Cara Winter on Why DOCTOR WHO is Awesome

DrWho1

 The Anglo Files 14
by Cara Winter

As a writer, I am always fascinated by how and why certain stories ‘catch on’.  Why do some films or TV shows crash-and-burn, while others capture the imagination of legions, scoring passionate, die-hard fans?

If the world-wide reaction to the new STAR WARS trailer has taught us anything, it’s that die-hard fans are often life-long fans, as well.   But, why?  What are the components, what is the magic recipe, for creating a tale that inspires such rabid fandom?  And what’s inside the head of a super-fan; and why do they get so attached?

My current working theory is that the younger a person is when they are introduced to a great story (or, one might say, indoctrinated), the more that story sticks with them as they grow older.  The UK television hit DOCTOR WHO has rabid, die-hard super fans (called Whovians), similar to STAR WARS and STAR TREK fans.  So I thought it might be interesting to interview a young Whovian, a super-fan in the making, and pick his brain about why he loves DOCTOR WHO.

Below is the transcript of my interview with a 10-year-old Whovian named Thomas, about his love for the 1,000-year-old Doctor.

CW:  I understand you’re a big fan of the UK television series DOCTOR WHO.  Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

THOMAS:  I AM ALMOST ELEVEN YEARS OLD.  I LIVE IN KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, AND I AM A FIFTH GRADER. 

CW:  How did you get into DOCTOR WHO

THOMAS:  I GOT INTO IT BY MY FRIEND, JOSH, WHO’S A GEEK ABOUT THESE SORTS OF THINGS. AND HE TOLD ME I REALLY NEEDED TO WATCH THE SHOW. SO I DID, AND I GOT REALLY INTO IT.

CW:  How many seasons of DOCTOR WHO have you seen? 

THOMAS:  I HAVE SEEN ALL OF THE NEW SEASONS, AND I’M WAITING FOR SEASON NINE, BUT I HAVE NOT SEEN ANY OF THE CLASSIC SEASONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. 

CW:  I’ve actually never seen DOCTOR WHO, and I’m thinking about starting to watch. As a newbie to the show, what episode/s or season/s do you think I should watch first?  

 THOMAS: SO, I RECOMMEND WATCHING SEASON ONE, BUT NOT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  SORRY, CHRISTOPHER  ECCLESTON, BUT YOU’RE NOT MY FAVORITE DOCTOR.   I RECOMMEND WATCHING THE EPISODE “ROSE”, “DALEK” AND THEN I RECOMMEND WATCHING “THE EMPTY CHILD” AND “THE DOCTOR DANCES” AND “FATHER’S DAY” AND, UM, “BAD WOLF”, AND “THE PARTING OF THE WAYS”.  AND THEN WATCH THE REST ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  ESPECIALLY, DON’T SKIP SEASON 2, OR SEASON 3, OR SEASON 4, BECAUSE THAT HAS MY FAVORITE DOCTOR IN IT. 

CW:  What do you love most about DOCTOR WHO

THOMAS: I LIKE THAT HE GOES AROUND IN TIME AND SPACE, AND HE GETS A TON OF FRIENDS, AND HE’S REALLY OLD, AND HE CAN TRAVEL INTO ALIEN PLACES.  AND I LOVE HOW HE HAS HIS TARDIS, WHICH IS A BLUE BOX WHICH IS SMALL AND CAN PROBABLY FIT INSIDE YOUR CLOSET, BUT IT’S SUPREMELY BIG ON THE INSIDE.

CW:  Which actor so far has been your favorite Doctor? 

11th doctor

Thomas as “The Doctor”

THOMAS:  MY FAVORITE DOCTOR, BY FAR, HAS GOT TO BE DAVID TENNANT, WHO WAS THE TENTH DOCTOR, AND WAS IN SEASON 2 SEASON 3 AND SEASON 4.   I JUST REALLY LIKE HIM.  HE’S FUNNY, AND HE’S WITTY, BUT HE’S ALSO VERY SMART AT TIMES. HE’S SMART WHEN HE NEEDS TO BE SMART, AND FUNNY WHEN HE NEEDS TO BE FUNNY.  I LOVE HIS FAKE GLASSES, TOO. 

CW:  Who is your favorite companion? 

THOMAS:  WOW, THAT’S TOUGH. I’M GONNA SAY AMY POND, CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS, AND RIVER SONG.  THAT’S MY TOP THREE. 

CW:  Apparently people’s opinions vary wildly as to what actor should play the Doctor, after Peter Capaldi’s done. Do you have any opinions about this subject?  

THOMAS:  NOT REALLY, BUT – I KINDA LIKE THE YOUNGER DOCTORS, BECAUSE THEY SEEM MORE, LIKE, FROLICKY?   KINDA CRAZY-ISH?  BUT, NO, I DON’T HAVE AN OPINION AS TO WHAT ACTOR SHOULD PLAY HIM NEXT.  

CW:  Do you think the Doctor could ever be played by a woman? 

THOMAS:  UM, I DON’T KNOW.  I MEAN, LIKE, IT FEELS LIKE THE DOCTOR HAS TO PLAYED BY A MAN, BECAUSE THE DOCTOR’S LIKE, THE DOCTOR.   BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THE MASTER HAD REGENERATED INTO A WOMAN, AT ONE POINT.  SO I DON’T KNOW, IT COULD BE TOTALLY POSSIBLE!

CW:  Could the Doctor be played by a kid?

THOMAS:  UM, I DON’T KNOW.  IF THE DOCTOR WERE PLAYED BY A KID, I FEEL LIKE IT WOULD TAKE THE WHOLE POINT OUT OF HIM BEING, LIKE, 2,000 YEARS OLD.   IT SEEMS LIKE 20 YEARS OLD, I THINK, MIGHT BE THE MINIMUM.  

CW:  The Doctor has never been played by an American actor. Would you like to be considered for the role someday, despite being an American?   

THOMAS:  I DON’T KNOW.  I THINK IT WOULD BE REALLY, REALLY FUN TO BE THE DOCTOR.  BUT IT’S KIND OF LIKE HAVING THE LEAD ROLE IN A PLAY.  YOU’VE GOTTA PRACTICE EVERY DAY.  BUT IT WOULD BE FUN TO BE THE DOCTOR, AS YOUR JOB.  LIKE, GOING INTO A CROWD OF WHOVIANS AND BEING LIKE, “I’M THE DOCTOR!” AND THEN PEOPLE WOULD BE LIKE, ‘OH MY GOSH!!!’  THAT WOULD BE PRETTY COOL.

(Side bar: I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say he’d be perfect.  Check out this video Thomas made:
YouTube Preview Image

CW:  Would you like to write for the show?

THOMAS:  THAT WOULD BE PRETTY FUN, TOO. BECAUSE YOU CAN CHOOSE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE STORY. OR, LIKE, IF YOU’RE A CHILD, AND YOU MAKE UP ALL THESE GAMES OF DOCTOR WHO, YOU COULD MAKE THAT COME TO LIFE, IN AN EPISODE.  

CW:  Some grownups talk about seeing the show when they were younger, and it scaring the bejezus out of them. Are there any moments in any episodes that stand out, to you, as being the scariest? 

THOMAS:  I ACTUALLY CAN SAY THAT THERE IS A VERY SCARY EPISODE:   IF YOU ARE GOING TO WATCH WITH YOUR CHILD, I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND SEEING “THE EMPTY CHILD” AND “THE DOCTOR DANCES”.  IT’S a TWO-PARTER EPISODE.  A GOOD EPISODE, BUT IT IS PRETTY SCARY, IN MY OPINION.  I WAS CREEPED OUT BY IT.  ALSO, THE WEEPING ANGELS ARE PRETTY SCARY.   BUT ALL THE OTHER CREEPY EPISODES ARE, AT MOST, HALF AS CREEPY AS “THE EMPTY CHILD”. 

CW:  What’s your favorite episode or episodes?

THOMAS:  “THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR”, and “A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR”, and “TIME OF THE DOCTOR”, and “SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY”.

CW:  If the Doctor existed in real life, and you could talk to him – what would you ask him? 

THOMAS:  PROBABLY, “COULD I TRAVEL WITH YOU?”

CW:  If he said yes, where would you go?

THOMAS: I DON’T KNOW, IT DEPENDS ON IF IT’S JUST ONE TRIP, OR AS MANY TRIPS AS I WANT.  CAUSE, I KINDA WANT TO GO BACK IN TIME, BUT ALSO WANT TO GO TO THE FUTURE.  AND I KINDA WANT TO SEE AN ALIEN PLANET.  

CW:  What character/s in the DOCTOR WHO universe do you love most, besides the Doctor himself? 

THOMAS: I REALLY LIKE CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS, WHO’S INTRODUCED IN SEASON 1, BECAUSE HE’S LIKE, TOTALLY SUAVE AND COOL.  AND HE MAKES JOKES A LOT AND STUFF.  HE CAN HOLD A SMILE WHILE BEING VERY SERIOUS.  AND  I LIKE RIVER SONG BECAUSE SHE HOLDS SO MANY SECRETS. THAT’S PRETTY COOL.

CW: What character or characters do you hate? 

THOMAS: I LIKE THE MASTER, BUT IN (SPOILER ALERT) THE MASTER’S VERSION OF MISSY, I DON’T REALLY LIKE HER. SHE JUST SEEMS SO RUTHLESS.

CW: I imagine you feel a sense of kinship with the Doctor. What is it about him, do you think, that you identify with?  Or what is it about him that you like?

THOMAS: I LIKE THAT HE’S WISE, BUT FUNNY, AND REALLY SMART.  I DON’T KNOW.  HE JUST SEEMS REALLY COOL.  HE’S REALLY NICE, HE’S FUNNY.

Well, there you have it.  Everything that makes a Whovian tick.  Everything that makes them come back for more.


Special thanks to Thomas, and Thomas’ mom, Sarah, for her assistance with this interview, as well as for the photos / video.


Cara Winter is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.

Time Now for a Few Words About Herbie J Pilato

That’s right – about our longtime Contributing Editor, not by. Cuz we here at TVWriter™ aren’t the only ones who think Herbie J has something important to say:

{05EF5F4E-08E9-4B92-AE8F-4D8BE6976259}Img100

THE WONDERFUL, MAGICAL WOMEN OF BLOOMING TELEVISION

I know I’m not alone in my childhood fantasy of being able to nod my head or twitch my nose to make things better. I wish I could say it ended with childhood, but truthfully, I still consider those options when things get tough for the ones I love. If I could, I would blink them into a shiny world with rainbows and puppies. But probably not until I blundered it somehow. That was the beauty of these paranormal “girl next door” lovelies—they taught me that nothing is un-fixable . . . with a little love and a smidge of magic.

Every week, I sat rapt as the ladies of blossoming television showed me how to navigate through life. I aimed to “borrow” something from each of them and incorporate it into my own life. I wanted Samantha’s nose, Jeannie’s hair and navel, Goldie Hawn’s giggly joy and innocence, That Girl’s drive and energy, and June Cleaver’s pearls and patience.

I am old enough to have experienced the unequaled pleasure of growing up with them, as the world went from black and white, with the national anthem signing me off for the day to full-technicolor, on-demand, streaming madness we watch today.

The smell and sound of the tubes warming up on the television set brought intense joy to my young soul as I waited breathlessly for the pictures to appear. The instant gratification we have now deprives us of that joy. Instead of allowing our imaginations to fill in the blanks, we are spoon-fed graphic images that rob us of the belief that every problem can be solved in 22-23 minutes, plus commercial sponsorship.

Enter Herbie J Pilato, a self-made savant and expert in the field of classic television, to the rescue!

My early TV role models, Elizabeth Montgomery, Barbara Eden, Marlo Thomas, Barbara Billingsley, and Goldie Hawn, are only a few of the subjects of his books and the life he is making to preserve the values represented in their programs.

Through his studio experience and exhaustive research, he has brought us a more intimate look at some of our favorite icons.

I was thrilled to be able to get to know him better through our correspondence and interview, which I present to you here:

Read it all

From Novel to TV Series – Here’s how it happened

…To one young writer anyway. Will Pamela Redmond Satran be the new George R. R. Martin or Eddie Huang? Or maybe even her own individual snowflake self?

cdn.indiewireYOUNGER: From Novel to TV Show in 527 Easy Steps
by Pamela Redmond Satran

Exactly two years ago today, I got an email from my agent Melissa Flashman at Trident Media saying that Darren Star wanted to turn my novel “Younger” into the next “Sex & the City.”

I, of course, said, Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right after I yawned. I’d been around this option block before, and I’d learned that getting your novel optioned is a lot like moving to Hollywood: It may get you closer to the action, but it doesn’t make you a star.

I imagined “Younger” as a TV show or movie almost before I thought of it as a book. It’s the kind of high-concept idea that’s a natural for the screen: a 40-something mom pretends to be younger to get a job and ends up with a secret 20-something life.

The idea was sparked by an article in Vogue about extreme plastic surgery, but I didn’t want to write about the kind of woman who’d have extreme plastic surgery. Then I was going to have my character become younger by magic, a supernatural power I’d take over vortex breath or wall-crawling any day.

And then my friend Christina Baker Kline, whose novel “Orphan Train” is now a number-one bestseller, had the fantastic idea to have my heroine merely pass for younger. Give herself a makeover, disappear that 15-year gap on her resume, and not lie about her age, exactly, but commit what Sister Miriam Gervase would call a sin of omission.

I wrote the first draft of “Younger” in a two-week gallop at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, refined it through several long sessions of nitrous-enhanced dental surgery, published it with Simon & Schuster, and waited for the Hollywood deals to roll in.

And they did roll in, only to roll right back out again, with the regularity of the waves in Malibu. Until one night last August, when Google Alerts informed me that TV Land was “fast-tracking” the series “Younger” by Darren Star, based on the book by Pamela Redmond Satran. I was floored, because not only was the show moving forward, but they actually mentioned me and my book!

My LA agent Dana Spector had just gotten married and my NY agent was on vacation, so all my initial news came from Page Six. The fall brought more news: Sutton Foster was set to star, an inspired choice for a role that demands freshness, combined with soul and serious acting chops. Then the adorable Hilary Duff was tapped for the role of the younger colleague, giving the show big-time Hollywood cred, with Debi Mazar as the main character’s best friend — perfect, as I’d always thought of Debi as my secret best friend. Then I read a draft of Darren Star’s script — this is the first show he’s writing and producing himself since “Sex & the City” — which I thought was brilliant and hilarious. He not only got my book, but made it faster and funnier.

Still, I couldn’t quite believe the show was actually going to happen — did I mention that I lost my virginity about TV options a long time ago? — until late one cold February night when in came an email from Darren Star’s assistant inviting me to the first day of the pilot shoot. The very next day.

I had plans to visit my dying grandmother, which I quickly jettisoned…

Joke! I drove from my home in New Jersey all the way across the vast New York metropolis to find Darren Star, standing in the snow outside a pretty suburban house much like the one I’d left two hours before. He was smiling, friendly, down-to-earth, waiting to meet me. It turned out that my neighbor John Thomas was the DP on the shoot, an amazing coincidence, and J.T. very generously found me a perch near the main monitor. Sutton Foster, who I’d met after her show at the Cafe Carlyle, gave me a big hug.

And then there was a moment, as the dozens of crew members and the stars and the cameras and the booms swirled all around me, when it suddenly hit me: Now it’s real. These are the characters I imagined alone in my studio in the Virginia mountains, the situations I configured in the dentist’s chair, the novel I published so long ago, and now all these people are here making it into a real live TV show.

Read it all

BAFTA TV Writing Awards Announced Last Night

The British Academy of Film & Television Arts announced a mess of winners of this year’s TV awards last night, and while TVWriter™ is happy for everyone – and impressed as hell by their skill too – the awards we care most about are these:

Detectorists

Television Craft | Writer – Comedy in 2015

DETECTORISTS

Writer: Mackenzie Crook

Happy_Valley_creator_Sally_Wainwright_and_Detectorists__Mackenzie_Crook_win_Bafta_writer_awards

Television Craft | Writer – Drama in 2015

HAPPY VALLEY

Writer: Sally Wainwright

 See all the winners HERE

Peggy Bechko takes writers “Off the Beaten Path”

Valerii_Tkachenko_Wikimedia

by Peggy Bechko

I’m not going to talk about screen scripts or novels or even writing – directly – today. What I’m going to talk about is life. Now, it’s not going to be some great philosophical spew or anything like that, more of a rumination that applies greatly to writers.
Now sit back folks and ponder.

Life is interesting and little of it is planned. If you don’t believe me, look back on your own life and consider how much you really planed out and how much happened along a twisting, turning course and just kind of sorted itself out as you went along making plans.

Still with me?

Right.

All right, I’m a writer, I always ‘planned’ (or more to the point, hoped and worked toward) on being a writer. Cool. I’m here. But how I got here is a strange and twisted story, pock-marked with all sorts of interesting things like working in a transmission shop, delivering telephone books and working in law offices to help support my ‘writing’ habit while I helped hands-on to build my own house because there was no other way I’d ever be able to afford it, almost married a Brit (bad mistake because he wasn’t the right one, not because he was a Brit), found the right guy, went from poverty to a decent living.

Then there’s my niece. Comic book writer, Corinna Bechko (curious? You can find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CorinnaBechko?fref=ts ) . She spent years getting her zoology degree, worked jobs with animals; still loves to volunteer and work with animals, but now writes comic books for a living and loves it as well as her animal volunteer work. Go figure. Not exactly planned.

There are so many things in life we don’t plan, but darn well happens anyway. It would be nice if when we’re young we could be informed of and understand this simple life reality. Think about it. When applying for college what’s the deciding factor? You really love Yale, but the fact of the matter is your state college will give you a complete ride with no huge student loan hanging over your head when you graduate. Both colleges accept you. Which do you attend?
What do you study? You start out enamored with whatever it is, but get bored after only one year. Do you continue or do you change?

You’re a writer. You love writing. You love creative writing but you realize you’re going to have to make a living even if it’s just a transition job. Do you want to doom yourself to working for fast food while you get your foot into the door of creative writing or do you want to learn about other writing that could be one leg of your three-legged stool such as copywriting, or journalism, or technical writing, or catalog description writing (heck, that’s creative!)?

Meanwhile, your grandfather taught you how to use a saw and a screwdriver. You need work and there’s a job posted asking for someone with those skills at a not too shabby salary. You apply and are accepted. Maybe you end up in the props area of the theatre department. That might be just the ticket and you stay forever – or not.

Maybe you get married and divorced. You have boyfriends or girlfriends along the way who nudge you in directions you never dreamed of. Maybe there are kids. Maybe you get fat and slim down. Maybe you move around the country; or out of the country. You trained for one job but long for another.

Life throws curves, many of them painful, some downright exhillerating. Some decide to drink their pain away, others just want to hide in deep depression, others are out partying!

But this is life, folks, the ever-moving, ever-changing event we were all born into. Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and wherever it takes us – other times it’s time to dig in and follow those dreams. When you look back with clear eyes you realize you can never really plan it. You can choose your goals, feed your dreams and then choose which fork in the road to take.

Life doesn’t turn out like you plan. Really. Get over the “if only” crap and get ready to steer your craft past the rocky shoals. Because here’s the thing; the beauty of life is what truly happens in the space between those rock-solid plans and the waves that sweep us gently or fiercely elsewhere.

So choose. Follow those dreams. Then, in the space between learn to celebrate, fight, submit or whatever reaction you choose. Accept the dark days, embrace the light. It’s a decision we all make. But hey, there’s simply too much joy out there to worry about how things didn’t pan out exactly how you planned.

Chuck the plan.

Live your life.


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.

“How long will it take me to binge watch my favorite shows?”

Um, according to Nielsen, the company that makes it its biz to know everything about what people are watching on TV, it’ll take this long:

Binge-Shows-Shortest-to-LongestRevised-960x1671