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Tom Dickinson's Internet Thing, November 2023 Edition

Happy belated Doctor Who Day!
Peter Capaldi in costume as the Doctor reading the inaugural issue of Doctor Who Weekly to a Dalek
Peter Capaldi in costume as the Doctor, reading the inaugural issue of Doctor Who Weekly to a Dalek, from a Doctor Who Magazine photoshoot.


It has been some time, hasn't it? 364 days to be exact.

As you know, yesterday was a major holiday: the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who's first airing in 1963. And as it happens, I have a number of Doctor Who related things I've been up to, which I'd like to tell you about. So it occurred to me: what if I sent out a Doctor Who edition of this newsletter to coincide with Doctor Who day?

Cool idea, right? It's the kind of idea you might want to have at some time before 7:15 PM on the day in question. But that's when I had it, so here it is now, a day late. Sound good? I hope so because here we go.

(Does this mean that you, dear reader, should skip this one if you do not care at all about Doctor Who? Yes, it does mean that. I promise another update soon. Before the end of the year, hopefully. And I promise that in that update I will not mention Doctor Who at all. Not one single time.)

Doctor Who: The Moment, Season 4

Let's start with the elephant in my personal room: Doctor Who: The Moment. Did you know that I make a podcast about Doctor Who? I wouldn't blame you if you forgot that, because it's been over two years since I released a new episode.

I was all geared up to start posting new episodes in summer 2023, but then SAG-AFTRA went on strike. During their strike, they required of their members that they not put out podcasts promoting struck work, and said they would appreciate if non members like myself could do the same in solidarity. For that and other reasons, I decided to hold my horses with the release of season 4 of The Moment. You can hear a little more about that decision in an announcement I posted to The Moment's podcast feed.

That strike is over now, but there's another thing holding me up. My podcast reflects on previous episodes of the show, and doesn't directly cover new material. So I don't generally prefer to run the podcast while the show is running. And Doctor Who is back for four specials, starting tomorrow and running through Christmas, starring the new (old) Doctor, David Tennant, and the new (new) Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa. So I'll be holding off a little longer.

You can expect to hear news about the show's return soon. Stay tuned to the show's podcast feed or social presences, which you can find here.

Reality Bomb: The Essentials

Because I am vain, if you ask me what my favorite Doctor Who podcast is, I will tell you it's Doctor Who: The Moment. But Reality Bomb is probably second. It's a really thoughtful and well produced show in a sort of public radio magazine style, featuring a mix of panel discussions, editorials, recurring segments, comedy sketches, documentaries, and even the occasional original song.

For this Doctor Who day, Reality Bomb released the first part of "The Essentials", a two-part talking head documentary about Doctor Who, asking the question: "What is an essential element of Doctor Who?"

It's certainly a valid question, given how much the show has made change and adaptation a part of its DNA. So when Graeme Burk invited me to add my voice to the choir, I wasn't quite sure what part to sing. (So to speak. I don't actually sing. It's a metaphor.) I actually had a couple different ideas I kicked around with Graeme and I'm glad with where we landed: I discussed the essential relationship between Doctor Who and Cliffhangers. As for why, you'll have to listen to the episode to find out! I've enjoyed hearing the variety of perspectives and I'm looking forward to the second part.

Outside In Regenerates

If you've ever perused the dealer's room at a Doctor Who fan convention, you're probably familiar with ATB Publishing, who puts out a whole slew of very smart and fun nonfiction books about popular culture. Their flagship range is "Outside In", a series of books featuring creative essays with fresh and original takes and perspectives on various media franchises. They've done Buffy, Star Trek, Twin Peaks, and of course, Doctor Who. The range kicked off a decade ago with a book reviewing all 160 stories from the classic series of Doctor Who's series, and now they've commemorated 60 years of Doctor Who, and 10 years of Outside In, with Outside In Regenerates, a new book featuring all new reviews of the classic series, including one by yours truly.

I was honored when Stacey Smith?, the range editor of Outside In (who, by the way, recorded an episode for the upcoming season of The Moment which I cannot wait for you to hear), reached out to me and invited me to contribute. My Doctor Who fandom has always tilted more toward the new series than the classic, and so it wasn't immediately obvious to me what story I'd want to say something about. But when I noticed that no other contributor had called dibs on the 1966 partially-missing serial The Celestial Toymaker, my wheels started turning.

See, some fans regard The Celestial Toymaker, in which the Doctor and friends are kidnapped by the titular deity and forced to play weird games in his magical toyroom, as a beloved classic with a legendary one-off villain. Personally, I loathe it. Usually if I hate a story, I haven't got all that much to say about it, but in this case, I find The Celestial Toymaker fascinating to talk about. (Not to watch. It's dull as ditchwater to sit through.) And I thought it might be fun to approach a review of the story through the lens of a games critic who was reviewing the games that the characters are forced to play in the story. And I was right! It was very fun to write, and I'm really proud of it.

Also, I had no idea at the time I wrote the review, but the Toymaker is returning to Doctor Who in the upcoming specials, played by Neil Patrick Harris. Wild. I'm skeptical that I can be won over as a fan of the character but I have to admit I'm thrilled by the cosmic coincidence of my essay seeing publication around the time of the Toymaker's return.

The book came out yesterday in print and you can get it straight from the publisher's website here. There are a lot of very good short reviews in it, so ever since I got my contributor copy, whenever I have a few spare minutes I've enjoyed picking one out at random and being delighted by a fun little jaunt into a fresh perspective on a Doctor Who story.

The Ten Year Pilgrimage

Doctor Who fans have a concept called "The Pilgrimage", which is the viewing of every episode of Doctor Who from 1963 to the present, in order. Many Doctor Who fans cherry pick from the classic series, which is probably the best and most sane way to approach it, but certain devoted fanatics such as myself like to challenge ourselves to watch the series as completionists (to the extent possible).

I have actually done the pilgrimage once. I started in about 2011, and ended in 2013 in order to coincide with the show's 50th anniversary. But I have a terrible confession to make: there were times when I was binging like mad, cramming six or seven episodes into a sitting, and so there are long stretches of the show that I wolfed down so quick I barely have any memory of them at all. So I've decided it might be fun, ten years after I finished my last pilgrimage, to go through it all again, but at a more deliberate pace this time.

Enter the Ten Year Pilgrimage. The plan is to watch every episode of Doctor Who, starting on the 60th anniversary and ending on the 70th anniversary. That's 10 years to watch... I don't know how many episodes. 871 as of today, but who knows how many there will be by November 23, 2033? Right now it seems like two or three episodes per week will be the right pace.

I'm encouraging others to join me, if they are interested, by using the #TenYearPilgrimage hashtag on whatever social media they are using these days. I've worked out a loose viewing schedule and everything. If you'd like to know more, visit tenyearpilgrimage.com.

As for my current Pilgrim's Progress, I meant to watch the first episode yesterday on Doctor Who Day. But unfortunately, some other, lesser holiday happened to fall on November 23rd this year, so I was too busy and didn't have the chance. Because of that, I'll be starting a day late. Luckily, it's a pretty forgiving schedule.

OK that's enough for now. If you've read this far then please reply letting me know which Doctor Who monster would be the most desirable guest at your holiday dinner table. (If you're reading on the blog rather than via email, send your missives to tom [at] nowwearealltom [dot] com). For me it's gotta be the Sontarans. You can't have a holiday meal without a side of potatoes.

I'll have another newsletter for you sooner than usual, I promise! Just go forward in all of your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.