Bit late on this, but good lord. Capaldi’s face was made for book covers. I’m not being funny here. They’re pretty well designed covers in their own right, but Capaldi’s face is like some kind of incredibly punchy illustration. He brings a new level of impact to it just by being there. Part of me wants these books just to ogle the covers.
So, I was reading some Doctor Who fanfic today, for purposes of research (I’m on a panel at NineWorlds about the intersection of fanfic and licenced material.)
Well, I wasn’t reading the fanfic, so much as I was taxonomising it. I’m surprised by the lack of intersection.
So, what do people like? What scores highly on the kudos? Crossovers between difference franchises. Well, that’s certainly a need that your spin-off material (or indeed the original material) isn’t going to be able to provide. Similarly, epic (or not so epic) multi-Doctor stories are in abundance.
Then there’s the slashing and shipping. Now, the shippiest thing that Big Finish have ever done would probably be “The Rocket Men”, which is a lovely little Ian/Barbara thing underlying a tight and era-appropriate adventure plot. What we have on ao3 is not that. It’s typically vignettes set around canon material. Sometimes it retells things differently - fanfiction.net’s most favorited Doctor Who piece is a retelling of series 3 but with Rose as well as Martha (and therefore featuring large chunks of RTD et al’s actual dialog, uncredited, of course, which seems to cross a line, to me.)
What it all seems to have in common is an interest in the characters rather than setting, plot, or the mode of storytelling. What makes them tick, how do they interact when you put them together in odd combinations. And it usually gets right to the point, doesn’t faff around with this subtext nonsense. Original characters are rare (even villains), it is the characters from the source material that are of interest.
Whereas, the licenced material, that’s all about the plots and the adventure stories and the new ideas and the subtexts. Character work for people currently featuring on telly is usually left to the telly. Character work for continuity insert stuff is sometimes done in almost a fixit-fic way, consciously adding moments that with hindsight should have happened. But a book would never be just that.
I think what I’m saying is, it’s not just a difference in officialness for licenced material vs fanfic. There are basically two different genres here. People who read the latter are not necessarily going to get a lot out of the former, and vice-versa.
This is really interesting!
And it’s something that struck me about your own lovely fanfic as well, when I read it at Big Finish Day — you focused more on plot and events, and less on the characters’ emotions towards each other. It felt very different from the fanfics I usually read on AO3, and much closer to the actual show. (Although that’s probably also just because I tend to search for the smuttiest smut out there on fanfic sites and skip the plot altogether. Ahem. Anyway.)
The same thing strikes me when I read Big Finish CD booklets. Often, writers mention how they sent in an outline to Big Finish and that it got approved based on the plot events in that outline. And I always find myself wondering, but how can a script just be approved like that, without any description of the character interaction? I’ve probably been looking at the process from entirely the wrong perspective. It makes sense that the plot comes first, and that the characters react to the plot, not the other way around.
And that’s also what’s so strange and fantastic about episodes that do put interaction at the front. “Master”, “Midnight”, “Scherzo”, and so on, where the characters drive the plot, and the adventure is generated from their emotions and interaction, not the other way around. They stand out because they embrace ideas that typically the fans focus on more than the writers do. (But like I said before, with the writers all being fans these days, it’s all a bit blurry, isn’t it?) And, come to think of it, this contrast may also be a reason why little things like “Night And The Doctor” and “Pond Life” aren’t shown as TV episodes proper.
I’m wondering if there are different subtypes of fans out there — some who go more for the adventure aspects, and others who enjoy the show primarily for its character-based drama. That would certainly explain a few fandom disagreements I’ve seen floating about.
If you’re going to do more research into this, I’d love to see it. :)
I really love the little bits of pop culture that make their way into Doctor Who at times. Just from assorted novels and audios, I’ve gathered that Jack Harkness is a huge fan of Sparks, Eight listens to "Just A Minute", Five is fond of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and so on and so on. And if you look closely at the TV series, you’ll see Ace is wearing a "Watchmen" smiley pin.
It just makes me smile so much, every time something I enjoy is referenced like that.
You know what Classic series monster should be brought back?
"Your life is in peril."
The Masque of Mandragora - season 14 - 1976
Big Finish is like a Doctor Who monster, it seems. You get drawn to it, and after listening to the first few audios you become hooked.
You buy the first 25-ish stories for about 3 bucks. The outside world has disappeared.
The price slowly begins to go up. You’re at the $13 audios with no escape.
You realise you are financially doomed, but only in the back of your mind. Consciously, you refuse to turn back. You can’t.
W̟̱̲̠̫͋̔͛͆H̫̱́̿E̘̠̬̓̂R̞͍ͯḚ̴̫̝͚̟͔̟ ̛̑̉ͩ̍́I̴̘̦̞̙͐͐̅S̫͈̙̪͚̭̾̎ͭ ̶ͬY̭̟͔Ŏ̖͕̉̚U̧̖̥̠̤͂ͅR͇͚͉̗͇̓ ͘M̹̹̝͈͖͈̎͂ͪ̐O̟̝͆̉̿̌͗ͮ̚Ṉ̶̖ͯ̀̑ͅE̬̮̪̞̝͉ͣ̌̔̀ͮŶ̨̪͓͍͑̈̐̚ ̄̄͟N͙̹͚̬̬ͨ̿ͫ͑OŴ̶?̭̋ͅ
The universe is big, its vast and complicated, and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.
Mark Gatiss waited almost forty years to realise his childhood dreams of hamming it up as a Doctor Who baddie. He’d clearly be damned if he wasn’t going to squeeze the fun out of every background-featuring frame.
I ended up deleting the post I made earlier on this topic, because I realised that my badly worded ramblings might cause exactly this kind of confusion. I’m sorry if I offended anyone and I’ll take care to word things a bit better in the future. :)
Basically, what I meant to say was: ”having headcanons is always totally cool, as long as you don’t claim that your headcanons are more valid than what the original authors intended.”
Obviously, Doctor Who is a tangled monster of a franchise in this regard, with hundreds of writers all contradicting each other all the time. All of the current writers are also longtime fans by necessity, so yes, Doctor Who actually is full of fans claiming their headcanons are more valid than the original intent of the original authors, because precisely these fans are the people who are officially, professionally writing the show. That makes my above argument kind of silly, doesn’t it? Add to that the thousands of hours of not-televised Doctor Who media out there, and the constant neverending debate over what’s canon and what isn’t, plus the eternal confusion over whether some contradicted things are just “alternate timeline” or really properly overwritten by other stories. I can’t just say something “doesn’t count” or has been “declared not canon”. It’s not that simple.
So basically, I have to admit that my views on authorship and interpretations and so on don’t hold up for Doctor Who, at least not compared to the way they hopefully hold up when I’m talking about just a single story with a single author. Doctor Who is entirely too complicated, you can’t properly pin any literary theory or opinion on it.
In conclusion — I think that anyone should be free to interpret the show any way they like, even if they feel they know better than some of the authors, because that rebellious attitude is exactly what’s been keeping Doctor Who going brilliantly for decades now. And if someone’s favourite interpretation involves looms and asexual Time Lords, that’s fine; if it involves literally everyone shagging Jack Harkness, that’s just as fine; and if someone feels represented by any aspect of the show — no matter how obscure — and doesn’t like idea of that representation being contradicted, it’s not my place to chide them for clinging to what’s important to them. And I’m sorry if I came across earlier as feeling that it was my place to do so. :)
"Eldrad must live."
The Hand of Fear - season 14 - 1976
Episode one’s cliffhanger which, when I first watched it aged six, gave me nightmares for weeks after.
One of my favourite episodes!
New fun game: go to http://www.bigfinish.com/customers/my_orders and see if you can physically hear your bank account starting to cry.
August is going to be a great month!!!
Time Lords/Ladies and their incarnations.