Understanding Doctor Who Part IX: Doctor Who Primer N-Z

Being the second part of a primer of terms understood by Doctor Who fans and meaningless to everyone else.

Neutron Flow: What the Doctor habitually reverses the polarity of. It is the single most effective and reusable piece of technobabble ever created, helped along by the fact that Jon Pertwee could sing a song to it.

Other, The: According to the New Adventures, who the Doctor was before he was the Doctor, a friend of Time Lord society founders Rassilon and Omega, whose genetic and psychic material was used the "loom" the Doctor (it gets complicated). A notion entirely crafted to explain a throw away line from Remembrance of the Daleks where the Doctor uses the first person plural to describe the birth of time travel as if he were there. Whovians do a lot of this.

Pure Historical: A story that uses only a historical setting to propell itself, with no science fiction trappings on top of it. There hasn't been one since 1967.

Quarks: One of the lamest robot races in the Whoniverse who starred in only one story, but seem to have fascinated the writers of books and comics ever since. You'd think they were part of the "cool crowd" with the Daleks, Cybermen and Ice Warriors. Newbies, don't be fooled!

Regeneration: An ingenious idea to get around losing the title star of your show, and potentially a Sword of Damocles over an actor's head.

Season 6B: The never really acknowledged notion that the 2nd Doctor kept traveling for a time after the Time Lord's sentence of exile/Pwerteeness but before it was enacted. Proposed evidence includes that Doctor knowing the fates of his companions in The Five Doctors and his and Jaime's older look in The Two Doctors. (See The Other)

Telesnaps: Before the advent of home video, directors sometimes took pictures of their tv screens during one of their episodes' broadcast to build up their portfolio. Because the BBC started wiping old tapes in the early 70s, this is the only medium some episodes survive in. Used in reconstructions and the BBC website's photonovels of some of those lost stories.

UNIT Dating: Has little to do with who Mike Yates liked better, Jo Grant or Sgt. Benton, but rather with the controversy surrounding exactly when the UNIT stories happened. Though nominally set just a couple years in the future (as the new series is), there is ample evidence onscreen that this isn't so. Calendars and decimal money systems certainly put the lie to Sarah Jane's one-time assertion that she's from 1980 back in '75. (See both The Other and ...ish)

Vortex: What the TARDIS travels through, as seen in the new series' opening credits, and indeed, even in the classic series. In the first episode ever, the credit sequence is laid over the TARDIS' first trip, and so each credit sequence can be interpreted as that era's vision of the space-time vortex. It gets real chunky in the late 80s.

Who: The Doctor's name... or is it? In addition to many "The Doctor? Doctor who?" "jokes", there is the matter of the Silurian story's title, the alias Dr. Von Wer, a note signed Dr. W, the computer WOTAN calling him that, and the Whomobile's registration plate. The Time Lords seem to have a strong nicknaming tradition (maybe because true names are powerful things, as per The Shakespeare Code), so we may never know if it's the first three letters of some kind of Romanadvoratrelundar (didn't need to check, folks!).

X-Rays: Would reveal the Doctor's two hearts. But maybe not while he was William Hartnell. You decide if the first regeneration gave him a second heart. And whether he should have 10 of them right now (all broken by Rose).

Yeti in the Loo: The notion that monsters are scarier in a "sitting in your loo down in Tooting Bec", according to Jon Pertwee, attempting to justify his era's Earth-bound adventures, because they are incongruous there. I have never been to Tooting Bec to check it out.

Zodin, The Terrible: A female enemy that ranks among the Doctor's greatest despite having never been seen. Don't try to find the stories, mentioned twice on screen and once on Martha Jones' blog (July 1st 2007). It's not even one of the wiped ones.

I hope you spent the last couple weeks catching yourself up on New Who, cuz I'm now up to discussing the latest series in spoilery detail! Well, I WILL be. Monday. See you then.


Colin said...

"There hasn't been one since 1967."

*cough*Black Orchid*cough*

Siskoid said...

I've lately decided that Black Orchid isn't really a pure historical. It takes place in the past, but hardly around historical events or people. And while there are no "sf" elements per se, there are definitely "pulp" elements. In other words, it seems as "genre" as say, The Fires of Pompeii.

Colin said...

I'd class it as less "genre" as FoP. No extraterrestrial influence on the plot aside from the regulars, for one thing.

Siskoid said...

See ...ish.


mwb said...

The flip side and more important in my view to the telesnaps are audio recordings (early cassette and reel) that fan made by putting mics up to the TV speakers. In some case these are the only things we have of lost episodes.

Anonymous said...

Hello Siskoid! I've been lurking for a while, so I thought I should tell you how much I'm enjoying your Doctor Who posts. Funny, detailed without getting uptight about it, really light touch. Plus lots I didn't know. Lovely. Thank you!


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