We could all use a good Doctor in our life

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“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” — The 4th Doctor (Tom Baker)

Many people turn to parents, grandparents, best friends, or even a priest or pastor to turn to for advice in times of need. For geeks, nerds, and other assorted misfits, we have a different source of comfort and advice.

The wisdom of Yoda, Captain James T. Kirk (or Picard, depending on your preference), Thanos, Gandalf, or many other characters from the various realms of sci-fi/fantasy are a bastion of wisdom. For me, there is only one really, and that’s the Doctor. Whenever I need some sage advice, I just listen for the wheezing sound of the Tardis, open the door and look for the Doctor.

Doctor Who has been around for more than 50 years. In all that time, you can find relative truths and insightful wisdom in his various incarnations. That was the great thing about regeneration’s, or how the Doctor has survived all these years for those non-Whovians.

For example… What do I bring to a party? “Always take a banana to a party!” (The 10th Doctor, David Tenant) or Will you read me a story? “We’re all stories, in the end… just make it a good one, eh?” (The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith) and When can I go to sleep? “Rest is for the weary, sleep is for the dead.” (The 6th Doctor, Colin Baker)

The wisdom of the Doctor extends beyond the simple and the straightforward advice one would expect from a family member, friend or confidant. The writing in the show was poignant, provocative, and has kept the fans enthralled and enticed new fans to the show.

“A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.” — The 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee)

That’s the beauty of Doctor Who. Each Doctor has been played by a different actor, each with their own personalities and charm. It’s like a wealth of advice from a long line of long, lost uncles (and a soon-to-be aunt) right at your fingertips. The Doctor has always been a source of insight into humanity and our various idiosyncrasies that define us, both good and bad. The Doctor has made it very clear that humans are far from perfect, but with potential. I think longtime Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, said it best.

“When they made this particular hero, they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an x-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And the didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like the Doctor.” — Steven Moffat

So as we prepare for the next Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) to take the controls of the Tardis along with new showrunner Chris Chibnall this Fall, we can look forward to more words of wisdom that I know I’ll be adding to this list.




Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Doctor Who provides geeks with their own Christmas tradition

doctorwho2811aThere are many traditions from various cultures around the world when it comes to Christmas; but in Great Britain, and in the homes of geeks around the world, nothing is more sacred than the Doctor Who Christmas special. After a long day of presents, family, and food, it’s nice to curl up under a Tardis blanket, wrapped in a eight-foot long scarf, with a nice bowl of fish fingers and custard to watch Doctor Who celebrate the joy of Christmas and, sometimes, regenerates into the new Doctor.

This year is no exception as the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, meets up with the first Doctor (brilliantly played by David Bradley, recreating the role originated by William Hartnell) and will conclude with his regeneration to the 13th Doctor, Jodie Williams.

During the first run of the program (1963 to 1989), while not an official Christmas special, one episode aired on Christmas Day: “The Feast of Steven”, the seventh episode of the twelve-part serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, which aired on 25 December 1965. The episode was a comic interlude in the style of a pantomime, in the middle of an otherwise epic adventure. In its final scene, the Doctor and his companions celebrated Christmas with a toast; the episode ended with the Doctor (William Hartnell) turning to camera (breaking the fourth wall) and saying, “Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home.”

The actual Christmas specials we know and love today started with the 10th Doctor, David Tenant, after his regeneration from Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, at the end of the first season of the relaunch of Doctor Who under Russell T. Davies. “The Christmas Invasion” was about an invasion by the Sycorax while the Doctor recovers from the effects of his regeneration. It ends with David Tenant donning his famous suit and trenchcoat. So, from that point on, here is my TOP 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials.

gallery_uktv-doctor-who-bernard-cribbins-5.  The End of Time, David Tenant (2009) — The End of Time was the final episode with David Tenant as the Doctor. It involved the return of the Master (John Simm), an alien device called the Immortality Gate, and the return of Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) and the entire planet of Gallifrey to bring about the end of time. The best part of the episode is the end, when the Doctor takes a grand tour and visits all the companions he met over the years, including a stop off with Rose Tyler on New Year’s Day of the year before she met him. It’s a sad ending with the Ood singing an operatic farewell as he limps back to the Tardis. The one thing everyone remembers is his last words, “I don’t want to go!”

the-10-best-doctor-who-christmas-specials-that-every-true-whovian-must-watch4.  The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe, Matt Smith (2011) — I will start off by saying that Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor has three spots in my Top 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials. His specials were the most memorable to me. Besides the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker), Matt Smith is one of my favorite Doctors. After a World War II widow saves his life, he repays her and her children by trying to bring a little fun in their Christmas; but, as usually happens with the Doctor, things run amok, including a trip to another world that’s about to be destroyed. In the end, the Doctor saves her and her family, including her deceased husband. As with most Christmas specials, the ending was the best when he reunites with Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner. The fact that they always set a place for the Doctor brings a tear to his eye, and makes it a memorable special.

 landscape-1448898478-doctor-who-the-husbands-of-river-song3.  The Husbands of River Song, Peter Capaldi (2015) — River Song has been one of my favorite companions of the Doctor since her first appearance in “The Silence of the Library” with David Tenant. We learned about River’s long history with the Doctor through Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor. It all came to a close with Peter Capaldi when they finally reached the “Singing Towers” on the planet of Darillium, where he gave River her own sonic screwdriver. It also has the best “Hello Sweetie” in all the episodes of Doctor Who with River Song. This episode had everything you want to see in a Doctor Who Christmas special–giant robots, split-head aliens, a spaceship falling from space, and a jewel heist. What more could you ask for?

time-of-the-doctor__1311261242432.  The Time of the Doctor, Matt Smith (2013) — This episode was Matt Smith’s final one as the Doctor, leading to his regeneration into Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. It also spanned centuries as the Doctor defended the town of Christmas on the planet of Trenzalore. This was supposed to the Doctor’s last battle, where he dies at the end of his regeneration cycle. Every race across the universe is trying to prevent the Doctor from answering “the oldest question in the universe” that would return the Timelords and Gallifrey from it’s exile in another universe. They feared the resurgence of the Time War and so, the Silence was born to stop the Doctor. Like The End of Time did with David Tenant, The Time of the Doctor brought everything from the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure to a close–the crack in the wall, the question, Silence will Fall. In the end, Matt Smith gives, what I think, is one of the best speeches by the Doctor at the end of his time. Add to that, the reappearance of Amy Pond and her final words, “Raggedy Man, Goodnight,” touched my heart as he took off his bow tie and regenerated.

christmascarol1.  A Christmas Carol, Matt Smith (2010) — There are so many reasons I absolutely love this episode, it’s hard to pick just one. I’d have to start with the music. Singer Katherine Jenkins is the voice of an angel, bringing a beauty and soul to this special that has never been matched. Her song brings the joy and spirit of Christmas to life. Second, the comedy is just so damn funny. In my opinion, Matt Smith has the comedic timing of Charlie Chaplain and it shows in this episode. From his photo of him with Santa Claus (“or as I like to call him, Jeff”),  to the shark in the wardrobe, and his “marriage” to Marilyn Monroe was absolutely priceless. Lastly, the story was a wonderful rendition of the traditional Charles Dickens classic. Michael Gambon gives a perfect rendition of Scrooge, or Kazran Sardick in this episode. I especially loved their twist on the Ghost of Christmas Future, showing a young Kazran his grouchy, future self to change his heart. I will watch this Christmas special before all others. It is, at heart, what Doctor Who is all about.

So, here it is. I have a feeling that that the “Twice Upon a Time” might make it’s way up there after this year’s episode airs. Until then, Merry Christmas to all!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

It’s hard to pick a favorite Doctor Who episode, but I’ll give it my best shot

This week marks the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who. It also marks the last season for the 13th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Now, for you purists out there, I realize he’s technically the 12th Doctor, but I like to count Sir John Hurt’s “War Doctor” in that number because “he was the Doctor on the day when he couldn’t be.” In any case, I will concede to the correct numbering for the remainder of this post. To that end, the new season will mean a whole new regeneration and that means its time for a Top 5.

Before I hit my Top 5 Doctor Who episodes, I’d like to make a prediction about the new Doctor. I think, in this age of diversity, we will get either our first female Doctor or our first black actor as the Doctor. My money’s on Haley Atwell. I think she’d be a great choice as her gig as Agent Carter has ended. There’s been other names bounced around, like Idris Alba, but I think he’s too mainstream with large scale production commitments to be the Doctor.

So as we approach the Saturday premiere, I would like to give you my Top 5 Doctor Who episodes. These are my Top 5, as many Whovians have their own, so please don’t take it personally if I leave one of your favorites out.

doctor-who-silence-in-the-library#5. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (May 2008) – These episodes made my list because it introduced us to River Song, played by the wonderful Alex Kingston. Here’s a character that knows the Doctor and his many faces. I was hanging on her every word trying to find some clue as to who the Doctor really is, but “spoilers!” She has been one of my favorite characters/companions of the series. This episode makes you sad at how many people died needlessly, but it also gave me a sigh of relief as they were all “saved” by CAL (you have to watch the episode to understand that reference). Let’s not forget that this was a great story, in itself, especially for an author like me. An entire planet is the world’s biggest library. I love to think that my books are sitting on a shelf there, stored for all eternity. The best part, though, is the end when David Tenant figured out the reason why, his future self, gave River a sonic screwdriver and then to watch him run “one last time” together. Plus, to see that come full circle and played out in last year’s Christmas episode with Peter Capaldi just brought the entire story to a wonderful finish.

doctor-who-photos-50th-03#4. The Day of the Doctor (November 2013) – This special commemorated the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. It not only introduced us to John Hurt as the War Doctor, but it also gave us the best online video tie-in (“Night of the Doctor” with Paul McGann, who finally got his regeneration) and the best on-screen surprise guest. First off, I loved the late John Hurt as the War Doctor. He gave us the solemn attitude and vulnerability of the Doctor on the day when “he couldn’t be the Doctor.” In that one episode, John Hurt endeared himself to me, and to all of us Whovians I think. We all knew David Tenant and Matt Smith were going to be in the special, and they brilliantly shot one-liners back and forth off each other, as expected. The surprise was in the final battle, where they were assisted by all 13 Doctors, including our first look at the “angry eyebrows” in Peter Capaldi. Lastly, the end of the episode where Matt Smith met up with the curator, aka Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor (MY DOCTOR). It was a shock and surprise that I still enjoy watching, over-and-over again. His brilliant performance showed that once you play the Doctor, you never stop being the Doctor.

imagesZO8CV01D#3. The Girl Who Waited (September 2011) – This is one of my favorite episodes because it gave us to the woman who is Amy Pond. We got to see all her vulnerabilities, all the pain and tragedy she has experienced as a companion. Amy gets trapped on a planet that has been quarantined due to a deadly disease that affects people with two hearts (like the Doctor). On top of that, those infected by the plague are placed in one of several thousand accelerated time streams, allowing them to live out their lives. This means the Doctor and Rory are out of sync with Amy and they try to rescue her after she spends more than 36 years there, alone. All this time alone made her rethink her relationship with the Doctor and not to trust him. The entire episode is an emotional roller coaster and, as a fan, it touched on the deep and meaningful relationship the Doctor has with each of his companions and how it both hurts and helps them. It reminded me of a quote from another great episode, Love & Monsters, where Elton goes on about “salvation and damnation” and if you touch or are touched, by the Doctor, it could destroy you. It was heartbreaking at the end when older Amy had to be left behind, in a sense justifying her concerns and fears about the Doctor; but then again, it’s these hard decisions that he must make, as a Timelord, that weighs heavy on his hearts.

Genesis of the Daleks … the Doctor and Davros.#2. The Genesis of the Daleks (March/April 1975) – Although the Daleks were introduced in the first season of Doctor Who, this episode gave us an in depth look at their creation and introduced us to their creator, the villainous Davros. First and foremost, Tom Baker is “my Doctor” and this where we saw the Doctor at his best. He is sent to Skarro by the Timelords to interfere in the creation of the Daleks and hopefully prevent the future death and destruction they wreak across the universe. In this episode, we learn why the Daleks were created without compassion or pity, turning them into ruthless war machines. In one of his best scenes as the Doctor, Tom Baker holds two wires in his hands, connecting them would detonate explosives and wipe out the Dalek’s incubation room. He holds those wires and asks “Have I the right?” to commit genocide of an entire race. That scene makes the entire six episode run one of the best in the history of Doctor Who. The impact these episodes had on the series reverberates in the future, from Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor (Remembrance of the Daleks, October 1988), Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor (The Parting of Ways, June 2005), David Tenant’s 10th Doctor (Stolen Earth/A Journey’s End, June/July 2008), Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor (Asylum of the Daleks, September 2012), and finally, with Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor (The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, September 2015). That’s what makes this episode one of the most important episodes in the history of Doctor Who.

Before I reach number 1, you have to realize that there are so many different opinions on favorite episodes. There are so many I want to pick that whittling them down to these five are difficult. I want to make these “honorary selections” for favorite episodes, including The End of the World from the 9th Doctor, School Reunion, Doomsday and Blink from the 10th Doctor, The Doctor’s Wife, The Angels Take Manhattan and A Good Man Goes to War from the 11th Doctor, and Time Heist and Face the Raven from the 12th Doctor. Plus, Matt Smith’s Christmas Specials were the best of all the Christmas Specials to date.

So, onto my number one episode …

fireplace-8#1. The Girl in the Fireplace (May 2006) – I know that my number one pick resonates with many Whovians. It was one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of Doctor Who, nominated for a Nebula Award and winning a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. This episode made you laugh, made you cry, and sometimes, scared you to death. A ship in the far distant future opens a hole in time and space to France in the 1700s to keep an eye on a little girl and wait until she grows up into a woman. Why? To cannibalize her for parts for the ship. Weird as it sounds, it’s fun to watch the Doctor go through time with Madam de Pompadour. Like “The Girl Who Waited” this episode jumps through time as the Doctor tries to protect her from the clockwork soldiers who are after her. It has one of the most touching scenes as the two look at the stars in completely different light. It also has some of the funniest scenes with a horse, a banana daiquiri, and “snogging” Madam de Pompadour. There are also some of the best lines ever in Doctor Who like, “One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel;” “There is a vessel in your world where the days of my life are pressed together like the chapters of a book so that he may step from one to the other without increase of age, while I, weary traveler, must always take the slower path;” and “This is my lover, the King of France … Yeah, well I’m the Lord of Time.” It’s such a beautiful episode that will go down as one of, if not the best, in the history of Doctor Who.

So, there’s my list of the best of the best. Please feel free to comment on your top episodes and include ones I may have left off. In any case, the new season Doctor Who premieres this Saturday, so get ready!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.