Pulling Into Station

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Hello Dear Reader and Hello Dear Listener,

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’ve not recorded any new episodes of the Handsome Timmy D Express since 2015. There is a very good reason for this. Several in fact. Beginning in January 2016, my screenwriting workload grew exponentially. Thanks in large part to several years worth of networking, some screenwriting awards and increased experience in writing of course, I was able to hook up and work with several independent producers and directors to write a myriad of projects currently in varying stages of development. In order to make sure I hit all my deadlines, some things had to go on the back burner and well, sadly, the podcast was one of them.

Starting and making this podcast was one of the very best decisions I’ve ever made as some the above opportunities were in fact a direct result of the connections I made doing the show. I enjoyed just about every single second of making every single episode. However, I’m a one-man operation without interns or staff so the challenges of making a top quality show became harder and harder.  And I do NOT want to put out  substandard product. Over the course of March through May, I tried to schedule several episodes but found my workload was such that I couldn’t make the time work. Editing, promotion, posting across social media outlets, copy etc, while all very very fun, can take up an entire workday and with several screenplays being juggled those hours become more precious. In fact, I was hoping to announce new shows in the fall but a movie shoot schedule pushed that back as well. Never say never, maybe I’ll record a new season of episodes in 2017. I’d love to be able to make it work, but at the end of the day I am a screenwriter, not a podcaster about screenwriting.  I will still be blogging when I can various thoughts, quibbles and anecdotes from the world of writing when I can. And hopefully you’ll get to see one of these movies I’m writing sooner than later.

I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to every single person that listened. Based on the numbers of the various feed, many thousands of people, maybe even tens of thousands of people tuned in across over 90 countries. I would have been thrilled to hit 10 countries but to have someone from at least 90 countries tune in is almost impossible for me to comprehend. Thanks so much, everyone and the episodes are still archived on the site’s index for your listening pleasure. And quick-fun fact about podcasts, people are still discovering the show every day. I hope the information and insight offered by my guests remains timeless and helpful to all listening whenever and wherever they tune in.

Along those lines, my guests took time out of their busy schedule to appear on my podcast for free. This was a non-profit operation. No one was paid a single dollar to take part and I can assure, I didn’t make a single dollar from the show. All I could offer was getting the word about their projects. This was just about spreading information and generating buzz in the digital do-it-yourself age. I can’t express my gratitude enough to every guest who appeared: Matt The Cat, Megan Karasch, Mike Doto, Dan And Travis, Chelese Belmont & Shannan Leigh Reeve of Beleeve Entertainment, Brian Veys, Joe Lidster, AJ Feuerman, Arnold T Blumberg, Talia Harari, Stephen J Llorens, Chris Garcia, Rizelle Januk, Mike Sundy, Ron Greenfield, Stephen Scaia, Rick Dominicus, Gordy Hoffman, Tom Krajewski & Jen Muro, Tom Grey of Player Piano, Simone Bailly, M. Dal Walton III, Sammi Kat, Dan Mason, Rory LaPointe-Smith, Paul O’Brien, Jon Matthews, Crystal House, Kyle C Mumford, Ramon Hamilton, Travis Rust & Stacy Gueraseva, Chavo Guerrero, Simon Guerrier, Gregor Collins, Daphne Ashbrook, Chuck Slavin, Jennifer Sharp, Kyle Newmaster, Amy Reynolds and Elizabeth Lombino.   These folk are all doing spectacular work to add to their sterling resumes and they have my best wishes for continued success.

I also have to thank John S Drew (who made the above photo), Dan Lackeye and Sean Reiser for linking to my show which provided a ton of new listeners. I did my best to plug their shows back and hope I was as helpful to them as they were to me.

Now, if you’re still looking for some great podcast to check out about the creative world for the upcoming holiday weekend or any weekend in particular, let me throw these options out there:

The closest thing to my podcast is “Making The Sausage” from fellow screenwriter and all-around top gent Nick Rheinwald-Jones. I had the good fortune of meeting Nick at the wonderful Austin Film Festival. Like myself, Nick found real industry pros to interview for his show about how the nuts & bolts of a creative profession works. He’s collected some great guests so far and there’s a lot of knowledge on his show:  http://previously.tv/shows/making-the-sausage/

For some criticism and analysis of the latest happenings in the entertainment world, check out the Hollywood Picture News. Loren Erlanger and Ryan Thompson along with some special guests dive into every possible detail examining how and why things work in the ever-changing world of TV and movies: http://hollywoodpicturenews.com/

One of the good guys in the podcasting world is Kenny Mittleider. He’s one of the passionate and knowledge fans of all things “geek” out there and offers several podcasts covering it all: http://geekyfanboy.blogspot.com/

Don’t forget there’s still plenty of great podcasts on the network I was proud to be a part of, John S Drew’s Chronic Rift: http://www.chronicrift.com/ Including of course, the Dan & Travis show who are the first guys who put me on internet radio waaaay back when.

And if you’re just looking from some great old music to discover, you’ll never go wrong with Matt The Cat as he explores The Juke In The Back: http://www.jukeintheback.org/

Thanks again everyone. It’s uncertain world these days, as it is most days, so I hope it’s a safe and happy 4th of July Weekend. Keep fighting the good fight!

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

 

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On The Importance Of Tits And Dragons

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Ian McShane is a master of his craft. I don’t know if I’d call him a genius because that label sometimes discounts the many hours of disciplined work and practice someone puts into their profession. But Ian McShane is a master. Just watch any episode of Deadwood for evidence. But the 73 year old actor has an incredible resume of achievements from “Dallas” to “Pirates Of The Caribbean” to his famous series “Lovejoy.” If I ever have the privilege of meeting him I would shake his hand in Congratulations on a stellar career.

Recently, Mr. McShane has raised the ire of many genre fans for giving away spoilers for his appearance on “Game Of Thrones.” He gave a response in the Telegraph which said, “You say the slightest thing and the internet goes ape…I was accused of giving the plot away, but I just think get a fucking life. It’s only tits and dragons.”

Here’s the original Telegraph article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2016/03/11/ian-mcshane-game-of-thrones-is-just-tits-and-dragons/

I encourage you to read the entire article because there’s a lot more than just the “tits and dragons” line that made the headline.

And before you get excited, this isn’t a complete rebuke of Ian McShane’s comments. He’s done more than enough in this business to be entitled to whatever opinion he has. Besides, interview quotes are tricky. Was he just joking? Was he rolling his eyes at internet outrage? The quality of “Game Of Thrones” is pretty much undisputed so I’m sure he’d have some very glowing things to say about the script and experience. Of course, the internet being the internet, that’s harder to find than the mean comments.

But he does bring up some interesting points about internet outrage, spoilers and the genre experience.

Ian McShane cannot be more correct when he says “You say the slightest thing and the internet goes ape.” One just has to look at the ongoing feuds between many Bernie Sanders supporters and many Hillary Clinton supporters to know that’s true. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are putting an exemplary debate exchanging ideas in the political discourse. Some of their surrogates, however, are shouting at each other on talk shows and across social media. (Following the example of those they profess to love is some advice that wouldn’t go amiss.)

As I have explored in these pages, the keyboard can be a sword bringing bravery to many a troll. The black and white image of one quote taken out of context can instill an extreme judgement of “HOW COULD THEY?!?!” when in fact there was much more to the story.

I ain’t mad at McShane’s comments because every once in a while (or maybe every day) internet outrage really does need to be told to chill the fuck out. Judgments shouldn’t be made on one out of context quote, but by meticulously researching all aspects of a story. And I say this from no high horse. This all has to be learned the hard way. (“Well, OF COURSE, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” said I in 2003. We all can be very wrong about who we believe in.)

I was blocked on twitter not that long ago by a fellow Democrat who was losing her mind about Bernie Sanders ATTACKING Barack Obama. Mr. Sanders wasn’t in fact attacking Obama, but just pointing out how his policies differed from the President’s. In a very reasonable manner. It’s also reasonable to guess President Obama wasn’t mad at Senator Sanders comments. Disagreements happen all the time in politics but the mere suggestion that Bernie Sanders wasn’t the enemy lead to a barrage of rage from this person toward myself and several other people. I’m a loyal and proud voter of Barack Obama but I apparently betrayed the cause by not being mad enough at Bernie Sanders it seems.

(I’ve received the same rage by the way from some Bernie supporters for not loving him so much. There is no political bent that is immune to the pitchfork mentality of mob outrage.)

There’s also the matter of spoilers. In this day and age, they’re getting harder and harder to avoid, but as I’ve mentioned before, apps like this can be a lifesaver:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/unspoiler/oookgbbhgojdebhnmkmhgfagoiknifgi?hl=en-US

Typing in Game Of Thrones into that app might have kept fans safe from the secret being spilled. It’s impossible to ask the whole world to be quiet about spoilers but there are earmuffs out there that we can wear.

But then there’s the matter of dismissing the genre. In all honesty, I don’t think that’s what Ian McShane meant to do. However, for a great number of years, many us who lurked in Comic Book shops have had to deal with our passions being dismissed with an easy wave of the hand. The explosion of genre programming today shows that those passions weren’t just passing phases and they should not have been so easily dismissed.

Recently, even I was gobsmacked by the amount of attention the new “Captain America: Civil War” trailer got. I don’t mean the buzz but I mean voluminous articles breaking down every shot. Spider-Man’s uniform being combed over. New theories about the plot were written in great detail. People went nuts over this trailer. Google it if you don’t believe me.

Why in the hell would anyone spend so much time and energy over a single few minute long trailer?

The answer is quite simple: It’s important to them.

VERY important to them.

Some scoff and say that Comic books, sci-fi and escapist entertainment is nowhere near as important as serious drama. Perhaps not. That is the endless debate between critics and fans.

Then of course some say that people shouldn’t get so emotionally invested in these kind of genre things. It’s not as important as cancer, domestic violence, rape, abuse and all the other horrors of the world that need fixing. “Why don’t people spend more time worrying about that than the new Godzilla movie?” some will ask with furrowed brows of disappointment.

Those furrowed brows are missing a very key point. Cancer, domestic violence, rape, abuse and all the other horrors of the world are WHY genre is so important. The words nerd and geek have now become affectionate labels for those of us who spend time watching the TARDIS materialize or dress in Starfleet uniforms. It’s easy to forget that the words nerd and geek used to be (and maybe still are) some of the worst names you could be called on the playground. Bullies earned their stripes by inflicting as much torment on the geeks at school and as far as dating went? Forget it.

The “It Gets Better Campaign” reminds us these trends are still there despite the mainstream money-machine that genre has become. So when school is a place of abject terror, when home is a hell of domestic violence, when the steel grip of depression keeps you clawed down, it’s hard to know where to turn.

Many people find not just solace and comfort, but pure bliss in the pages of a fantasy novel, the images of comic book or the wild adventures found in deep space. That faraway land isn’t just mindless escapism but where our troubled minds can escape the painful, chaotic asshole that is real life and find some kind of peace.

And that is the one place I would respectfully disagree with the estimable Mr. McShane. Many of the people who are so invested in shows like Game Of Thrones ARE in fact getting themselves a life.

Yup. Genre entertainment can be damn silly. The sets sometimes wobble and the acting can reach over the top proportions.

Yup. Genre entertainment can take itself way too seriously. Fandom can overreact to the slightest changes in canon and should sometimes take a step back a bit. (I still for the life of me do not get the rage at Goyer & Mazin’s She-Hulk jokes. Google that if you don’t believe me or maybe don’t.)

The world is unfair. The world is filled with tragedy that can strike at any second. The world hurts. Genre, escapism and entertainment, I put it to you dear reader is not just spaceships and superheroes. It is medicine for those hurts.

People often ask me if I’m ashamed of the work I did in Reality TV. “Are you kidding?” is usually my reply. I spent more than a decade laboring to entertainment millions upon millions of people. Even some of the small shows I worked in got around 700,000 viewers. That’s a SHIT TON of people when you think about it. If the show I was working on was a way for those folks to unwind, relax from their day and deal with whatever they were stressing out about, I’m not only not ashamed of the show – I am HONORED to have been a part of it.

Yup. Genre entertainment IS people’s lives. And it will always be of vital importance as long as there are hurts that people need healed.

And besides, the description of “Tits and Dragons” I daresay would attract a great number of viewers. I mean, come on, a show about tits and dragons – how can you go wrong?

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The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Leonard Starr: 1925-2015

Over on social media, I like to write little tributes and obituaries to notable deaths, partly as an industry pro and partly because I find it interesting. I don’t get too personal about certain family events and passings on facebook because for whatever reason I don’t alway find it appropriate. But this week those two things sort of collided.

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Leonard Starr was my father’s cousin. He made his living as an illustrator and comic strip artist. The piece he was most well-know for were Mary Perkins On Stage and the adventures of Little Orphan Annie and her faithful dog Sandy in daily comic strips from 1979 – 2000. He was even given an onset tour of the movie with pictures from the set decorating his kitchen.

What Leonard will most be famous for (and what was often a party topic for me to bring up) was being hired to develop a team of “Supercats” into a cartoon show for producers Rankin & Bass. So impressed were they by his drawings, they commissioned Leonard to be the head writer of the show now called “Thundercats.” So yes, my uncle Leonard was a creative force behind “Thundercats.” Leonard was always bemused by the fame of “Thundercats” especially in recent years as the retro craze swept over pop culture.

His influence on me was rather unconscious. He never told me to pursue a career in movies or TV. But when I was 6 years old, I saw my uncle’s name on TV in the credits. So the idea of working in Hollywood writing movies & TV was never baffling or bizarre to me. It wasn’t a world a million miles away. It was a vocation like any other so for that influence of success I’ll always be grateful. And when I did finally venture forth in 2003, Leonard was always open in sharing much advice from his experiences. Two phrases which have rung particularly true: “It’s an assault” and on how to make it as a professional writer: “Keep doing it just keep doing it because the next thing you know, you’re doing it.”

His home was filled with drawings, paintings, mountains of opera & classical CDs and thousands upon thousands of books. An expert in literature in Shakespeare, when his nephew Handsome Timmy D stopped by Westport, CT on his cross-country trip, I was given an education on Henry V over some expensive scotch until about 3 AM. The next morning Leonard was up before with less of a hangover.

Leonard was stricken several forms of cancer of the past year, finally winning the battle at around 12 Noon EST. Until the end, Leonard was still writing, drawing and listening to his beloved opera. Leonard is survived by his wife, Bobbi. Safe travels to Leonard Starr who was 89 years young.

Mary Perkins On-Stage:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0985928425/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-2&pf_rd_r=15BGC85FK5PVK3CN4M0D&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2118400682&pf_rd_i=desktop

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Making Lucha Underground: An Interview With Chavo Guerrero

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As a lifelong wrestling fan, I’m thrilled to welcome third generation pro wrestler Chavo Guerrero to the Express. In 2014, Chavo became involved in an innovative new program, Lucha Underground which combines Lucha Libre with Grindhouse Cinema. Made by Mark Burnett Productions, airing on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network and importing Luchadors from Mexico’s premiere Lucha League, AAA, Lucha Underground brings all those worlds together to make a hybrid wrestling show never seen before.

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Chavo Guerrero tells us he came to be involved in Lucha Underground not only as a wrestler but as a producer, helping to design wrestling matches for television. We also talk in-depth about why screenwriters should study the storytelling techniques of pro wrestling. And also, Chavo tells us how his wrestling career prepared him for his recent ventures in action films. A fun listen for wrestling fans & TV buffs alike. Enjoy: 

For more on Lucha Underground:

http://www.elreynetwork.com/originals/lucha

https://www.facebook.com/LuchaUnderground

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaVwpbqM8dkhQvbL8XileAA

For more on Chavo Guerrero:

https://twitter.com/mexwarrior

http://vivalarazashop.com/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0346144/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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The Only Hope Is A Complete Stranger: A Guide To Watching Doctor Who

“I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations – terrible places, full of lost luggage and lost souls. And then there’s unrequited love, and tyranny, and cruelty.” (Ghost Light, 1989)

“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things, things which act against everything that we believe in. They must be fought.” (The Moonbase, 1967)

“The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go…That’s who I am.” (Rose, 2005)

I’ve been watching Doctor Who since 1983. At that time, the show was celebrating its 20th anniversary. And not just an anniversary of its first airing but a proper 20th Season on the air. For a low-budget science fiction show, that was a remarkable achievement. (For context, the original Star Trek ran for three whole seasons. Four if you include the animated and you should, it’s awesome but that’s another story for another time.)

With Doctor Who making its long-awaited (by many) resurgence in 2005 after an extended hiatus, the show has risen to higher public profile than ever before. Some folks have dived right in but a lot of my friends have asked me all kinds of questions like  “How do I watch Doctor Who? Do I start with the old series or do I watch the new one? Who are the Daleks and why do they have plungers? Wait…it’s bigger on the inside? How does a sonic screwdriver work? What is a Capaldi?”

But the big one is “Where do I start watching Doctor Who?”

Doctor Who ran for 26 original seasons, a BBC/Universal made for TV movie on Fox and now 10 years of the new relaunch. That’s A LOT. And that’s just TV. There’s also a wide variety of stories on audio, in comics and in all kinds of books. So asking where to begin and what one needs to know about Doctor Who is a fair question.

And it can be tricky to answer. I’m not sure I can even answer the question, “Why do you love Doctor Who so much?” I remember watching it as a very young kid, not at all understanding it but thinking it was cool nonetheless. As I grew up, the show grew up with me and rewatching the episodes, I understood more and saw new layers to the stories.

But honestly that answer is lame. So are answers like, “It’s like this but in space with space-ships and monsters.” I can’t define why I like this show so much and I don’t want to. Doctor Who is just a part of my life and always will be. Doctor Who is magic and brilliant and wonderful and you should just enjoy it.

So if you’re looking to start watching Doctor Who, bookmark this page because I’ve got spots for fans who never watched, as well as old series and audio story recommendations for those who are enamored with the new series but want to explore the show’s history.

Just to say it because this is the era we live in, I don’t pretend to be the final word on any of this. What’s presented here is just one longtime fan’s opinion for new people on how to approach the series. You may hear different recommendations/suggestions from other fans and those are just as valid.

What do you need to know to start watching Doctor Who? After much thought and deliberation I came up with this answer:

Nothing.

Honestly. You don’t need to know anything. If you start from the spots I recommend, everything will be made clear as you watch. So don’t worry about any Time Lords, why Cybermen delete stuff or what Cybermen even are or any of that stuff. Listening to Doctor Who fans talk can be a foreign language with Blinovitch Limitation Effects being met by Tissue Compression Eliminators. Or mentions of the lost moon of Poosh and Raxacoricofallapatorius.

Don’t sweat any of it. All will be made clear.

OK, here’s one basic thing that you should know. But again, don’t have to. But it’s a question I get a lot. The Doctor is one character played by numerous actors. Unlike James Bond, the changing face of Doctor Who is part of the mythology. This was another example of necessity being the mother of all invention as the first actor to play The Doctor, William Hartnell was suffering from deteriorating health and couldn’t carry on in the role. But the show had become such a hit that the BBC didn’t want to pull the plug. Since the Doctor was a mysterious alien from unknown (at the time) origins, his ability to “regenerate” into a totally new person was introduced. You will see one Doctor turn into another on-screen. And it’s always always always sad to see the old Doctor go and it’s always always always exciting to see the new Doctor appear.

David Tennant explains it to David Letterman here: 

I will argue this is one of the strokes of genius in all of TV history. Yes, there are stories were the various incarnations of the Doctor have met. But think about your own life. Imagine if the 10-year-old, 20-year-old and 30-year-old version of you were all put in the same room? Three totally different characters but essentially the same person. The Doctor’s different incarnations are a genius metaphors for every person’s own individual growth and change.

So clear your mind, make some popcorn. For those of you who take a drink, feel free to pour one. Here’s how you watch:

DOCTOR WHO – SERIES ONE

Start here. This is the relaunch series starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. First episode is called “Rose” and is one of the hardest episodes of TV ever written because it establishes the show’s mythology while regenerating it 😉 for a new generation. Everything you need to know to enjoy Doctor Who is in here.

The story basically sees bored teenager thrust into an adventure of alien intrigue with a mysterious stranger known only as The Doctor.

Here’s a link. It’s available on itunes and netflix as well.

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-Complete-Christopher-Eccleston/dp/B0089AD8IO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428450432&sr=8-1&keywords=Doctor+Who+Series+1

Now, here’s where some confusion needs to be cleared up. Yes, it’s called Series One but technically it’s Season 27. For marketing purposes, the BBC booked this as Series One because who wants to start a show at Season 27? But it is the continuation of the old Doctor Who. But again, if you’ve never seen a minute of the old series if you’ve never seen a minute of the old series. Russell T. Davies does a masterful job setting up the universe of Who for you to relax and enjoy. Just make no mistake, the show has never been rebooted. It is a direct continuation of the classic series. (My apologies for being pedantic and I know reboot no longer means reboot but there’s no Doctor Who reboot.)

Why not start with the original or classic series? You can but I think the new series is more accessible to many of today’s viewers. That’s not to say the new series is better. But it’s designed like today’s TV with 45 minute episodes and a proper production budget. (Mind you, I’ve heard some viewers knock current Doctor Who as low-budget.) Classic Who has some great stories and we’ll get into those in a bit. But at 25 minute serials and with a downright frightening small budget, it might be viewed by some as a nostalgia piece instead of the same show as today.

The low budget of the classic series can’t be overstated. The budgets were TINY. Honestly, as a TV professional, it’s a miracle some of these stories were actually pulled off. Before you laugh at some of the rubber monsters and toy spaceships, know that the crew of Doctor Who has featured some of the very best folks in the industry, including Oscar Winners. And even Douglas Adams. The Classic Series of Doctor Who is what it looks like when you give brilliant, creative people a lot of brilliant, creative ideas and then take away all their money.

Also, I recommend not starting with David Tennant’s era because it is a direct continuation of the Eccelston era. I think David Tennant’s first season starting with the Christmas Invasion would be a bit confusing to any first-time viewer. Rose on the other hand was designed for first-time viewers.

So for you first timers, I’d say start with Series One. Here’s the trailer, which I watched about 5000 times in 2005: 

There’s one other spot I’d suggest:

DOCTOR WHO – SERIES FIVE

Matt Smith’s era also starts fresh. This season does refer back to the previous seasons but not in a way that alienates viewers. A new Doctor, new friends, new foes and a new showrunner.

Doctor Who’s relaunch has been overseen by two of the best writers in the history of television. I make no exaggeration when I say that. Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s Doctors were overseen by Russell T Davies. Matt Smith and now Peter Capaldi were overseen by Stephen Moffat.

There’s eras are both drastically different yet warmly familiar. Each showrunner has their critics and detractors. Each has their champions. At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of taste. The past 6 years or so, after each new episode airs, my facebook is 50-50 split, “That was wonderful.” “That was terrible.” Make up your own minds. And take anyone who says “so-and-so is the worst showrunner of Doctor Who EVER” with a grain of salt.

What about the latest Doctor, the incredible Peter Capaldi? You could start with Series 8, his season, but again it’s a direct continuation of the Matt Smith era so might be confusing to new viewers.

Now, some folks will welcome that confusion and mystery. Like I said, I didn’t understand anything about Doctor Who when I was little kid but there I was riveted. But if you want to follow in a clear, linear line – Series One and/or Series Five won’t steer you wrong.

However, for you fans who have seen the new series or those of you who wish to start with the classic series, allow me to suggest these titles (again most of which are available through your trusted retailers/online providers)

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The first two Doctors adventures are all in Black & White but you’ll be deal, I’m sure:

THE FIRST DOCTOR

The Daleks: Actually the second story in all of Doctor Who history and I will argue makes a better pilot than the caveman murder mystery of “An Unearthly Child.” One part sci-fi horror, one part 50’s sci-fi expedition, Terry Nation introduces the Doctor’s most famous enemy with immediate, frightening effect.

The Romans: Doctor Who was originally designed to be science fiction and educational historical episodes. For real. Several early episodes like this one featured no monsters or aliens. The Romans is a comedy of mistaken identity that sneaks in some real depth during the time of Nero. An underrated gem.

THE SECOND DOCTOR

Enemy Of The World: Speaking of mistaken identity, a power-mad dictator happens to look just like the second Doctor. A product of James Bond 60’s with plenty of twists, turns but real characters. Doctor Who (and TV in the 60‘s) wasn’t always great in its portrayal of other races but this episodes features a Black character who’s given her fair due on screen. And it also features the best cook in the show’s history.

The Mind Robber: The Doctor and his friends are thrust into a world where make-believe comes to life. And the limitlessness of Doctor Who, even on a low-budget, is brought to life when one of the Doctor’s companion’s loses his face.

The War Games: This is an investment. A 10 part epic in which The Doctor confronts a species exploiting the war’s in Earth’s history. The Doctor may have finally met his match and needs to call for never-before-seen reinforcements.

THE THIRD DOCTOR

Inferno: While exiled on Earth by The Time Lords, the Doctor tries to get his TARDIS working again during an experimental operation drilling into the Earth’s crust. Instead he ends up in a parallel world where that same drilling operation is destroying the planet. Lots of proper science exploration but even some real philosophy as well. Widely considered one of the best stories ever.

Frontier In Space/Planet Of The Daleks: The final and possibly the best appearance of the original Master, Roger Delgado. What’s the master up to? Using xenophobia to pit two parties into war. An example of how in staying topical, Doctor Who becomes timeless as the themes are just as accurate today. Frontier ends in a cliffhanger so you may want to check out Planet to see how the Doctor gets out of this one. Planet Of The Daleks is fine, a good old-fashioned “let’s stop the Daleks from blowing up the world in a forest of invisible people” romp.

The Green Death: Talk about topical. A corporation puts profits over safety standards which results in giant maggots invading the countryside. The brilliance of producer Barry Letts & script editor Terrance Dicks is exemplified in this, possibly the best story of the Third Doctor. And don’t let anyone tell you the old series wasn’t about characters or the Doctor not loving his companions. Katy Manning cried during the DVD commentary AND at the Gallifrey One convention when talking about the final scenes.

THE FOURTH DOCTOR (this is the one with the scarf)

The Ark In Space: Steven Moffat called this the prototypical Doctor Who story. A lost colony in space is trapped on a space station infested by an insectoid alien race. The Doctor must rally his companions and inspire the surviving humans to fight or perish. “Indomitable.”

Genesis Of The Daleks: My personal favorite of the classic series. And I’m not into origin stories or prequels. Terry Nation delivers possibly the greatest villain in the show’s history, Davros, brought to life with chilling exactitude by Michael Wisher. An exploration of the evils of war as well as the blindness to the causes of wars. Something special. Trivia note: One of the few stories to not feature the TARDIS in any capacity.

Horror Of Fang Rock: A love letter to Agatha Christie that new series writer Paul Cornell calls a perfect story. Imagine some of the shadier characters in Downton Abbey trapped in a lighthouse and then a shape-shifting alien kills them off one-by-one. Awesome.

City Of Death: Just watch it. Ghost-written by Douglas Adams. The villain is played by Julian Glover. Pure bliss. “I say, what a wonderful butler. He’s so violent. Hello, I’m The Doctor.”

THE FIFTH DOCTOR

Kinda: It’s pronounced like kin-da, as in “next of kin”-da, not like kinda of the “kinda, sorta” variety. The PBS station in New Hampshire promo-ed this as next week “Doctor Who: kinda” Bless ‘em. Why don’t people talk about this story more? A garden paradise, a mythological evil, genuine insanity and possibly the most frightening line in the show’s history: “You will agree to being me, sooner or later, this side of madness or the other.”

Earthshock: OK, honestly, the Cybermen’s plans for invading the Earth here are overly complicated and convoluted. But it’s a fun adventure with lots of shootouts, a brilliant Cyberleader (who exposes that maybe the Cybermen haven’t eliminated all emotion) and a shocking ending. And man, that’s such a great title.

Frontios: What happens when humanity reaches the end of the universe? Not a perfect story by an stretch but a cautionary tale about keeping horrendous secrets under the rug. And just some wicked cool lines. “Frontios buries its own dead.”

The Caves Of Androzani: Gun-runners, androids and a must for House Of Cards lovers as John Normington’s Morgus is Doctor Who’s Frank Underwood, directly speaking to camera with his plans and machinations. An epic final story for the Fifth Doctor. Sorry about the magma monster though.

THE SIXTH DOCTOR

Vengeance On Varos: More relevant now than its first airdate in 1985, The Doctor and his companion Peri find themselves trapped on world that exports videotapes of execution and torture for torture for entertainment. A grim but poignant look at both political ideology and the morality of voyeurism.

The Two Doctors: The Sixth Doctor finds a lost human on a ransacked space station. It’s his old companion Jamie who tells him that the Second Doctor has been killed. The future Doctor is sent on a rescue mission to save his old self and the entire universe.

The Trial Of A Time Lord: For the hardcores. Four stories in one which deal with Time Lord conspiracies, mind-transference and killer plants. Between the Time Lord manipulation and the creation of the Valeyard, this is a precursor to much of the new series more than some folks realize.

THE SEVENTH DOCTOR

Remembrance Of The Daleks: Who is The Doctor? What was he doing on Earth in the 1960’s? What did he bring with him? What is he going to do with it? Some of those questions are answered as a Dalek Civil War descends upon 1963 London.

The Greatest Show In The Galaxy: The Doctor goes from wanderer to confronter of ancient Gods. The champion of Time seen in the current series emerges here. Oh and there’s lots of evil clowns who want to kill people. And the way Sylvester McCoy plays the Doctor and how he’s directed here is nothing short of bad-ass.

The Curse Of Fenric: I will always argue this is one of the best Doctor Who stories ever. At least Top 5. Ancient Viking curses, underwater vampires, monsters from the future. All told against the backdrop of World War II England where Russian spies are on a secret mission to steal the an early computer prototype. But the heart of the story comes down to the trust between The Doctor and his companion, troubled teenager Ace who’s own demons come back to haunt her.

Survival: A direct prequel to Rose. A lazy Sunday in a surburban estate exposes an alien struggle right under everyone’s nose. There’s even a shouty Blonde who I’m convinced has the last name Tyler. The final episode of the classic series, the perfect lead-in to the new series.

Yes, I gave the 7th Doctor four stories. He’s my personal favorite and it’s my blog so there you have it.

THE EIGHT DOCTOR

The TV Movie: YES. Watch the TV Movie. A look at what might have been had Doctor Who become an international production aired on both Fox and the BBC. No, it’s not perfect but it’s an American TV pilot. The mythology is over-explained yes but it is FUN. Paul McGann is combines childlike wonder with a confident gravitas that assures you he IS The Doctor. And there really are some good lines. Why is the Master a disembodied ghost snake? “Because in the fight to survive, there are no rules.” Brilliant.


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Quite a list so far but this blog needs a Big Finish, hahahaaaaahhhh ahem. Now, if you want to dive into the wonderful world of audio plays from the good folks at Big Finish (and you should, great stuff there), here are some suggestions. Some of the CD’s are out of print but there are downloads available here:

http://www.bigfinish.com/

The Holy Terror: Still my personal favorite of the Big Finish stories and I’ll argue one of the best stories ever. The Doctor and his companion, the shape-shifting-but-loves-to-be-a-penguin Frobisher, land in a medieval theocracy. Sort of. I don’t want to say too much more as it might give away the layered reveals. Funny, thoughtful and then downright terrifying. I first listened to this at 27 years old and it scared the hell out of me. 

Spare Parts: The Doctor lands on the planet Mondas, where the people are slowly replacing their organs and body parts with cybernetics. The origin of the Cybermen doesn’t try to be Genesis Of The Daleks and therein finds its brilliance. Seedy, scary and unflinchingly tragic, this a genuine masterpiece in all of Doctor Who. “Oh Vonny, what have they done to you?”

Master: The Doctor ends up in the home of his old enemy the Master who has amnesia and is a good man doing good deeds in the town he’s settled in. It’s now The Doctor who must confront his own evil deeds. An exploration of the nature of good and evil. Brilliance.

Real Time: The far-flung future collides with a distant, parallel universe in an exploration of the Cybermen at their most frightening and gruesome.

The Unnatural History Of Fear: What can you do with the limitations of audio? This story tells you – A LOT. The Eighth Doctor’s visit to an alien world sets off consequences he can’t possibly imagine.

The Nowhere Place: The Doctor and his companion Evelyn find themselves on spaceship that contains a mysterious door. When your time is called, you cannot resist the call to the door.

Live 34: The Doctor and his friends join a planetary revolution – all on the radio.

Shada: Don’t worry about continuity, the Doctor sometimes treads the same trail twice. The Eighth Doctor finds his old companions Romana and the robot dog to settle some unfinished business in 1979. A unproduced script by Douglas Adams brought to life on audio with fun and flourish. “Well, when I was on the river, I heard a strange babble of inhuman voices.” “Oh, undergraduates talking to each other, I expect. I’ve tried to have it banned.”

The Renaissance Man: The Fourth Doctor’s first season on audio is highlighted by the wonderfully absurd tale which weaves the fanciful with the macabre, the calling card of this Doctor’s era. Pure bliss every time I hear it.

Shadow Of The Scourge: The manifestations of personal demons invade an unsuspecting hotel packed with conventions. We’ll get into the novels another day but if you want to dip into the books, this one is a great place to start. For the first time ever, The Doctor and Ace are joined by novel-only companion Bernice Summerfield brought to life with downright spooky accuracy by Lisa Bowerman.

OK, you should now be armed and ready for your journey into the world of Doctor Who. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to contact me with any questions. If you’re mad that I left off Terror Of The Autons or Seeds Of Doom on the list of classic episodes, fair enough, you can recommend those to your friends when they ask for an introductory list. I love those episodes too but can’t answer “all of them” to a friend staring at pages of stories, wondering what to watch.

There’s a whole universe of Doctor Who out there. Lots more classic episodes, audios, comic books and original novels. But these all should be a good start.

I leave you with this anecdote. In 2004, before the new series came back I attended the Gallifrey One convention, which I try to every year. The show had not yet returned and many of the old-school fans were filled with trepidation (to say the least) at the news series returning. The convention showed UK news clips as part of the closing ceremonies. When Russell T Davies came on screen during an interview, several folks in my section booed. Like for real, booed like he was a bad guy wrestler. And then the interviewer asked him why he was bringing Doctor Who back or why he liked it. I forget the exact question, but I will never forget the exact answer:

“Because it’s the best idea ever invented in the history of the world and I love it.” 

The audience broke out in applause. Doctor Who was in safe hands. And has soared back to and surpassed its former glory.

“Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?”  (Dark Water, 2014)

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The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Player Piano: An Interview With Tom Grey

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I’m delighted to welcome Tom Grey, the director & producer of the Player Piano video series to the show this week. Working alongside him is classically trained composer & pianist Sonya Belousova. They’ve combined their talents to create videos that don’t just cover songs, but add new dimensions to them on the piano and in a video setting. For those of you who miss music videos, you will love Player Piano. So far, they’ve covered “Kaneda” from Akira, “The Unknown Waltz” by David Arnold and that Russian folk song that would be stuck in your head after hours of playing Tetris.

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Tom and Sonya’s innovative work has garnered critical acclaim from the likes of Stan Lee, Felicia Day and the Nerdist. They’ve just launched an Indiegogo campaign to take this exciting new venture to the next level. In this interview, you’ll hear how this all started and how each of the videos are made. There’s also some good advice in here about collaboration and embracing production limitations as opposed to letting them stop you. A great listen for people endeavoring to make their own shorts and indie films. Enjoy:

Here’s the Player Piano YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAIwH4ubfkRWep6ZkmRG8Gg

To contribute to the Player Piano Indiegogo Campaign, just go here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/player-piano-awesome-music-and-videos

Player Piano’s Homepage is here:

http://www.playerpianomusic.com/

You can also like them on facebook:

www.facebook.com/PlayerPianoVideos

and follow them on Twitter:

twitter.com/PlayerPianoVids

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Dead Squad: An Interview With Stephen Scaia

On episode 16 of the Express, I finally welcome one of my oldest and closest friends, writer Stephen Scaia. Along with his writing partner Matthew Federman, you’ve seen Stephen’s writing and producing credits in the shows “Judging Amy”, “Jericho”, “Warehouse 13” and “Human Target.” He’s also co-written the feature-film adaptations of “Y: the Last Man” and “Ghost Recon” coming soon a to a theatre near you. These guys know how to tackle big set-piece action stories without forgetting about the core of what makes those stories great – the characters.

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Stephen offers a unique perspective in this interview as he and Matthew recently adapted the graphic novel “Pax Romana” and this month released their “Dead Squad”, their own original comic book. “Dead Squad” is a part-action, part-horror, all-existential story about a group of soldiers who are surprised to find themselves alive after being killed on a mission. Stephen tells us the different challenges between adapting existing material and creating something completely new across different mediums. We also get into some character analysis for some of your favorite movies which offers great insight on how to get to the root of the characters you’re writing.

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Stephen has been a great friend and guide to me as a writer. You’ll find out why in this interview which offers great advice for aspiring writers but also some practical nuts-and-bolts reminders for seasoned vets. And it’s Austin Film Festival week so of course we touch on that as well. Enjoy…

For more on Dead Squad:

http://www.darbypop.com/titles/dead-squad/

Here’s another interview with Stephen along with his writing partner Matthew Federman

http://www.unleashthefanboy.com/news/exclusive-matthew-federman-stephen-scaia-talk-dead-squad/119461

For more great insights from Stephen, check out his twitter:

@stephenscaia

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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