Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pure Storytelling Is Making It Up as You Go Along, or Why My Dog (and I) Like 'Doctor Who' (and Why I Should Get an Editor When I Blog)

Lucky Rabbits are cool.
Back in the 1980s, my family owned a television set with the VHF channels programmed and listed on the TV itself -- channels 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 -- and four blank channels for UHF stations -- U1, U2, U3, and U4.  In the Greater Los Angeles Area, we had (and still have) a Channel 4, KNBC.  To plug in our early-adopter VHS VCR, however, my dad programmed KNBC onto Channel 3, leaving Channel 4 for the VCR.

I do not know who programmed the extra channels, either the TV factory or my dad or someone else.  U1 was assigned to Channel 52, the Spanish-language channel Telemundo, even though my family didn't speak Spanish.  It is noteworthy, however, that Telemundo was our only access to MTV.  In the early 1990s, and perhaps on a newer TV set, we discovered an MTV show on Channel 52, with Daisy Fuentes as the vee-jay.  That show would have English-language music videos, which was cool, since we didn't have cable.

U2 was set to Channel 28, when KCET was a PBS channel.  I'll get back to U2 later in this long-winded, memoir-ish rant.

U3 was Channel 56, the local station KDOC.  It had Wally George and his stoner audience.  It was a strange political/demographic combo for sure.  It also had World Class Championship Wrestling.  If I had an editor, or if I had the will to self-edit, I'd most certainly remove a lot of these tangential details.

U4 was Channel 18, which was (and still is) the pan-Asian language station KSCI.  I suppose by accident or by design, I had a fair amount of multicultural education whenever I (or we as a family) strayed into the UHF channels, or as my dad would call any given UHF station, "Channel Forgotten."

Non-sonic, sonic screwdrivers that are flashlights, err, torches.
Channel U2, as mentioned earlier, was my only access to PBS at the time.  Between watching The Frugal Gourmet and Zoobilee Zoo (among other PBS shows at the time), I have an inkling that I might have caught an rerun or two of classic-era Doctor Who.  Then again, it might have been I, Claudius.  I don't remember.

Fast-forward to 2007, PBS Channel 50 or 58 broadcast reruns of the new-era Doctor Who.  I wrote about my Who PBS experiences here, here, and here.  I'm pretty sure after that last entry in 2009, I watched all the Ninth Doctor's episodes, as well as a few of the Tenth Doctor's adventures.  Around 2010, I subscribed to Netflix.

By 2011, I had a crazy growing puppy named Kate in my life, and we had (and still have) all sorts of "adventures."  Tossing the ball for a game of fetch/catch was (and still is) fun.  It's always awesome to chill out (or prance about) to the music of Queen.  We'd also watch streaming movies on Netflix.  We'd watch some good movies, and we'd watch some awful movies.  After watching a really long bad movie, I wanted something shorter to watch with Kate on a regular basis.

Kate and I caught some classic 'Who' as well.
Then I remembered The Doctor and his 42-minute, plus or minus, episodes.  Back in 2007, when I watched the 2005 episode "Father's Day," I was struck by two realizations:  (1) When the production connects with the audience, it works, and (2) the writers are just making stuff as they go along.  Yes, I know, the producers of the show try to keep some sort of continuity, and the hardcore fans know the stories back and forth.  However, if the overall concept of the show involves time travel and a variety of extraterrestrial races, then you're making stuff up as you go along.  (I'm also a fan of the TV series Supernatural, and they're obviously making stuff up as they go along, especially after the -- spoiler alert -- Apocalypse.)  Additionally, some of the hardcore fans get upset when their sense of continuity has been abused by the current showrunner, so when you throw continuity itself out the window, then there is little to be offended.

When I started to watch Doctor Who with my dog, I decided that we watch the episodes out of order, like true time travelers.  I knew that a lot of the details would go over our heads (maybe my dog understands these concepts better than I), and various realizations about the story arcs might be spoiled, delayed, or missed.  I didn't care, Kate didn't care, and watching Doctor Who as pure storytelling was brilliant!  It was like telling a bedtime story to a child, or a campfire story to friends -- if it works, it works, and if it doesn't, you can make fun of it (spoiler alert:  "Love and Monsters").  (The performances by the actors, the effects by various technicians, and the artistry of the production crew also helped.)

Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.
By now, Kate and I watched virtually all episodes of new-era Doctor Who before Series 7, via Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (for the two specials currently not on Netflix).  We even watched a few classic stories in our random watchlist.  It took me several paragraphs to try to get to this, but Kate and I are fans of the show.  Since I only blog once a month, I might as well type out a bunch of sentences to see if I can still write a decent sentence (I cannot, obviously).  Anyhow, if and when the latest episodes arrive on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, we'll be sure to watch them, perhaps in chronological broadcast order.  I'm sure it will be fantasticAllons-y!  Geronimo! ...

Barrowman!



Happy Easter, by the way!

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