The Companion Conundrum

“Thank you for being a friend / Traveled down the road and back again / Your heart is true / You’re a pal and a confidant.” The English language has over fifty viable synonyms for a friend, but in the realm of the Doctor Who fandom, the term “companion” is sacred. It is a title bestowed upon those who have been given a special place in the pantheon, a category of characters for whom books are written, songs are sung (well, other than that one, but who are we to judge), and tear-jerking YouTube videos are edited. But who makes the cut? Who ascends to the higher plateau of companionship, where others are relegated to ‘friend’, ‘colleague’, or the practically insulting ‘recurring role’?

This week, we’re joined by long-time listener and friend of the podcast Nicole to discuss, debate, and dissect what it means to be an ‘official’ companion of the Doctor. With extensive contributions from folks across the social networks (thank you!), we look to criteria including time travel, significant contribution to the story, appearance frequency and concurrence, and more. Suffice to say, it gets rather…convoluted.

John Leeson LIWho 5EXTRA: Our interview with the voice of K-9 himself, John Leeson, from L.I. Who 5!

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Classic Rewatch: Frontier In Space

Frontier In Space

Doctor Who has always been rife with complex backstories and themes of conflict drawn from the news and events of the time. Call it “present day problems, presented in another day”, if you will. From workers striking against the regime, to species in tense stalemates on the brink of war, to contending with the horrific aftermath of genocide and mutually assured destruction, the program has used our own chaotic world and its occupants as the inspiration for otherworldly tales. When we see the similarities between the happenings on screen, among strange alien species, in far-off locations, at unfathomable leaps into the future, it can certainly give us pause.

This week, we’re joined by friend and fellow podcaster Drew Meyer (of Who and Company) to enjoy — and ponder — the final Pertwee episode to feature Roger Delgado as the Master, ‘Frontier In Space’. Six episodes go by seamlessly in this interplanetary skirmish in the borderlands, with exceptional performances by Delgado (possibly his best), Manning (equally absolutely superb), and the supporting cast, as well as a most enjoyable twist in the final seconds, letting us know that the harrowing tale is not yet complete. We all agree that this story deserves rewatching, as well as recommendations to those wanting to dive deeper into the Third Doctor’s tenure.

EXTRA: We have a few minutes at the Long Island Doctor Who (L.I. Who 5) convention to sit and talk with the pioneering director of Doctor Who himself, Waris Hussein!

Waris Hussein LIWho5

Photo credit @kimalysong

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A Whovian Thanksgiving

November in the United States means a few things to those of us enthralled with all things Doctor Who: conventions like L.I. Who and Chicago TARDIS, anticipation of the upcoming Christmas episode, and the Thanksgiving holiday that often leads to us gushing about the program to relatives who may or may not have any clue what we’re saying. At the intersection of this Venn diagram, however, are the ways in which we, as loyal and devoted admirers and advocates of the many Gallifreyan-goings-on, are thankful to the program itself, for all it has given us as viewers, and done for us as fans. Pass the cranberry sauce, and give your uncle a gentle elbow if he brings up anything inappropriate (like comments about Turlough’s bathing trunks).

This week, we take time to thank the Doctor Who franchise for the many gifts it has given us as fans over 54 years. From the stories, to the characters, to the conventions, to you as podcast listeners, we have so many reasons to appreciate this program and its fandom. It’s only fitting that we spend a while celebrating this rather family-like conglomeration of people, and the odd little science fiction program that brought us all together.

EXTRA: Our interview with the always entertaining Seventh Doctor himself, Sylvester McCoy, from the floor of the fifth Long Island Doctor Who Convention.

sylvester mccoy liwho5

Photo credit: Chris Kocher

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Classic Rewatch: Carnival of Monsters

Yes, we’ve been doing this podcast for well over five years. Yes, we’re all pretty positive, upbeat people who not only share enjoyment of the Doctor Who legacy, but enjoy each other’s company, as well. But no, we don’t always agree. In fact, in instances like this, we differ wildly. It’s okay, though. We’ll keep Jay around because he’s a genuinely good-hearted, intelligent, humorous guy. (Even if he would have no idea what a PRECIOUS GIFT of a classic story this was if it charged up behind him and dope-slapped him across the back of the melon. But we kid, we kid!)

Our Classic Rewatch progress brings us to the mad “Incredible Journey Meets Groundhog Day” conditions of “Carnival of Monsters”. We discuss the many, many sci-fi tropes that Robert Holmes wields in this Season 10 adventure, the ongoing awesomeness of Jo Grant, the first glimpse of not-Harry-Sullivan, the effectiveness/detriment of an intentionally underdeveloped political backstory, and the costumes. Oh, the COSTUMES. Knock back a quick chota peg to brace your nerves, and let’s begin!

EXTRA: Our interview with our most beloved, incomparable, and endlessly energized Jo Grant herself, Katy Manning, joining us once again from the festivities at L.I. Who 5!

Sorry again that the baby decided to nibble on you, Katy. We still love you!

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Basically…Run

Whether you are in pursuit of the rapidly shrinking portal that will allow you to return safely to your own relative time and place, or avoiding the grasp of some malicious alien race hell bent on tearing you atom from atom, if there’s one thing Whovians from all eras understand, it’s running. Either towards or away from danger, the act of getting one’s humanoid butt in gear is as essential a skill as escapology (thanks, Jo, just in time!), hand-to-hand combat (easy there, Leela, that thing is sharp), or scathing retorts (honestly, Donna, that hurt). So if you could find a way to not only run for survival, but for the greater good, wouldn’t that be the ultimate goal? And for those wondering, no — we don’t mean replacing the Eye of Harmony with a giant hamster wheel. Although wouldn’t that be wicked?

This week, we are joined in studio by Dawn and Brian Biggs, founders of the non-profit organization, the Whovian Running Club. By coordinating and promoting multiple ‘virtual runs’ over the course of the year, each with a Doctor Who theme (such as the “No More 5K”), each race donates the proceeds to a charity that is not only linked in some way to the race theme, but is specifically selected to reap the greatest benefit for the funds received. From veteran’s health, to child adoption, to animal rescue, the WRC is responsible for millions in donations — and boasts an online community that is not only massive in number, but in comradery and heart.

Lace up those trainers, and stay limber, because there’s an awful lot of running to do.

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