Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.
-Dumbledore and the Doctor
Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.
-Dumbledore and the Doctor
Doesn’t this cool autumn weather just make you want to curl up in a blanket and binge-watch scary Netflix shows? It does me! The Walking Dead is an obvious choice for Halloween viewing, of course, but even shows that don’t fall squarely into the “horror” category occasionally surprise you with a truly creepy episode. This is especially true for those that follow the monster-of-the-week format I love so dearly.
Here are some scary highlights from my favourite shows:
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” – The two-parter that introduced the phrase “gas mask zombies” into Whovian vocabulary and made “Are you my mummy?” the scariest sentence in the world. Also, Steven Moffat’s first episode and one of the best stories involving the Ninth Doctor.
“The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit” – The Doctor and Rose land on a planet orbiting a black hole and meet the Devil. The result: the only Doctor Who episode I’ve felt uncomfortable showing my 9-year-old sister. Not that the actual Beast is all that scary, but there’s something really unsettling about the Ood.
“Blink” – Again, Moffat. This time, he decided to make statues the scariest thing in the world. To this day, angel statues make me uneasy. This is easily one of the best Doctor Who episodes of all time, so you really can’t miss it, whether you’re looking for a fright or just a clever work of art.
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” – And for a third time, Moffat. Everyone’s afraid of the dark sometimes, and these episodes give us a reason to be. They also give us a planet-sized library, our first meeting with River Song, and lots of emotional trauma.
“Midnight” – No slimy alien monsters, just the Doctor stuck in a bus with a bunch of panicky people, one of whom keeps repeating what everyone else says. It’s terrifying. And again, one of the greatest episodes ever.
“Night Terrors” – Giant, living dolls and an apartment complex straight from my nightmares. Only Rory Williams could get through this one unfazed.
Even though it is marketed as a horror show (and has a higher body count than The Walking Dead), Supernatural usually isn’t all that scary. But it does have its moments.
“Asylum” – It’s an abandoned insane asylum with creepy twitching ghosts everywhere, one of whom makes people bleed and go crazy. This sort of thing is why I don’t go to haunted houses.
“Something Wicked” – Monsters that target children are always extra scary. Especially when they’re portrayed explicitly like paedophiles. Especially when their actual “monster” form has long, tree-branch-y fingernails that scrape against your window right as you’re falling asleep…I mean, who didn’t have that nightmare as a kid?
“Everybody Loves a Clown” – No. We don’t.
“The Kids Are Alright” – No. They’re not.
“No Rest for the Wicked” – This episode is upsetting on a number of levels, since it’s a season finale that ends with one of our heroes dead (for the first time) and in Hell. But the scariest thing about it isn’t the hellhounds or the final shot of Dean. It’s FREAKING LILITH. Talk about a creepy child. “I don’t think I like you anymore.” *shudder*
“Family Remains” – Who would have thought finding out your new house isn’t haunted would make it scarier? No ghosts in this one, just a really messed-up sibling duo…much like a certain X-Files episode…
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” – Okay, so this one isn’t especially scary, but it’s the Halloween episode. And it is chock full of ghosts, zombies, demons, and witches.
I mean, one of the main characters is nicknamed “Spooky.” Of COURSE it’s got scary moments.
“Squeeze/Tooms” – These episodes will replace your fear of mice getting in the house via the air vents with fear of a liver-eating serial killer getting inside the same way.
“Irresistible” – And yet, Eugene Victor Tooms is outdone by a (probably) completely normal serial killer. He has a thing for hair and fingernails…and Scully…
“The Calusari” – You know how little kids don’t usually get killed on TV-14 rated shows? That rule doesn’t apply to The X-Files. Not that one of the kids in this episode wasn’t a killer himself, and also probably possessed by Satan. This is not a good one to watch alone in the dark.
“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” – It’s a funny episode, but also pretty creepy and morbid, especially whenever we get a glimpse of Clyde’s death visions.
“Home” – As I’ve mentioned before, this got a “mature content” warning slapped on it when it first aired, for understandable reasons. It will also ruin your childhood if you grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show. But it’s a fantastic episode nevertheless.
“Sanguinarium” – This one isn’t exactly scary so much as it is just really, really gross. Botched plastic surgery + witchcraft does not equal happy times.
“Chinga” – It’s about an evil talking doll. It was co-written by Stephen King. Need I say more?
Even the myth arc episodes get in on the fun, with the “black oil” virus and aliens hatching from people’s torsos and whatnot. “Tunguska/Terma” and “Patient X/The Red and the Black” deserve special mention, partly for black oil-related gruesomeness and partly because Alex Krycek is Justin Bieber’s demon form.
The Twilight Zone
All of The Twilight Zone. Every single episode. If the actual plot doesn’t give you the creeps, the ’60s special effects, combined with that theme song and Rod Serling’s grin, will. They should broadcast marathons of this show around Halloween, not Fourth of July.
Well, that seems like a pretty comprehensive list to me. Please comment below if I missed anything. Meanwhile, happy binge-watching!
Mae Govannen, mellyn nin!
You may be wondering where I’ve been for the last month. For once, the answer isn’t “in my house, being lazy and watching copious amounts of TV.” No, this time the answer is much more exciting. I was touring the UK and Ireland on a three-and-a-half-week solo trip. I’d never been to those particular islands before, unbelievably, so it was a wonderful experience. And a nerdy one. Because most of the places I went out of my way to see were somehow related to my favourite books, movies, TV programmes, etc. And if I learned anything from this trip, it’s that the UK is a fabulous place to be a nerd.
Here are some of the geeky highlights of my adventure:
By the way, no words, or pictures, could even begin to capture the utter awesomeness that is Oxford. Even if you’re not as huge a fan of Tolkien and Lewis as I am. It’s like everything good and beautiful about the last thousand years of Western history concentrated into a few square miles of marble and forests. Seriously, if you ever find yourself in England, don’t leave without seeing Oxford.
Long story short, I shamelessly indulged my inner geek for a whole month, and it was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I highly recommend it as a cure for dullness and everyday American reality. But now I’m excited to get back to inflicting my geeky thoughts on you lot again! Stay tuned!
Everybody loves a good crossover. If you’re a member of more than one fandom built around a work of fiction with a well-developed universe and interesting characters, it’s very natural to wonder, “What if this character from this work met that character from that one?” Or, “What if the characters from this universe suddenly found themselves in that one?” And so, much fanfiction and fan art is created.
But ever since someone decided that Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Supernatural go together like peanut butter and chocolate, “Superwholock” has become so popular on the Internet that it’s practically a fandom in its own right. For a long time, this puzzled me. As a Whovian and a Sherlockian, it was easy for me to see how those two shows work together. They’re currently run by the same people, star many of the same actors, and air on the same UK channel. Of course there are similarities between the two! But I couldn’t understand how Supernatural fit into that group. It’s an American show. I knew just enough about it to know that it has nothing in common with the BBC except for Mark Sheppard (and really, what speculative fiction show doesn’t have Mark Sheppard?).
But now, having added Supernatural to my list of fandoms, I understand. All three shows have:
1) Male protagonists of questionable sanity who fight evil (and tend to do it attractively).
2) A habit of killing main characters and bringing them back to life.
3) LOTS of angst.
4) At least one beloved character who sports a Long Coat of Power
And most importantly…
5) An insanely devoted (and possibly insane, period) fan base.
There are other similarities, but those seem the most obvious to me. Since these are my three favourite TV shows (with the exception of Firefly), I find Superwholock to be all kinds of fun. And some people have put a lot of work into making it believable. Seriously, Google it sometime. Just as one example, I’ll leave you with this trailer for the feature-length crossover episode that will, sadly, never happen. For your viewing pleasure:
Well, hello there, March. You startled me.
As hard as it is to believe, we are starting a new month already, and that means it’s time to jump back into the world of (relatively) mainstream fandoms. In March I will be posting about my latest obsession: Supernatural.
How shall I describe this series? If you’ve spent any time on Tumblr or the geekier side of Pinterest, you’ve heard of it, but your impression probably isn’t very accurate. Short description: Supernatural is a ten-year-old American fantasy/horror show about two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, who drive around in a cool car hunting down demons, ghosts, and everything else that goes bump in the night.
But that description doesn’t quite do it justice. If you’re a Whovian, picture something like an American Doctor Who without all the space travel (there’s plenty of time travel, just nothing in outer space). But of course, since this is ‘MURICA, Supernatural doesn’t have ANY of that “no guns” nonsense. And the vehicle of choice is a black ’67 Chevy Impala instead of a blue police box. And all the main cast members look like underwear models. But both shows have the same weirdness level, the same tendency to kill main characters over and over again, and the same love for long overcoats.
It took me a long time to start watching this show, mainly because the premise sounded utterly ridiculous and at least 80 percent of the fandom seemed to be made of young, single girls who liked gay fanfic. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a sophisticated adult, so that kind of thing puts me off. But then I started to see more and more stuff about it on the Internet, some of my closest friends got into it, and, well…you know how peer pressure is.
Once I started watching it last summer, I realized my early impressions were correct. Supernatural is ridiculous, and it does cater to the fangirls quite a bit. And yet, it is also awesome. I fell in love with the characters almost immediately, and once I got past the whole killing-a-ghost-who’s-already-dead thing, the story sucked me in just as effortlessly. Once again, I must admit that my tastes are neither sophisticated nor adult. But who cares?
I love Supernatural for its great characters, dark humor, and refusal to take itself seriously. I also enjoy the occasional scares and perpetual tear-jerkers (oh, did I forget to mention this is a very depressing series? In spite of the ridiculousness…yeah, it is.) Also, the soundtrack is beautiful. Never has classic rock been put to better use.
This month, expect to see lots of lists: best characters, best episodes, best songs, etc. Also expect to see some fun jokes, quotes, trivia, and/or analysis. Stay tuned!
It’s Valentine’s Day. Siiiiiiggghhhhh….
This is the most annoying, divisive holiday on the planet. People who are in love (and aren’t too cynical) like it because it gives them an excuse to be romantic with their significant other. Florists, candy makers, and greeting card companies LOVE it because it gives them an excuse to market their products more aggressively than at any other time of year.
Everyone else hates it. I’m part of “everyone else,” so today tends to bring out my misanthropic side. However, I am trying very hard not to be cynical. Love is, after all, a thing worth celebrating, and, to a certain extent, so are chocolate hearts.
So, in an effort to bring a little bit of positivity to this day, here are a few happy couples that don’t nauseate me–largely because they’re not real, but still. Happy Valentine’s Day from:
1. Eowyn and Faramir
2. Ten and Rose
3. Han and Leia
4. Wash and Zoe
5. Remus and Tonks
6. Dean and Baby
Here’s hoping all you readers find a valentine as wonderful as these characters did.
Speaking of Doctor Who Christmas things, here’s what a Who-themed paper snowflake looks like:
And another variation:
And one more:
All rather pretty, wouldn’t you say? You can find some how-tos and printable templates for these on this Tumblr page. Have fun, crafty types!
As I mentioned last month, Doctor Who has had a Christmas episode every year since 2005. The Doctor loves this holiday! Although, since he always seems to attract trouble wherever he goes, and he goes to 21st-century London more than anywhere else, the Londoners of the Whoniverse have become a bit wary of Christmas time. In the series 4 episode “Voyage of the Damned,” they’ve even grown smart enough to evacuate the whole city on Christmas Eve, for fear of alien invasion.
Fun exercise: try comparing the holiday specials during the Russell T. Davies era with those of the Moffat era. They’re extremely different. RTD Christmas episodes all take place in London, or directly above it. They all feature an alien invasion of some kind. And they all have a fairly high body count, even for Doctor Who. But then, RTD was a fan of murderous Christmas trees and robots dressed like Santa Claus, so a lot of the death and destruction in these episodes comes across as extremely funny. Except in “The End of Time, Part 2,” of course. That episode was pure heartbreak.
Moffat Christmas episodes, on the other hand, tend to be pretty light-hearted, for Moffat at least. He has written two in which no one dies at all. Also, only one of his specials was set in London, and that was Victorian London. Two of his specials have even taken place on other planets (though they still featured snowy landscapes populated by humans). No funny robots or decorations gone berserk in Moffat’s world–he populates his Christmas stories with shout-outs to famous holiday-themed literature, plus the occasional carnivorous snowman. And, Moffat being Moffat, all the specials have wibbly-wobbly time travel plots that end in some kind of surprising twist.
Though every Christmas special has its moments, these episodes vary widely in terms of quality. Personally, I rank them on a scale of “Time of the Doctor” to “The End of Time.” Others may disagree on the rankings, and that’s okay, but can I just take a moment to talk about my favourite non-regenerating Christmas special?
“The Christmas Invasion.” I love it to death. The story was wonderfully cheesy and fun from the beginning, but the last 15 minutes were largely responsible for making me a full-fledged Whovian. I mean–when the Tenth Doctor (played by the awesome David Tennant) swaggers out of the TARDIS, interrupts an evil alien’s world-destroying rant to ask Rose if he’s ginger, quotes The Lion King, challenges said evil alien to a swordfight on top of a spaceship (!), regrows a hand, and defeats the evil alien with a piece of fruit, all while wearing a set of borrowed pajamas, it’s hard not to geek out at the sheer awesomeness that is Doctor Who. Anyway, the Tenth Doctor is pretty much the best Christmas present you could ask for, and this was an absolutely beautiful introduction for him.
“And it is gonna be fantastic!”
My ranking of Doctor Who Christmas specials (from worst to best):
“Time of the Doctor” – Too many plot holes, too much exposition, too many big questions answered hastily or left unresolved. And I am SO over Clara. Nice regeneration scene, though.
“Voyage of the Damned” – Way too many pointless sacrifices with dramatic slow motion. Still, “Allons-y, Alonzo!” and Wilf’s introduction are lovely moments.
“The Runaway Bride” – Most. Annoying. Monster. Ever. “Myyyy chiiillldreeeeennn!!” But hey, first episode with Donna!
“The Next Doctor” – Two words: Steampunk Cybermen.
“The Doctor, the Widow, and the War” – Doctor Who does a Narnia spinoff! And it sorta works!
“A Christmas Carol” – Flying sharks aside, it’s a really sweet story. I love Michael Gambon.
“The Snowmen” – One of Clara’s least annoying appearances. Plus, you gotta love Strax, the TARDIS in the clouds, and the Doctor-as-Sherlock-Holmes.
“The Christmas Invasion” – See above.
“The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2” – Yes, it has flaws, but the epicness of the story kinda makes up for them. Seldom has a TV episode brought me closer to tears than this one did. The sound of those four knocks on the glass still hurts.
Watching a little Doctor Who is just the thing to get oneself into a festive mood. So, who’s excited for this year’s Christmas special?
Well, it’s December 2 already, which means it’s high time I introduced the fandom of the month. But for December, I’ve decided to change things up a bit.
Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year in most of the English-speaking world. It’s such an important (and emotionally-loaded) day in our culture that it tends to crop up rather a lot in fiction. Only the most serious and serialized TV shows can go for long without airing a Christmas episode, and many movies and novels spend a great deal of time depicting celebrations of Christmas (or a thinly-veiled substitute). For some reason, it often takes on special significance in fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe it’s because of the holiday’s strong roots in pagan and Christian mythology, or because of all the quirky traditions that go along with those roots, or perhaps because many people associate it with the wonder and imagination of childhood. Some authors use it as a fun, nostalgic break in the action; others like to milk the dark side of the holiday for all it’s worth. Either way, Christmas and the fandoms seem to get along quite well together.
So this month, to help us all get into the holiday spirit, I’ll be looking at all the different ways my fandoms celebrate Christmas. There will be episode and book highlights, and I may also provide some recipes, shopping items, etc. to add a little nerdiness to your merry-making.
This week, I and most of my fellow Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to being thankful and celebrating all the blessings we receive throughout the year. It’s a wonderful tradition, and one of very few things that make me genuinely proud to live in the U.S. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to finish up this month by listing some Whovian blessings for which I am grateful.
1. The theme song.
Doctor Who is one of the few shows I watch without ever skipping the theme song. It’s just too fun and beautiful. And I love all the different “time vortex” credits sequences (except the one with Matt Smith’s face–that was a bit weird). I even sing along most of the time. DOO-WEE-OOOOO!
2. The TARDIS.
I love the TARDIS almost as much as I love the Doctor. She’s so clever, and odd, and funny, and beautiful. My favourite version of the TARDIS interior was the one she sported during Nine and Ten’s era–all the branchy pillars that made her seem even more like a living thing, and the coat hanger that never, ever got used properly. But I rather like the latest two versions as well. The names of the Doctor’s companions in circular Gallifreyan were a nice touch. Anyhow, you gotta love the sheer zaniness of the TARDIS’s existence. It’s hard to imagine any modern TV writer, especially here in the U.S., coming up with a sentient time/spaceship that’s infinitely huge on the inside but looks like a blue police call box on the outside, and is nicknamed “Sexy.” And without the TARDIS, there would be no Doctor Who. As she herself says in “The Doctor’s Wife,” “I always took you where you needed to go.”
3. David Tennant’s hair.
Just…thank you, Lord, for David Tennant’s hair.
4. Bowties. They’re cool.
Also fezzes. And Stetsons. And Apollo 11 spacesuits. Basically, Eleven is cool, and he makes everything he touches ten times cooler.
5. Donna Noble.
Donna was one of the best things ever to happen to New Who. She decisively broke the mold of young supermodel companions in love with the Doctor, and I adore her for it. She and Ten had some of the best chemistry ever seen on the show. They were hilarious together. But beyond that, Donna was a very strong and complex character in her own right, and she saved the entire freakin’ universe! Twice! Oh, and she came by her good qualities honestly, because her grandpa, Wilfred Mott, pretty much defines awesome. Too bad she and all her connections had to be eliminated in the most painful and unfair way possible…but it was fun while it lasted. “Watch it, spaceman!”
6. The Ninth Doctor.
Nine never gets as much love as he deserves. He was the whole reason I started watching the show in the first place. Him and his beautiful sarcasm, and his big ears, and the fantastic way he said “fantastic!” He deserved more than one season on the show. Although I love Ten and Eleven with all my hearts, and I’m ready to welcome Twelve with open arms, it’s true that you never forget your first Doctor. And there’s really no better introduction to Doctor Who than Christopher Eccleston shouting “run!” and grinning maniacally.
7. The sonic.
The most powerful weapon in the universe is a tool made for fixing things. If that’s not a stroke of genius, I don’t know what is. Eleven’s is the coolest.
8. Learning about history.
Doctor Who was originally intended to be an educational show for kids, in which the Doctor would travel to various important events in history and explain to his companions all about what was going down.
HAHAHAHAHA…..but seriously *wipes eyes*–I have actually learned several things about history from the show. Perhaps it’s due to the flaws in my education, but I never knew about Queen Victoria’s connection to the Koh-i-Noor diamond until “Tooth and Claw,” or Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance until “The Unicorn and the Wasp.” On the other hand, I knew enough about Shakespeare (and Harry Potter) to thoroughly geek out for the entirety of “The Shakespeare Code.” It got even better after I watched David Tennant’s Hamlet. Aliens or not, Doctor Who always mixes well with history, whether it’s inventing an end for The Mystery of Edwin Drood or explaining how Watergate got started.
As long as we’re talking about things I learned from Doctor Who, I’ve now added this to my extremely limited French vocabulary. This, the way he says “well,” and the ever-present Converse All-Stars, are among my favourite things about Ten.
10. The constant changes.
The greatest blessing/curse of being a Whovian is that our show is like the weather in Colorado: if you don’t like it, wait 10 minutes (or, in this case, a season). Every season brings us a new Doctor, a new companion, a new TARDIS interior, a new credits sequence, and/or more new things. I’m especially grateful for this at the moment, because I rather dislike Clara Oswald and will be glad when she’s replaced. Others may be sad when Clara goes, but remain excited about Twelve and all the new possibilities he brings with him. Everyone’s got their favourite era of Doctor Who (mine is Russell T. Davies’), but I think we can all agree that the show is better for switching out actors and showrunners periodically. That’s why it’s the longest-running sci-fi show in history–it’s got something for everyone, and it constantly adapts to the times.
Long live Doctor Who! And always remember, my fellow nerds, to count your blessings.