Would You Go to Westworld If It Were Real?  Would I Go to Westworld?

This is a piece I wrote awhile back but never posted.  I’d planned to use it to help fill the quiet on the blog as I was writing my book (yay!) but, well, I just kinda forgot.  What can I say?  Life was busy.  But with Westworld Season Four arriving this weekend, I figured it was the perfect time to share it!  Enjoy!

This last HBO show I became completely obsessed with was Westworld.  As I started it just months after I watched (and raved incessantly about) The Leftovers,[1] my brother was worried I’d fall into the “HBO Cult” and become one of those people who ONLY talks about HBO shows.  Granted, this fear was more prevalent and the reality more pervasive in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s before the rise of streaming services changed our experience of TV.  But David’s fear/warning was valid all the same and I agree; “those HBO people” can be SO ANNOYING.  Thankfully, while I spent a lot of time thinking and talking about Westworld, HBO never fully consumed me.  There are still plenty of things I like to think and talk about.  So, let’s think and talk about HBO’s Westworld, shall we?

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And Lo, Jodie Whittaker Begat Ncuti Gatwa: Feelings on the Thirteenth Doctor’s Impending Regeneration

This fall, in a 90 minute special airing in October as part of the BBC’s Centenary Celebration, the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate as the Fourteenth Doctor comes into being.[1]  After all the speculation as to who would follow Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor in the TARDIS, the BBC announced Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa was cast as the Doctor’s fourteenth regeneration[2] (well, you know, fourteenth not counting the Fugitive Doctor, the War Doctor, the Morbius Doctors, and every incarnation of the Doctor we’ve met and/or seen alluded to with the Timeless Child).  Naturally, there’ve been many pieces reporting the announcement and compiling quotes from Ncuti Gatwa, returning showrunner Russell T Davies, Jodie Whittaker, Chris Chibnall, and everyone else in the orbit of Doctor Who willing to comment on the news.  This piece isn’t that.  Others have written it (and have done a better job than I could (that’s not my strength as a writer)).  Instead, I want to talk about feelings (much more my forte!) about this impending regeneration when our ever-changing Doctor will change once again.

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The Monsters and the Doctor: Reframing That Which Scares Us

One of my favorite marks of the Doctor’s character is the way they respond to meeting all manner of monsters.  When I first began watching Doctor Who this was one of the earliest signs of how different a hero they were than I was used to.  Time and again – no matter how scary or threatening or unapproachable whatever the Doctor finds in the universe may appear – their first reaction is never one of fear or judgment.  They certainly never attack.  Rather, they marvel at its beauty.  They are overcome with joy and excitement at seeing something they’ve never seen before.  And, if what they encounter appears frightened or injured, they are moved by compassion and offer help.  In all this they are a beautifully important model for us, too.  As Steven Moffatt, the Doctor Who showrunner for Series 5-10, rightly observed, “There will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like the Doctor.”[1]

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Should I Watch Doctor Who? / How to Begin Watching Doctor Who

Once upon a time, I didn’t watch Doctor Who.  I didn’t know why the blue phonebooth was important and I didn’t know if that garbage can thing with the whisk and plunger was a good guy or a bad guy.  Once upon a time, I was too intimidated to even think about watching Doctor Who.  Then I started a new job and met Theresa!  We became fast friends and the only way I survived my first year teaching was because of her friendship and guidance.  Theresa’s the best.  One of the many things we bonded over was our shared love of Marvel, Star Wars, and all those nerdy corners of pop culture fun.  But I couldn’t discuss one of Theresa’s favorite shows/characters/universes with her – Doctor Who.  Eventually, trusting Theresa and her taste, I jumped into the world of Doctor Who and my life has become better in every way for it!  But you may not know Theresa.  Maybe that’s why you’re here.  Maybe you’re curious if you should watch Doctor Who and/or how you even begin watching Doctor Who but you don’t have Theresa there to help you.  Well, that’s why I’m here.  I hope this short piece helps answer your questions, calm your concerns, and ignites your excitement for Doctor Who in the way being friends with Theresa did for me :D.

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And Lo, Davies Begat Moffat Who Begat Chibnall Who Begat…Davies?! – Considering Russell T Davies Return to Doctor Who

The world of Doctor Who has some big news!  Russell T Davies, who brought Doctor Who back to television in 2005 and served as showrunner during Christopher Eccleston’s time as the Ninth Doctor as well as David Tennant’s tenure as the Tenth Doctor, will be returning to helm the show once more.  On July 29th it was announced Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall – having completed their “‘three series and out’ pact” – would be “handing back the TARDIS keys” after Series Thirteen (a six-part event serial) this fall and a trio of event specials through 2022, ending with a feature length special as part of the BBC’s Centenary Celebrations.[1]  Often, a hallowed air surrounds discussions of Russell T Davies time as Doctor Who showrunner amongst fans (with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor being the most widely favored of the modern Doctors) so people have understandably been freaking out all day.  Well I’ve got thoughts and feelings, too!  So let’s chat about the potential future of Doctor Who shall we?

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A Doctor of Kindness: Doctor Who and a Universal Ethic

So…I may have a problem buying sonic screwdrivers.  I’m not going to say how much I’ve spent but I will openly say I’ve purchased eight.  But they’re worth it because I almost always have one on me and I almost always point them at any light as I turn it on or off.  Regardless of the financial cost, my life is obviously immeasurably better being able to do this.  On more than one occasion, while waving a sonic around at work, a student has asked if it was a lightsaber (an understandable mistake as a) Doctor Who isn’t as big in America as Star Wars and b) they know I love Star Wars).  I explain that, no, it isn’t a lightsaber.  It’s much better.  A lightsaber is a weapon, the sonic screwdriver a tool.  One has the potential to dismember and kill (which it’s often used for); the other to analyze, augment, and repair (which it’s always used for).  When it comes to heroes, I’ll take the Doctor over the Jedi ten times out of ten.  Early this schoolyear a student posed a question – If I had to pick just one fictional universe to enjoy for the rest of my life would I choose Marvel, Star Wars, or Doctor Who?  The answer was surprisingly simple.  There are many reasons I’d choose Doctor Who but the most important is the way the Doctor moves through space and time, always modeling an ethic of kindness and sowing the seeds of hope across creation.

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