I know nothing about Dr. Who

By October 17, 2014Comms

New York Comic Con has come and gone. With record crowds (and finally a real anti-harassment policy that appears to be working) this was the best NYCC yet, my third as a professional author. I have been a fan of this con since its inception, and to finally be attending as a professional is so affirming that it’s hard to put in words.

Every year, I have a ritual: in early September, I get the email from my publicist telling me what my NYCC itinerary is for the year. I don’t open it right away. I stare at the email in my inbox and imagine what awesomeness lies in store for me this year. Will I be sitting alongside one of my literary heroes like Jack Cambell, waxing eloquently on the finer points of military writing? Will I be on a geek trivia game show, laughing and rubbing elbows with the likes of John Scalzi or Pat Rothfuss? Will I be sharing the stage with my best friend and mentor Peter V. Brett? With these thoughts in mind, I finally clicked on the email, practically vibrating in excitement.

The upside: I was on an fantastic panel with amazing fellow Ace/Roc authors Alex Hughes, Anton Strout and Steve Bein.

The downside: it was about Dr. Who.


In which I hold forth on a topic I know nothing about.

In which I hold forth on a topic I know absolutely nothing about.

I yield to no man in my unapologetic fannishness. I have been a F/SF fan in my bones practically from birth. It is impossible to have more than a thirty second conversation with me without it veering into comic books, fantasy novels or gaming. But even fans have their limits, and the F/SF world is more diverse and wonderful than any one person can grasp.

Let me put this in terms everyone reading this blog will understand. Being a fan is like rolling up a character sheet for a role-playing game. You have limited proficiency slots you can specialize in. Take a look at this handy infographic:

My fan character sheet

My fan character sheet

The green dashed lines indicate those areas where I’ve chosen to specialize. The red dashed lines indicate future specializations at future levels. I’m a level 9 fan, and I’m really proud of all the XP I’ve been able to gather in such a short period of time. I think I’ve allocated those XP wisely, and created a well-balanced character that is prepared for most eventualities.

But I couldn’t do everything. A panel on Dr. Who is like being a Cleric separated from the party and suddenly finding yourself in a room full of goblins. You can’t heal your way out of it. You need a fighter.

I called my brother (a huge Dr. Who fan) in a panic. “Dude! I’m gonna get killed. What the heck do I do?”

He invited me up to his house, and we spent a few hours discussing the series. “Don’t worry,” he said. “The show’s only been running for over 30 years. You’ll be boned up on it in no time. Pop quiz, hotshot. What does TARDIS stand for?”

I left his house with a knot in my stomach and a hardcover copy of Whoology, which, if you’re looking for a crash course in Dr. Who trivia while simultaneously having a massive panic attack about going up in front of an audience of 500 rabid fans, is pretty damn well useless.

About an hour before the panel, my brother texted me – “R U Ready?” I replied “Call the police. I’m on the lower level of the Javitts Center.”

I had spent the last few weeks desperately trying to formulate a plan, to go up on stage and riff off the very few episodes I’d seen as a kid, caught at parties, or watched during my crash course with my brother.

I sat down at the panel with my heart in my throat, and I think Anton Strout’s panoramic shot of the room best summarizes both the crowd and my . . . er . . . concerns:

Oh, crap. I am so dead.

Oh, crap. I am so dead.

In the end, I took a deep breath, and told the truth. I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT DR. WHO. I closed my eyes, waiting for the crowd to storm the stage and rend me limb from limb.

When I opened them, they were laughing. This is the thing about fans, and one of the best things about the direction fandom is heading in. It’s big tent fandom these days. There’s room for everyone. It was a great panel, and it turned out that when I couldn’t fake it, a little honesty was all I needed. Say this about fandom, say they’ll catch you when you fall. And I should have known that. Because I know fans. Because I am one.

However, it did illustrate a hole in my character sheet, and so I cut a deal with the audience that if folks would take the time during my signing to suggest a good Dr. Who episode, I would watch it and file a report. I was overwhelmed with responses, and wanted to post a few of them here:

– Human Nature

– Family of Blood

– Deadly Assassin

– Invasion of Time

– The episode that aired on October 11th.

– Vincent and the Doctor

– The episode with Matt Smith as the Doctor and Pandora’s Box

– The episode with Dave Eccleston and the Empty Children (both parts)

Fandom cut me a break on that panel, and now I will do my part and watch those episodes. If anyone reading this has anymore suggestions they’d like to pass along, I’d be glad to add them to the stack. It’ll take me some time, but I look forward to adding a new fandom to my roster.

Author Myke Cole

Myke Cole is an American writer of history and fantasy who leverages a lifetime in military, law enforcement and intelligence service to take you to battlefields, real and imagined.

More posts by Myke Cole

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • TheBadger says:

    It’s okay, brother. Those are some good episodes to watch. I also recommend “Blink.” The only episode of Doctor Who with virtually no Doctor in it. Very good ep.

    • Kendall says:

      Hahaha…I was thinking the same thing! Superb episode, but it’s really almost a non-Doctor episode. This may give the wrong impression of the show, but…it rocks….

  • Stephanie StClair says:

    I agree w/ TheBadger, “Blink” is a good episode (and introduces my favorite villain.) I’d also recommend “Silence in the Library.”

  • You absolutely need to watch BLINK. It’s brilliant. My next favorite is Silence in the Library.

    • Perrin says:

      Yep, “Blink” is always the one I use to introduce people to Dr Who…..

    • Chris_Brennan says:

      Absolutely: Blink. I had never watched Doctor Who. I happened to flip to that episode one evening, and I couldn’t stop watching. (Ironic, I know…)

  • TheBadger says:

    Blink was the first episode my wife ever saw and she loved it. Stephanie and Casondra are right on the money with Silence in the Library. Of course, at this rate, you’ll have to watch all of the 10th Doctor. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • sinamon says:

    I think, rather than an episode, the first thing I’d suggest is to refer to it as “Doctor Who” and not “Dr. Who.” 🙂 Enjoy, and welcome.

  • Tim Dippel says:

    For me, I have only watched since the reboot. I was enjoying it, but once I got to “The Christmas Invasion” I was locked in. Near the end of the episode, I posted how I felt like the show was “Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy: The TV Show” and not even 5 minutes later, Tennant compares himself to Arthur Dent

  • Sdawg says:

    Invasion of time is not where to start.

    As a weirdo, here are my suggestions for breadth. Heavily personal preference.

    The Reign of Terror
    The Mind Robber
    The Ambassadors of Death
    The Talons of Weng-Chiang / The Ribos Operation / Full Circle
    Timelash (for B-movieness)
    Remembrance of the Daleks
    The TV Movie
    Father’s Day
    The Eleventh Hour
    (None of Capaldi’s Episodes thus far are stand outs, but Robot of Sherwood would be my pick.)

  • rsomerstein says:

    Mike, I have to agree with all the other comments. You should REALLY watch Blink. It is perhaps the best hour of science fiction television I have ever seen. There is definitely other good Dr. Who (and lots of bad), but this one episode can be watched and appreciated without ever having seen/knowing anything about Dr. Who.

  • Holmelund says:

    I am a fellow geek, who at the age of 38 has never seen a single episode of DR. Who.
    What season is a good place to start?

  • I never really thought about writing in terms of fame, for me it was about having a voice. When I went deaf, I truly believed not only had the world became silent, I had too. When I write I’m not deaf, I can hear and be whatever I choose through words. One of these days I’ll actually make it into something more, because in the end “that” grind and those words have a voice like no other.

    And this was supposed to be on a entirely different post. Go figure.

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