Monday, November 10, 2008

Clearing the Decks

Tonight, as I waited for my brain to come up with an angle for this blog entry, I
  • watched the unaired version of the pilot for Doctor Who ("An Unearthly Child"), again,
  • did the dishes,
  • collected the recycling in one place,
  • put the Halloween stuff away,
  • did laundry,
  • separated my old laundry from John's and folded them both, and
  • cleared out over 300 emails from my main account's in box.
The things some people will do to put off writing!

Seriously, though, it was all stuff that needed doing. The laundry and the dishes were no big deal; I normally do dishes every night around 4 AM, and the laundry as needed. The Halloween stuff was starting to get on John's nerves, but again, no big deal. It was already back in the plastic cauldron and the big black box with the orange lid.

Sorting the neglected, overflowing basket of clean clothes was definitely an overdue task, though, and so, clearly, was the backlog of email. I deleted a selection of the political mailing list ones, read and unread, and filed many of the rest. Old Writer's Digest alerts about new magazines I'll never write for (Peanut Butter Today, Arkansas Traveler, Gerbil World) also got the heave-ho, along with old church emails that consisted of the week's church bulletin (to mine for online announcements) and a few words to the effect that I should have a good weekend. And then there were a bunch of social networking alerts, for which I needed to sort the strangers with genuine common interests from the more spammish followers and "fans." Dog lover? Sure. Politics? Probably. How to make money on real estate foreclosures? Forget it.

The unread email count is down to 91, and I'm pretty sure it was over 400 at some point this weekend. And that doesn't include all the stuff I'd read but not deleted or filed. I have a bad habit of keeping almost every email I get, so tonight's mass deletion represents major progress in more ways than one.

The First Doctor (1963-1966)

I mentioned Doctor Who above, and you probably don't think that a report that I watched my favorite tv show really fits in with the list of chores I did overnight. In that sense, you're right. It's not exactly a chore. But in a way it's like the email, and the basket of clean laundry. I'm trying to clear the decks, disposing of another kind of backlog so I can move on. See, for years we've been trying to collect as many of the Doctor Who serials (and individual episodes) as possible, in part so that I can watch all the extant stuff in order. Even though the BBC foolishly threw away their masters of some episodes before the advent of commercial video, there's still a lot of it to be had. The show started airing in Great Britain the day after JFK was shot, back in November 1963, and ran (with one 18-month "rest") for 26 seasons ending in 1989. Then there was the tv movie in 1996, and another long wait before the show returned, bigger than ever, in 2005. Most of the series still exists in some form, or has been recreated from old photos and soundtracks and even newly-produced linking material.

(I should explain, for anyone who doesn't already know, that the British science fiction series Doctor Who is about an alien time traveler known only as the Doctor. This clever, witty, usually non-violent hero has the ability to regenerate rather than die outright when badly ill or injured, resulting in a new face and a slight change in personality. In practical terms, that means the show can go on for decade after decade, periodically replacing the lead actor. Fans traditionally refer to each incarnation by number. Thus, William Hartnell played the First Doctor long ago, and David Tennant is toward the end of his tenure as the Tenth Doctor.) far less appealing than the Tenth Doctor (2005-2009)

In 2009 Doctor Who is airing as a handful of specials, not a full season, so this seems like a good time to unleash that plan of watching many hundreds of hours of pre-revival Doctor Who over a period or months, possibly years, in airdate order. But there's a problem. Although I was a fan of the series as far back as 1989 or so, and really enjoyed stories by the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors, I'm afraid I don't like those early stories about the First Doctor very much. When I set out to watch the show in order, I tend to get bogged down, early in the First Doctor's first season. Then I got off and watch the recent stuff, and try again months later. Rather than figuring out where I left off, I usually take it from the top. again. Thus, I'm back to An Unearthly Child.

It's silly, I know. Nobody cares but me what episodes I watch in what order, as long as I do the dishes and the laundry. But this is me being stubborn. I want to get a sense of the grand saga of it all, the forty-five year character arc of the grumpy, elderly, duplicitous antihero who eventually becomes the outwardly youthful, usually cheerful, wandering hero with an undercurrent of loss and loneliness. Maybe this time I'll pull it off, working my way past Planet of Giants and The Romans to get to the more engaging adventures of the later Doctors.

On the other hand, I'm sure John would much prefer that I spend those hundreds of hours sorting through boxes and getting rid of stuff. Well, maybe I can do both, clearing decades of junk out of the house while making my way through decades of television history.

Or not. We'll see how far I get this time, with either project.



maryt/theteach said...

Karen thanks very much for commenting on my Round Robin Photo challenge: Food. The spinach dip WAS good! Sorry I don't watch Dr. Who though I've heard of it... :)

just me said...

Good luck getting both things done.

Martha said...

Aaacckk, I had to give up TV for blogging. SOunds like you had a productive day. I think I'll send you 200 emails just to mess with you ;-)