National Novel Writing Month

In just four short days we will be in what has become known as National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, and this year I plan to participate!

According to their website, “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” The idea is that those participating begin a novel at 12:01 am on November 1st and work towards a 50 thousand word novel by 11:59 pm on November 30th. The idea began with a small group in 1999 and has grown into a world-wide event and non-profit organization. It has also lead to the publication of over 600 novels (both professionally and self-published), including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

NaNo doesn’t just promote adult writing, they’ve also created a Young Writer’s Program. YWP provides age-appropriate support as well as educational materials for teachers. There are workbooks for Elementary, Middle, and High School and lesson plans that are in line with national curriculum standards.

Overall, a very cool event, one designed to provide support and a friendly competitive atmosphere.

So, why am I writing about it? Well, firstly, because I plan on doing it this year– and properly! In the past, my goal has been to just write 50k (and to write every day in November), but not necessarily on a single project (I’ve done something similar with Camp NaNo, which is 30k in July). This year, I’m going to try to write a novel! And, I’ve heard that if you tell people you’re going to do something, you are more likely to actually do it– plus I’m putting my intention out into the universe….




Second, because it’s a great event. It promotes writing of any kind, including FanFiction. In the past my feelings towards FanFiction have been negative, but in recent years, I’ve come to see its benefits (especially when it’s better than the work it’s based on– DON’T ASK). Also, while competition can turn into something ugly, this event has you competing against yourself with resources and support from other writers trying to do the same thing you are. It promotes a community and competition that could easily turn toxic, but doesn’t. They keep it positive and supportive, with events all over the world where writers can get together and just write. It’s bringing together people who share a common passion and goal.

Third, because while my focus thus far has been on TV/Film, I do have a passion for written works and, especially, for adaptations. Adaptations are hard. People think it’s easy, but finding that balance between staying true to the original and not only keeping the pace up, but appealing to people new to the work. I can, and most likely eventually will, talk about adaptations at great length, but the point is, you never know what can come out of this event. I chose to reference Water for Elephants and Cinder because the first one has been adapted into a film, while the second is a personal favorite and one that has already been optioned. Any of the over 600 works could be something we’re talking about at length in the future. Also, I do eventually plan on writing about written works, novels, graphic novels, mangas… There is so much out there to spark creative and analytical thinking, to make you question the world around you!

So, this week’s post is a short one. I still intend to post every Saturday in November (and I will not be counting them as word count!), and probably should’ve saved this for then, but I wanted to provide an opportunity for participation. (And because it will make me stick to my goals.)

I’ll provide a final tally of my word count in my December 1st post. You can find more information about National Novel Writing Month at

Reviewing the new “Charmed”

I think we can all agree that by the end of its 8-season run, Charmed (1998-2006) was looking a little tired; I don’t think anyone was too surprised that this was not a show to make the switch from the WB to the CW. So, while the CW could have continued the original series (such as was done with Doctor WhoFull(er) HouseGilmore GirlsRoseanneTwin PeaksWill and Grace, and The X-Files), I can understand why they chose to reboot. Charmed is the latest in a long line of nostalgia-driven reboots and the idea that, if it worked once, why can’t it work again? (Clearly, WE can do it better!)


There are a lot of benefits to a reboot in an era where supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi TV is more prevalent, and, in many ways, this reboot learns from the almost 20 years of content since the original’s premiere episode (“Something Wicca This Way Comes”, October 7, 1998). Since then, the supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi genre has blown up and become a genre to be taken seriously rather than dismissed, both by audiences and critics.


For example, Charmed, like many supernatural programs, contained a rich mythology that developed and changed over time. Because the genre was still young, however, the show lack consistency and contained gaps in continuity since the show often changed to meet the demands of the plot or characters. (The exit of Shannon Doherty made the jump between seasons 3 and 4 particularly jarring.) It is now part of standard convention for such programs to plan the mythology in more detail in advance and for closer attention to be paid to continuity (the latter is thanks to the internet and people like me who examine content under a microscope).


This new Charmed also benefits from, if not a bigger budget, than more access to more sophisticated special effects. The show looks great, with the special effects bringing the magical world to life in a way that is hard to accomplish with just fire and a mask. As I will discuss, the show has potential.




…there are still some elements of what I like to call, ick.


My original plan for this week was to talk about female characters in roles typically occupied by male characters and how sad it is that that is so jarring. These roles typically demonstrate a female demonstrating the confidence and aggression typically reserved for male characters. But, then I watched this new Charmed, and while it very obviously contains an anti-Trump agenda– and displays traits and characters that would’ve been scandalous in 1998–  it does not do anything really interesting with gender portrayals.


In fact, these Latina sisters actually defer to an old white man (their Whitelighter, who died in the 50s) who is also notably the head of the Women’s Studies Department at the local college. So, while I love that these characters have such a strong feminist agenda, the deference to their Whitelighter– who was notably second fiddle and very clearly support staff in the original– leave me feeling ick.


Again, there are benefits to modern TV. The special effects are better, there’s attention to the current political climate and a very clear choice to bring in minority and LGBTQ+ characters. It all reflects current TV, though. Charmed was an unusual show at its time. It, like Buffy, like Sabrina, featured strong female characters with powers that made them stronger than their male counterparts. Reflecting the time, all these characters at one time or another deferred to the men in their lives, but these female characters were still breaking new ground. The point is, that, so far, this Charmed is not doing anything all that special.


In its premiere episode, the original show had the sisters combating a domestic-violence situation in the making, using their powers to undermine the misogyny in their lives– something they did for the remainder of the series. Prue and Piper were both successful professional women, while Phoebe was a strong independent woman, a free spirit who made deliberate choices and was in control of her sex appeal and sexuality. Even if Charmed wasn’t doing something all that new and different at the time, there wasn’t this element of ick, in fact, the sisters all had moments where they simply refused to answer to men…


….but perhaps that is down to 90s girl power and what have you.


Yes, Mel (middle sister) has a girlfriend and Macy (eldest secret half-sister) is in a successful STEM position, and, sure, Maggie (youngest sister) gets to demonstrate the evils of sororities (sorta), but this isn’t exactly new territory…


In many ways, this reboot is so far a rehash of the original, but with the benefit of current technology, storytelling conventions, and politics. In the final minutes of the episode, the sisters get a warning about their (significantly more powerful) Whitelighter that could possibly undermine some of the ick (but not really because instead they were taken advantage of) but that will not be clear until future episodes.


Charmed (like the original) airs on the CW on Sundays at 9 pm EST.

“The Woman Who Fell to Earth”

Going into last weekend’s Series 11 Premier of Doctor Who, I sat down and watched all the regeneration episodes I could get my hands on over the course of a week and a half (list below). While I already really like this new Doctor, there are some things I’d like to discuss regarding Chris Chibnall’s new Who.


1. Regeneration: Something always goes wrong
The Doctor always experiences some form of memory loss and disassociate as their body settles into its new form. Sometimes this can be moments of absent-mindedness, while others experience something closer to amnesia. The Doctor also has a history of collapsing into a slightly comatose or unconscious state (3, 4, 10, 12, 13), often experiencing delirium (4, 5, 7, 12). Doctors Six and Ten went beyond delirium into something erratic and even violent. Aside from a brief period of unconsciousness, the first Female Doctor’s regeneration is very much like their Eleventh incarnation, mostly consisting of memory loss, absent-mindedness, and disassociation. This is somewhat jarring as two of the New WhoDoctors have had much more erratic episodes and longer periods of unconsciousness. Remember, this Doctor’s adventure takes place in the space of one night.


2. Location: The North
In the past, New Who has referred to The North as something deserving of capital letters. In “Rose” (Series 1, Episode 1), Rose makes a point of asking the Ninth Doctor why they sound like they are from The North. In “The Crimson Horror” (Series 7, Episode 11), Strax reminds everyone to be on guard as they are leaving London for The North. It’s not unusual for major cities to look on more rural or industrial areas with some form of derision, but this time all the characters are Northerners.

The Twelfth Doctor was unique for their Scottish accent, although the only episode to take place in Scotland was set in the second century (Series 10, Episode 10 “Eaters of the Light”). Here, the new Doctor’s Northern accent debuts in The North.

Okay, so why is this important? Well, as someone from Boston, I can tell you I’m always excited when something is set here and actually filmed here (Boston is NOT like New York or LA, sorry!). Seeing someone get it right always makes me happy and a little proud. As Chris Chibnall attended University of Sheffield, there’s no doubt that he ‘got it right’. Additionally, with it becoming more common for Doctors to use their natural accents (the actor’s natural accent), setting the series opener in Sheffield eliminated any questions about the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker’s) because they all have Northern accents. It’s something that has been taken advantage of in previous incarnations. When their brain is already scrambled, it’s one less thing to worry about.


3. Building a Sonic: Something new!
The origins of the Sonic Screwdriver has not always been clear. Both Eleven and Twelve were gifted Sonic Screwdrivers by the TARDIS, but where Nine got his (and where Twelve got the Sonic Glasses) is something of a mystery. This is the first time we’ve seen a Doctor building their Sonic Screwdriver. Showing the Doctor building one accomplishes a few things. First, the emphasis that it is made of “Sheffield Steel” adds to the Northern pride. Second, it demonstrates a great deal about this new Doctor.

It doesn’t take long for the audience to see that this Doctor is much more charismatic than Twelve and less awkwardly gawky than Eleven. In many ways, they pull on their Tenth persona. However, this Doctor is already shown to be much more hands-on. While the Third Doctor had a lab at UNIT, they seemed to be more interested in observation or tidy science (how often did that suit get ruffled?), whereas this Doctor in their torn clothing doesn’t hesitate to get their hands dirty– in fact, they are rather enthusiastic about how “fun” it will be to build. This makes it clear that this Doctor will be hands-on and resourceful, likely in a way the audience hasn’t seen before.


4. New Wardrobe: Scenes & Significance
Currently, gender politics are a hot-button issue in the United States, so my first reaction to the Doctor in a dressing room trying to decide on clothes was a negative one. However, there is actually a precedent for scenes in which the Doctor chooses a new wardrobe.

How we dress says a lot about us, so it makes sense for the Doctor, upon regenerating, to rethink their wardrobe for something that feels right. As the Doctor said in this episode, ” ” In many ways, choosing new clothes is another way for the new Doctor to set their stage.


In almost every onscreen Regeneration, the audience gets to see how the Doctor finds their new look.

– The Second Doctor goes through a trunk and changes some of his clothes in front of Ben and Polly in “The Power of the Daleks” (Season 4, Serial 3).

– The Third Doctor steals clothes that appeal to him at the hospital in “Spearhead from Space” (Season 7, Serial 1).

– The Fourth Doctor goes in and out of the TARDIS trying to decide on a new wardrobe before finding his signature scarf in “Robot” (Season 12, Serial 1).

– The Fifth Doctor happens upon a cricketer’s outfit hanging on a mirror as he wanders around the TARDIS “Castrovalva” (Season 19, Serial 1).

– The Sixth Doctor and Perri spend time in the Doctor’s closet trying on different things before settling on a brightly colored coat and a cat pin in “The Twin Dilemma” (Season 21, Serial 7).

– The Seventh Doctor again goes through his closet trying on various clothes (including looks preferred by previous incarnations and much to the Rani’s irritation) in “Time and the Rani” (Season 24, Serial 1).

– The Eighth Doctor once again steals from hospital staff– this time, a costume/fancy dress rather than someone’s actual clothes in Doctor Who (1996).

– The War Doctor doesn’t change clothes but does symbolically take up Cass’s bandolier to fight in the Time War in “The Night of the Doctor” (2013).

– The Tenth Doctor spends a portion of a montage rummaging through his closet before finding his signature pinstripe suit and long coat in “The Christmas Invasion” (2005 Christmas Special).

– The Eleventh Doctor once again steals from hospital staff, rummaging for just the right tie-in “The Eleventh Hour” (Series 5, Episode 1).

– The Twelfth Doctor debuts his chosen new look when he returns for Clara at the end of his first episode in “Deep Breath” (Series 8, Episode 1), though it is notable that his costume does not stay consistent during his tenure, deviating from is original look far more than previous Doctors (3, 10).


With these eleven Doctors in mind, it is clear that such a scene is a staple of Regeneration. The only reason the Thirteenth Doctor is in a shop dressing room is because the TARDIS is MIA.


There is also symbolism in the 13th Doctor’s choices
– Her striped shirt contains colors that call back to Tom Baker’s iconic scarf.
– She wears a long beige coat reminiscent of the one worn by David
– Her pants/trousers are cropped short and paired with boots, though they are wide legged to Matt Smith’s costume.
– Her suspenders/braces are in an unusually bright color, but have been part of the costumes of numerous Doctors including Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, and Matt Smith.
– Finally, her shirt, pants/trousers, socks, and even some of her coat is BLUE! Blue like the TARDIS (though not all the same shade).


5. Episode Ending + Next Week Trailer
I was actually a little unsatisfied with this ending until I realized how similar it is to Old Who. In its original run, Doctor Who would frequently experience major TARDIS malfunctions as the Eleventh Doctor explains, “Ooh, I once spent a hell of a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport” (Series 7, Episode 11, “The Crimson Horror”), referencing adventures with the Fifth Doctor and companion Teagan. Even in its first ever serial, “An Unearthly Child” (Season 1, Serial 1), Doctor Who makes it clear that the Doctor does not always know how to work the TARDIS. That they do not consistently find themselves lost is a new Who concept, so I’m actually rather excited to see what Chibnall, building on the last ten series/13 years does with it. The trailer for tomorrow’s episode makes it clear that getting the new companions home is going to be the Doctor’s main priority.


Chris Chibnall’s background (unsurprisingly) has a big impact on the new series. It’s well known that he was a huge fan of the original series, but expresses that in a way that is different from Russell T. Davies or Steven Moffat.

Davies’s Who was about bringing back a beloved classic, so in many ways, a lot of the episodes were love letters to the old series. However, Davies also made the show accessible for a modern audience, increasing the pacing and adding dramatic elements, such as ongoing plot lines, the Time War and the Last of the Time Lords. He also introduced the companions’ families into the mix. All of Davies’ series contain mothers (Series 1&2: Jackie Tyler, Series 3: Francine Jones, Series 4: Sylvia Noble, Specials: The Woman) worrying over their children and their adventures with the Doctor.

Moffat’s goal was to take it a step further, evoking the joy and excitement he felt when watching the original series, while also examining relationships more closely. With Moffat, we see the Doctor fall in love (Madame de Pompadour, River Song), we are given monsters that scare a modern audience (Weeping Angels, Vashta Nerada, The Silence, The Monks). We also get to see more of the companions’ lives outside the TARDIS. He evokes the childish fantasy of going off in the TARDIS for adventures where the Doctor always wins, then being home before anyone notices an absence. His Doctor Who is, in many ways, about wish fulfillment.

From the first episode, it looks like Chibnall is taking the modern elements established by his predecessors, such as family ties, but brings in his own spin. Chibnall’s filmography includes showrunner or writing for not only Doctor Who and Torchwood, but also BroadchurchLaw & Order: UK, and Life on Mars. All three of these programs are crime dramas that don’t hold back on the grittiness or the death– something notable in Torchwood as well. These elements are all present in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”, not just in the plot or the characters (companion Yasmin Khan is a Police Constable), but in the tone, colors, and lighting. The setting even steps away from the wide socioeconomic range of London, the peacefulness of Leadworth, and the austerity of a University, instead choosing Sheffield which has a much more industrial history, so he doesn’t evoke the poverty that is part of London (like Davies), but instead the gritty, hardworking connotations– which as we see when the Thirteenth Doctor builds a Sonic Screwdriver, could very likely be a trait she shares.


So, what can we expect from Chibnall’s new Doctor Who? With the filmography he has, it would be easy to say that procedural drama will spill over, but when you look at the episodes he’s written for Doctor Who it demonstrates something different. Chibnall’s episodes, such as “42” (Series 3, Episode 7), “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood” (Series 5, Episodes 8-9), “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” (Series 7, Episode 2), and “The Power of Three” (Series 7, Episode 4) often depict industrial sites/jobs, family members, and/or connections to the world outside the companion’s purview. This is not all that removed from any other Doctor Who episode or serial. My expectation is that Chibnall will continue to evoke the similar tones we saw in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”, harkening back to Davies-era and even Old Who, and I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what he comes up with!

Why I hate Danny Pink

In honor of the new, first female Doctor, and the first new episode of Doctor Who since Christmas, I decided to revisit previous Doctors and their adventures. Naturally, I started by thinking about which episodes I felt I needed to watch of most recent Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and remembered… Danny. Pink.

SPOILERS AHEAD: Doctor Who Seasons 7.5-10


It’s taken me more than a couple years to be able to admit this out loud, but…

I hate Danny Pink.

Sooooo much.

For those of you who don’t know, Danny Pink (played by Samuel Anderson) serves as the love interest for Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) in the 8th Season (Series 8) of Doctor Who. Now, there are already many different opinions on Season 8. I firmly believe that there should have been one more season with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, paired with Coleman, then you get two of Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). Although Clara had chemistry with both Eleven and Twelve, I think it’s safe to say that she really clicked with Eleven.

Yes, there was flirting between Eleven and Clara, but there was also a deep understanding and friendship there as well. The chemistry between Smith and Coleman is undeniable and she is able to keep up with his manic portrayal. Between Seasons 8 and 9, there were episodes that showed chemistry between Coleman and Capaldi as well, but of a very different kind. Here, the friendship was much closer to that of Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, and Companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), one without any flirtation, just best friends and platonic soul mates. This was a great chemistry, but former Doctor Who show-runner, Steven Moffat, just seems to get completely bogged down by the romance element.

Following youthful Eleven’s Regeneration into the much older Twelve, there is a definite shift in the dynamic between Clara and the Doctor. No longer is there that flirty element, but instead the new incarnation of the Doctor demonstrates jealousy and a lack of understanding and social graces.

Now, had Danny Pink had the same joie de vivre that Eleven seemed to possess, perhaps I wouldn’t be so bothered, but Danny Pink is cynical, bogged down by his time spent as a soldier. Clara is inquisitive and adventurous by nature. She loves to explore new times and places. Danny Pink is a sourpuss. Previous possible love interests of female companions (ie Mickey, Rory) eventually joined the adventures with the Doctor, becoming just as enraptured  with time and space as their female love interests (Rose, Amy) or at the very least, supported them. Danny Pink is not supportive.

At the end of Season 8, Danny Pink is hit by a car and dies. It occurs off screen, but as far as we know this is just a random though unfortunate Earthly occurrence. His death effects Clara for the remainder of her time as companion and ultimately leads to her death, as she becomes increasingly impulsive and reckless in the face of such a loss.






The chemistry between Coleman and Anderson is strained and lacking, so already it’s difficult to understand how they were together– especially considering how Danny Pink was never supportive and actively discouraged Clara traveling with the Doctor. But how did Clara love this guy THAT much? Like, I can understand his death having impact. Heck, if it was explained as survivor’s guilt, then that would be just fine. But, no. This is supposed to be heartbreak.

Moffat has an unfortunate habit of forcing a connection between the audience and a character. He introduces characters telling you they are important and that you should care about them, without letting that build organically. It happened with River Song (one of two characters inspired by The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger), and perhaps that is what is happening here.

For a long time, I tried to respect his choices; Moffat was show-runner. He’d done a lot of interesting and creative things for Doctor Who. But every time I think about Season 8, all I can think of is Danny Pink and how annoying he is. Then I think of Clara’s death and get even more annoyed because it was directly influenced by Danny Pink (she even says so!). People are iffy on Capaldi, but while those two seasons may not get the same recognition some of the others do, they aren’t bad. Capaldi is a callback to older, crotchety Doctors, such as First Doctor, William Hartnell. I actually really like him in the role and he has some really interesting stories, but Danny Pink. He just seems to loom like a shadow, tainting some of the stories with his sour attitude, discouraging remarks, and cynicism.

He is ants at a picnic.


With a new Doctor on the horizon– one that apparently will be free from romantic entanglements– we will be getting to know the Doctor all over again. A female Doctor is a bold choice, as is having three companions right off the bat (two male, one female). The show is going through a major change with not only a new Doctor, but a new show-runner (Chris Chibnall, Doctor WhoTorchwood), AND a new composer.


Let’s hope there isn’t another Danny Pink anytime soon.


Doctor Who returns tomorrow, Sunday, October 7, 2018 and is expected to air at the same time as the BBC One broadcast in the UK. In that case, watch it on BBC America at 1:45 pm EST, with a repeat broadcast later in the evening.