Author Archives: stuntborg

Binge-watching Classic Doctor Who

Argh, I have been struggling to get this post together. Of course, I doubt anyone gives a rat’s…nobody commented on my previous post even though it was spread throughout the facebookosphere.

I think binge watching classic doctor who will be interesting.

The Oldest Newest Doctor

As we approach the debut – at least in a complete story – of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, the Who-o-sphere is abuzz with the same frenzied commentary and speculation that has always accompanied the handing over of the role. Eccleston only doing one season? Matt Smith replacing the beloved Tennant? That blonde guy from All Creatures Great and Small replacing Tom Baker? Since 1966, when somebody came up with the wild idea of recasting the title character in a popular TV series, such debate has become an integral part of Doctor Who fandom. This time, however, the uproar seems to be focusing on Capaldi’s age. He’s too old! He’s not cute! Fan-girls are beside themselves! The series can’t be “relevant” with an older Doctor! To this I say: calm yourselves, people.

Before I start to rant, I should confess to my own ageism in this matter. When Smith was cast, this late-thirty-something (at the time) shuddered. It was bound to happen sooner or later, I thought. The guy playing the Doctor is younger than me. It was bad enough when sons of your favorite baseball players start showing up…this was the Doctor! No matter that Peter Davison was thirty-one when he took over; I was only nine at that point. It didn’t really count. Now the Doctor was a mere boy of twenty-six? How could this possibly work?

But it worked beautifully and Smith captured the character’s nonconformity to our understanding of age and the passage of time. Ancient and wise, boyish and curious, quirkily humorous or cosmically profound – Smith brought all the crucial  elements together in a perfect package.

So I was convinced. Who cares how young the the guy looks?

Capaldi is the oldest new Doctor in the history of the series. Indeed, he is essentially the same age as the oldest man to play the Doctor, William Hartnell – an interesting coincidence often noted by the critics. It is true: if one disregards a few months here and there, both men were fifty-five when they first appeared as the character. Yet Capaldi doesn’t seem nearly as old as Hartnell, at least to this viewer.

Hartnell played older: the original concept of the Doctors character was that of a grouchy yet ultimately loveable grandfatherly figure. Hartnell himself had made a career out of playing curmudgeonly characters; indeed, it was his portrayal as a hard-bitten old sports agent that lead to his casting as the original Doctor. His white-hair wig and gentlemanly Edwardian attire – including a walking stick – contributed to the “balmy old granddad” package. Hartnell was also not a well man. Arterial sclerosis contributed to occasional mental lapses – included line-flubs known as “Billy Bluffs” – and eventually forced him to retire from the role. Generation affects our perception of age. Fifty-five was just older in 1963 than it is now, and I suspect in Britain even more so.

Doctor Who viewers will recognize Capaldi from the Tennant story “The Fires of Pompeii” and from the five-part Torchwood mini-series “Children of Earth.” With his well-trimmed seventeenth century goatee and ‘stache, he cuts a dastardly striking figure as Richelieu in The Musketeers. Zombie fans know him from World War Z as a suspicious WHO doctor. The role he may be best known for – to UK viewers certainly – is that of a fiery foul-mouthed government PR man in the BCC political comedy The Thick of It. If that character is any indication, he will indeed be a “fiercer” Doctor, as the Daily Mail suggested. A doddering fossil is not who we’re dealing with.

So I implore calm from the Doctor Who community. Granted, Peter Capaldi might not be the “lunch-box candy” you’re accustomed to, but he’s a great actor who will bring the intensity and quirkiness to the role it demands. Jon Pertwee was fifty-two and did his own stunts. Even raw physicality doesn’t make the man. Michael Fassbender may make a great young Magneto, but that doesn’t make Ian McKellen any less bad-ass. Capaldi will bring it. And if you want cute, check out the episode of Prime Suspect in which he played a transvestite. I hope I’m that pretty after I regenerate.

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My Monster

My monster may have diabetes. So says the vet, although he does have a habit of going straight to the most dire diagnosis. When I reported that the cat would occasionally bite, the vet mentioned that there was a certain type of epilepsy they can have that makes them lash out. Epilepsy? He’s just a jerk sometimes.

But I supposed diabetes is better than kidney failure, which is what I went to immediately after the initial symptoms. For several days, he was sucking down water and peeing like a racehorse. I went to clean the sandbox and it was totally sodden. A pile of mud. But the last few days he has gone back to his previous drinking/peeing pattern. But apparently his blood glucose was very high. Stress can cause this, and he was quite stressed as he had to stick around at the vet for five hours while they waited for a urine sample, only to have him pee all over himself. Hmm. So they said.

So last night and this morning I’m looking at him and wondering if he’s actually got back-leg weakness (another symptom) or it’s just my imagination. I have noticed a few times over the last few months that he seems hesitant when preparing to jump up on something. He is going to be 11 in October. But yet, he can still launch himself onto the table. He seemed very tired last night, which I’m sure is natural since he had a stressful day…and got a rabies booster which (I wonder if) can make them sick.

We’ll see. There’s another blood test in the works, and I have to get him to pee into some plastic pellets to get a urine sample. Pretty clever actually. I guess it seems like litter to them, but it’s a pile of pellets so there’s no absorption. I guess the liquid just clings to the pellets and you scoop ’em and dump ’em in some Tupperware.

If he does have diabetes, it’s totally manageable. I don’t relish the idea of giving him insulin injections, but as one website said, it may be a lot easier than pilling him. That is too true. Unless oral meds can be put in food, there’s no way he’s getting pilled. So injections may be the way to go.

So I guess I’m not so much worried as just sad for him. This is his first major health issue in the 9 years I’ve had him. Other than a sort of cold one time which he beat quickly, he’s had nothing. I also blame myself for not being more of a hardass about the dry food. He is my monster and I love him.

Console

Added “ledger strips” to edges of base, using a little homemade tool to ensure proper placement. Hopefully the strips are .04″ from the edge of the damn thing. Got the interior braces sanded down as best I could. I worry that an obsession with perfection might derail me so rather than getting frustrated with lack of equipment, I did the best I could with hand-sanding and hope it’ll be OK. I think a fraction of a millimeter difference in height between the braces won’t matter. Added “footers” out of .08″ strip to the bottoms of the braces. Arranged all the parts – base, braces and core hexagon – and it’s looking vaguely like a console! I’ve got to proceed carefully with assembly. Got to figure out the best way to attach console edges and panels to braces.

Console

Ordered some additional sheet styrene, including some .125″ – pretty thick stuff. Can it be cut with the usual score-and-snap method?

Cut the base of the console out of .04″ – this is the “master piece” onto which all other components are attached. Made it .04″ to give it some substance. Drilled holes in the base where the corners of the “core” will sit. Glued .06″ strips around the perimeter of the base, inset by .04″ to provide support for the side panels. I figure sides and interior struts will be .04″ and the console panels will be .02″ – although it’s hard to know. Thicker material provides more surface to attach to but is harder to get the edges “true.” I continue to struggle with getting the edges of cut pieces “true” which creates more of a problem as the material gets thicker. Score-and-snap on thicker material gives a funky edge. I built a crude sanding jig to sand 30 degree bevels into the ends of strip and it works but it is very hard to keep square. 

Central “core” is also mostly assembled. The 30 degree sander was used, although sparingly. Hopefully the core can be used as is – made of .02″ styrene sides with very little interior bracing – because it’ll be back to square one. Or hexagon one. Arf arf.

Console

A few years ago, I began construction of a scratch-built Tardis console, approximately 1/16 scale. As usual with projects such as these, it was a phase that lasted a few months and was replaced by some other phase. I have decided to resume the project and thought documenting my progress would be interesting and hopefully motivating.

I knew I wanted to model the console as it appeared in the later Baker years and the first appearance of that prop was the 1977 story The Invisible Enemy. After a season of the famous wooden “pub” console room, the Doctor moves operations to the “number two control room” which is essentially a renovation of the original control room set and console prop.

My starting point was the drawing of the console from the “Doctor Who Technical Manual”, which reflects the console as it appeared in the early Davison era. Although it was a good reference for the basic dimensions and shape of the console, the layout of the actual controls was lacking. Further research was required and how could a fan object to that line of scholarship: watching scads of episodes!

I had thought that I would just take a copy of the technical manual drawing, watch a few episodes and make some notes. Alas, it wasn’t so simple. After realizing that the drawing was vastly different than the actual prop, I knew my notes had to be very comprehensive. “Black round thing here” and “swivel thing here” were just not going to be sufficient construction documentation.

It is interesting what one sees about a thing when one actually looks closely at it. After some cursory viewing, story by story changes became obvious. Certain bits were gone, others added and even the entire console’s orientation changed with the set. I had assumed the prop was stationery. Clearly not. I should’ve known, since I knew the entire set had been struck from the studio and re-mounted on location for The Invasion of Time.

I finally developed a detailed and I believe fairly accurate Illustrator drawing which will probably serve as a blueprint for the final product. Upon review of the  partial 1/16 scale console, I realized that the scale was probably too small to build adequately. I initially considered and decided 1/10 scale was the way to go. It would make scaling dimensions easy, although I typically work in metric when building. In the end, I chose 1/12 scale. 1/10 just seemed too big. Plus, 1/12 allows for the use of dollhouse items should I want to add such sundries.

The worst dream

I dreamt I was visiting the UK – as I have done – and there began a seemingly endless series of mishaps. The culmination was that my luggage – along with that of two guys I was traveling with – was somehow lost. I struggled in vain to find someone’s address and the A to Zed I had didn’t show the damn address! I cracked, sobbing and throwing.

The worst part was that when I returned to the states – nobody cared.