'Doctor Who' is a weird, funny show and I have a podcast to prove it
Classic British sci-fi show "Doctor Who" is still worth a watch due to its charming sincerity and ridiculous creatures.
Voguing luchador bees almost killed me on Saturday.
Voguing luchador bees?
Yes. Voguing luchador bees.
To explain why I almost died laughing at human-sized bees wearing face paint closely resembling the masks traditionally worn by Mexican wrestlers, and dancing with arm motions like Madonna did in 1990, I am going to have to explain a few things.
I took a sabbatical for part of the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed me to spend more time with my family, visit my dying grandfather before he passed, take a class on grant writing, volunteer at Grace Lutheran Church in Spirit Lake and the Jackson Center for the Arts, as well as do a few things for the Friends of the Jackson County Libraries. I did a lot of graphic design and social media work to keep my skills honed, I did a little writing, I helped my mom with Christmas cookies and wrapping presents, and I played a little Dungeons & Dragons with my friends, saving the world a lot and occasionally accidentally setting my own party on fire. (Oopsie.)
I also started a podcast with three of my friends called “Daleks Aren’t Robots!?”
It’s a “Doctor Who” podcast, featuring that mainstay of British television and science fiction, originally meant for children but beloved by adults too, ever since its 1963 debut.
I did not watch “Doctor Who.”
That was actually the point of the podcast. The most familiar things from the show, recognized even by people who don’t watch it, are the Daleks, the bad guys that look like large, suspiciously ornate trash cans.
Since I didn’t watch “Doctor Who,” I had always assumed they were in fact large, suspiciously ornate robots shaped like trash cans, but as it turns out, they are not. They are mean little squid-like creatures that live inside the suspiciously ornate trash cans, my friends told me.
I was shocked, and my Whovian friends were shocked at my ignorance, so they decided to fix my appalling ignorance by making me watch Doctor Who. All of it. All 26 seasons. All 862 episodes, some of which don’t even exist. (Long story.)
Four of us watch the show together, laughing at its often absurd (and occasionally creepy) special effects, and then talk about it together. Two of us aren’t Whovians — a cute name for people who love the show — and two of us are long-time fans who actually care about the continuity of a show that contains time travel and can’t even decide what species the main character is.
We switch back and forth between the oldest parts of the show, originally filmed in black and white, to the groovalicious episodes of the early 1970s, when the Doctor had a tattoo and sometimes wore an ascot, to the revival of the show that kicked off in 2005.
So far, I like the earlier episodes the most, partly because they are so very sincere despite their very obvious lack of budget. Actors are forced to wobble back and forth unconvincingly when the time machine is attacked, yet someone in the special effects department took the time to make a creature that looked like a giant brain with eyestalks breathe. Many of the people making the show clearly loved it, wanted the ridiculous brain slug to be convincing and did their very best to make sure it was.
Even though it was a ridiculous giant brain with wide-open slug eyes.
And then we got to the episode with the voguing bee luchadores.
The idea of “The Web Planet” series of episodes is that the bee people are at war with the ant people because of an evil spider lady. The bee people are supposed to be moths, actually, but the episode is in black-and-white, so they really do look more like bees. And they run around pushing each other over very slowly so that none of the actors get hurt and wailing their opponents name in a high-pitched singsong voice.
I do not know what possessed the show’s creators to give them faces like luchadores. I definitely don’t know what made them decide the bee people should be voguing at all times when onscreen. I don’t know why they’re so hilarious when they fly, other than possibly that their wings look like cut-up shower curtains.
I do know that they’re adorable. I know its makers loved this show fiercely. I know that the BBC tried to kill the show repeatedly and accidentally almost killed a few actors during its early days too. (Oopsie.)
And I know that “Doctor Who” gave us voguing luchador bees, awkwardly hopping people dressed like pillbugs, evil non-robotic squid people in robot-like garbage cans, and brain slugs.
And that is why I love the show, and why I’m still doing “Daleks Aren’t Robots!?” with my friends. “Doctor Who” is great, and now I know what to do if I’m ever attacked by a roving bee luchador.
I will push them over, but gently, so that none of the actors get hurt.
"Daleks Aren't Robots!?" is available online in a number of locations, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.