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Amy (Not Pond)
20 June 2010 @ 02:36 pm
Today I watched my first actual episode with the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like him much, since his brief stint in the horrible Eighth Doctor movie (which I still haven't managed to force myself to finish), and really the only reason I wanted to desperately watch this episode is because of the trip back to 1963 where it all began.

That's right. "Remembrance of the Daleks" takes the Doctor and his charming but oddly dressed Companion Ace back to 1963 to visit that old junkyard and school that were the main sets for the very first episode. You know, the stuff of legend? Sadly, there wasn't a lot of time spent there back in the day, just the entirety of that very first part of "The Unearthly Child", but it still kinda gave me a few chills to see it.

My first reaction to this story? "Who is that girl in the appalling clothing and why is this adorkable Doctor traveling with her?!" It's really an inner battle as to whether I like Ace. For some reason, I love her voice and the way she speaks, but it absolutely does not match the horrible way she dresses, in all that black and with her TIGHTIGHT braid that makes it seem like she has no hair and is absolutely huge. And, really, she walks around everywhere carrying the giant boom box? I understand it was the 1980's, but REALLY?! I'm beginning to get why so many people are against John Nathan-Turner.

I also gave a sigh of relief that the episode looks like late 1980's British television. There's just something about the quality and look of the film, the way things are shot... It was comforting to see it be so familiar, because I grew up watching episodes of the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, which lasted from 1990-1995 and has that same sort of look in the early years.

There is a remarkable military presence in this episode, and the Doctor uses some bombs that look like those now-fashionable aluminum water bottles. The whole thing struck me as very odd, so incredibly different from the Doctor of the 70's, but that's what so many people have complained about, isn't it?

THE DALEKS. They're also what made me watch this episode before any other featuring the Seventh Doctor. This is the very last appearance of the Daleks before the series went off-air, not to be seen again until 2005. AND AND AND DAVROS! Of course, the first time you see him, he's "in disguise", but anyone who knows Doctor Who knows it's Davros. What other villain has that insane voice and a Dalek rolly-chair?

I have to say the grey Daleks look incredibly shabby. Like the creature people just forgot to put the second coat of paint on them. But the gold and ivory ones make up for it in spades; they are soooo very pretty. And stairs! Thanks to some nice light blurring under their bases, the Daleks are able to conquer stairs! The world may rejoice for 2.5 seconds, and then return to wondering how the hell the First Doctor managed to drop something as important-sounding as the Hand of Omega when he was there in 1963, so important and powerful that the Daleks tracked him there to it? Really? REALLY?

I did have a giggle when the Doctor was arguing with Ground Captain Gilmore and called him Brigadier. Nice little shout-out to a character who made appearances throughout the entire series.

A Few Questions Answered (even though no one asked them)

How are you watching all these Classic Who episodes? Netflix. If you're in the US, there is no better investment of $10/month for entertainment purposes. They have possibly every Classic Who DVD currently available, and a number of them are also available for Instant Watch, which is absolute heaven if you have a Wii/Xbox 360/PS3/Blu-ray player that is part of their system. (You can also watch them on your computer, but on the TV is so much more fun.) If you're not in the US... my apologies!

Where the hell are the tags? I have no idea. I love using tags and apparently managed to pick a layout that doesn't like to show them on entries. But they are there, I swear! You can see my list of tags and navigate to entries from there, if you like.

Which Who resource book are you reading right now? Timeless Adventures: How Doctor Who Conquered TV by Brian J. Robb. It was just released in May, and is currently running about $13 on Amazon. The book goes through the entire existence of the show and chronicles the way it reflects social climate of that era. It's extremely comprehensive and is giving an American a lot of insight into the foreign British arena that is rather hard to grasp from this side of the pond. I'll give a more in-depth review when I've finish the book, but for now I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the social and historical context of Doctor Who.

A Question of My Own

Why the hell does Ace call Seven "Professor"? In this episode, she does refer to him as Doctor at one point, so wtf? And what episode does this happen in, because I need to see it now before my brain explodes.
Amy (Not Pond)
31 May 2010 @ 06:27 pm
For the United Kingdom, 35 full Fulbright grants are awarded each year. There are 14 grants that are able to be applied to any university in the UK, but these are the most competitive because of their open nature. The other 21 awards are for specific universities or types of research; this is the type of award I'll be applying for this fall, in the hopes that I'll have a better chance at actually being chosen by the committees.

Some of the universities I'm considering that have a relevant program (generally in Television Studies) are:

- University of Bristol
- Cardiff University (was hoping to find something because Cardiff would be an excellent location, but it seems like I have no such luck)
- University of Warwick
- University of York

This is one of the more difficult parts of the application for me right now. I have to choose a university and find professors willing to support my project. I can only apply to one university for the Fulbright award, and if I don't get in... Well, then my application for the Fulbright is just scrap paper.

It's a bit nerve-wracking.

Does anyone have any experience with these universities or their cities? I'll have to do a few weekend commutes to London and Cardiff for fieldwork, and would prefer to have affordable living expenses, so those are major factors for the decision as well.
Amy (Not Pond)
31 May 2010 @ 01:23 am
"This TARDIS isn't Big Enough for the Both of Us"

Spoilers for Series 5 through "Cold Blood".

While the latest episode of the fifth season made me want to weep for poor Arthur Darvill's Rory, the adorable nurse who grew up loving Amy Pond, it also made me ponder the fate of the Second Companion during the revamped series of Doctor Who. They certainly don't last long, do they?

First there was Jack Harkness. Well, speaking from outside the story, it was a given that he wouldn't last very long, what with all the intertextual setup for Torchwood that was going on even back during Christopher Eccleston's time in the TARDIS. Five episodes was Jack's grand total, and two of them were two-parters, so really that makes three stories. Three stories in which we sort of got to know the character before he was whisked away.

Then came Mickey the Idiot, who was in the TARDIS (figuratively speaking) for three episodes, including a two-parter. Of course Mickey was a secondary character for much of the first two series, but he was only a Companion for those brief episodes before he too dropped off the telemap.

Rule #1: No Second Companions AllowedCollapse )
Amy (Not Pond)
31 May 2010 @ 01:16 am
"Moral of the story: There is no custard in Southern Indiana."

Anyone who has seen the fifth season's "The Eleventh Hour" episode has had the urge to try fish custard, the strange food combination Matt Smith's Doctor finds tasty enough to be accepted by his new tastebuds. Most people probably haven't acted on this urge, but a friend and I did. Because we're missing a few screws when it comes to fandom.

The experiment... got off to a rocky start.

First stop: Kroger. For some unknown reason, the frozen fish sticks weren't... in the frozen section of the store. We looked everywhere. Frozen chicken, frozen vegetables, frozen dinners, so many types of pizza... Finally, two GIANT bags of fish sticks shoved in at the bottom. Uhm, we didn't want $10 worth of fish. So we went on a search for custard. NOWHERE. No refrigerated custard, no canned custard, no custard MIX... (My mother insisted it was just pudding, but eventually she came around.) During our search, we did discover the fish had its own section and a box of 44 fish sticks was acquired for about $5.

Second stop: Meijer. STILL NO CUSTARD. After a thorough search of the store, we promptly left and headed to the next town...

Third stop: Wal-mart. Why oh WHY was there no custard?! We bought a package of vanilla pudding, figuring we'd try it just to see how it fared, some tater tots to go with the custard-less fish, and salsa. (Try it, salsa with fish sticks is tasty.)

Fourth stop: Krispy Kreme. FINALLY CUSTARD. We bought the last four custard doughnuts in the store and headed home. (With a pit stop for frappes to award ourselves after the epic scavenger hunt.)

Fifth stop: Home.

This is where the disaster really begins. My mother had pulled out one of her cookbooks and found a recipe for stirred custard, which is just what we were looking for.

Ingredients: 3 beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, 1/4 sugar.
Heat until coats spoon, add 1 tsp vanilla, cool in ice water 2 minutes.

Looks easy, right? SO VERY WRONG. Custard is one of those things that can very easily be screwed up. We're not sure where we went wrong, but perhaps we heated it too much, or the taking it off the burner, putting it in the ice water, and then discovering it was still soupy and subsequently putting it back on the burner... Yeah, probably not the best idea.

We puttered while the custard cooled in the fridge. Finally, it was TIME.

Vada was the one brave enough to try our custard. It looked like Grits Gone Wrong. It was goopy and dripping and didn't stick to the fish. It also didn't taste like custard, or anything good. Tasteless and gritty is her account of the experience. Vanilla pudding went a bit better, but the custard from inside the doughnut was the best. REAL custard. It wasn't that bad, even borderline tasty. The two flavors didn't combine, so it wasn't some weird amalgamation of fish and custard, just fish, and custard, the end.

After a bout of giggles, the dish was named "Fishtard" and we ate the doughnuts and moved on with our lives (after disposing of the Custard Gone Wrong, of course). We do intend to try this again, once we've found a good, substantial source of custard.

Edit #1: And, because of the video by charlieissocoollike, we made our own video to document the experience. (I'm the one in the Wolverine shirt with the red face from giggling so much. Vada is the one who actually tried our custard. I'm not quite that brave.)

Fish + Custard = Fishtard? (also, fail.)

Edit #2: I just found out via Doctor Who Confidential 5x09 "What Goes on Tour..." that Matt Smith didn't actually eat fish custard while filming! I feel a bit cheated. We're all out here being brave and trying it and he didn't have to! Someone should give him the challenge one day and get it on video.

Really, though, it was so much fun trying fish custard. It made me feel just that much closer to my fandom. The experience bonds some fans closer together. I can already imagine that I'll wear one of my Who shirts at a convention and get to talking with a fellow Whovian and we'll instantly have a good bonding laugh over having actually tried fish custard. I certainly hope so, anyway.

Edit #3: Stirred custard is the slightly runny, goopy sauce that is poured over things -- it's what was used in "The Eleventh Hour". This is what we were trying to make from scratch, but didn't go well because of heating difficulties that kept the sugar crystallized. We fully realized that the custard in doughnuts is a different type, but it still tastes likes stirred custard, it just had a different consistency. We were going more for the taste at the end than full accuracy, because it was a Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend and nothing was open except the big chain stores that had no trace of custard anything. We tried the pudding to see what the consistency should be like (though stirred custard is a bit runnier).
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