, made famous by Tom Baker, offered whenever stressful situations deemed it necessary  … (But first consumed by the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, for those trivia-minded among you.)

But take all this with a grain of salt (ba ha).  Because like the warning on the Ice Gun (“Do not use to cool drinks, freeze food, win arguments, or create Christmas grotto decorations”) my blog should not be taken at anything deeper than surface level.

Until next time, remember that it is the lack of food that keeps us hungry.  Keep eating!

Years truly,
Keith

The Definite Article The

Amy Pond … “You may be a doctor. But I’m the Doctor. The definite article, you might say.” ~ Tom Baker playing the Fourth Doctor

It’s funny how quotes tell you so much about a person; Doctor Who, himself, and Doctor Who, the series, simply oozes quotability.  In fact, there are tumblr pages, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages greater than the sum total of their parts dedicated to doing just this.  So, why another?  Because I want to.

Speaking of Twitter, if you happen to follow me I’m trying an experiment, changing my “SFQOTD” to a “DWQOTD” (or perhaps to “QWERTY”) if the mood strikes.  Regardless of what I call it (and not irregardless of what I call it, which would mean without without regard to what I call it) quotes, zingers, and one-liners appeal to me because I’ve always felt I was at my best when quoting zingers and one-liners.

There’s something special about quotes; it says something about the one quoted (namely that he said it at all), and it says something about the person quoting him (that you’ve chosen this quote to make a point about the person who said it).

Ultimately, what Doctor Who does, via quotes, is to bring out the humanity of the characters even when the show is hip-deep in campy science fiction bullshit.  So, today’s blog is an homage to some of the best lines I’ve heard in my limited time as a Whovian.  The picture of Amy Pond is there because I think she’s hot.  Without further ado, the quotes:

On romance:

  • The Doctor: So, the year five billion. The Sun expands.  Earth gets roasted.
  • Rose: That was our first date.

On moral relativism:

  • Rose: Bet you five quid I can make her [Queen Victoria] say it.
  • The Doctor: If I gambled on that, it’d be an abuse of my privilege as a traveler in time.
  • Rose: Ten quid.
  • The Doctor: Done.

On perspective:

  • Mickey: What’s a horse doing on a spaceship?
  • The Doctor: Mickey, what’s pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship?

On geography:

  • The Doctor: Lots of planets have a north.

On sentimentality:

  • The Doctor: All my love to long ago.

On pop culture:

  • The Doctor: Elvis. No, The Beatles! Oh, wait, there was that remix.

On time:

  • The Doctor: People assume that time is a strict progression of cause-and-effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.

On compliments:

  • The Doctor: Correctamundo!  I’ve never used that word before and hopefully never again.

On insults:

  • The Doctor: You are a perfect example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.

On wanderlust:

  • Romana: Where are we going?
  • The Doctor: Are you speaking philosophically or geographically?
  • Romana: Philosophically.
  • The Doctor: Then we’re going to lunch.

And finally, on logic:

  • The Doctor: Well, I just put 1.795372 and 2.204628 together.
  • Romana: And what does that mean?
  • The Doctor: Four!

Years truly,

Keith

Copyright © 2013 Ketih Parker, except for all the stuff on this page that I don’t own the copyright to.

Anger Leads to The Doctor?

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda

Yoda_SWSBWhat’s a picture of Yoda doing here?  I’m talking about Doctor Who.

Last night I was watching the two-part finale from the 2006 season of the BBC’s reimagined Doctor Who.  In this episode we once again see the characters faced with the end of the world, a top-secret organization, Cybermen and Daleks run amok, and enough pithy humor to keep even the most jaded of us laughing.  But that isn’t what made me focus on these two episodes.  Instead. I began to wonder about something a Facebook friend said about the show in general.  Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor, appealed to her because he’s funny; all the other Doctors, she allowed, take themselves too seriously.

Well, being the writer that I am (and I am a writer, which is why you’re reading this instead of doing something worthwhile) I started looking for signs of David Tennant’s character taking himself too seriously.  I had not thought of this before.  Does he?  Maybe he does.  And did Christopher Eccleston make his Doctor egotistical as well?  I think there’s some truth to that.  Does it detract from the quality of the show?  Well, that’s for each viewer to decide.

But as the two-parter unfolded I began to wonder whether the egotism is deliberate.  After all, The Doctor is the last remaining “creature” from a war that consumed and destroyed his entire race.  I’m a newcomer to the show, so I cannot say this with certainty, but I think the Doctor’s “being full of himself” is a result of anger.

According to Star Wars, anger is a baaaaad apple.

Does anger also lead to arrogance?  In the gospel according to Yoda it leads to hate.  As a writer, the progression of emotions fascinates me.  And even if you’re not a writer — and God help you if you are — you’ll notice the best entertainment gives you complex characters, a good story, an attempt by the main character to resolve the crisis, and a steady drumbeat of emotional change.  And when it works best it really is like music; there is a rhythm to the way emotions change.  Anger can indeed lead to hate, but it doesn’t have to.  Perhaps in the case of The Doctor it leads to a certain smugness, but his heart … (yes, I know he has two) … but his heart is still in the right place.  And that’s what we want most out of the characters we love: heart.

Until next time,

Peace, from Keith

Text copyright © 2013 Alan Keith Parker

She’s Just So Darn Cute

Inspector Duggan: What’s Scarlioni’s angle?

The Doctor: Scarlioni’s angle? I’ve never heard –.  [To Romana] Have you ever heard of Scarlioni’s angle?

Romana: No, I was never any good at geometry.

The Doctor: [to Duggan] Who’s Scarlinoi?

RomanaShe’s just so darned cute.  Lalla Ward is an English actress, writer and artist who played the Companion Romana [sic] in a classic series of Doctor Who episodes with Tom Baker.  And she has got to be one of the primary reasons the episode “City of Death” has rocketed to the all-time best list of a show that’s been on the air since 1963.  I fell in love with the episode when I first saw that hat pinned to her blond hair.  I’m a guy; it happens.

But I have to say, I’m really glad I started watching the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who before I saw this classic.   If I’d started with “City of Death” (its 1979 airdate tells you a lot), the teaser would’ve had me saying, “Ewwww” – and not in a good way.   The show starts with an alien who looks like a bowl of split-pea soup garnished with a dollop of eyeball.  The alien is sitting inside a spaceship that’s about to explode.  That’d have been enough right there to send me groping for a football game.  The scene is so damn cheesy the writers of Lost in Space would’ve been embarrassed.  Well, maybe that’s going a little far for a group of people who invented Carrot People, but you get my drift.

But after the title sequence we shift gears to Paris, where the Doctor and Romana (who’s just so darn cute … have I mentioned that?) are sitting around discussing what they’re going to do on their vacation in the city of lights.  And their one-liners are classic.  The one above, including the Investigator Duggan, is a good example.  Here’s another:

Romana: Where’re we going?

The Doctor: Are you talking philosophically or geographically?

Romana: Philosophically.

The Doctor: Then we’re going to lunch. I know a little place that does wonderful bouillabaisse.

 Romana: Mmm, bouillabaisse.

Priceless.

In fact, I could devote an entire blog to the dialog alone, in large part because it was co-written by the famous Douglas Adams.  As usual, Adams’ humor crackles, and it reminded me – as strange as it may sound – of the classic American comedy His Girl Friday, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.  Grant and RussellLike the movie, this episode resonates with the audience because of its nonstop one-liners and because of the sizzling chemistry between two charismatic actors.

Mona_LisaBeing Doctor Who, of course, means time travel, and there’s plenty of that to move the plot along.  The alien – the one who looks like split-pea soup – has been “broken apart” due to an accident.  He’s been scattered through time … a little bit of him here, a little bit there.  That alone is crazy enough to keep me interested.  But in order to “reunite himself” he has to use 20th century time travel technology, which inconveniently hasn’t been invented yet.  So, he’s funding a mad scientist using cash made from sales on the antiquities black market.  Specifically, he’s selling several original versions of the Mona Lisa that the 16th-Century version of himself got Leonardo to paint.  With cash in hand – or claw – he’s bankrolling a time travel gizmo that’ll propel him back to a point before the accident occurred.  This, by the way, will have a side effect of wiping out humanity; so it goes.  The whole concept is preposterous and hilarious.  It kept me watching.

And it’s that outrageousness – coupled with “believable” plot points – that makes Doctor Who gripping.  Well, that and really cute companions like Romana.

The Doctor: Are you suggesting those men were in my employ?

Inspector Duggan: Yes.

The Doctor: I don’t know if you noticed but he was pointing a gun at me. Anyone in my employ who behaved like that, I’d sack him on the spot.

As you look at science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery and romance, keep an eye open for this kind of chemistry among characters.  You’ll see it in the best novels, film and TV.  The plot is going to evolve out of characters’ drama and actions.  Sure, the fingerprints of Douglas Adams’ humor are all over this script, much like the fingerprints of Cary Grant are all over Rosiland Russell, but Adams had to have characters to write dialog for.  That makes all the difference.

In closing here’s one last exchange between the Doctor and Romana, the kind of woman you really want to hold hands and run through Paris with.

Romana: That bouquet.

The Doctor: What Paris has, it has an ethos. A life.  It has –.

Romana: A bouquet?

The Doctor: A spirit all its own. Like a wine, it has –.

Romana: A bouquet.

The Doctor: It has a bouquet. Like a good wine, you have to choose one of the vintage years, of course.

 Romana: What year’s this?

The Doctor: Ah, well… well, it’s 1979, actually. More of a table wine, shall we say?

Until next time,

Peace, from Keith

The commentary of this blog post are Copyright © 2013 Alan Keith Parker.  Quotes from Dcotor Who are Copyright © 1979 British Broadcasting Corporation.  Embedded pictures of the Mona Lisa, His Girl Friday, and Lalla Ward, were taken from Wikipedia.org.  If the latter violate any copyrights I will remove the images.