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Posts Tagged ‘Tess Booberson’

Sixty Things I Like About Who: #12 – 16

December 14th, 2009 No comments

Here are some more things I’ve found noteworthy about the regenerated Doctor Who series. As before, they are in no particular order.

#12: “Blink”

Perhaps the most extraordinary Doctor Who episode to date barely featured the Doctor at all. During each season of the new series, there has been one so-called “Doctor-lite” episode designed to give the regular cast a bit of a break. Season three’s entry was adapted by writer Steven Moffat (see, there’s that name again) from his own short story “‘What I Did On My Christmas Holidays’ By Sally Sparrow.” The result was a paradoxical, terrifying mystery about a young woman who received cryptic messages from the Doctor.

For the televised version, Moffat invented the Weeping Angels, bizarre assassins that could move only when no one was looking at them. While being observed they appeared to be harmless stone statues, yet they transformed into fanged horrors in the literal blink of an eye.

The Angels had a unique method of “killing” their chosen prey. A mere touch catapulted the victim into the past, there to live out the rest of a natural lifespan before they were born. In this manner the Angels feasted on the “potential energy” of the life their prey would have originally had.

The Doctor and Martha Jones became stranded in 1969 after an encounter with the Angels. Through a variety of unusual communications methods–including DVD “easter eggs”–they were able to guide Sally to recover the TARDIS. As events looped back on themselves with no clear beginning or end, the Doctor explained it thus:

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

#13: Donna Noble

When Catherine Tate was announced as the Doctor’s regular travelling companion, British fandom was aghast. She was a comedienne, for Rassilon’s sake. (Never mind her time with the Royal Shakespeare Company.) And in her first appearance as Donna Noble–the one-off Christmas special “The Runaway Bride”–she was loud and abrasive. (Never mind that her character had already grown and mellowed considerably by the end of that story.)

This was one time when being an American fan was an advantage. Unfamiliar with her comedy work, I could take her at face value. And I quickly fell in love.

Donna was an office temp unexpectedly thrown into an adventure with the Doctor. She regretted refusing his invitation to join him in the TARDIS, and spent the next year tracking him down.

I found Donna to be a relief after the past couple of companions. Rose spent two years mooning after the Doctor.  (At the time, that romantic angle was unusual for Doctor Who, which had once had the mantra “No hanky-panky in the TARDIS.”) Then Martha joined up, and she had a crush on the Doctor. (It went unrequited because she made the fatal mistake of Not Being Rose.) After three years of hormonus interruptus, it was welcome when Donna made it clear right up front that she didn’t fancy the Time Lord.

Perhaps some of my affection for Donna was because she was closer to my own age. It’s one thing to be all brave and amazing when one is young and gorgeous, another for someone with a couple of decades of disappointment behind her.

By the end of her single full season, Donna had demonstrated compassion, imagination and a zest for adventure. She saved all of reality, only to have the moment cruelly taken away when the Doctor was forced to erase her memories. (He had a good reason, but still.) A year and a half later, it still bugs me that she was reduced to the wittering, useless office drone we’d seen at the beginning of “The Runaway Bride.”

Thankfully, Donna will be appearing in the upcoming “End of Time” two-parter. I’m hopeful that her memories will be restored and that she’ll rediscover just how amazing she was.

#14: The Adipose

Not every alien wants to take over the Earth. Some just want to make babies.

The Adipose–creatures composed almost entirely of fat–had a unique method of reproduction. Their representative on Earth, Matron Cofelia, marketed a phony diet drug which accumulated fat cells within a human body into a young (and utterly adorable) Adipose that would detach itself and toddle away while its host slept.

If this sounds like a pretty good arrangement for all involved, it was. But when the Doctor and Donna independently uncovered the secret, the Matron accelerated the process. The result transformed every cell in a dieter’s body into baby Adipose. Fortunately, the Doctor was able to stop Cofelia before she could murder thousands of chubby Brits.

#15:  Proper Nouns

Inventing decent-sounding sci-fi names is trickier than it might seem. Rookies go with such standbys as umlauts, decorative glottal stops and triple consonants.

Old-school Who tended toward the traditional, adding -os, -on or -ana to the end of a random assortment of syllables. (e.g., Ogros, Florana, Trion)

But Russell Davies took a new approach, devising names that were poetic, evocative, absurdly long, deliberately silly and/or designed to trip up the actors. (The Judoon got their name because David Tennant has trouble with the “oo” sound.)

Among my favorites were:

  • Raxacoricofallapatorius
  • The Fire Trap
  • The Lost Moon of Poosh
  • The Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire
  • Midnight
  • Rago Rago Five Six Rago
  • The Moxx of Balhoon
  • The Adherents of the Repeated Meme
  • Barcelona (the planet, not the city)
  • Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen
  • Woman Wept
  • The Medusa Cascade
  • The Silver Devastation
  • Matron Cofelia of the Five-Straighten Classabindi Nursery Fleet
  • The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe
  • Clom

#16:  Daleks and Cybermen Talking Smack

Then there was the time Doctor Who‘s two greatest races of universe-conquering monsters finally met…and immediately began insulting each other.

As Mickey Smith retorted, “It’s like Stephen Hawking meets the Speaking Clock.”

Bonus: brief appearance by Tess Booberson!

Sixty Things I Like About Who: #1 – 5

December 9th, 2009 No comments

David Tennant’s career as Doctor Who will be ending in a few weeks with a two-part holiday special, “The End of Time.” In many ways, I’ll be sorry to see him go. A childhood fan of the show himself, his affection and enthusiasm for the role shone through. He took the Doctor in new and often exciting directions, aided in great part by the character-focused scripts of modern Who.

On the other hand, I’m hoping that we’ve seen the end of the “dark Doctor” for awhile. Executive Producer Russell Davies views the Doctor as a potentially vengeful and occasionally all-powerful figure, traits that came into play during the recent “Waters of Mars” episode and reached their nadir in the two-part storyline “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood.” Lots of fans love that latter story for the precise reason I dislike it: the Doctor is shown devising cruel and highly unusual, eternal punishments against his enemies because they shattered his fantasy of living a human life with his racist girlfriend. That’s not my Doctor.

Part two of “The End of Time” will be the 60th episode of the triumphant revival of Doctor Who, and in celebration I’d like to offer sixty things that made me smile, that thrilled me, that made me so very glad that the show is back and better than ever.

Here are the first five, in no particular order:

#1:  “Rose”

No, not Rose the character. (There was a time when she would’ve been on the list, but she eventually wore out her welcome.) I’m talking about “Rose,” the premiere episode. It was a pitch-perfect reintroduction to the series. Unlike the failed ’90s revival, it didn’t overextend itself by recapping Gallifrey, the Time Lords, the Master and the concept of regeneration. It simply dropped its viewpoint character Rose into the middle of one of the Doctor’s adventures, introducing both her and a new generation of viewers to the mystery a step at a time.

The script threw a sop to old-school fans by including the Autons–plastic robots who menaced the Doctor back in the ’70s–even as it added a new level of domestic reality that would’ve never flown in the dear old days of Tom Baker.

In one of its cleverest conceits, it posited that the Doctor’s many interventions throughout history had not gone unnoticed, but instead inspired conspiracy-minded bloggers to concoct their own explanations for his mysterious appearances and ever-changing guise.

#2:  The Judoon

My favorite recurring monsters of the new series are the Judoon, jackbooted rhinoceroses that serve as galactic police-for-hire. They’re not malign, rather dead-set on justice. They’ll get their man/woman/alien, but they don’t care one whit about the damage they cause in their single-minded pursuit. They comprise an intriguing change of pace for Who: creatures that simultaneously serve as both aid and opposition to the Doctor.

Space Rhinos on the Mooooooon!

#3:  Sex

In the very first episode of the original series, viewers were introduced to the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan. Even though this familial relationship was never once refuted or even questioned within the context of the show, fans and production personnel alike have twisted themselves into knots over the years trying to explain how it could not possibly be so. The implication that the Doctor had bumped uglies even once was too much for them to bear.

Thankfully, the new series overthrew that notion in its first season. The two-parter “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances,” written by Steven Moffat (whose name will come up several times in this list), was all about sex. The Doctor’s not-entirely-platonic relationship with Rose was threatened by the dashing Captain Jack Harkness, a younger, dishier, fun-loving time traveler with a more potent gun. Given that “dancing” was used as a metaphor for sex throughout the storyline, the title of the second part seemed a direct challenge to tender fans. And, if the Doctor’s admission that at some point in his life he had “danced” wasn’t enough, Moffat’s next script “The Girl in the Fireplace” strongly implied that the Doctor did it with Madame du Pompadour during the episode.

The new Doctor Who has treated sex in a much more mature manner than its supposedly “adult” spin-off, Torchwood.

#4:  Tess Booberson

Okay, that wasn’t really her name. Yvonne Hartman, played by Tracy-Ann Oberman, ran the London branch of Torchwood, the super-secret organization tasked by Queen Victoria to salvage otherwordly technology and protect England from aliens–including the Doctor. With cheeky arrogance she claimed, “If it’s alien, it’s ours.” My friend Dave Lartigue dubbed her “Tess Booberson” for obvious reasons.

Tess seemed to be asking for a spanking. Or maybe that was just me.

Unfortunately, the saucy Tess was snuffed too soon. Converted into a Cyberman, she rebelled against her programming and was last seen attempting to defend Torchwood Tower from the Cyber-horde.

#5:  The Freeway Chase

Russell Davies has both strengths and weaknesses as a writer. He’s great with character, and has a keen sense of balancing the needs of fanboys against those of a mass audience. He’s shit with endings, relying on deus ex machinas (at times, literal ones) to get himself out of a jam. Too many of his episodes involve someone glowing with omnipotence. And he’s fond of truly groan-inducing moments. Sometimes they work (Queen Elizabeth II waving her thanks to the Doctor) and sometimes not so much (the TARDIS towing the Earth across the galaxy).

Then there’s this: the truly mad TARDIS/car chase from “The Runaway Bride.” My favorite part is the pair of adorable children (stand-ins for the audience) watching the whole thing play out, shouting “Jump!” and punching the air when the Doctor and Donna make their getaway.