Attack of the Graske!

Way back in 2005 for the first Doctor Who Christmas special, the BBC broadcast a “game” over its interactive digital television sevice. The game was Attack of the Graske. It stars David Tennant as the Doctor and the omnipresent Jimmy Vee as the Graske and is a tiny, interactive Doctor Who episode.

Sadly for us not in the UK, you were only able to play the game if your Geo-IP location shows up in that blessed isle. But no longer! I was able to play the game from Canada on the BBC’s revamped Doctor Who site!

Play Attack of the Graske!

Yeah, you can watch the videos on YouTube or whatever, but this is better. Okay, it’s not a great game or anything, but it’s nice to finally be able to play it (more or less) as intended.

Jimmy Vee reprises his role as the Graske in The Sarah Jane Adventures. And while it’s not strictly necessary to have played the Graske game before watching that episode (I certainly liked it well enough), it’s nice now to have that option.

Doctor Who’s 44th

I don’t want to fall any more behind, so I’d better post…

Today is (or was, I suppose) Doctor Who’s 44th anniversary.

In my plan for how this whole NaBloPoMo thing was going to work, I had it set out that I’d write a wonderfully reminiscent post about Doctor Who in my life and why it’s totally the best show ever. And I think i could pull it off. I just don’t feel like writing that post tonight.

At least in part, it’s because Verity Lambert died yesterday. Verity Lambert was Doctor Who’s first producer.

She, along with Canadian Sydney Newman set out what Doctor Who would be. She was perhaps as much responsible for the Daleks as Terry Nation was. Sydney Newman wanted Doctor Who to be a show that taught kids about science and history in an entertaining way, but with no bug-eyed monsters whatsoever. Verity Lambert, however, knew nothing about science, so instead commissioned a story about mutant monsters surviving a nuclear war.

There’s a line in the Season 3 episode “Human Nature” where the Doctor, as the human named John Smith, mentions his parents “Sydney and Verity”.

I want to write more, but I’m fighting to stay awake. I have people over and we’re going to have a Doctor Who party tomorrow. I am very happy about that, but right now, I need some rest.


I’m back in Belleville.

The drive back wasn’t that great. Getting onto Highway 8 was a challenge. I think people have started Christmas shopping or something. Between K-W and Toronto, it was rainy and busy and not very fun at all. So I went up on the 407.

Seeing fireworks going off in the subdivisions along the highway wasn’t as much of a surprise as it might have been. I’d driven that way during Diwali before.

The first time was a surprise. One doesn’t generally expect to see fireworks going off all over the place throughout the suburbs. I made a mental note to figure out what the heck was going on that time, and the Internet provided the answer. The Indian festival of light. Who knew?

I drove straight to Belleville without stopping, listening to Doctor Who audios. Valhalla was pretty good, with a companion-less 7th Doctor. Personally, I kinda expected more from Marc Platt, but I enjoyed it. Giant, intelligent termites in space. Who doesn’t love that?

I’m not in Belleville for any particular reason. Although, as this post might demonstrate, I could probably use the downtime.

Sarah Jane Adventures

I remember when I was a kid, just starting to get into Doctor Who and just starting to read Doctor Who Magazine regularly, that I was a bit surprised at how incredibly popular Sarah Jane Smith was among fans. People would write in about how she was so much better than any current companion. I remember a cartoon that didn’t seem to have a punchline at all, nor did it make any sense to me. It was just a picture of a boy sitting at the end of his bed, hugging his knees, staring up at the poster of Sarah Jane he had hanging over his headboard.

It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. To me, she was maybe a little silly and annoying, but otherwise totally average as far as companions go. If I was going to choose a companion to obsess over, it would be someone like Nyssa or Zoe. They were smart. And cute and demure, of course. Certainly not confrontational. And not empowered, either, although 13-year-old me didn’t have any particular concept of what that meant.

Sarah Jane makes are more sense to me now. Because of any of the companions, if there was any of them who you could imagine going off and having adventures of her (or his, for the rare case) own, it would be Sarah. Nyssa, while I still think she’s wonderful, ended up an interstellar chronic care nurse. Zoe, while we’re not entirely sure, is probably back living her life as a space librarian. (♥)

And that’s exactly what happened with Sarah Jane Smith. She’s not just having exciting adventures as an investigative reporter, she’s fighting monsters and saving the world, just like the Doctor.

And that’s pretty much what The Sarah Jane Adventures are about.

It’s a kids’ show, but it actually works fairly well. Doctor Who is nominally a kids’ show, although it’s traditionally aimed above the mark. SJA is on the kids’ channel of the BBC and is aimed squarely at kids. Besides Sarah, the principal cast is kids and it’s much lighter.

For a kids’ show, though, it’s surprisingly well written. While not quite to the same level as Doctor Who, the stories have definite emotional impact. It’s a bit silly and light and fun, but it still feels like it matters.

Compare and contrast with Torchwood.

One thing I noticed about the show while we were watching it: the writers seem a bit less reluctant to drop in references to the original series or lift wholesale obscure monsters from the new series. I have a theory about this, too. It’s the kids.

When you present adults with things they don’t understand, they get all flustered and frustrated and annoyed. Obscure references to things that they haven’t heard of are a turn off. Kids, on the other hand, take it all in stride.

What’s more than that, it’s the kids that are likely to pour over Doctor Who Magazine, the Annuals, and the new monster reference books they’ve been releasing. They know this stuff now. And putting sly little references into their show rewards their efforts.

I think it’s nerdily cool too, but they’ve shown considerably more restraint in the past for this sort of thing. I think they’re doing it for the kids.

Anyway, I hope they bring the show over here. I don’t think CBC is co-producing. Maybe it’ll show up on BBC Kids or something. Regardless, if you get a chance and you have any interest in Doctor Who at all, give it a try. I promise it’s better than Torchwood.

Even with the sonic lipstick.