Sunday, November 18, 2007

Crashing Through Time

Okay, I wasn't sleepy until about a minute ago. Now that I am, I need to go to bed - but first I need to get this entry in!

First off, in answer to frequent questions from Tuffy's well-wishers, I have no particular news to report on her health. She gladly ate steak fat scraps this evening, but was sporting a dirt-covered nose from burying dog biscuits, something she tends to do when she gets bored with them. She's energetic when we come in, and behaves normally other than the eating thing, but her wet snoot tells us that all is not well. Two treatments to go!

The Tenth Doctor checks out the back of his "own head"

Today I've mostly been goofing off at the computer and watching Doctor Who - no surprise there, especially on a Saturday. Friday was the premiere of "Time Crash" in the UK, which John tracked down for me online so I can watch it repeatedly. This is an amazing Doctor Who mini-episode, which aired as part of the BBC's annual Children in Need charity telethon. Although the clip is available online for a week in the U.K., for some reason the BBC website won't stream it to the U.S., which I find somewhat nonsensical and annoying.

The Doctors differ on the virtues of the "desktop theme"

It's a cool thing, though. The 7:40 story is crammed into the 1:20 of "Last of the Time Lords," between Martha's exit and the crash into the Titanic. We know this because "Time Crash" actually begins and ends with the same footage (well, mostly). In between, the TARDIS has an emergency, as the result of which the Fifth Doctor turns up a few feet away from the Tenth as they both try to figure out what happened on the same TARDIS console. The Universe will blow up in five minutes, but the Tenth Doctor wastes most of that time enthusing about (and occasionally criticizing) the Fifth Doctor, who has no idea who this "skinny idiot" is until the Tenth Doctor spells it out for him. The Tenth nonchalantly performs a last-minute, extremely risky maneuver to save the day, but afterward confesses that the reason he knew what to do was that he remembered the Fifth Doctor seeing him do it! Best line: "What have you done to my TARDIS? You've changed the desktop theme, haven't you? What's this one, Coral? It's worse than the Leopard Skin!" Thus, writer Steven Moffat and the Fifth Doctor explain away 44 years of periodic changes in TARDIS design and decor. Heh, heh, heh. Second is the Tenth Doctor's farewell to the Fifth: "All my love to Long Ago."

The Fifth Doctor fails to identify his tormentor, despite many hints

I have a few quibbles about this little masterpiece, but overall it's a fabulous bit of connective narrative between thus year's season finale and the upcoming Christmas special. Nor is it the first time I've enjoyed a Doctor Who bit made for the Children in Need appeal. Back in November 1993 I was practically in tears when an incomprehensible two-part Multi-Doctor story, "Dimensions in Time," was shown at a Doctor Who convention the same day it aired in the U.K. It was a crossover story with a show called EastEnders, in which the Doctor and his companion constantly changed from one actor and character to another. It's not considered canonical, largely because it's virtually impossible to make logical sense of the story. But it was the first new Doctor Who story in four years, and I was thrilled to see it. In November 2005 another new "Pudsey Cutaway" (don't ask) scene aired, in which the newly-regenerated Tenth Doctor had to convince Rose of his identity, and then went manic with post-regeneration instability, on his way to the coma that lays him out for most of "The Christmas Invasion." That one is canonical, and I've watched it a zillion times on DVD. I have the same main objection to both the 2005 and 2007 scenes: in each case, a character is more clueless about the Tenth Doctor's identity than really makes sense. The Ninth Doctor just finished telling Rose more or less exactly what was about to happen, but she still didn't believe it. I guess she was in denial. And a number of things the Tenth Doctor said to the Fifth were pretty clear indications of who he was, but the Fifth Doctor was too annoyed and distracted to pick up on them. Let's just say that in both cases it strains credulity a bit, although I love the scenes otherwise.

Being grateful for all this, then, I tried to donate online to Children in Need on Friday night. What a farce! Whoever designed the donation form clearly never considered the possibility that Americans might want to give money to the charity. The form required an initial before the first and last names, required the county name, had no provision for a state name or code (so I showed them in "County"), rejected a five-digit postal code as the wrong length, and didn't even have USA in the country drop down! I ended up filling out my info more or less as follows:

Donation amount: £5

K. Karen Blocher
6666 Calle Something
Tucson, Pima County, AZ USA 857xx-xxxx

I then sent the form. A pop up told me to wait, that it was processing. I clicked ok. That was the end of it - there was never any response at all to indicate that the donation did or did not go through. I then filled out a contact form to tell them about it. That one gave me an error message, repeatedly, when I tried to hit Send. So I ended up sending a note to the BBC Complaints Department. That one went through! Sorry, BBC! Sorry, needy children. I did try!

And now it's ridiculously late, and I'm going to bed. I've managed to crash through a lot of time myself, procrastinating my way to the end of this entry. Good night / good morning!

Meanwhile, in a novel in another room (Vampire Science), the Eighth Doctor just made everyone some breakfast.


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