Doctor Who

More than a TV Show – Doctor Who Touching Lives

The_Master_Roger_Delgado

Roger Delgado as The Master from Doctor Who

I am suffering from Doctor Who withdrawal symptoms.

I just finished watching the 1971 Jon Pertwee Doctor Season 8 Serial “The Claws of Axos” on iTunes. It was fascinating stuff. The idea of a single organic life form that can is a sentient spacecraft and can split off and conquer worlds through duplicity is such an engaging idea. Doctor Who always was and still is the most inventive, imaginative and creative show on TV. I personally think that is the secret of its success.

Having watched all of the post-2005 revived Who episodes (in just a crazy 2 month period), I am now watching as many Classic Who episodes as I can in chronological order. I want to do it this way as many themes and character arcs are linked and developed across many serials. The whole of Season 8 is basically the arc of introducing The Master and his various plans to destroy Earth. Roger Delgado’s performance is, if you excuse the pun, masterful! He is suave, slick, conniving and manages to look cool with a goatee. He is a villain, but you just fall in love with his character and his portrayal, more slick loveable rogue than true evil. In the end, he always ends up helping the Doctor defeat the very foes he himself brought to destroy earth! And his suit manages to stay pristine.

So why the withdrawal symptoms? Due to financial considerations, I can’t afford to buy any more classic Who DVD’s, even though I love the amazing extras, with all their fascinating insights into the making of the classic episodes. My new idea is to rent the DVD’s via LoveFilm, but that means watching the DVD’s we currently have languishing within our dusty TV cabinet.

In the meantime my love of Doctor Who has been increased by this very touching article I came across from another WordPress blog.

My girls meet Peter Capaldi ( little Dalek ) – Blog Post

You Tube video from the post with Peter Capaldi talking to the post author’s daughters and reassuring her youngest daughter that Matt and Jenna say it’s ok for him to be the doctor. 

I really had to share it, and insist that all Doctor Who fans, and anyone undecided on the greatness that is Doctor Who, read this. It is about a young Doctor Who fan with autism who happens to be with her family in the same place where the new series of Doctor Who is being filmed.

It makes you fall in love with all the great people who come together to produce this work of TV that touches so many lives in many different ways. For my part Doctor Who has been there for me as a means of escape, comfort and joy during a very emotionally difficult time in my life.

I really wanted to reblog this post on Kamblog, but I am not sure about the idea of reblogging other peoples posts. I don’t know the etiquette behind whether or not one should reblog a post or just link to it. It also feels odd as Kamblog is meant to be my posts composed by me. Posting other blogger’s posts feels like cheating. It feels like stealing someone else’s thunder by posting their writing here.

Anyway please click the link, as the story is so touching and will make even the hardest heart feel good. It certainly put a smile on this Whovian’s face.

Mind of Exhaustion – Mental Health and Doctor Who

Burnt Out Mind Illustration

Is it a good idea to write a blog post when my mind is so fatigued? It’s probably not. However I have just finished watching “The Mind of Evil” the second serial of Doctor Who Season 8, the 3rd Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s 2nd season. That, and the fact it was my birthday yesterday, have encouraged me to put fingers to keyboard and thoughts to cyberspace.

I have composed over 20 blog posts in the last few weeks but have not had to the time to edit them or publish them. The subjects I have been writing about range from:

  • Mental health issues such as depression, social anxiety and addiction,
  • Testing my social anxiety by going to a career networking meet up with over 200 people all by myself (very daunting, exciting yet emotionally exhausting)
  • Coping with the emotional fallout from the break-up of my once seemingly close family
  • Bravery as the concept of being scared but doing something anyway, such as opening up about suffering from mental health issues (even though you know many people will judge you negatively for doing so)
  • Irritable bowel Syndrome-Diarrhoea (IBS-D) and food intolerance diets,
  • the changing nature of parenting, how the role of a parent changes during a child’s life,
  • Watching the Lego movie with my daughter *(her 1st cinema outing), and its ironic anti-corporate, anti-conservative massage and how the cinema is my church, and
  • how my mind feels cluttered and on the point of collapse from lack of organisation or order, like my daughter’s Lego box,
  • the therapeutic value of blogging and creative writing,
  • My struggle to express myself, my thoughts and feelings, succinctly and precisely (after years of being forced to suppress my true thoughts)
  • virtual reality and online profiles,
  • Doctor Who and my adventure into watching the 3rd Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s Dr. Who serials
  • How I finally got my wife to watch “The US Office” sitcom, and how she had become obsessed with it, to the point of addiction, which has had the side effect of making me realise how scarily similar I am to Michael Scott (in terms of emotional insecurity and needing to be liked and part of a “family”)
  • Reaching 35 (it was my 35th birthday yesterday).

In terms of how I feel physically and mentally, that can for once be summed up concisely in one word. Exhausted.

That is why I decided to blog today and finally publish a post.

I’m too drained to compose a long post. The greatest battle I have when it comes to creative writing is trying to stay focussed and concise. I digress wildly. My blog posts are too long. I have too much to say and too much of a burning desire to say it. Maybe if my mind is so wiped with fatigue that will help focus it. Keep things short.

Blogging is the only way for me to channel how I truly think and feel about my life and the world around me. It also energises me. Most things I have to do in life or deal with drain me. Blogging makes me feel alive.

Recently it feels that every day I’ve been pounded by situations that trigger my unresolved unconscious inner conflict. Triggering my depression, anxiety, stress, and inflaming my already debilitating IBS-D. I’ve tried to alter my lifestyle and behaviour to help overcome my problems, but it’s an uphill struggle, that just seems to get harder.

I’m climbing up this mountain to get to a place of inner calm, peace and self-control, and just when I think I’m near the top, or even the middle, I pass through a thick cloud of mist that blocks my way. The mist conceals the true height of the mountain. When I finally clear the mist, I’m mentally and physically exhausted, having used all my energy to battle through. I look ahead and I am nowhere near the top, or near the middle.  I’ve still got a really long way to go. An impossibly long way it seems. Never-ending perhaps.

Foggy Climbing

Many people in my life around me have their own battles and unresolved insecurities. When those have been triggered by stress sin their own lives, rather than process those thoughts and feelings in a positive way, they have been lashing out at me. Throwing all the all their angst, insecurities, anger and negative feelings straight at me. Why me? They know I won’t fight back. I hate conformation. I internalise how I feel. I always have. That’s why all my childhood traumas and inner conflict remain and fester deep within me, eating away at me, pulling me down.

There are many things pulling me down, both inside and outside of me. People, situations, events, circumstances past and present.

There all also things that pull me up. Help me get through. Like my daughter, who was the brightest ray of sunshine on my 35th birthday. I was really depressed about turning 35. The older you get, the harder everything is. You have less energy, less options, less opportunities, less time to get things right. I can’t enjoy many of the pleasures of life that used to help get me through, for many reasons such as health and lack of money. Time seems to be running out for me in many ways. Just when I need to find reserves of energy to pull me through increasing hardship, I find myself fatigued. My daughter was a great help yesterday though.

My poor bedraggled wife, who seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown of her own, tried her best and I’m lucky to have her. I just wish we could both overcome our own battles, inside and out, so that we can finally enjoy each other’s company and time like we used to at the beginning. Everything in life is dynamic and always changes, whether or not we like it, but it would be nice for some things to change positively rather than constantly downwards.

The other thing that helps pull me through is Dr. Who. I am really enjoying Jon Pertwee’s Dr. Who serials. I just finished “The Mind of Evil”, an action packed adventure about brainwashing that is filmed in and around Dover Castle. It is set in a prison where the Keller device aims to suck evil thoughts from criminal minds leaving behind human beings who are theoretically no longer a threat to society, as their mental faculties have been altered.

It was a fantastic serial. Intelligent, thought provoking, tense, dramatic and fun. Pertwee’s Doctor may be far more serious and hard-nosed then Troughton’s, but he is growing on me. I am really warming to the James Bond style Action-Hero Doctor that he portrays. Maybe it’s the flamboyant cape.

3rd Doctor Who Jon Pertwee

3rd Doctor Who Jon Pertwee

I also recommend watching the making of programme, titles “The Military Mind”, which is on disc 2 of the 2 DVD set for the serial. It shows you how high pressured filming Doctor Who was, and still is. They had to film a lot of complex shots in tough locations with very little time and money.  This specific serial went over budget, and was the last one to be directed by Timothy Combe, and the interview with him is very melancholic at the end. All that overspend was well worth it though. It’s a great serial.

I also feel lucky to have blogging as something to escape to. I have been reading lots of blogs about mental health issues. I found 2 great blogs that I have been meaning to recommend.

Mrs Bashful is about social anxiety and is very honest and well written. She describes exactly how I feel, yet with a far better writing style than I can dream of.

Running on Sober is also very honest and inspiring, about addiction and opening up.

Both of these bloggers are really brave and I admire what they have done, and are continuing to do.

I highly recommend following these 2 blogs if you have any interest or experience of mental health issues.

Mental Health is still a highly underrated topic in healthcare and in the wider world. It affects far more people than you would think, and affects all of us far more than we like to believe. It is the root cause of many destructive problems and if we focussed on understanding it more the world would definitely be a better place.

WordPress have set up a Blog For Mental Health 2014 Official Blogroll,which you can access by clicking on the link.

It seems fitting then that I publish this blog post, which finally admits my own exhausting battles with mental health issues, after I finish watching The Mind of Evil, which is all about the power of the mind and thoughts.

I end up writing about lots of topics that seem completely unrelated in my blog. I thought about splitting the posts into different, more topic focussed blogs. However I feel that I am more than just someone trying to overcome mental health issues, or someone with Irritable bowel syndrome and food intolerances or a doctor who fan who is also into creative writing. I am multi-faceted, as we all are, and I like to celebrate that here in this blog. All of these things are part of me, and are connected. So they All make up Kamblog.

I think those are enough recommendations and thoughts for one day. I’m off to try and re-charge my mind batteries before they burn out permanently. Now where did I put that sonic screwdriver?

11th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver

11th Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver

Virtual Reality Doctor Who

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

I’m supposed to be watching this PHP Web Development course. It is part of the exciting journey that I’m on, teaching myself computer programming and building my own private social network website. However its hard to concentrate when your 5 ¾ year old daughter and her 2 hyper-active school friends are downstairs screaming, dancing loudly to you tube videos on the Apple TV and crying every 5 minutes as they injure themselves on doors, floors, tables and each other. I thought removing all the non-foam toy swords from the lounge would help. I thought wrong. At least they won’t bend my Darth Vader toy Light Saber. It’s safely hidden in the loft.

So being surrounded by distractions, I thought I’d do what I haven’t done in a while. Take a break from coding and update my blog.

I haven’t posted much recently. This is not for want of things to say, or lack of things happening to me. On the contrary, far too much has happened in my life recently. Most of it has been unpleasant. Extremely thought provoking and insightful? Yes.  Sowing the seeds of emotional maturity and growth? Maybe. Painful and depressing? Definitely. Do I want to blog about it? It might help me, but I think not. My marital, financial and emotional wellbeing are pretty fragile at the moment. However, on the plus side, I have come across some cool things that distracted me, in a pleasant way, and I feel are worth sharing in the blogosphere.

1) On Writing:

I read this somewhere the other day. “A writer is anyone who has something to say and a burning desire to say it”. That’s me, except without the talent.

Creative writing has always been the main outlet for processing my thoughts and experiences. This is because my childhood home wasn’t somewhere where you were allowed to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. You were free to feel and say what you wanted, as long as it was exactly what my parents wanted you to feel and think. They were like this with each other, and fought violently all the time. It was a really tense and volatile atmosphere of fear, abuse and neglect, but the most important thing drilled into me was not to tell anyone about it. Especially not them. They are not good listeners, and are much better talkers, or lecturers to be frank. They overwhelmed me with years of constant verbal bombardments on how I should live my life (essentially for them) and why everything I seemed to think and feel was wrong.

They didn’t have blogs or even the World Web Web when I was growing up. The closest I got to the internet was the 1983 film WarGames. Watching Matthew Broderick connect to a noisy old school modem and take the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon was surfing for my generation. I did have pencils and paper though, courtesy of my dad’s stationary cupboard at work. I poured all my frustrations and dreams of escape and freedom into stories. I found creative writing more natural than writing a dairy or thought journal. I loved making up fictional protagonists, who had the same troubles as me, but ways of overcoming them unavailable to me. If only I was a super-hero with mind reading powers and a winning lottery ticket, then I could put all my plans to overcome my difficulties into action. In many ways I am still the same. I still love to write, but have no time to do it. I barely have enough time to fix the leaking garage roof or broken gutters pouring green moss filled rain into my rotting garage door.

There I go again, going off on a tangent. My blog posts are too long. I need to keep them short. It’s not easy when you have so much to say and no–one to say it to.

2) On Dr. Who:

Patrick Troughton is the most fantastic Dr. Who I have come across so far. I have still yet to watch any Dr. Who episodes with the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee), 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) or 6th Doctor (Colin Baker), and I’m a big Matt Smith fan. However, having spent the last few weeks watching classic black and white Doctor Who episodes form the late 1960’s,with Patrick Troughton as the 2nd doctor, I have to say I am entranced. He has a much wider range of character traits and facets than William Hartnell’s 1st Doctor, much as I loved him. He brings to the role an eclectic mix of tomfoolery, eccentricity, humour, wit, genius, child-like curiosity, hand wringing and funny walks, which all suddenly collapse when he gets angry and show’s how much depth, courage and feeling he truly has. I’ve even grown to like his companion Jamie, whose lack of genius highlights the doctor’s superior cerebral powers, but who is at least loyal and caring. I’m not so convinced about wearing a kilt in Ice Age Britain or on a moon base though.

It’s a real shame many of the Troughton Who episodes are missing. The Enemy of the World, a serial previously missing for decades, and recently re-discovered and re-mastered, was amazing. His Mexican accent may have left a little to be desired, but Patrick Troughton’s slimy, smooth, evil genius dictator wannabe Salamander was a great performance, especially in contrast to the raggedy man, dishevelled doctor. Thanks to the marvellous Apple TV for enabling me to sit back and watch episode after episode without buying DVD boxsets I have no space for. And thanks again to my good friends Paul and James for starting their wonderful Cricket and Doctor Who podcast show last year. I’m still not a fan of cricket (I don’t have enough time to get into that too) but they have helped me rediscover my inner geek and find something legal that stimulates my neurons in an exciting way.

3) On Virtual reality:

Virtual reality may finally be coming to a home near you. I grew up on 1990’s sci-fi, from Star Trek The Next Generation’s Holodeck, to the virtual reality games machines used by Lister in classic British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf. The closest I ever got to VR was watching a pre-James Bond Pierce Brosnan ponce about unconvincingly in The Lawnmower Man film, when my parents finally got cable TV. I was sold on the idea of Virtual Reality (especially as I hate mowing the lawn)and I’ve been waiting ever since.

Given what I mentioned above, about my inability to experience much freedom in real life, the idea of escaping in to a fantasy world of alien planets or tropical jungles all through the power of immersive virtual reality really appeals to me.

I’m not much of a computer gamer. I lack the time, fancy consoles or attention span. Even my daughter understands Lego StarWars on the Wii better than me. However hope may be at hand. I came across an article talking about something called the Oculus Rift. It is a virtual reality headset that was showcased at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. It looks amazing. I want one. Maybe someone can develop a Dr. Who virtual reality game where me and my friends board the Tardis and are whisked away by Patrick Troughton’s 2nd doctor, to fight hissing Ice Warriors from Mars using only his recorder (he didn’t have a sonic screwdriver in the serial, although I recently got a key-ring 11th doctor one if that would help).

4) On Twitter:

Life would be much simpler if I wasn’t interested in so many things, although it would be duller. Posting my Follow Fridays on Twitter today made me realise that I follow too many people and media outlets. The problem is who to cull? My main issue is that I am interested in far too many things. From science to history, art to socialism, music to comic books, virtual reality to web development, Dr. who to psychology, economics to the local traffic updates, food intolerance diets to computer programming, Irritable Bowel syndrome to Woody Allen Movies, my life is full of noise. Well that’s what my wife keeps calling it these days. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The problem is that too much noise can, and often does, overwhelm you. I can’t read everything I want to read. I’d love to explore and research all the random questions that pop up in my head, but I’m not in a financial position to do so. Anyway, the point is that the world is full of so much intellectual and cultural richness, even if I’m too poor to be able to devote my life to swimming in this pool of knowledge and ideas. If I could plug my brain directly into my twitter stream I am sure I’d never get bored or feel deflated. And I don’t even follow Justin Bieber.

Rediscovering Doctor Who

Kam with Tardis

Kam with Tardis

My head is spinning like the TARDIS when it hurtles through time and space.

I have just watched the first 4 series and the 4 2008-2010 specials from years 2005 to 2010 of the revived Doctor Who series in just 1 month. My mind is rattling with the paradoxes of time, space, time locks and the last great Time War.

I finished watching “The End of Time part 2” yesterday. This is the New Year’s Day 2010 Doctor Who special which ends with the 10th doctor, played by David Tennant, regenerating into the 11th doctor, Matt Smith, and the TARDIS blows up around him.

In a way my head feels like it might explode too. I feel like I have been on a Doctor Who marathon, which of course I have. When he starts running sometimes he never stops. I feel like that myself. I’ve started so I must keep on going. Immerse myself further and deeper into the magical and exciting world of the Doctor, and escape the brutal truth of everything I am running away from within me.

No one can run forever though. Well, maybe the Doctor can. He’s been doing it for 50 years and there’s no stopping him. He has 2 hearts, however, and I only have one. Plus I’m really unfit. All the dramatic tension of the Last of the Time Lord’s recent adventures have helped me run away from facing my own inner conflicts, just at a time when I needed a new form of escape, a new drug to immerse myself in. Yet how much drama, excitement, world saving and adrenalin flow can one take? I only have one heart, and it’s telling me to stop and take a break.

Now seems like a good time to do that. A pit stop on my Doctor Who marathon. The marvellous 10th Doctor, played with such a wide range of emotions and breadth by David Tennant, is no more. I’ll take a week off, recharge my batteries (even the TARDIS needs recharging now and again in the rift in Cardiff), and begin a new journey with the 11th incarnation of the Doctor.

I’m really excited to see what Matt Smith does with the character. I have heard really good things about him. It wasn’t easy avoiding watching or reading about the 50th anniversary special last month. I’m glad I did avoid watching it though. Everything in the world of Doctor Who is connected, and it makes sense to watch the episodes in order.

I loved and really got used to David Tennant’s 10th doctor. His sleek, geek chic, uber-cool, witty charm mixed with suppressed emotional turmoil, rage, ruthlessness and loneliness, all coated in a veneer of fun-loving, childlike curiosity and hyper-activity, kept me engaged with a character whose greatest selling point is you never really now him. He doesn’t believe in violence, refuses to carry a gun, yet leaves a trail of death and destruction behind him. He’s full of life and wonder, yet also has a depressive side to him. He is one of fiction’s richest characters, emotionally and psychologically.

Yet the last few episodes of series 4 and the specials pulled his character far too deep into his melancholic, bitter side. It was great to see this exposed, and see the arrogant side of him come out in “The Waters of Mars”, where he starts to feel he was not just a tragic survivor of the Time War but it’s righteous victor. However a whole series exploring this unresolved inner conflict, the conflict he seems to always be running away from, would have taken a lot of the light-hearted fun out of the show. Emotional depth in TV is always a good thing, but it needs to be balanced with jelly beanesque escapism too. In short, I’m glad a new Doctor awaits me when I begin series 5 next week.

Once I finish watching all the episodes of the new revived series, I plan to go back and watch the old ones from 1963 onwards. I already devoured the brilliant Genesis of the Daleks 6 part serial in one night, my first time watching Tom Baker as the Doctor, with his Jelly Babies, long Rainbow scarf and wide googly eyes confronting Davros, my favourite Doctor Who villain.

I’ve been jotting down reams of notes about my experience of rediscovering Doctor Who last month. How it has really impacted me and made me feel a wide range of emotions. I plan to write these up as blog posts, but they need to be split up and edited. This post is my attempt at keeping things simple and concise (never easy for me). I always have a lot to say, probably because as a child no one really listened to me, and Doctor Who makes me think about even more subjects and themes to explore.

It has been more than just a TV show for me. In many ways it has been my salvation during a really stressful period of my life. People take drugs to numb their senses, the inner pain, and I needed a drug to replace my love of food (having gone on an strict elimination diet to combat my IBS-D). Most people drug themselves, though they don’t think they’re being drugged, with religion, consumerism/ materialism, alcohol, food addiction, sex addiction, addiction to narcotic drugs, extreme sports or adrenalin junkies. There are many forms of escapism from reality, usually a mix of things, and high octane adventuring through time and space is the Doctor’s preferred way to bury painful feelings. I’m not religious, I ‘m trying to move away from consumerism, and food just seems to disagree with me. I don’t really drink, never agreed with drugs, so TV and films are my main drug of choice now. I’m too cautious and anxious to actually go on real life high octane adventures, so I live through fictional adventures that distract me from more painful feelings deep inside.

Sometimes something comes along just when you need it. Having quit many of my past vices and emotional crutches and with an increasingly stressful real life, I needed something to fill the void of escapism within me. To pull me away from facing the fire of my inner conflict, and being consumed by it. The Tardis must have heard my unconscious SOS call. It came into my life at the right time.

I really am getting addicted to the world of Doctor Who. I’ve started reading The Doctor Who magazine and collecting all my bookmarked Whovian links on a Doctor Who page on my website Razaweb.com. I even find myself walking around the house with the 4 beats of the sound of drums pounding in my head! Don’t worry though, I won’t try and use an alien medical device to make everyone else in the world look and talk like me. I’m crazy but I’m not that crazy. 

I do feel rejuvenated in finding something I’m really into that I can also help me connect with other people, especially friends who I already feel I relate to the most. I’m not into sports or cars so that alienates me from most other guys. I am a geek at heart and rediscovering Doctor Who has helped me reconnect with the geek in me. That’s a long neglected side of me that I feel more comfortable embracing. I have always loved the wonder and excitement of the science fiction. It fires me up in a way I can engage with. In fact I owe much of my getting back into Doctor Who to 2 friends of mine. They started a Cricket and Doctor Who podcast this year, and although I’m still not into Cricket, they did make me think about going back and watching Doctor Who.

Anyway I plan to write up my notes on how I came to rediscover Doctor Who and how surprised I was at the revived show being as good as it is. Other posts will also review The End Of Time episodes, which I loved, if for nothing more than having Timothy Dalton (one of my favourite Bond’s) as a great villainous Time Lord President Rassilon and watching John Simm devouring a whole roast chicken with his bare hands