Bruce Campbell on “Doctor Who?”

On April Fools’ Day, Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell pranked both “Doctor Who” lovers and his own fans hard by posting this on Twitter:

Bruce Campbell Doctor Who

When a friend of mine posted it on Facebook, so many thoughts whirled through my head: Does this mean Bruce Campbell is going to be the new Doctor? Or are they creating an American version of the show? How will this affect the continuity of the show? But wait, are they throwing over Peter Capaldi? They can’t throw over Peter Capaldi! Peter Capaldi is amazing!

 Those thoughts were shortly followed by: Maybe I should wait until April 2 to worry about this…

Either way, Campbell probably didn’t expect the reaction he got. Basically, fans—both on the “Doctor Who” side and the Evil Dead side—were super excited about the possibility that Campbell might come to the show. (My fiancé, who is a huge Evil Dead series fan, got almost giddy—until I pointed out that it was most likely an April Fools’ joke.)

But just because it started as an April Fools’ joke doesn’t mean it has to stay that way, right? (I’m still holding out hope for that Hugh D’Ambray book that Ilona Andrews—sorta—promised us.) Plus, BBC has, allegedly, been looking for ways to drum up excitement about the 11-year-old series (not including Original Recipe “Who”) as viewership has started to decline. This could be a good way to do that!

So here’s how I think it could be done:

For over 2,000 years, a man in a blue box has wandered the universe. Sometimes a protector. Sometimes a warrior. Sometimes a hero. But always a Doctor.

But on Christmas Day, two timelines will collide, and the Doctor will run into another man in another blue box. A man who made different choices. A man who is a very different Doctor. He’s brash. He’s angry. He’s violent. He’s American.

What happens when the only person who can save the universe is the person you always feared you’d become? What happens when your worst enemy is…yourself?

Okay, it’s clunky, but you get the idea.

Basically, what I’m picturing is that Bruce Campbell could guest star in the Christmas episode of “Doctor Who” as…the Doctor. I’m thinking that at some point in the Doctor’s history, he made a very critical choice, and his timeline essentially split in two. One timeline progressed in the direction we know and love, leading to the charmingly grumpy Peter Capaldi Doctor. The other timeline led the Doctor to become much darker and more violent, leading to the Bruce Campbell Doctor.

See, here’s the thing: I don’t think the Doctor could exist as an American hero. He’s just so outside of our John Wayne/Bruce Willis hero paradigm (i.e. an armed-to-the-teeth cowboy with a quick trigger finger) that an American version of the Doctor—a pacifist who refuses to carry a gun and prefers to defeat his enemies with his wit—just wouldn’t fit here. Which is why I would never advocate an American version of the show. I think, if the show became an American production, the Doctor’s personality would change, become more Americanized.

Bruce Campbell’s Evil Dead character is pretty much the epitome of the American hero ideology. Ash is a character who chopped off his own hand and attached a chainsaw to it so he could go plow through some more zombies. Yeah. Very not-Doctorlike.

But in creating an alternate timeline Doctor, the show could play with this very idea. One of the primary tensions of the Doctor’s character is that he could be the violent, Bruce Campbell-esque hero…but that he’s chosen not to be. And sometimes he seems to question whether that path was the right one. And in having the two timelines converge, the Doctor has to reckon with his own baser impulses, with the person he could have been.

I wouldn’t want Bruce Campbell’s Doctor to be a “bad guy,” but he’d be very different than the Doctor we know and love—though still with that core Doctorness there. He’d still talk a lot, and like to show off his intelligence. But I think he’d be a lot more suave and slick than the current Doctor. Take the effortless cool of the 9th Doctor, the charisma and charm of 10, and the devil-may-care attitude of 11. Mix that in with a hell of a lot of arrogance, and you’d get the Bruce Campbell Doctor.

And I think his path would prove tempting to the Peter Capaldi Doctor, like maybe this other guy has done better at the whole Doctor thing than he has. Of course, by the end of the show, Bruce Campbell’s Doctor would see that the real Doctor’s path is the better one.

Basically, it’s “Doctor Who” meets Sliding Doors.

Steven Moffat, if you’re listening, I’m totally available as a writer, story consultant, or just a fangirl who squeals loudly whenever Peter Capaldi walks into the room. Whatever.

Wizard World Wrap-Up

I had an amazing time at Wizard World Comic Con in Las Vegas this past weekend.

I spend most of the convention at the California Coldblood Books booth, where I was signing copies of The Demon Within.

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Yes, this is really me. And yes, I am really signing my book.

Yes, you heard that right.

It’s been nearly six years since I started my first draft of The Demon Within, and now it’s out in the wild—unofficially. Although official release won’t be until April 6, attendees of the conference were able to get some early, signed copies. I also have confirmation that Amazon started shipping copies earlier this week, some of which have already arrived. (Not sure about Barnes and Noble or other online sites.)

But the first copies went out into the world at Wizard World last weekend. For those of you who bought copies—thank you, and I hope you enjoy!

I was able to sign most of them, I think, but I know a few of you came to the booth while I wasn’t there. If you’d like, e-mail me (my contact info is available here) and we’ll figure out the best way to get the book signed and personalized for you.

While I was there, I got to spend time with Robert Peterson, editor extraordinaire and the author of The Odds. He had preview copies of Omegaball, a young adult futuristic sci-fi about a disabled young woman who is a superstar in the vicious sport Omegaball on the Darknet (a virtual reality), and has to decide whether she wants to live in the real world or spend the rest of her life inside the Darknet. I haven’t had a chance to read it since Bob’s latest round of revisions, but I can tell you from seeing the preview copies this weekend that it looks and sounds amazing.

I also got a chance to meet Adam Korenman for the first time, the author of When the Stars Fade, a military sci-fi novel set in outer space. He was just amazingly cool, and we got to commiserate about our respective revision processes (and troubles thereabouts). I got a signed copy of his book before I left for the weekend, which my fiancé—who was practically salivating when he heard the book description—now has stashed in the TBR pile on his nightstand.

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Bob, Adam, and me during a rush at the CCB booth.

I also participated in two panels. The first, the “Spoilerific Force Awakens” panel on Saturday, was moderated by Bob; Adam, Jessica Tseang, and I were the panelists. Jessica is a comic book historian and the founder of Little Geek Girl, which targets young girls under the age of 12 and helps them pursue their “geeky” interests. This was the first time I’d met Jessica, and she was an incredibly knowledgeable, articulate panelist—not to mention incredibly friendly. It was my first panel, ever, but she immediately put me at ease.

…And then we spent 45 minutes talking about The Force Awakens. The main thing that we learned is that 45 minutes is not enough time to talk about The Force Awakens.

On Sunday, I moderated a panel called “The Women of ‘Doctor Who.’” Yes, indeed, I did go from losing my “panel virginity” one day, to moderating the next. It was…pretty friggin’ terrifying, actually. I’m good in front of an audience. I did theater and public speaking competitions, including impromptu speaking, growing up, and my day job now requires me to stand in front of an audience all the time. But I still get butterflies in my stomach at the thought of going up in front of people and not knowing what I’m going to say. I get through it. But the anticipatory jitters are still a bitch.

But I got through it, and it was an amazing experience. Adam and Jessica were panelists again. The panel also included Dr. Travis Langley, the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight and the editor of the upcoming Doctor Who Psychology: A Madman With a Box; and Dr. Janina Scarlet, a psychologist who runs Superhero Therapy, which is devoted to incorporating characters from pop culture into evidence-based therapy. Janina is also a contributor to Doctor Who Psychology.

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The “Women of ‘Doctor Who'” panel (L to R): Jessica Tseang, me, Travis Langley, Janina Scarlet, Adam Korenman.

 

I was moderating a “Doctor Who” panel with the people who literally wrote the book on “Doctor Who.” I was seriously outclassed.

All in all, it was a great panel. I could talk about “Doctor Who” forever, and the audience was enthusiastic and had some great questions. I was surprised, and pleased, to get such a great turnout on a Sunday, which is usually the sleepiest day of conventions. Once again, 45 minutes wasn’t nearly enough time, and I feel bad that I had to rush both the panelists and the audience during the Q&A portion. Several audience members came back to speak to me at the CCB booth afterwards, which was great. (I also may have lost track of time late Sunday afternoon at Travis and Janina’s booth, with several of the attendees, having a conversations about the merits—or lack thereof—of Clara Oswald as a character. This is what happens when you put too many “Who” fans into a room together.)

It was a great conference, and I’m only sorry it’s over.

Panelists Needed to Discuss “Women of Doctor Who”

Doctor Who Women

Do you know the women of “Doctor Who?” Would you like to geek out in front of a live audience? If so, I am looking for you!

On March 18-20, I will be attending Wizard World Comic-Con in Las Vegas, where I will be moderating a panel on “Women of ‘Doctor Who.’” We will be talking about all our favorite females (Rose Tyler! River Song! Missy!) and whether the criticisms of gender depictions in the show are justified. And of course, we will be addressing the most important question: should the next Doctor be cast as a female?

I’m looking for people who know and love “Doctor Who,” but aren’t afraid to criticize it. You also need to be comfortable speaking in front of an audience.

My area of expertise is the “regenerated” (post-2005) “Who,” so that’s going to be the primary focus of the panel, but I would love to get some people who are more familiar with the classic series so we can talk about that as a basis of comparison. I also want this panel to be as diverse and inclusive as possible.

Right now, I don’t know when the panel will take place, but I should have this information soon and will let you know as soon as possible.

As a presenter, your conference admission will be covered, but your transportation and hotel will not, so you will need to make your own arrangements to get out to Vegas.

If you are interested, please contact me via e-mail—bethwoodwardwriter [at] gmail [dot] com. Tell me a) what interests you about this panel; and b) who your favorite female character on “Doctor Who” is and why.

If you have any media presence, or anything you’d like to publicize at the panel—books, comics, artwork, movies, a blog, etc.—send that information along as well, with links if possible.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

“Doctor Who” Series 9 Wrap-Up

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Wow. So that was quite a season.

On the plus side, I got almost everything I wanted. More callbacks to earlier seasons, including those that weren’t written by Steven Moffat? Check. The amazingness of Maisie Williams’ character? Peter Capaldi really being given a chance to shine? HUGE check. Clara’s exit? I think we’re checking that one twice. We’ll get into that in a second.

But first, I’ve got to give a shout-out to Peter Capaldi, who was friggin’ amazing this season. If anyone remained unsure whether Capaldi could embody the Doctor the way, say, David Tennant did, this season should have answered that question. I could never get into Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. While there were some standout episodes (“Amy’s Choice”; “Vincent and the Doctor”), I just couldn’t connect with him the way I did with Tennant. But I think that had more to do with Moffat’s more fairy tale style of writing–following Russell T. Davies grimmer take–than Smith’s performance.

So I was a little concerned when Smith transitioned into Capaldi. But in the 12th Doctor’s era, Moffat’s direction has taken a darker tone, and I like it. But Moffat is, I think, kind of an optimist at heart, and so while individual stories might be dark, the ultimate trajectory will be more hopeful.

Shhh! Spoilers…

Which brings me to Clara’s departure.

Two weeks ago, I praised “Face the Raven” for doing what very few “Who” episodes have been bold enough to do: kill a companion. It was a brutal episode that left me inconsolable. It was also a fitting end to Clara’s character: the mortal woman who aspired to be the Doctor finally overplayed her hand. The callback to Danny Pink was so appropriate for her character, and you get it: Clara had never really stopped mourning Danny, and to hide from her pain she threw herself into her adventures with the Doctor with total recklessness. That recklessness ultimately gets her killed.

Last week’s episode, “Heaven Sent” was just a brilliant piece of television. Hands down. It will go down as one of the best episodes in “Who” history, of any season. Peter Capaldi did almost the whole episode solo, and you see his grief, his pain, his fury, his fear, all rolled up into this wibbly wobbly timey wimey Doctor-y ball.

And this week, in “Hell Bent,” we get to see how that all played out. The Doctor spent 4.5 billion years stuck in his own confession dial, for one reason and one reason only: to save Clara.

I’m not going to recap the episode–but if you’re curious, you can read about it here. I, personally, have mixed feelings about it. Moffat, ever the optimist, manages to (sort of) resurrect Clara. When last we see her, she’s traipsing the universe in a 1960s diner-shaped TARDIS, with Maisie Williams’ Ashildr/Me as her companion. She’s frozen in time, stuck in the moment right before her last heartbeat. (Amazing that she’s not a little bit pissed at Ashildr, since it was her harebrained plan that got Clara in that whole “death” mess to begin with.)

On an emotional level, it’s a pretty powerful episode. While the message is more hopeful than “Face the Raven” or “Heaven Sent,” Clara’s pseudo-death is not without consequences. Both the Doctor and Clara realize how bad they are for one another–the Doctor having nearly destroyed the universe to save her–and so in a callback to Donna Noble’s tragic departure, he resolves to erase her memory and deposit her back into her normal life. But in a twist, it’s the Doctor’s memory that gets erased, which makes those diner scenes all that much more terrible: he knows he’s missing something, but not what. And for once, it’s not the Doctor being left behind with just the memories.

But Clara will live, in this frozen state, having resolved to go back to Gallifrey to return to her death “the long way around.” I’m not sure whether it’s a cop-out or not, on Moffat’s part–maybe a little, but not entirely. The loss was still there, if not as profoundly as before. That’s not the main problem I had with the episode.

This episode was like a sweater (or a jumper, if we’re being British about it) with a piece of yarn hanging off of it. Once you start pulling on that yarn, the whole thing falls apart.

Writing wise, story wise, the episode crumbles. Clara gets her happy ending, but at what cost? Will the universe ultimately start destroying itself because she isn’t really dead? Does that mean she can come back? (Please don’t, Moffat. Let’s not cheapen this departure by bringing her back dozens of times, one of my pet peeves of the Davies era.) And now that the Doctor has ousted the president of Gallifrey, who takes over? And what happened to the hybrid? If the Doctor/Clara combo really was the hybrid, as was implied, doesn’t that mean that Clara’s newfound adventures will cost billions of lives? Is the show just going to ignore this??? And was Ashildr brought onto the show just to be faux-Doctor Clara’s companion? Would the Doctor’s fledging memories of Clara–he got a picture, after all–be enough to cause that universe-destroying rift?

And finally…the Doctor has lost companions before. Many of them. We even get a callback in this episode to Amy and Rory. He wouldn’t destroy the universe for Rose Tyler. He wouldn’t create final paradox for Amy Pond. So not only would he destroy the universe for Clara, he’d do something completely antithetical to his persona–pick up a gun and shoot someone.

But maybe that’s just the conceit of “Doctor Who.” Each companion becomes the most important being in the Doctor’s universe…for a time. But the companion changes, and the Doctor endures, which is why he is so lonely. Maybe in forgetting Clara, he got the good side of the deal after all.

Ugh.

But…I guess I can’t complain too much. This series gave us some amazing episodes. Besides “Heaven Sent,” which should immediately be propelled into the legendary category, we had “The Girl Who Died”/”The Woman Who Lived.” And then of course, “The Zygon Invasion”/”The Zygon Inversion,” which gave us the Capaldi monologue which, for better or worse, has never looked more profound than in recent weeks.

It was a pretty amazing season overall, with an amazing actor playing the Doctor. And we get River Song back for Christmas. Who could ask for more?

Final Thoughts

*Moffat, if you ever manage to get Coleman back, even if just for a short (especially just for a short), please, please, please show her having sexytimes with Jane Austen.

*Funny that two of the series (and the show’s) best episodes came after one of the show’s all-time worst: “Sleep No More” sucked. Big time.

*The sonic screwdriver is back!

*I wish we had seen more Missy, and I hope she’s back next season. She basically walked away with the first two episodes of the season, so much so that I worried that the Doctor/Clara combo alone just wouldn’t be interesting enough anymore. That was for about two seconds. Capaldi and Coleman nailed it this year.

*I’m glad that this season was Capaldi’s season, but I feel like a lot of Clara’s arc was neglected instead. Whatever happened to Orson Pink? Did that change because of Danny’s death? And the connection between Danny’s death and Clara’s recklessness was never explicit enough for me.

*Peter Capaldi has come to rival David Tennant as my all-time favorite Doctor. Just…wow.

Doctor Who, What Are You Doing to Me?

Doctor Who S9

“Doctor Who,” that was just…cruel.

I started watching “Who” back in 2013. I needed something fun and lighthearted to watch after my mother’s death. (I’d been binge-watching “Homeland” before that–there’s nothing lighthearted about that.) Then I saw “Doomsday,” and my whole ‘fun and lighthearted’ theory was shot to hell.

You see, “Doctor Who” is a show that can tear your heart out sometimes. Not often–most of the time it is exactly that fun, lighthearted show I wanted: sometimes funny, sometimes creepy, often nonsensical. But sometimes, it’s a killer.

SPOILERS for anyone who hasn’t seen series 9, episode 10 yet…

So Clara Oswald is dead, felled by the raven. Actually, she was felled by her own increasing risk-taking behavior, and by Ashildr’s hubris. But whatever.

Clara has grown on me a lot over the last several season. As the companion to Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, she was very underdeveloped as a character–more of a plot device as a person. But as the companion to Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor, she’s grown in leaps and bounds.

Her character arc put her front-and-center last season: the pull between the adventure the Doctor offers, and the love of Danny Pink (and the relatively safe, boring life that would have been). She tried to be both the companion and the lover, and she succeeded at neither–and the attempt indirectly cost Danny his life. I don’t think she ever got over that loss.

I just wish the show had made that a little more explicit. Clara’s growing sense of adventure turned into straight-up recklessness this season. It was as if, without Danny, Clara decided to wholeheartedly throw herself into her life as the Doctor’s companion, completely leaving her footprint on Earth behind. Yeah, she might have still had a job and an apartment there, but she always had one foot out the door–and on the TARDIS. And I think that was because she was running from her own grief.

But that’s my own assumption. Danny got nary a mention this season–until last night, when one of Clara’s last statements was, “If Danny Pink can do it [die with bravery], so can I.”

*Sniffle.*

(Also, one minor plot nitpick: why couldn’t Clara just pass the chrono-lock on to yet another person? Like, she was standing there surrounded by nearly-immortal people. If Ashildr/Mayor Me had taken it, her body would have likely healed itself anyway. If the Doctor had taken it, he might have been killed, but he would have just regenerated into a new Doctor, because that’s what he does. One line–just ONE FREAKING LINE–would have solved this: It can only be passed once. Yeah, it’s completely arbitrary, but so was everything else about this game Ashildr was playing.)

Although rumors have been flying that Clara would die for a while now, I had no idea how sad I would be when it happened. With that in mind, this next statement might come as a surprise…

I hope she stays dead.

One of my chief complaints about the Steven Moffat-era of the show is that things often don’t have lasting consequences. River Song dies? That was only her first episode. Osgood? Well, only one of her died, the other one is still fine–and now there are two of them, again, since her beloved sister is, apparently, replaceable. Rory Williams gets sucked into a crack in reality? He’ll be back a few episodes later as a robot, and then in another twist I still don’t understand, made real again. The Doctor is on the verge of death and on his final regeneration? Don’t worry, he’ll just get a whole new set of regenerations. Even the Time War–the catalyst for much of the Doctor’s actions in the reincarnated series–was negated by the 50th anniversary episode.

Hell, how many times has Clara herself died, in any of her timelines?

So yes, I want this death to stick. Like Clara, I want her death to mean something. The relationship between the Doctor and his companions has always been a tenuous one. Not all of the companions come out of their time on the TARDIS better for it. The 10th Doctor’s run explored this quite a bit. Rose got stuck in a parallel dimension. Donna had the memory of her time on the TARDIS erased completely, and if she ever remembers she will die. Martha Jones fared slightly better, but maybe because she realized she would forever be pining after the oblivious Doctor–and trying to live up to the ghost of Rose Tyler–and left on her own terms.

The Doctor takes his companions on grand adventures. But the Doctor will live indefinitely, and his human friends will die, so each of those friendships has to end. No matter what else the companions do or experience, it’ll never quite live up to their time with the Doctor. And humans–as the show often ignores–are so very breakable.

So Clara Oswald should stay dead, much as I hate it. Story-wise, it’s the bold choice, and it’ll give Peter Capaldi a chance to shine.

The Doctor endures, whatever his face. His companions don’t, because they can’t. This is one of the great tensions of “Doctor Who,” and I’m glad Moffat is addressing it head-on this time.

Just One of Those Weeks

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I’ve been pretty busy over the last week or so, and I’ve been exhausted. Some quick updates:

–“Doctor Who” series 9 is amazing, and I’m glad that many of my pre-season wishes have already started to come true. This looks like it’s going to be Capaldi’s season, and Michelle Gomez has, in the first two episodes, stolen every scene she’s in. With news of Jenna Coleman’s upcoming departure, I’m starting to read a lot more into her interactions with the Doctor. So Clara died, again. Foreshadowing, or just coincidence?

–Part of my hectic week was dealing with kitty illnesses. Our elder cat, Annabel, has had kidney disease for the last 2 1/2 years. Last week, she stopped eating, became lethargic, and was hiding under the bed. We took her to the vet and they found out her kidney values had spiked to double what they were a few months ago. After two days at the emergency vet/vet hospital, a day of fluids, and some appetite stimulant, she’s gotten back to normal. They discovered her blood pressure was high, and we have her on meds now, which has also seemed to help. But otherwise, they don’t know why her values spiked, or what caused her illness, whether it’s just a part of her disease or if something else triggered it. That’s the bitch of kidney disease: it’s degenerative, so you’re always just waiting for that other shoe to drop. But Annabel is doing much better now, so we’re just taking things day by day.

–Speaking of, one of the things that makes me happy is that my fiancé feels the same way about animals–and specifically, about our animals–as I do, that they are part of our family. Volunteering at the animal shelter teaches you very quickly that not everyone feels that way. But J. does, and I don’t think I could marry anyone who treated them otherwise.

–Had a very lively discussion on my Facebook author page the other day about what movies/TV shows/books should be “required viewing” to have more of a cultural consciousness/awareness. One I forgot to mention on the page: the Harry Potter series. Certainly they’re not my favorite books, but you’re really living in another universe if you don’t get all the Muggle references that you hear nowadays.

–Speaking of required viewing, I am very much looking forward to the “Jessica Jones” television series that will be debuting on Netflix in November. The premise reminds me of my beloved “Veronica Mars,” but it looks like it’ll be even more badass than that. And hey, I do know a thing or two about violent, eff-ed up heroines. Plus, David Tennant. Need I say more?

“Doctor Who” Series 9 Wish List

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“Doctor Who” is almost back!!! I can’t wait!

Last year, before the season started, I had a bit of an informal wish list, of sorts. I wanted Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald to be developed more as a character. (She was.) I wanted some romance that did not involve the Doctor. (It happened.) I was also feeling in the mood for a bit of a tragic ending for that romance. (That also happened.) Being the writer that I am, I imagined a plotline where said romance ended when the lover was turned into a Cyberman. The Cybermen have always seemed like some of the most tragic villains on the show: humans who retain some semblance of their former memory and identity, but lose everything that makes them human. So much fodder for tragedy there.

It didn’t go down exactly as I imagined it—in my mental fan fiction, the lover chose to be turned into a Cyberman, but that’s not how it worked out for poor Danny Pink. Also, in my mind, the Doctor’s companion with the tragic romance was…me. But whatever. It was close enough that I wondered if Steven Moffat was reading my mind, and I was quite happy with the season as a whole.

This time around, I wanted to put my wish list into writing just in case the telepathic link between me and Steven Moffat (hello, sweetie) isn’t as strong as it was last year. Plus, well, if I do turn out to be right, I can pretend to be psychic and start making some side money from reading tarot cards.

So without further ado, my wish list for “Doctor Who” season 9.

1) I want to find out why the Doctor chose that face. When the 12th Doctor emerged at the beginning of last season, we’re given some hints that there may have been a reason behind the Doctor coming out as Peter Capaldi. “Why have I chosen this face?” he asks himself at the beginning of his first episode. Sure, it could have just been post-regeneration disorientation talking, but good fans know that Peter Capaldi appeared on the show long before he was the 12th Doctor—as sculptor and family patriarch Lucius Caecillius Iucundus in “The Fires of Pompeii” during the 10th Doctor’s run. Coincidence? Maybe. But everything that we know about this Doctor leads me to believe that, on some subconscious level, the Doctor chose to be this man. (Tor.com has a theory about this. Unfortunately, the link to the updated article—which included the War Doctor and the 12th Doctor—doesn’t seem to be working anymore.)

2) I want this to be the Doctor’s season. After spending season 7 as a cipher/plot device, season 8 was really Clara’s time to shine—and Jenna Coleman rose to the occasion beautifully. But here we are, a year into the 12th Doctor’s reign, and I still don’t feel like I really know him. What makes him tick? Is he really as gruff as he seems, or is that a façade? How dark is he, really? Capaldi has played the hell out of the Doctor, and it’s time for him to get the spotlight.

3) I want the show to address the Clara quandary. Last season, we met Orson Pink, a man from the future who looked remarkably like Danny Pink and who mentioned one of his ancestors was a time traveler. At the time, it looked like Clara and Danny might have their happily ever after and have children in the future. But we know now this isn’t the case. So is Clara now pregnant with Danny’s baby? (A sidenote: there was speculation that Coleman would leave at the end of last season. She has, of course, decided to return, but in the NewWho life cycle of companions, she is likely reaching the end of her time on the TARDIS. Could a new baby mean an exit for Clara? And what will this mean for the already dark, broody Doctor?) Update: In the time since I originally wrote this, BBC has confirmed that Jenna Coleman will exit sometime this season.

4) I want River Song back! Fans have mixed feelings about Alex Kingston’s River Song. I was always pro-River, but anti-River and the 11th Doctor, mainly because Kingston and Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor had zero chemistry. (For the record, I thought Kingston had more chemistry with David Tennant in the one episode they spent together.) River’s story might have ended, but the nice thing about River’s character is that, as a partial Time Lord herself, she can show up anywhere in the Doctor’s timeline—and he in hers. I would love to see how Kingston would play off of the stoic, much older Capaldi. Update: Rumor has it that Kingston will be returning in the Christmas special.

5) I want Jack Harkness back. Because the show was always better when John Barrowman was strutting through the world, and we still need to find out whether he’s really the Face of Boe.

6) Going along with the last two, I want more callbacks to earlier Doctors/companions/etc. One of the most fascinating and compelling things about “Who” is that it has 50 years of history to reference itself to, a fact which Moffat’s predecessor, Russell T. Davies, took advantage of regularly. But since Moffat has taken over, he has avoided throwbacks—the 50th anniversary episode notwithstanding. You don’t want the show to be so self-referential that new fans are alienated, but throw something in for the longtime viewers as well. Matt Smith was not the beginning of “Doctor Who!”

6) I want Maisie Williams’ character to ROCK! She looks pretty badass in the previews. Who is she? Could she be someone from the Doctor’s past? She called him Old Man—the Doctor’s daughter, perhaps? Or maybe his long-absent granddaughter, Susan? Capaldi does seem to have a lot of affection for that character. Foreshadowing, maybe?

7) I want a new companion. Much as I’ve grown to love Jenna Coleman, I think her time on the show is coming to an end. I want to see someone new and compelling, someone who has a completely different dynamic with the Doctor. Maybe someone who isn’t a young, attractive female, for once? Update: See above.

8) I want the show to explore the sexual tension between the Doctor and the Master/Missy. Because, c’mon, you know there was always something there, long before the Master regenerated into a female form. Don’t believe me? Just watch the scenes between David Tennant and John Simm again. So. Much. Sexual. Tension. And if any character on television should be pansexual, it’s a 2,000-something year old Time Lord.

9) I want an amazing stand-alone episode. Some of the best episodes of the new series have been the stand-alone, often Doctor- or companion-lite episodes that used to pop up about once a season or so—“Blink” and “Midnight” come immediately to mind. During the 11th Doctor’s run, the series seemed to get away from this format. But last season, we returned to it in the episode “Listen.” Both Capaldi and Coleman are fantastic in the episode, and it’s what cemented, for me, the 12th Doctor as the real Doctor. These types of episodes are what the show—and Moffat—do best, so let’s keep doing it!

10) I want David Tennant back!!!! We already found out in the 50th anniversary episode that the Doctor will re-visit his favorite incarnations—and the 10th Doctor simply did not want to die. So bring him back! Or have the 10th Doctor and the 12th Doctor bump into one another somewhere in the time stream. These things happen when time is both wibbly and wobbly. Much as I love Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, David Tennant is, and remains, my Doctor.

Yeah, it’s probably not gonna happen. But a girl can always hope, right?

I Got Bookmarks!!! Also Other Stuff.

So I haven’t written in a while–bad Beth! But in fairness, I’ve been hard at work completing rewrites on The Demon Within. I took a few days off at the end of last week to give myself a big push, and I’ve been working all week long with almost no breaks. It’s basically been work, write, and sleep for the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I haven’t been sleeping enough, so I find myself drifting off at inopportune times. Not good. I think I was a cat in a past life, because I can pretty much nap anywhere, and in any position. Blame having AP Chemistry as my first period class during my junior year of high school. I liked chemistry, but advance science is just not something you should to a 16 year old at 7:30 in the morning.

So I was going to write tonight, but I’m feeling a little groggy and a little headachy, and I think I might be better off getting to bed at a reasonable time and getting up tomorrow morning to write. I’m hoping to finish the draft by the 31st. It’ll be close.

First things first…I HAVE BOOKMARKS!!! They are so amazing and awesome, and here’s a picture:

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They look amazing! Thank you to the amazing Robert J. Peterson, who, in addition to being my editor over at California Coldblood Books and a talented author himself, is also a kick-ass web designer and graphic artist. He designed the bookmarks for me. He wears way more hats than I do, and I am in awe.

This is not the cover of the book. The book cover will feature original art, and it has not been designed yet.

The blurb is a little hard to read in this photo, so it says:

All Dale Highland wants is a normal life. Too bad she can’t stop killing people.

It’s been ten years since the first time Dale blacked out and killed someone. Since then, she’s been on the run, searching for the cause of her blackouts–and a way to control them.

When an enigmatic and sexy assassin named John tells her she’s half demon, Dale and John embark on a quest to find the only person who can answer Dale’s questions: her mother.

But Dale’s mother is the key figure in an ancient war between angels and demons. To find the answers she seeks, Dale will have to risk not only her life…but also her soul.

It’s pretty much the same as what I now have up on the Books page, but it was condensed a little more for space on the bookmark.

I did go to Wizard World Comic Con a couple of weekends ago, and I did get to meet David Tennant. I told him how much the show meant to me, and how it helped me get through after my mom’s death. He seemed really touched. Unfortunately, since I signed up for an autograph and not a picture, I didn’t get a selfie with him. (I suspect it was a time thing. Some of the other celebrities had provisions for selfies, but the line for Tennant was HUGE! “Who” fans are a devoted–and apparently rich–group.

My autographed photo is now sitting on my desk, glowering at me. Motivation.

I did get my selfie taken with James Marsters (of “Buffy” fame):

James Marsters

This one meant a lot to me, too. I was a huge “Buffy” fan during high school and college. It was a passion my mom and I shared. While, as a dumb 15 year old, I was Team Angel all the way, she was always all about Spike–even long before his affair with Buffy. It took me getting a little older and wiser to see the appeal, but I so understand now. I’ll just pretend that episode in season 6 never happened.

James was great, very friendly and courteous to all the fans, and he really took the time to talk to each of us.

It was a great experience, all around.

An Open Letter to David Tennant

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Dear Mr. Tennant,

This weekend, I am attending Wizard World Comic Con in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I will be meeting you. I already have my ticket to get your autograph, though me being the worst-case scenario type that I am, I’m a little nervous that something will go wrong. But I’m not going to give that possibility any more power than I have to. This weekend, I’m going to Wizard World, and I’m going to meet you.

I’ll be nervous.  Hopefully I won’t do something completely embarrassing, like ask you to have my babies, because that would just be weird. I hope there’s time for me to at least say hello and tell you thank you for being such a big part of “Doctor Who,” for being part of a show that has been such a big part of my life.

But I know I won’t get a chance to tell you why. Even if I had time—which I won’t, since there will be hundreds of other people waiting to get your autograph, I’m sure—I don’t think I could manage to untie my tongue long enough to get through the words. So, on the off chance that you peruse blogs of soon-to-be-published American urban fantasy writers in your spare time, I’m writing you an open letter.

I started watching “Doctor Who” in November of 2013. It was the month that the 50th anniversary episode aired, so everyone was talking about it, and my cable company had all the episodes of the rebooted series airing through their video-on-demand system. It was also the month my mother died.

My mom and I were close. My father died when I was 13, leaving just my mom, my younger brother, and me. We had a rough time when I was a teenager, but as I became an adult we grew closer. My brother and I never quite saw eye to eye on things, so my mother was the one I talked to and relied upon. She was my best friend and closest confidant. Her death was sudden. I was 30, and she had just passed her 65th birthday—not young, but my grandmother (her mother) lived to be 90, so I was expecting many more years with her. Then again, she had heart problems caused by a bout of rheumatic fever when she was a child, and I’d been asking her for years to quit smoking, so maybe it shouldn’t have been so unexpected. But these things always seem clearer in retrospect, I think.

My mom, my brother, and me, a few weeks before her death.

My mom, my brother, and me, a few weeks before her death.

I don’t know if you know what it feels like to wake up every morning with a piece of yourself missing, a big gaping hole where you expect there to be something. But that’s what it was like. I had trouble sleeping. I vacillated between binge-eating and nausea that left me nearly unable to eat at all. I became prone to episodes of extreme anxiety and panic, especially at night. My health suffered.

But, without the luxury of being independently wealthy, I had to go on. I had to go to work. I had to pay my bills. I had to deal with my mom’s estate business. I had to feed the cat. I told everyone I was okay, not because I really was, but because I had to be. I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

I had been binge-watching “Homeland” prior to my mom’s death, but afterwards I found I just couldn’t stomach another seen of Damien Lewis going through violent withdrawals or Claire Danes going crazy (again). So I started watching “Doctor Who.” I was immediately captivated by the Time Lord in the funny blue box and all of his intrepid companions.

As a kid, I used to imagine myself as characters in my favorite television shows. At 30, I found myself doing it again. I wanted to be the Doctor’s companion, to travel all of time and space with a two-hearted alien. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be silly enough to fall in love with the nearly-immortal alien; that kind of thing never ends well. But at least I’d have a friend who was there for me, a friend who could take me on adventures, a friend who could whisk me away from the endless bleakness of my life and allow me to forget the real world for a while.

But in retrospect, I wonder if it was the Doctor I actually identified with more: the last of the Time Lords, surrounded by people but always truly alone, making friends he always had to say good-bye to. It really got me in “School Reunion,” when the Doctor told Rose how he had to watch his companions—all the people he loved best in the world—wither and die. I may not be a near-immortal Time Lord…but I got it.

Watching “Doctor Who,” escaping to that place where I didn’t have to face my troubles for half an hour, kept me afloat when I was drowning. It kept me company when I was alone. And even though things are better now, the show is still special to me: I was all by myself, telling the world I was fine. But, silly as it may seem, the Doctor got to be there for me during one of the most difficult times of my life.

So what I’m really trying to say here is: thank you. Thank you for being there with me, if only through a television screen, during the hardest months of my life. Thank you for being part of a show that has meant so much to so many people. Thank you for coming to conventions and indulging blubbering fans like me. Thank you for being my favorite Doctor—because you really are, you know.

Thank you for everything.

Sincerely,

Beth Woodward

Most Romantic “Doctor Who” Moments

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, the BBC America blog Anglophenia posted a list of the most romantic moments in “Doctor Who” history. It’s a great list, and it includes a lot of the Doctor’s tearjerkiest moments, too—“Doomsday” *sniffle* *sniffle*—but I think they missed a few. Here are my additions to the list.

The 9th Doctor Saves Rose, and Rose Saves Him Right Back

There’s a special place in my heart for the 9th Doctor. He may not be the cutest Doctor, or the most dashing, or have the best costume, but there was just something so noble and wounded about him. In a way, he will always be “my” Doctor, since he was the Doctor who got me into the series. And Rose Tyler will always be my companion.

In this clip, the Doctor realizes there is nothing he can do to save the world, and he’s likely to be blown up by Daleks. But he has one last move: to save Rose Tyler, the girl who pulled him out of the abyss of the Time War and back into the world.

But my favorite part—and the clip I, unfortunately, couldn’t find—is what follows. Rose breaks into the heart of the TARDIS, which allows her to return to the Doctor and save him. But the human brain is just not equipped to process all of time and space, and it’s killing her. With a dashing, “Looks like somebody needs a Doctor,” the gruff, taciturn 9th Doctor kisses Rose, absorbing the energy into himself, sacrificing himself (at least, that incarnation of himself) in the process. And in his final moments, we finally get to see the 9th Doctor happy. “You were fantastic,” he tells Rose. “And you know what? So was I!”

The Doctor and Rose Say Goodbye, Again

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of the romantic moments in Anglophenia’s list involve the 10th Doctor. David Tennant’s incarnation, more than any other, longs to be human in some way. He might be a kickass Time Lord with great hair, but he’s all alone in the universe, and part of him just wants to settle down with Rose Tyler and have babies.

One of the most heartbreaking moments in “Who” history is when the Doctor must leave Rose behind in a parallel universe in “Doomsday”—which is on the Anglophenia list. But two years later, in “Journey’s End,” the Doctor and Rose reunite because the worlds are collapsing. The Doctor has the chance to keep Rose in his universe; instead, he leaves her behind with his meta-crisis clone, an exact replica of the Doctor who—through an accident of genetics—will age and die like a human.

Rose kisses the clone Doctor when he whispers the words the Doctor will not—maybe cannot—say to her, and the real Doctor gets into the TARDIS and leaves her behind. But what really kills me about this one is the look on David Tennant’s face. In “Doomsday,” Rose is the one who made the greater sacrifice. This time around, it’s the Doctor. He gives Rose as much of himself as he can, and he leaves her behind because he knows it will ultimately be better for her, even though it means he’ll never see her again. It’s enough to break your heart all over.

The TARDIS Says Hello

None other than Neil Gaiman wrote this episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” and it’s great, and it focuses on one very simple premise: what is the Doctor’s most enduring relationship?  None other than the TARDIS herself.  In this episode, the TARDIS is allowed to temporarily take human form and finally interact with her Doctor face to face.  (She likes it when he calls her sexy.)  As she’s fading back into the TARDIS, she appears one last time to tell the Doctor…hello.

Most of 11th Doctor’s romantic moments in the series involve his mysterious, Time Lord-hybrid wife, River Song.  But honestly, I think he has much better chemistry with the TARDIS  Alas, it was never to be…and yet, she’ll always be there, looking after him.

Amy bids farewell to Raggedy Man

Amy Pond was not my favorite companion in the beginning, but she grew on me, particularly after the introduction of her fiancé (and later husband), Rory Williams.  Rory is the kind of guy you don’t see very often in romance, or in sci-fi.  He’s sweet, easygoing, and kind of passive.  Amy, with the much stronger personality of the two of them, dominates the trajectory of their relationship, including their travels with the Doctor.  If he gets fed up traveling to the ends of the universe with a funny man in a blue box, it’s all worth it to be with Amy.

Amy, for her part, has idolized the Doctor, her “Raggedy Man,” since he visited her as a child.  No matter how many times he kept her waiting, no matter how many times he disappointed her, she maintains her faith in him.  Early on, it’s unclear whether Amy will pursue the Doctor romantically or stick with the ever-loyal Rory.  But even after Amy chooses Rory, it’s always a triad: the Doctor, Amy, and Rory.  Amy may be the girl who waited for the Doctor, but Rory is the guy who waited 2,000 years for Amy.

But in “The Angels Take Manhattan,” Amy must make the ultimate choice.  A weeping angel has sucked Rory to an unknown time, and a major paradox has compromised Manhattan so much that the Doctor cannot risk going back in time to rescue him again.  So she bids farewell to her Raggedy Man one last time and lets the angel take her, knowing that she’ll never see the Doctor again, and knowing that it’s the only way she might get to be with Rory.

The Anglophenia list includes the moment earlier in the episode when Amy and Rory jump off of a Manhattan skyscraper together—thus creating the aforementioned paradox.  But for my money, Amy’s final choice to spend her mortal lifetime with Rory, rather than spending it jumping across time and space with the Doctor, shows her ultimate growth and maturation as a character.

Clara and Danny Pink’s Last Christmas

Clara Oswald gets my vote for “most improved” character in New Who.  As the 11th Doctor’s companion, she was a rather one-note character.  The Doctor spent most of his time with her trying to figure out the mystery of the “Impossible Girl,” and we really don’t get to know anything about the woman herself.  But as the 12th Doctor’s companion, she has grown in strength and self-sufficiency.  She becomes a schoolteacher, and she falls in love with Army veteran/math teacher (and unfortunately named) Danny Pink.  Once Danny discovers the truth about her friendship with the Doctor, he tells Clara that the Doctor is using her and urges her to put some distance between them.  Rather than doing so, Clara continually lies to Danny about the Doctor, and their relationship collapses.  Clara ultimately chooses to be completely honest with Danny and repair their relationship, but her poor decisions lead indirectly to his death.  Danny’s death is so sudden and unheralded that I expected Danny to magically come back to life.  In the end, he didn’t.

In “Last Christmas,” the 2014 Christmas special, Clara is sucked into a dream world with the now-deceased Danny.  As they spend Christmas together, the Doctor bursts in, begging Clara to wake up.  (There’s the small fact that the dream world is actually the manifestation of an alien that is boring its way into her brain and killing her.)  But even if Clara realizes on some subconscious level that this world isn’t real, she still doesn’t want to leave Danny behind.  But at least Clara finally gets the goodbye she needed.

Fast forward to the 31-minute mark of the video to see the scene.