50 Years of Doctor Who: The Hartnell Era (1963-1966)

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“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye Susan. Goodbye my dear.”
Fifty years. I can’t believe Doctor Who has been around that long. So, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my all-time favorite Sci-fi show, I’m going to start a monthly miniseries looking at each era of the show. So, why not start with the man who started it all.
About William Hartnell
William Hartnell was the son of Lucy Hartnell, but never discovered his father, despite efforts to locate him. He started out as an actor in 1928 in the play Miss Elizabeth’s Prisoner, where he met his wife, Heather McIntyre. His first movie was Say it With Music. Most of his roles were either comic characters or “tough guys”. It was his role in This Sporting Life in 1932 that made Doctor Who’s first producer and creator Verity Lambert consider him for the role of the Doctor. Hartnell agreed to the role because he felt typecast and enjoyed the prospect of working on a children’s show. Hartnell had also suffered from atherosclerosis, often causing him to forget his lines. Another interesting thing to note is that many of the elements we’re used to with the First Doctor weren’t established until other ones came along, such as the sonic screwdriver and his alien origins. Not long after he left the show, he retired from acting, but in 1973, returned to the role of the First Doctor for what would be his final acting role in the Doctor Who story “The Three Doctors”. He died in 1975.
My Opinion on Hartnell
The Hartnell era is not something I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the episodes I watched from it. But its experimental nature threw me off, as well as Hartnell’s portrayal. I’m used to a more lively version of the Doctor, not a grumpy old man.
The Companions
Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)
First Appearance: “An Unearthly Child” Last Appearance: “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”
I see Susan as wasted potential. All she did was scream and act stupid. They could’ve done so much better. After all, she was the Doctor’s daughter. Think of the possibilities.
Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton (Jacqueline Hall and William Russell)
First Appearance: “An Unearthly Child” Last Appearance: “The Chase”
Of these two, I like Barbara best. In fact, she’s my favorite companion from this era. She has undaunting courage and I like how she was the first companion to challenge the Doctor (in “The Aztecs”). Ian is great comedy relief and I love the chemistry he has with the Doctor. In the Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Death of the Doctor”, we learn that Barbara and Ian are not only happily married, but also immortal.
Vicki (Maureen O’Brien)
First Appearance: “The Rescue” Last Appearance: “The Myth Makers”
In a way, Vicki is a substitute for Susan. And just about as annoying too. There’s really nothing about this character to like, in my opinion.
Steven Taylor (Peter Purves)
First Appearance: “The Chase” Last Appearance: “The Savages”
Steven is my second favorite companion from this era. He does a great job at providing the action and I like his sense of morality. Heck, anyone who can put up with Vicki and Dodo has to have a good temper!
Katarina (Adrienne Hill)
First Appearance: “The Myth Makers” Last Appearance: “The Daleks’ Master Plan”
All I know about Katarina is that she is the first companion to die. All her stories have at least one missing part.
Sara Kingdom (Jean Marsh)
First and only Appearance: “The Daleks’ Master Plan”
Another character I know little about. I do know she’s supposed to be from the year 4000.
Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane)
First Appearance: “The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve” Last Appearance: “The War Machines”
I HATE Dodo. She’s such an idiot. Worst companion ever!
Polly and Ben Jackson (Anneke Wills and Michael Craze)
First Appearance: “The War Machines” Last Appearance: “The Faceless Ones (w/2nd Doctor)
I know nothing of these two. The only story I’ve seen is the only one that is completely intact: “The War Machines”. In the Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Death of the Doctor”, it’s stated that they now run an orphanage.
Best/Worst Stories
Many of the First Doctor’s episodes are missing because the BBC purged them from their warehouses. For this reason, I have not watched much of it. But of what I’ve seen, I can recommend the following, all of which are complete:
1. “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” (6 episodes)
The Daleks actually succeed in conquering a parallel Earth, but a small resistance is fighting back. This marks the departure of Susan, and I still think it’s one of the show’s most heartwarming moments.
2. “The Time Meddler” (4 episodes)
The Doctor meets the Meddling Monk, a rogue time traveler with his own TARDIS. The story is a great battle of wits and I enjoyed the twist ending.

Worst Story
“The Ark” (4 episodes)
This is one of Dodo’s stories. The worst thing about it is that the whole story could have been avoided if Dodo had done the sensible thing and stayed in the TARDIS until she got over her cold. That’s right, Dodo makes a whole colony of humans and aliens sick because they don’t have good immune systems anymore. See why I hate this character?

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Harry Potter and the Christian Muggle: The Prisoner of Azkaban

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got into Harry Potter very early on. At the time I started reading the books, the first movie was just released. The third book had just arrived on the shelves. And the detractors were in full swing. I kept hearing all the talk about how evil the books were. What I thought was most ridiculous (and still do) was that these same people who were attacking Harry Potter for its themes and content were promoting reading the works of Lewis and Tolkien. This is wrong for several reasons:
1. Many of the same themes in Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are explored in Harry Potter as well.
2. Lewis and Tolkien used magic in their environments, as do Harry Potter books. So why give them a free pass.
3. The people with these opinions refuse to acknowledge that JK Rowling has said she believes in God, not magic. Thus, she is obviously not promoting what they claim. And they assume that she isn’t a Christian writer, which is also wrong. In fact, thanks to them, she’s had even more doubts about her path.
When I heard all this, I knew what my position was even before I first opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was already on Rowling’s side. Now all I needed was proof to refute the claims. So I read the books to get the proof I needed.
The third book is one of my favorites. It’s the only book that doesn’t end with a confrontation with Voldemort. We also meet Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather. He was mentioned in the first book, but now we learn more about him. He was a friend of Harry’s parents. But he allegedly allied himself with Voldemort, landing him in Azkaban, a prison guarded by Dementors. (Dementors are beings that steal your happiness.)
The book also continues Rowling’s attempts to teach us lessons. The first of these is illustrated in the introduction of Remus Lupin, another old friend of Harry’s father. He teaches Harry to create a patronus, which becomes an important plot point in future books. A patronus is a “spirit animal” that protects wizards from evil. But we also learn that he is a werewolf. I actually figured this out before the reveal. It’s all in his name: Lupin is French for wolf. At first, Hermione is fearful of Lupin when she finds out and even forgets how kind he was to them. In a way, this is teaching us about prejudice. Yes, Lupin is a werewolf, but he’s nothing like the werewolves we normally see. He’s far from menacing. In fact, for him, the wolf form is like a curse–he’s constantly having Snape mix potions to curb the wolf.
Sirius Black also shows us the danger of scandal. Because of the allegations surrounding Black, it’s assumed that he is a threat to Harry. Harry even fearlessly says he will fight him even if it means he will die. But he learns that he has nothing to fear from him. Black even becomes his ally. I actually hoped that Potter would go to live with him instead of the Dursleys. But on a repeated reading, I realized why this would not work. Black is on the run. The Dursleys are a terrible family for Harry, but at least they offer stability. And it’s safer, for the most part.

The Prisoner of Azkaban is an excellent read. I truly wish more detractors would read the books and form their opinions based on the books themselves, not allegations.

Jeremy Spoke in Class

On Friday, December 16 of last year, Adam Lanza shot twenty students and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary.

I heard about this on the day of the shooting. At lunch, my dad and I were at a restaurant when the TV news played a bulletin.

As I watched, I remembered another school shooting at Virginia Tech several years before.  At that time, my cousin John was attending the university.  I remembered the anxiety I felt when I heard about it.  And then remembered the relief I felt when I learned my cousin was not among the victims.

I felt sad for the families of the victims of Sandy Hook. I promised myself that night I would pray for them, that God would comfort them as they grieved.

When I came home, I started watching anime on the computer for upcoming reviews on my anime blog, Lobster Quadrille.  My mom got a call from my cousin Karla. She told me there were rumors that Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome. The media was using the same strategy they always used for things like this: find a scapegoat–guns, video games, whatever.  Karla suggested I post on Facebook about the shooting and that she’d share it. The next day, I followed her advice.

I’m a member of four Facebook groups representing autism and Asperger’s. Many of the posts from these groups were related to the shooting and how it was affecting people like myself and those who knew them.  I learned how autistic children were being bullied because of the shooting. I learned that their parents were concerned about the stigma they received from their peers. I even learned, to my disgust, that there was even a Facebook group called “50 Likes and We Set an Autistic Kid on Fire.” (the site’s been taken down, thankfully) Thautcast (an autism blog) even asked parents to post how much they love their autistic children.  It felt so good to read those posts.

One of my Facebook friends told me I should not be angry.  But I am angry because the media is focusing on Lanza’s Asperger’s.

You want to know how to stop the school shootings? Then change the world we live in.  It’s not autism, it’s us. We’ve killed countless babies in abortion. Video games like Grand Theft Auto glorify violence (I’m not saying that everyone who plays games is going to kill, but it’s still a symptom). Rap music treats criminals like heroes and gives them the chance to gloat about their crimes like their badges of honor. As Walt Kelly once said “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

 

 

One Faith, Many Paths: Father Mike Tran

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Today, I’ll be giving you a very special interview. This time, I interviewed my parish priest, Father Mike Tran. He is the priest for the Our Lady of the Nativity in Raceland, Louisiana. 

1. Were you born in Vietnam or are you an immigrant?

I was born in Vietnam in 1974.  At the age of seven, my mom with my brother and my sisters reunited with my dad in Richmond, Virginia in 1981.  My father fought during the Vietnam War with the Americans and left with them when the fall of Saigon in 1975.  My parents and grandparents were devoted Catholics and I was brought up in the faith.  As a child, I was always involved in my faith and served as an altar server.

2.  Why did you decide to become a priest?

    The thought of serving people and a desire to be closer to God was always on my heart.  That was what made me drawn to become a priest.  Study to become a priest was not easy, because people always ask; “Why a normal person like you want to become a priest?”  The challenge of not having a family was always questioned and celibacy was a requirement to become a priest.  I have always believed that everything has a sacrifice.  You have to give up something to gain something, as Christ taught us and, I also found that to be true in my life.  Giving up family and being celibate to be a priest was as difficult.      

3. Is there anyone in your life who makes you want to be  a better person? Who influences your mission?

     There are people along my life that guided me and helped along my vocation.  I was influenced by teachers, religious and priests.  They helped me to discern what God was calling me to do in my life and to follow those callings.  I was always happy with my life and my life journey and that’s how I knew the priesthood was for me.  There were people in our time that influenced me.  Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa of Calcutta are both saints that I feel so much connected to. These are real people our my century that are actually living out their callings.  To serve people and to do it well, especially the poor and the needy. 

4. Who is your favorite Biblical figure besides Jesus?

Besides Jesus, I think St. Paul in the bible is most admiring to me.  Paul was a convert and when he received his faith.  He was not afraid but impacted and changed the people he encountered. That is what I hope to do in my life as a priest.  My favorite passage in the Bible is from Mark 10:45, “did not come to be served but to serve”.  I took this quote as a motto for my ordination and priesthood.

5. What advice would you give to anyone else who is interested in becoming a priest?

To anyone that wants to become a priest.  I say follow your heart.  How do you know that this is your calling? If it makes you happy and you find peace and joy in it but, most of all it bring you satisfaction!

 

The Reason for the Singing

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Christmas Carols have been part of the tradition of Christmas probably as long as Christmas itself. I love this tradition. To conclude my 3-part celebration of my blog’s first Christmas, I’ve decided to pick some of my favorites. Before I begin, I will warn you–I’m not a fan of Frosty or Rudolph.
1) “Do You Hear What I Hear” Writers: Noel Regney (lyrics) and Gloria Shayne (music) in 1962. This song was actually written in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sadly, in an interview Shayne said they could never perform the song together because they were so concerned of the threat of nuclear war.
2) “Good King Wenceslas” Writer: J.M. Neale
This is based ont he story of St. Wenceslas, the Duke of Bohemia (907-35). Neale wrote this in 1853. It is based on the legend of the king.
3. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” Writer: Rev. Charles Wesley
Wesley actualy wrote hymns for fifty years until his death in 1788. Charles had spent some time with the pioneer hymn writer, Rev. Isaac Watts (I’m getting to him later on), who inspired him to write. It should be noted that at the time this song was written, Wesley was somewhat disillusioned. Wesley was also the founder of Methodism.
4) “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
This song dates all the way to the Middle Ages. A melody composed in the 1800’s. It is based on antiphons sung in medieval churches.
5) “O Holy Night” Writers: J.S. Dwight and Adolphe Charles Adam) This song was actually initially frowned on by Church authorities (perhaps it’s the difficulty in singing and playing the song?) Despite this, it became popular anyway.
6) “Joy to the World” Writer: Isaac Watts
Watts was a famous hymnast for his time. Another Christmas song he wrote was “Hush My Dear and Slumber”. The song was written in honor of David. It was believed in Watts’ time, that God stopped singing when David died.
7) “O Little Town of Bethlehem” Writer: Phillips Brooks
Brooks was a professor at the Boston Latin School. He entered the seminary in 1859. In 1865, he planned a trip to Bethlehem, which inspired the song. He wrote it because he was deeply saddened by the Civil War.
8) “Away in a Manger”
Although attributed to Martin Luther, the founder of Lutheranism, it was not written by him. It was actually collected by James R. Murray and was really “borrowed” from a Sunday School book. The melody came from the Scottish poem “Flow Gently, Sweet Afron”.
9) “Angels We Have Heard on High”
This song is sung to the tune “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” as arranged by Edward S. Barnes. Its origins are unknown.
10) “Silent Night” Writers: Fr. Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber
Mohr was an assistant pastor at the newly-built Church of St. Nicholas in Obendorf, Germany. The pipe organ for the church was broken, and a Christmas concert was coming. Fortunately, their organist, Gruber, was able to compose a song for guitar. This is the result. It is my favorite carol.

Saint of the Month: St. Nicholas of Myra

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Born: c. 270 AD

Died: December 6, 343

Feast Day: December 6

Patron: Children, repentant thieves, sailors

Info: Nicholas was a Greek, and lived in Turkey. He was born of a wealthy family. When a plague killed his parents, he was raised by his uncle.

In 325, he was appointed Bishop and appeared at the Council of Nicea, where he signed the Nicene Creed (which we Catholics recite every Sunday. It’s similar to the Apostles’ Creed). Nicholas despised Arius, a council member who believed Jesus was simply a created being and not part of the triune God.  He actually slapped Arius for not believing in the true Jesus.

Nicholas became the patron saint of children due to a legend in which a butcher slaughtered three children and hid their remains in a barrel. He learned of this and prayed over the remains. According to the legend, the children were resurrected.

Another famous legend concerns a poor man whose three children but could not afford a dowry.  Nicolas intervened and went to his house and three three purses either through an open window or down a chimney (sound familiar?) There is also a story that says he hid money in their shoes or stockings (I have memories in elementary school of children putting out their shoes in front of the door to classes for him to fill on his feast day. But then, this was back when Christianity was more permitted than it is today, sadly.)

Reflection: To me, the story of the real St. Nick is far more compelling than  the created version of St. Nicholas. While I really have no issue with the concept of Santa Claus because there is some fact to it, I do take issue with the fact that at Christmastime the media seems to revere him more than the true reason for the season–the birth of Christ. I think the absolute worst example is the Nostalgia Critic’s character, Santa Christ. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Now, I must apologize to anyone who actually likes this character, but I am extremely offended by this sketch (and I’m actually a fan of Doug Walker).  I find it appalling and blasphemous.  I came very close to sending him a nasty response about it, but I’ve seen how troll-filled his comment section was, so I decided against it.  And then he had the audacity to bring him back THREE MORE TIMES!

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I see the real St. Nicholas a reminder of how vulnerable children and how we must protect them from evil. I see his defiance of Arius as a model for us all. Now, I don’t mean we should slap all non-believers, but I do feel we should courageously defend Christianity. There is no harm in celebrating Christmas, provided we, as the bumper sticker says “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Revering Santa over Jesus is pure blasphemy.

My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies and Specials

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It’s that time of year. The time TV decides to churn out Christmas stuff. Although a lot of the new specials seem more centered around the secular aspects of Christmas, I’ve found some movies and specials that I always enjoy. Here are ten.

10) Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Based on the American movie Three Godfathers, this is an excellent film by the man I consider the Stanley Kubrick of anime, Satoshi Kon.  He did a great job with this story. It’s about three homeless men who find an abandoned baby and decide to give him a family, by taking care of him themselves.  I really like the feel of this movie, and for a culture that certainly is not Christian, it actually does Christmas justice.  I should warn you, it’s not child-friendly–one of the men is a drag queen.

9. The Small One (1978) This Disney cartoon is the last one that Don Bluth did before he made his own studio and started making cartoons like The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail. It’s a story about a boy who has to sell his family’s donkey because it’s too old. Since it’s set in Bethlehem before Jesus is born, I’m sure you can guess who gets the donkey.  It’s very beautiful and the ending is heartwarming. You can find this on the Classic Holiday Favorites DVD from Disney.

8) Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) This musical stars Judy Garland as Esther, the eldest daughter of a wealthy middle-class family.  She is dismayed to learn that her family has to move to New York and that she will miss the 1904 World’s Fair.  The best, of course has to be the scene where Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, which has become a staple of Christmas music ever since. Garland’s voice is still as beautiful as always.

7. The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (1985) Based on L. Frank Baum’s classic book.  This is the story of a boy cared for by a Wood Nymph named Necile. (The boy is named Claus. Get it? Necile’s Claus?)  According to Baum, this is the boy who would become Santa Claus.  Okay, it says nothing about St. Nicholaus but I still enjoy this story. It presents the Christmas spirit in a unique way and the stop-motion animation is spell-binding (this is from Rankin-Bass, the same studio that made the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town cartoons that still play every year. I looked on Amazon and there’s lots of DVD collections of their specials, including this one.

6) A Christmas Carol Which one, you ask? Yes, there’s been lots of movies done on this classic Dickens story, from Disney to even the Flintstones (which to me makes no sense when you really think about it).  I think the best ones are: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), the one with Patrick Stewart (made in 1999 for TNT), and the one starring George C. Scott in the 80’s. There’s even a modernized version called Scrooged starring Bill Murray (it’s a bit darker than it should be, but I thought it was a nice twist).

5) The Polar Express (2004) This is just beautiful. Robert Zemeckis is a brilliant filmmaker, whether he’s doing cartoons or live-action (or maybe I’m just biased because I still think the Back to the Future movies are excellent).  It’s a story about children who are taken to the North Pole by train before they become too disillusioned to believe in Santa.  I love the way the movie addresses the issue of faith.  Whether in 2-D or 3-D, this is a joy to watch.

4) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) It’s just not Christmas without Boris Karloff as the Grinch.  This is such a fun story and I just can’t stop watching it every year.  And no, I will not watch that awful Ron Howard version.

3) Miracle on 34th Street (original: 1947, remakes in 1955, 1959, and 1994) This is a classic story about Santa Claus that I feel it’s just not Christmas without.  I actually like the 1994 version better, but the original is good too. I’ve heard people complain about Mara Wilson’s performance, but I’ve seen worse child actors. And besides, she’s adorable.  Richard Attenborough is excellent as Kris Kringle. My favorite bits are when he does sign language for a deaf girl and the end, where the court scene is ended by someone bringing in a dollar bill. The idea is if we put “In God We Trust” on our currency (which I sincerely hope we never stop doing) to indicate a belief in God, then why can’t we believe that Santa exists.

TIE: 2) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) I LOVE this cartoon! I  still watch this every year, unlike Rudolph (which I’ve outgrown) and Frosty the Snowman (which I now despise). I find it so disappointing that this is the only secular special that actually quotes the Bible.  (although I hear they tried to cut that part out originally, and Schulz insisted that it remain) Like every Charlie Brown cartoon or comic, it has a sense of honesty and innocence that I just love. And how can you not identify with Charlie Brown.

2) The Nativity Story (2006) It’s not a big budget movie but its heart is certainly in the right place.  Everything about this movie is well-done. I love the attention given to Joseph’s dilemma, the performance of Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary, and the comic relief provided by the three Wise Men.  I really can’t recommend this movie enough. It really deserves more attention than it initially received.

1) It’s A Wonderful Life (1945) Frank Capra directed this excellent movie. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, is a loveable hero who discovers how much his hometown Bedford Falls would suck if he wasn’t around to keep the heartless Mr. Potter in check.  I’ve not found one person who disagrees with me how great this movie is.