Chris Garcia on ‘Doctor Whom’: a guest blog

Doctor Whom

by Christopher J Garcia

So, I’m not quite a Whovian. I like Doctor Who, watched it a bit when I was a kid, and I fell in love with The Talons of Weng-Chi’ang, and since they’ve brought it back, I’ve enjoyed many of the episodes, though I haven’t been as big into the episodes that deal with long-standing traditions and impacts.

I like my episodes stand-alone and fun. There was a time when I was big into The X-Files. I hated the episodes that dealt with the on-going storyline, and thought that the good ones were self-contained stories about whacky stuff; like murderous circus performers or mutant fish. Same with Buffy. Could not stand any of the big story episodes, and LOVED Monster of the Week kind of shows.

Or, as my old roommate used to say ‘the lame ones.’

I’ve never been a big encyclopedic-type fan of almost anything… except maybe ‘rasslin’. I’ve watched, but when I was at Gallifrey, I had to ask Linda all sorts of questions as to who people were and what had happened in various episodes and who various companions, villains, and locations were.

Before you riot, let me explain…

OK, so Gallifrey One is the coolest Dr. Who con in North America. It’s one of those cons where cool folks show up and hang out. They get tons of Who actors, from Freema Agyeman to Paul McGann. They’ve had most of the most impressive actors, producers, and writers for the series at one time or another.

Of course, they mean almost nothing to me.

I don’t go to cons for the Guests. I’ve never been a big enough fan of any particular person to attend a con because of a guest. Not even Tim Powers! OK, that’s not true, I’ve gone to a con to see Tim Powers, but mostly to hang out, not to worship at his feet or get autographs. This is a thing that a lot of fans don’t really get. I’ve had to explain that I come to cons to hang out with fans, party a bit, and maybe do some eating.

Actually, it’s more about the eating than anything else, thinking about it…

OK, so I was at Gallifrey and I found myself in a conversation with a Femme Capt. Jack Harkness. She was working on sewing something, and I was busily interviewing people. While we were chatting, she asked me what my favorite episode was.

“Well, I’m a big fan of The Talons of Weng-Chi’ang.” I said.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a Tom Baker storyline.”

“Who?”

“Indeed.”

We didn’t go all Abbott and Costello, but I couldn’t resist.

“The Fourth Doctor.” I said.

“There’s only been three; Eccelston, Tennant, and Smith.”

I knew this wouldn’t work, but I figured I’d go to that level for a second.

“You remember School Reunion? Sarah Jane?”

“Yeah, that one was AWFUL!” She said.

I happened to love that episode, though it may have more to do with my appreciation of K-9 than anything else.

“Well, Sarah Jane was the companion for the Fourth Doctor; Tom Baker. From the original series.”

“Really? When was that?”

“The seventies.”

“You’re kidding.”

I could tell this was not going to go well.

“I’m also a big fan of The Unicorn & The Wasp.” I said.

“That is the WORST episode ever!” She said.

“It’s probably the smartest. I mean, it has amazing actors, a fun script, and it’s all about Agatha Christy! how can you go wrong?”

“Because it doesn’t do anything for the series! The Doctor’s barely the focus, it’s all about these silly characters who don’t show up again.”

At this point, I was interested in seeing how tunneled her vision was.

“Have you read any Agatha Christy?” I asked.

“Who is she?”

“She was a writer, mysteries.”

“Just like in the episode!”

“Quite.”

That was the first time I’ve met someone at Gallifrey who wasn’t completely into the know not only on the current Who, but also the earlier stuff. They might not have seen every episode, but usually folks know that there was a previous set of seasons, and at least 9 other Doctors. Still, I had to know more.

“So, what did you think of The Christmas Invasion?” I probed.

“That one’s almost as bad as The Unicorn & The Wasp!”

Now, I consider that to be the peak of new Who, without question. It explains what Who is really about. For almost the entire episode, he’s unconscious, only coming to briefly at exactly the right moment to save the day. THAT is exactly what the Doctor is: he’s always there at exactly the right minute, and he saves the day. It’s not the people they should be focusing on, the people who are influenced by the machinations of the Villains, but it’s about the Doctor who just rolls into town, pulls away beautiful women and unusual men to come traveling with him, and then bring about the solution. Here, he’s not active, but he still saves the day. Go figure.

“You REALLY know nothing about Dr. Who, do you?”

“No, probably not.” I said.

Photo of Chris Garcia courtesy of Andrew Trembly

Photo of Chris Garcia courtesy of Andrew Trembly

Chris Garcia won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine for Drink Tank, which was followed up with a nomination for ‘Best Dramatic Presentation: Short form” for his acceptance