Monday, September 18, 2006

A Defence of Doctor Who

Catherine Deveny writes an entertaining occasional column for The Age, mostly about television. This weekend, her column on Doctor Who contained some rather alarming misconceptions about the Sci-Fi genre as a whole -
When I watch shows involving spaceships and aliens I spend the entire time asking, "Where is Vecton Sector Five?""What does that blue crystal do?" "Is that alien now the woman that he just ate?".
etc, etc, etc. Anyway, I thought that as a matter of urgency, I'd have to try to clear some of her misconceptions up. What follows is the text of an email I have just sent in to The Age regarding her column. Let's see, here's how it goes ...


G'day Catherine,

Right, I think it's time I cleared up some of your misconceptions and queries about SF. I can't claim to be a huge nerd, just a regular fan of the SF genre (though I'm definitely not so desperate as to watch Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica).
Okay, to get to some of your queries - I'm going to quote from your article:

1) "I kept asking, "Where is Vecton Sector Five?"

This one's easy. Vecton Sector Five is right down the road from Vecton Sector Four. Do they teach you to count at The Age? Just kidding ...*

2) "What does that blue crystal do?"

The blue crystal does WEIRD SHIT (tm). As a matter of fact, you could say that WEIRD SHIT (tm) is pretty much the function of all blue crystals; it doesn't really matter what *specific* category of blue crystal it is; in all cases, it will do WEIRD SHIT (tm).
If you wonder why blue crystals do WEIRD SHIT (tm), then I would refer you to any Advanced Science Fiction text re: dramatic tension. WEIRD SHIT (tm) adds to the dramatic tension, you see. It's a well-known science-fictional fact.

3. "Is that alien now the woman that he just ate?"


4. "... Monkey (I'll give a million bucks to anyone who can explain that show to me.)"

Monkey is a show about a Monkey and a Pig and a Buddhist Priest and some other dude who I forget now who go for a long walk. They meet lots of people and have lots of adventures. The End.
Not much more to explain about the show, really. Incidentally, I read the Monkey book once, and it's highly recommended (the book, that is, not necessarily the version of it that I read). Helps give you an idea of the Chinese/Buddhist folk-tale context.

5. "What's his [the Doctors] real name?"

Doctor Who's real name is not known because he is a Man of Mystery. I refer you to my comments re: Dramatic tension and WEIRD SHIT (tm) in 2) (above).
And I'll thank you to not be so speciest: the Doctor, as we know, is not even human - he comes from Gallifrey - and for all we know, one of the longstanding practices of Gallifreyans may be not to name their young. It may seem strange and a little bit goofy to us humanoids, but who are we to cast our terran-based prejudices on the rest of the universe? Has multiculturalism TAUGHT YOU NOTHING? Excuse me.

6. "Why is his [the Doctor's] scarf so long"?

It is a phallic symbol of his masculine prowess.

7. "How come when the doctor changes he never turns out to be a short mean hairy Asian woman with calipers?"

See 6) above, re: masculine prowess. Anyway, it's the Doctor's personal choice. If he wants to indulge in a bit of transgender regeneration, that's up to him. It would be appallingly insensitive of us to cast our expectations upon him like that.

That's about all for now - I hope this has helped to clear up any misconceptions you may have had. Also - and just to show you how much of a nerd I really am - I think I'll blog this (

Good day to you,
Tim Train, Coburg, Australia.

PS Stop writing for The Age - all they ever seem to do is churn out socialist claptrap. Go for the Herald Sun, they're much more amusing.

*Reading over my email now, I think this joke was a little nasty, but Deveny seems like she has a good sense of humour. The things nerds do with words in the heat of the moment ...


TimT said...

Incidentally, isn't it interesting how different the phrases 'Catherine Deveny writes an entertaining occasional column for The Age' and 'Catherine Deveny writes an occasional entertaining column for The Age' are? It just depends on the swapping of two words ... I originally had written the latter sentence, but then decided against it: I can be patronising enough without that sentence, thanks very much!!!






Oh, it's just me then, is it?

Caz said...

Now what a coincidence of timing. Having been dragging my sick self around for some time now (as you know), I have only moments ago finished reading the Catherine Deveny piece – a tad behind in my weekend newspaper reading. As usual, a bland read, but that's easy to say when you're not the one trying so hard to be witty, original and insightfully articulate about television shows (mind you, Graeme Blundell has turned himself into a beaut little writer / teevee reviewer, much to my surprise).

I applaud your restrained and polite note or assistance to Ms Deveny. I do hope it helps her in her future endevours.

TimT said...

The SMH runs a similar weekly TV column on the back of one of their fold-out weekend section. My flatmate buys The Age on Saturday (I don't buy the paper at all), so I get to read her column from time to time ... she's by no means the worst writer in that paper.

No response yet from Deveny, though ...

ras said...

Congratulations Timmy on a scathing and yet articulate, not to mention highly amusing letter.

I love letter writing, especially to people in the public eye, and if you can't occasionally lambast their stupidity with the odd letter then honestly, what are they actually there for?

I used to blog my letters and recieved responses but the server that held that blog i can just live vicariously through yours.

Cant wait to read ms Deveny's response. Stupid woman, sif you dont know what Monkey's about and the premise behind Blue Crystals ?

TimT said...

Well, her criticism of science-fiction was rather ... odd. Asking about the meaning behind the use of a blue crystal is a little pointless, really. It's there because the writer/producer wanted it to be there.

I mean, next, she'll be complaining about the gigantic talking spiders! The nerve!

Anne said...

Well, the woman is just crazy.
I read a column about McLeod's Daughters, which she wrote. There she said she had watched 3 episodes... can you really judge an serie of 7 seasons on 3 episodes? NO!
I don't mind if a person does not like McLeod's Daughters but in her column she said there was porn in it and the actors where really bad!
Then why are two of them (Rachael Carpani and Simmone Jade MacKinnon) nominated for an Logie award?
Like I said, the woman is crazy...

christian said...

you people are retarded!!!! Look up the word satire dumb arses!! I use Mcleod's Daughter's as a swear word, it's that bad

Email: timhtrain - at -

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