THE MIND PROBE

It's a Doctor Who blog.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

A Jubilee Worth Celebrating

 

"Powerful explosions hit Ukrainian capital, Kyiv"



I've been meaning to write about this story for a few years, and it became topical enough to pitch successfully due to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee (celebrated above by the curious presence of Daleks). As I mention in the article, it was another weird combination of images and context that inspired me to listen back to the story a few years ago:


We still have the 'Future Time Lord' onesie, mostly because I enjoy the ramifications for canon.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

The Doctor Fails

I wrote an article looking at what happens when the Doctor fails for Den of Geek. The starting point was Moffat putting the Doctor into a heroic position and then undermining that (strange that other Doctors only get to do the heroic speeches at conventions), and it developed from there into a more detailed look at how to use failure dramatically in the show.

'We've delivered your fridge."


Tuesday, 26 April 2022

The Third Cyber War

 If you are so inclined you can read a bit of fanfic called 'The Third Cyber War' that I wrote for Cosmic Masque (issue 15).

Cosmic Masque issue 15 - cover

SPOILERS:

I'd rewatched Nightmare in Silver and felt confused by the idea of the Cybermen being so mighty as to require the destruction of a whole galaxy, so I wanted to address that. Also I was wanting to see Jodie Whittaker get a scene where she just effortlessly won, just wandered brazenly into a room and upended the power dynamic as if she was ordering a coffee. Because I felt like that wasn't going to happen on TV any time soon I should just write it.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

The [Insert number of actors willing and able to meet the filming schedule] Doctors

 I wrote an article about multi-Doctor stories and how, far from being standalone stories, they're just as subject to production context and actor availability as every other story. The Sixtieth Anniversary special - should it be a multi-Doctor story - will be no exception.



Friday, 18 February 2022

Fandom is Full of Terrible People and No Amount of Craft Activities Can Fix This

I wrote this for Den of Geek about the recent racist and sexist responses to the new Amazon Lord of the Rings series. The reason why I'm posting it here is because the draft I sent in had more Doctor Who stuff in it, and I wanted to share it because I think the article is relevant to all fandoms, especially ones where fans like to pretend everything is fine because someone posted a funny gif.

The cuts were made because the involved personal recollections in the first person, which is not part of Den of Geek's house style (take note if you're pitching anything there).

"Who knows if this new adaptation of Lord of the Rings is good? I’m intrigued by what I’ve seen so far but there’s no guarantee that I’ll enjoy it. Having a diverse cast and crew is good but it doesn’t automatically mean the resulting story will be (for example, I’m not a fan of the Chibnall era of Doctor Who). That’s how art works, whether it be sitcoms, comics or Jeff Bezos’ desire to bring prestige television to Amazon Prime with this new adaptation.

This last word is important: this is an adaptation of the written word into a visual medium made in the third decade of the twenty-first century. It is not going to match the books, in the same way as Peter Jackson’s films do not match the books. Adaptations are affected by the change in medium and the context creative decisions are made in. They do not alter the original text, often increasing its availability. Thing is, I understand being annoyed by an adaptation.

I remember being furious leaving the cinema after The Two Towers because I thought it had brought in Arwen too much, and complained to my friends about this on the way back to the bus station. I don’t think I updated my MSN Messenger profile to register my irritation though, which was the nearest thing to Twitter we had at the time.

I can look back on this now and realise that it was based on ignorance (of the Appendices, and of everything I mentioned above about adaptations), unexamined sexism and entitlement (if you look at fan forums during the making of the film you can see more examples of this). If it turns out I dislike this new series, I will probably write about why (on here if you’re lucky), express disappointment, find something else to watch, and maybe write some fanfic. Genuinely, I think writing about your concerns helps a lot: you might start off writing about how much you hate something, but you can’t sustain that forever. Eventually you start getting curious about why the things you hate (and love) ended up the way they did. In other words: it’s easy to say ‘this movie sucked’, but it’s more useful to know why it did.

I started writing for this website around eleven years ago when it was a UK-based site, and have seen fan reactions become more extreme in this time. They started off fairly aggressive too. I wrote something after the TV presenter Fern Britton had been on the BBC show Room 101 – where panellists suggest things they dislike to be entered into the titular room (inspired by 1984) – and she had suggested science-fiction should go in. Her arguments were weak and easily dismissed, but the response online was one of extreme aggression and mocking Britton’s weight. I wrote something naïve about how nice it would be if we could all just enjoy Doctor Who, rather than tweeting Steve Moffat saying he should kill himself and calling Sylvester McCoy a c***, this annoyed people.

The then editor of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ tweeted me to mention the many great things in fandom (decoupage Bandrils, that sort of thing) and being overawed by this I meekly agreed. I should have said that a papier-mâché Erato doesn’t counteract the negative sides of fandom, and this form of toxic positivity amounts to a suspension of critical faculties and an unwillingness to process difficult truths. There’s a sense of identity being tied up in something make-believe, so a criticism of their favourite stories is a criticism of them. There's a great example of this in the comments of an article I wrote for Cultbox about The Talons of Weng-Chieng (cw/desperate attempts to be perceived as not racist), an episode that frequently gets described as racist because it is. Ignoring these increasingly destructive elements with a kind of toxic positivity amounts to a suspension of critical engagement and an unwillingness to process difficult truths."

'Doctor Who Magazine' later threw its own journalists under the bus when they described 'Talons' as racist but also good in other respects. It was fairly gentle and accurate criticism which instigated a discourse where the racism I mention in the article felt legitimised by the magazine. However, as I said, the article wasn't meant to be in first person and the Doctor Who examples distracted from the central focus of Tolkien.