The Timeless Children

The Thirteenth Doctor: A Question of Identity

Spoilers for the Series 12 (2020) finale of Doctor Who follow.

Following the huge continuity bombshell dropped by the Series 12 finale “The Timeless Children,” Johnny Spandrell of the Randomwhoness blog posted this thought on Twitter:

That’s quite a fair question to ask. As I mentioned last time, I’m not a fan of stories that exist just to tweak in-show continuity. The Doctor is already alien and somewhat difficult to relate to, being a millennia-old alien being who travels time and regenerates into new bodies upon death. Does making her the foundation of an entire alien society really do anything story-wise?

I argue that “The Timeless Children” does much more than continuity-tweaking. In redefining the Doctor, it opens up many potentially interesting stories in the future. More importantly, it goes back to one of the inherent themes in much of modern science fiction: a matter of identity.

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Doctor and Master

The Thirteenth Doctor: Pros and Cons of Continuity

Spoilers for Series 12 (2020) of Doctor Who follow.

I quite liked the continuity-light approach of the Thirteenth Doctor’s debut season. I felt that relying on new aliens and monsters rather than dredging up the old standards provided more of a focus on who the Doctor was and what was important about her.

That said, my favorite moment in the Thirteenth Doctor’s run definitely comes from the climactic moment of Season 12’s “The Timeless Children,” which is anything but light on continuity:

 

So even as I celebrate a continuity-light approach, I lose my mind when the show plays a 30-second montage that acknowledges the Doctor’s long history. Why does continuity have that effect, and when does the show’s 50+ years of baggage drag it down?

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The Thirteenth Doctor: Beginning Ramblings

 

In my mad dash to find wild fan theories and cool thoughts about the recent seasons of Doctor Who, I’ve been disappointed to find that most of the online palaver focuses on the binary issue of whether people should consider Jodie Whitaker’s run as the Thirteenth Doctor good or bad. And, of course, a lot of that discussion boils down to people who don’t like the first female Doctor making some very thinly-veiled sexist remarks and those who do like her dismissing legitimate criticisms as anti-feminist.

It feels to me like there is a vast amount of discussion about the Thirteenth Doctor’s episodes themselves that remain untapped. I plan to explore some of those things that I feel people have overlooked. But before I do, I think it’s a good idea to establish my relationship with Doctor Who so people know where I’m coming from.

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Highlander

A Kind of Magic: Highlander

Highlander. I love it, even though it has caused me so much pain.

Like many fans of the Highlander franchise, I keep coming back for terrible movie after terrible movie, each time hoping that those in control of the franchise somehow catch lightning in a bottle as they did with the first film.

As the powers-that-be struggle to find footing for a Highlander reboot which seems doomed to meet the same disastrous fate that befell the franchise’s many sequels, let’s take a look at the original film. A box office flop but a cult classic, 1986’s Highlander proved strong enough to create a devoted fan base that has remained throughout the years, despite a plethora of sequels that rank among the worst films of all time.

How did this off-beat urban fantasy turn into a hit? In truth, Highlander was about as fortuitous a series of accidents you will ever see in the film industry.

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All Star Superman

My Favorite Panels: Lex’s Realization

Comics are a visual medium, and one panel can leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. With that in mind, I thought I would run through some of my favorite comic book panels of all time.

I begin the journey with one of my favorite comics ever, All Star Superman. I think it’s the best Superman story ever written, and it may be one of the best comics ever. Any given page of this 12-issue series is a work of art, but my favorite panel is rather understated.

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Deck of Many Things

Gaming Stories: Pick a Card

Every once in a while, I like to send the PCs against a monster that’s just out of their league. When you’re low-level, encountering an adult dragon or a lich can still be fun. The only difference is that the goal stops being killing the other guy and taking his stuff and becomes a matter of survival. After all, sometimes the monsters want to kill some adventurers and take their stuff.

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Blacksad Rose

My Favorite Comics, sans Superheroes

I spend a lot of time ranting about superhero comics, especially the ones from Marvel and DC. Mainstream comics usually hold the most intrigue for me. They not only serve as a rare example of serial fiction that has lasted for decades on end, but also provide a good cultural snapshot of American society. Characters like Captain America and Wonder Woman are as ingrained in our popular consciousness as folklore legends like Paul Bunyan.

When it comes to sheer quality of storytelling in comics, though, superhero comics usually aren’t the way to go. Not that they are inherently inferior or anything, but they are so continuity-laden, riddled with conflicting interpretations, and driven by corporate agendas that the very best storytelling in comics tends to be divorced from that genre. Luckily, comics are a versatile medium with lots to offer beyond flights and tights. Here’s a look at some of my favorite non-superhero comics. I don’t mention them a lot in rants, but that’s largely because they’re so good that I don’t often have anything to say but, “This is awesome.”

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Superman's Secret Identity

Superman’s Secret Identity

Clark Kent’s glasses are both the most iconic and most ridiculed superhero disguise in comic book history. The disguise has been parodied in Saturday Night Live, called out as ridiculous in The Adventures of Lois and Clark, and called “the ludicrous glasses disguise” by David Goyer, one of the writers behind Man of Steel. How far can a pair of glasses and a changed hair style really get a person?

Well, actually, pretty far.

When confronted with this question in the Silver Age, Superman writers came up with a goofy explanation involving super-hypnosis and Kryptonian glasses. They didn’t have to try that hard. There are legitimate and believable reasons that people don’t immediately recognize Clark Kent as Superman.

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The MCU’s Incredible Character Arc for the Hulk (That We Never Got to See)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe marks a remarkable cinematic achievement. Despite a few missteps, the movies accomplished some amazingly in-depth storytelling, stringing together almost two dozen films to tell the stories of dozens of different characters. And for the most part, those characters got a reasonably satisfying conclusion by the end of Avengers: Endgame.

Of course, with so many different characters, the films couldn’t present everybody’s story in a satisfying manner. For example, let’s look at the Hulk. He has one of the longest characters arcs of all the Avengers and changes more than anybody…but none of the interesting stuff happens on-screen.

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