You’d think The Doctor would have warned us about what 2020 had in store for us, eh?
It’s been a rough year for many, and I’m sorry to say we’re still not even halfway through it yet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be fully back to normal any time soon either, but one can only hope that the more recent events that have begun to transpire will mean that when we do return to some semblance of normal, it will be a new and better type of normal.
As far as the majority of this year though, many of us will have spent most of it indoors. For something so simple, it’s definitely been a difficult change for many to come to grips with – I’m sure countless people would have spent their days at work wishing for a chance to stay home, and yet here we’ve been given it and found that, well…it can be a bit boring, can’t it?
Thankfully, it’s actually not all that difficult to find something to entertain yourself with nowadays – streaming services galore mean there’s always something to watch or play or listen to! Yet still, you’re left without the community vibe. Even within a house filled with family or roommates, loneliness can take hold so easily. Well, the good news again is that social media, even with its many downsides, can prove an effective way of coming together at times – which it definitely has in terms of the many different watch parties that have been happening globally for movies and TV shows.
In basic terms, all a group of fans spread around the globe have to do to take part in a watch party is decide what they’re going to watch, pick a time and then press play at said time. I myself have been regularly taking part in a series of watch-alongs of this sort over the past few months, and not only has it proven to be a fun way to pass time, but it’s also proved to be an excellent way of finding that community spirit around something you love. Perhaps even more than that though, it’s helped to reinvigorate my love for my favourite TV show – Doctor Who!
If you’re a Doctor Who fan and this is the first you’re hearing about the Doctor Who: Lockdown! series of watch-alongs, you’ve really been missing out! Organised by Emily Cook, each week (or in fact, regularly multiple times a week) an episode or story from across Nu-Who is chosen, a date is set and then on that date, Doctor Who fans across the world watch the episode and tweet along with it, much as if the episode was actually airing live! And honestly, if that’s all you want to get from it, that’s perfectly fine. A sense of community and an hour or 2 watching a show you love is an excellent way to spend an evening as far as I’m concerned. However, Doctor Who: Lockdown! has featured far more than this across its nearly 3-month lifespan.
Not only are we all coming together to watch these episodes, but watching and tweeting alongside us all each episode would be writers, directors, stars of the show and other behind the scenes workers who helped the show get made. We’ve had both previous showrunners, Steven Moffat and Russell T. Davies join us and tweet about some of their biggest episodes, we’ve had directors like Rachel Talalay and Graeme Harper join us to talk about their vision in directing their episodes. And of course, we’ve had companions and Doctors along for the ride too, David Tennant and Matt Smith for example both using a specially set-up LockdownWho Twitter account. Reading the thoughts of the people who worked on the show whilst also enjoying the show with fans around the world has been brilliant every passing week, and yet that’s still not all!
On top of everything so far, each of the watch-alongs has been accompanied by something new, and in a few cases by several new things! Now I say things because these extras came in several different forms, such as poems, deleted script extracts or even snippets of unseen or cancelled Doctor Who media. Far more frequently, however, these new pieces came in the form of newly written short stories or webcasts, produced specifically to go alongside the episodes being watched.
There are many highlights amongst all of these new releases, so I’ll just touch on a couple and leave the rest for you to discover if you haven’t already. Farewell, Sarah Jane effectively acts as a series finale to the spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures and arrived alongside the watch along for the Doctor Who Series 4 finale The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. It’s a very emotional watch as we see the characters attending the funeral of Sarah Jane and sharing their memories of her. Most recently, to tie in with a rewatch of the episodes New Earth and Gridlock, Russell T. Davies penned The Secret of Novice Hame, which saw everyone’s favourite cat-nurse on her deathbed, awaiting a visit from an old friend whom she was destined to reveal her final secret to. This one features a very special guest and adds to the stories of both Novice Hame and The Doctor in quite a touching way.
My favourite release during this period, however, is without question Doctors Assemble! Featuring all 14 (including the War Doctor) of The Doctor’s televised incarnations, it saw the Fourth Doctor trapped inside his TARDIS, and making a distress call to his past and future selves in an effort to find a solution. Each Doctor was portrayed by an impressionist (except the First, who was portrayed by David Bradley), and whilst the webcast did have a visual side to it, the spotlight was mostly on the audial ‘group call’ dynamic between the many incarnations. For fans of the show’s whole run, this feels very much like a love letter to the show and each of the Doctor’s incarnations.
The sad news is that at present it’s unclear if we’ve already reached the end of Doctor Who: Lockdown!. The finale was originally scheduled for this weekend, in which we’d have all come together to watch the Series 10 finale World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls, however given recent events this has understandably and rightfully been cancelled. However, if you’re in the mood to join in for one of these watch-alongs, you’re still in luck. From 6PM on Saturday June 6th, a separate event called the #DoctorWhoBlackout has been organised by Joy Piedmont, Tai Gooden, thequeerarchive, BlackTARDIS, Robyn Ravenclaw and the Black Girls Create Community. This event features 4 episodes of Doctor Who chosen “for their positive black representation and because they are fun”. It’ll be much the same as the previous watch-alongs, except with an impetus towards aiding #BlackLivesMatter via tweeting support for organisations and funds that are helping to make a difference. The 4 episodes to be viewed are: The Ghost Monument, The Haunting of Villa Diodati, Thin Ice and Knock Knock. If you’ve got the ability to, I’d really recommend getting involved*.
More than anything, as we reach the end, I’d like this piece to serve as a massive thank you to all from behind the scenes of the show who’ve devoted their time during the lockdown to create new stories and share with us their feelings about the episodes watched. Thank you to all the actors, writers, directors, special effects artists and composers. Thank you to Steven Moffat and Russell T. Davies. And, most importantly, thank you to Emily Cook for organising everything within the series, from scheduling to producing and even just for her unquestionable enthusiasm for Doctor Who. It’s provided a welcome escape during a tough time and made this unusual period so much more manageable. THANK YOU!
*Further info about the #DoctorWhoBlackout can be found here
Editor’s Note: This article was edited on 06/06/20 11AM to include everyone who had helped organise #DoctorWhoBlackout
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