Me, the Kids and the Doctor (part one)

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logoDoctor Who returned to the BBC 0n the 26th March 2005. I was twenty-nine years old, and worked for Aldi in The Worst Job I Ever Had. My son had turned three years old the month before the first episode aired and it would be another year before my daughter would be born. Since Joseph had zero idea who or what The Doctor was he wasn’t as excited as I was. In order to get home in time to watch the episode I had to get a taxi rather than the bus – an extravagance that we probably couldn’t afford. I bought a bottle of wine to share with my then-fiance (who also wasn’t very excited at the prospect of Doctor Who, but I blame that on her being born in the limbo years – she was only 4 when Sylvester McCoy hung up his umbrella) and got home with a few minutes to spare. We all sat down on the sofa, with me proclaiming to Joseph that he was going to LOVE this show although, like everyone else, I was a little bit worried that they were going to fuck it up.

9th Doctor and RoseI needn’t have worried. I had a smile on my face from the moment it started and, when the Doctor finally turned up, grabbed Rose’s hand and said “Run” I knew that my worry had been for nothing and that this was going to be AWESOME. I don’t think Joseph really knew what was going on, but he got scared in the right places, which is what matters isn’t it? When Mickey was abducted by the living wheelie-bin  he was suitably terrified. When the Nestene consciousness made its appearance he was, brilliantly, hiding behind a cushion.

For the next 13 weeks I did my best to make it home in time to watch it live. You know you’re a geek when you say to your gaffer “Can I finish early today so I can get home and watch Doctor Who?“. Substitute it for “football” or “go and and get pissed” and you’re perfectly normal, but because you’re an adult that wants to watch a show about a 900 year old bloke and his adventures through time and space you’re suddenly weird. Go figure.

Are You My Mummy?There’s probably not a lot that Joseph remembers about that first series. He loved it, but obviously Eccleston only stayed for the one year. However… even to this day if you look Joseph in the eyes and whisper “Are you my mummy?” he immediately screams “STOP IT!”. Seriously: It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. He now refuses to watch either “The Empty Child” or “The Doctor Dances”. It’s quite entertaining, really.

He found the Slitheen hilarious, learned how to fear the Daleks (which resulted in the “he’s not watching THAT again” conversation after a couple of nightmares. Six or seven at the most) and, over the weeks, fell in love with the Doctor, which made me one pretty happy geek Dad. He got a little confused when the Doctor regenerated, but I managed to explain it. Even at the age of three he was a smart-arse.

Despite Eccleston being his first exposure to the character, Joseph’s Doctor was David Tennant (from the age of four to eight) whilst Grace loves the new Doctor “because he’s bonkers”, although she continues to refer to him by the name her mother coined when she first saw Matt Smith: Mister Potato-Head.

Grace came along halfway through the second series, in the middle of the two parter “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” – the latter being the first episode that she ever watched at the age of three days old. You can’t underestimate geek exposure, even at such an early age. She now regularly asks to watch the show and, unlike Joseph, is happy to sit down and watch the earlier Doctor’s as well.

10th Doctor and SJSThe second series had plenty to scare the now four year old Joseph: The werewolf in “Tooth and Claw” and the Cybermen in the first two parter of the year both had him covering his face or burying himself into my shoulder. The year that my daughter was introduced to the world was also the year that Sarah Jane Smith was re-introduced to a nation of kids that didn’t have a clue who she was. When The Sarah Jane Adventures began the following year Grace watched them with her big brother. When Elisabeth Sladen died in 2011 Grace was distraught. She cried her eyes out until she decided that Sarah Jane was now fighting aliens with Michael Jackson in heaven.

Unfortunately 2006 was also the year that gave us “Fear Her” and the Doctor carrying the Olympic Torch. Thankfully Grace was only a couple of weeks old at the time so doesn’t remember it and, like the Star Wars prequels and the fourth Indiana Jones movie, it’s something that’s rarely mentioned by me, unless I am making a point of mentioning Things I Don’t Mention. Which I probably do a lot.

Rose left at the end of the second series. Joseph was upset and Grace didn’t really give a monkeys as long as she was fed, cuddled and people laughed at her when she farted. I’m pretty sure it’s why she likes blowing off now – buried deep in her memory is the image of her parents going “GRACE!” whenever she let one rip, which would set her off giggling.

series5weepingangelsWhen the third series rolled around in 2007, Joseph was five years old. He was full time at school and despite my best intentions his Grandad had shared an obsession with football and a love of Formula 1. I still had Doctor Who, though, and whilst football would become Joey’s first love I still remember him watching what was, at the time, the Scariest Thing He Had Ever Seen, Ever. Stuck between the “Human Nature” / “Family of Blood” two parter and the return of the Master was a little episode designed purely to give David Tennant a bit of time off. That episode was “Blink” and Joseph was petrified. The Weeping Angels might have lost some of their terror-inducing menace since then, but that first appearance was an excercise in how to scare the shit out of a family audience. He loved it, although I think he actually only saw about 60% of the episode. For the rest of it he was looking at his palms, the back of a cushion or giving me a rather tight cuddle. He did not sleep well that night.

The episode aired two days after Grace’s first birthday. She was walking around at that point, bumping into things and getting into trouble. Quite possibly she giggled at Joseph’s terror. Despite her absolute love for her brother she does have a weird sense of humour. I have no idea where she gets that from.

Sadly, new companion Martha Jones only survived one year with the Doctor. The season was half weak and half brilliant. It might have had “Blink” and “Utopia” but it also had “42” and “Evolution of the Daleks”. It wasn’t Martha’s fault: Coming after Rose was a hard job and the writers couldn’t decide if she was as brilliant as the Doctor or the traditional thicko that needs everything explaining to them in case the audience can’t keep up.

– 0 –

I thought this was going to be a single blog post, but since I’ve passed the 1,200 word mark and I’m only up to the end of series three I think I’ll be splitting this up. Next time I shall cover series 4 and those pesky specials, and then move on to the eleventh Doctor.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this, because I enjoyed writing it!

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Here’s the thing: I don’t know if this little “quirk” is endemic to geeks in general or if it’s just me. I hope that my friends and fellow geeks do the same thing, but this might be one of those times where I make a bizarre observational gag about something that everyone can relate to, only to find that it’s just my warped head and everyone looks at me like I’m just a tiny bit sick in the head.

There are films that I completely, utterly and eternally hate. Everyone has those films that they watch and despise and, I guess for most people, that’s where it ends.With me, however, I will re-watch the hated movie again just to remind myself of why I hate it so much. A few years later I’ll watch it again. Even though I know that it’s shit I will load up the DVD player, plug in a USB stick or watch it on the telly. If I see a film that I particularly hate in the schedules and it’s on late or I’m at work I’ll set it to record so I can vent my venom in my free time.

Sparking this particular post was Terminator Salvation, which was on a few days ago. Utterly, utterly, shit movie. Beyond bad. I’d struggle to find a single redeeming feature. It’s got a stupid fucking plot, bad acting, terrible writing, too many quotes from the originals, a CGI Ah-nolt, shit casting and bastard mother-fucking Terminator bikes! But the main problem I have? The thing that truly revolts me about this movie? How come, in a film called “Terminator“, no one dies? In the first couple of films people were getting blown to shit all over the place. Here the Terminators look like they’ve been given intense training by the Stormtroopers from the Star Wars movies – they can’t hit shit!

I summed it up in this Tweet:

quote

I lasted about 5 minutes after that Tweet before I had to turn it off. The only alternative was to put my foot through the telly. But I already knew that I hated the movie! I watched it knowing that I would end up ranting about it. Twitter and Facebook are great tools for the whole social networking thing, and created purely for bitching about things that annoy you.

 

 

There are others that I watch, knowing that I am going to get the same result. I’ve tried to watch the first Twilight movie at least three or four times. I get a little further each time and if things go as they have done I’ll have watched the entire movie by about 2023. The furthest I have gotten is to the ‘sparkly’ bit, which caused me to scream at the telly-box and spend the next week muttering “vampires do not sparkle!” How the ever loving fuck did this film spawn a best-selling series (other than the fact there wasn’t a Harry Potter movie out that year)?

This trailer is well worth watching, if you tend to skip this sort of thing.

 

 

When I think about it there are plenty of films that I watch which I hate: The Star Wars prequels; Transformers: Revenge of the FallenSuperman IV: The Quest for Peace; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Catwoman. All of them (and more) are terrible movies and, if they’re on the telly I’ll sit my arse down and shout at the screen for a couple of hours.

So… why do I do it? Why do I voluntarily put myself through the agony that is Aliens Vs Predator? I could be watching Serenity or Memento. I could be re-watching Fringe or plowing my way through Breaking Bad. Instead I verbally abuse an empty room, curse George Lucas and wonder how Keanu Reeves continues to have a career.

 

 

The first Matrix movie was a lot of fun, but the sequels make as much sense as a fight between a Womble and a Vampire. The thing that makes me feel dirty is that, after watching the above trailer, I know that I am now going to watch the movie again. I own the DVD. It’s there, waiting for me. Even though I know the fight between Neo and 500 Agent Smith’s looks like something out of Shrek I will pour myself a glass of wine and slowly shake my head for the running time.

Do I do it because I want to learn how to NOT make a movie? Do I do it so that I can appreciate the good films out there? Is it a storytelling exercise where I am learning how structure, plot and theme can go wrong? I haven’t got a clue but I know that, after writing this little blog post, I’ve got a months worth of bad films to get through and no option but to watch them.

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