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Welcome to The 13 Days of Doctor Who Bloghop! A collection of authors, reviewers, librarians, and fans have banded together to count down to the Doctor's annual Christmas Special. This year's special is titled "The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe."
(Let us all take a moment to reflect on the fact that I will be TRAVELING on Christmas and therefore will MISS the Christmas Special. If you think I'm not going to watch this trailer over and over until I get home, you are clearly not a regular visitor here.)
Nevertheless, we wanted a way to pass the time until the Doctor's return. Over the next thirteen days, we'll be posting entries around the Interwebs on all sorts of topics DW-related, and we'd love you to come along.
To that end, we're also hosting a giveaway! Many of the individual entrants will hold contents on their sites, but we've also got a grand prize: The Complete Sixth Series DVD. (The one with the Silence and River Song and THE NEIL GAIMAN EPISODE.) There are more details and instructions at the end of this post, as well as information about a second giveaway specific to today's entry.
So...let me tell you about the moment I fell in love with The Doctor.
People often ask me which Doctor is "my" Doctor. While I am certainly fond of David Tennant, the current incarnation, played by Matt Smith, is probably my favorite. The Eleventh Doctor might look human (conversely, we might look Time Lord) but he is not human. He's an alien, replete with strange taste buds and two hearts and the ability to regenerate. Something about Matt Smith gives us a hint of that, even in his most prosaic moments. Like the TARDIS itself, he manages to seem both ancient and brand-new at the same time. And Series Five, to me, is utterly magical.
(You might disagree, and that's okay. I'm not saying he has to be YOUR favorite Doctor, after all.)
But of the three Doctors we've seen since 2005, Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor seems to get the shortest shrift. I've yet to meet someone who considers him their favorite. At times, the writers didn't seem to understand how to write for Eccleston, and many of his episodes seem to be about the writers deciding what they wanted to do with the character, instead of writing to the strengths of the actor. But I happen to LOVE Eccleston's Doctor. He's cranky and haunted and impatient, rigid and rough-hewn. He's carries the weight of those 900 years every single day, even in his lightest moments. He's not MY Doctor, but he's the one I fell in love with.
A confession: I was not super-impressed with the first few episodes of Series One. I managed to catch "Rose" and then "Aliens of London"/"World War Three" and frankly...meh. The living mannequins? Carnivorous trash cans? The flatulent Slitheen? The breathtakingly craptastic special effects? This was the long-running pinnacle of British television? I did not get it, and so I didn't bother to watch every episode.
And then, up one night folding laundry, I caught "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances."
A brief plot summary: The Doctor and his companion, Rose Tyler, land in London during the Blitz, looking for an object they've been chasing through space. Soon enough, the Doctor and Rose are separated. The Doctor runs into a boy in a gas mask whose presence terrifies a group of vagrant children and is tied to a series of bizarre phone calls; Rose encounters a roguish Time Agent named Jack Harkness. Eventually, Rose, Jack, and the Doctor reconvene, along with Nancy, leader of the vagrant children. The object they've been searching for is slowly transforming the entire town into zombies with gas-masks for faces. Seriously. No, seriously. There are all manner of hijinks and moments of sheer terror, but in the end (spoiler alert) the Doctor triumphs, the zombies are returned to normal, families are reunited, and the Doctor and Rose dance sweetly in the TARDIS while Jack Harkness looks on.
It's this fantastic combination of elements: history and time travel, sly humor, creepy small children, the Doctor trying desperately to unravel a puzzle, and the entire story hinging on truth and love and forgiveness, as it so often does. But there's something different about this episode: so often on DW, the victory takes a terrible toll. People die, either by someone else's hand or as a noble sacrifice. The Doctor recognizes this fact, but you can see how it wears on him. It makes him set his jaw, bow his head, and shoulder through yet another tragedy. It's like his life is one long string of losses: the Time Lords, his companions, innocent people, entire species. When he succeeds in saving people, he knows that it's the exception, not the rule, and those victories are few and far between. There is always collateral damage.
But in "The Doctor Dances," it's different. When the Doctor's risky, crazy, all-in plan works...you see this look on his face: absolute wonder. Complete astonishment. Christmas morning. Celebration and joy, completely unfettered. Nobody died. The broken family is reunited. The bomb is transported to outer space. England is going to win the war, very soon. Smile splitting his face, manic with delight, he cries, "Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once...everybody lives!"
I tear up every time I think of it.
Because it's great, that everybody lives. But what you see isn't just his relief that he managed to save himself, his companions, Nancy and Jamie, London, and the rest of the planet. He's been saving the planet forever, after all. It's old hat. This time, it's not even that they won. It's that nobody had to lose. For a man as familiar with loss as the Doctor is, it's a staggeringly beautiful thing. In that instant, Eccleston's face shows not just his joy, but the memory of every single time he's lost someone. Every time his best was not enough. It makes this victory even more bittersweet -- and like a true time traveler, it's not just the memory of other battles, but the realization that he will endure more losses in the future.
But just this once...everybody lived. How could I not fall in love?
Ready for Day Two? Tuesday's post will be at www.elizaevans.com. I'll also post a schedule on this site listing every stop on the tour, so if you get lost, check back here to see where you should go.
Now, on to the giveaways! Want to win your own copy of the newly released Complete Sixth Series?
To enter the grand prize giveaway, please leave a comment with your name and email address. You may enter once at every stop on the blog tour, for a total of thirteen chances. The Grand Prize giveaway is limited to the US and Canada, due to regional restrictions on the DVD. Individual contests will close at the discretion of the author, but the Grand Prize contest will accept entries on any site until midnight CST on December 24th. We will post the winner on December 25th, and notify the winner via email.
I'm also running an individual giveaway at the same time: A bracelet from my one of my favorite Etsy shops: Foxwise. It features a quote from the end of Series 5. "We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one."
All you need to do is leave a comment on today's entry -- although, if you watch the show and have a favorite doctor, I'd love to hear it. I'll announce the winner on for the individual contest on December 25th as well.
Note: Leaving one comment here enters you in both the bracelet contest AND the Grand Prize giveaway. There's no need to comment twice, and we won't count duplicates.
Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the blog hop!