I admitted in a previous post that I was a terrible Whovian because I had refused to watch the Eleventh Doctor. I can now proudly say that I have (finally) caught up on the New Who episodes, much to the Collectiva Diva’s delight. I’m also proud to say that I accomplished one New Year’s Resolution this year: watch the Matt Smith episodes of Doctor Who.
So what was it that won me over to the Eleventh Doctor? Was it his bow tie? His bumbling awkwardness? The fez?
No, it was a young girl named Amelia Pond.
Time for another Who-fession: I like the Ponds more than I like the Doctor.
For those of our readers who follow my weekly fanfiction recs, you may have noticed that I’m been a bit remiss in my recs for the past month or so. I can explain in two words: Terminal Decay. Five weeks ago, I made it my mission to finish reading this fic by the airing of “The Day of the Doctor.” I’m still not finished.
“Terminal Decay” by unslinky is a monstrous fic. I don’t mean that it’s horrid and large and ugly like a kraken, but rather, it’s HUGE. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this…
Yes, it really does say 1002 chapters and 3,065,944 words.
Or to put it another way, since I’ve been reading for 5 weeks that’s:
28 chapters per day (if I had finished…which I haven’t quite)
over 80,000 words read per day (about 160 pages)
If you account that the typical single-spaced page is about 500 words, that’s 6,132 pages.
To put that into even more perspective:
the Harry Potter series is 1,084, 170 words, so reading “Terminal Decay” is like reading the HP series 3 times.
the Guinness world record holder for longest novel is A le recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust. The novel is 1,267,069 words. “Terminal Decay” is almost 2.5 times that length.
Can you blame me for not quite finishing in time for this rec? I’m on chapter 800, with almost a million words to go before I reach the conclusion.
So why put myself through this? Why read almost an entire novel every day just to rec one fic?
Well, if you’ve read any of my previous DW fic recs, you would probably remember my bitching about the lack of quality Whovian fanfiction. Even though I’m fairly good at sussing out good fics, I had to turn to my fairy fanfic godmother for help with the DW fandom. “Terminal Decay” was her #1 rec, and boy, I had no idea what I was getting into. So, my Whovian friends, if you want a fic that’s more like an odyssey, then this one’s for you.
1) She is besties with Ten AND doesn’t want him romantically.
As we’ve already discussed, there’s nothing less appealing in a companion than an unrequited crush on the Doctor. Donna let’s us know from the very beginning that she isn’t interested in “mating” with her alien boy. The relationship they have is completely platonic and the Doctor is better for it. When he loses his best friend at the end of series 4, that’s when the Doctor becomes the creepy Timelord Victorious, and we all know what that leads to.
2) She’s the most awesome temp in Chiswick.
Shorthand, filing, and at least 100 words per minute. Donna’s secretarial skills not only get her a high profile secretary gig in London, but help the Doctor discern why the planets have disappeared in S04E12&13 and she figures out a pretty complicated numbering system of an alien race S04E06. Even though it hurts when the Doctor tells her she isn’t “special” when he first meets Donna, we know, by the end of their time together, he definitely feels differently.
What is a fobwatch to a Time Lord? A device that holds his memories safely tucked away, hidden from danger, even from himself? We see the Gallifreyan time piece throughout the Classic Who series, but we really get concrete information about the device in series 3, starting with “Human Nature” S03E07.
According to the story, Time Lord science developed the Chameleon Arch, which allowed the user to change the biology of himself, with the help of a perception filter, a headset that scrambled one’s brain and a fob watch, to keep the memories tucked safely away. The user will not remember any part of himself while the Chameleon Arch is in place, and that in itself can be problematic, as we see with Ten and, later, the Master. Audiences first see the fob watch outside of Classic Who in “Human nature/The Family of Blood” S03E08&09, when the Doctor uses the Chameleon Arch to become a fully human John Smith, with Martha as his maid. In 1914. Yeah, I’ve got issues with the turn-of-the-century racism, but that’s not the point of this post…
When I started watching Doctor Who, I received many well wishes from good-intentioned Whovians and a few warnings. Most extolled David Tennant’s amazing hair, chided the campy special effects, and let me know just how much I would hate Martha Jones. Now, I am not one to do what I’m told. That’s why I’m a Wholigan, friends. So, when people tell me I will definitely, without a doubt LOVE or HATE anything, I am disinclined to believe it. You know me, I didn’t start at series 1 or even Classic Doctor Who. I jumped around the time vortex, watching episodes that friends rec’d to me, enjoying one-shot stories of the Doctor and his companions. I didn’t understand the explicit dislike many Whovians have for Martha, probably because I didn’t meet Rose first and I held no loyalties to any specific companion.