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October 19, 2011

My new favorite listener

Rob @ 8:31 AM

Rob T Firefly: light drinker
We get some fun email at Off the Hook, but one we got yesterday from an Australian listener called David totally made my day. I present the following excerpt, with David's permission:

As a side note, listening to the show while driving my 6 yo to school, and when he heard you introduce yourself he said "Rob T FIREFLY?! Imagine being called Rob T FIREFLY! I wish my name was Rob T Firefly!". So, some good outreach there :)

That young fellow is going to grow up to be the most awesome guy in Australia, mark my words.

October 2, 2011

Save Doctor Who Confidential

Rob @ 4:15 AM

BBC Three have announced the cancellation of Doctor Who Confidential, the series which takes viewers behind the scenes of my favorite show, Doctor Who. I've got a little something to say about that, which will probably be extremely dreary to any non-media-production geek and/or non-Doctor Who geek. You are warned, proceed at your own risk, etc.

I have always loved behind-the-scenes stuff. It was shows like Doctor Who Confidential that cemented my love for media production at a very young age. There wasn't much available to me in the area of Doctor Who of course, here in the USA (though we did get the PBS-produced behind-the-scenes special made during the production of the Doctor Who story Silver Nemesis) but I was transfixed by every other source which ventured behind the scenes of TV, film, and even radio. I watched eagerly as George Lucas and company set up models for Star Wars, and tried to replicate their work with my action figures. I gleefully absorbed the info on LeVar Burton's children's show Reading Rainbow when he brought his crew behind the scenes of his other gig at Star Trek: The Next Generation, and demonstrated model spacecraft made from disposable razors and transporter beams based on the swirling of glitter in a glass of water. My library card was worn thin from all the "making of" books I was constantly borrowing, including a well-worn copy of The Doctor Who Technical Manual (on which, I must admit, I was responsible for much of the wear.) I knew from very early on that media production was something wonderful and magical, and I wanted to be a part of it one day. Not just the dreams of being a "movie star" that most kids have; while being Luke Skywalker would have been cool, I knew it'd be just as awesome to be the guy that flew the model of Luke's spaceship past a special camera frame-by-frame.

I never outgrew that phase. Nowadays I'm still the same sort of nerdy adult who watches all the extras and listens to the commentaries on every DVD I own or borrow; even if the film turned out to be crap, seeing how they made it intrigues and excites me. And of course, I enjoy obsessively reading and contributing to things like the Doctor Who wiki.

While I'm certainly no movie star I did manage to grow up to be, among other things, an artist, writer, performer, and radio broadcaster. It's my privilege to regularly use my skills in a myriad of personal and professional projects with which I find myself involved. Whether my modest career someday grows larger and glitzier or stays right where it is, I'm proud of it and feel fortunate to have accomplished any of it. This all has direct roots in the movie-magic-geek I was able to become at a very early age, thanks to the behind-the-scenes stuff available to my young self.

Doctor Who is currently my favorite thing on television, as it was when I was young. Had there been something like Doctor Who Confidential available to me as a kid, it would definitely have been my second-favorite thing on television. If even a single kid watching Confidential today is inspired onto the creative path by seeing how their favorite show is made, it'd be worth it; in fact, we know this very thing has been happening as evidenced by Confidential's own recent feature Death is the Only Answer. How many kids have been inspired thusly by Confidential over the past six years? How many more might be if the show were allowed to continue?

Doctor Who Confidential would be sorely missed not just by ageing Who nerds like me, but by every other kid out there who might have been inspired to someday do the cool jobs the Doctor Who team get to do behind the scenes. I dearly hope the powers that be are compelled to reconsider cancelling Confidential.

Immediately after the cancellation announcement, fans sprang into action and a very focused "Save Doctor Who Confidential" campaign quickly popped into existence. (If there's one thing TV scifi fans can organize at the drop of a hat, it's a fan campaign.) If you're interested in joining in, you can find them at @SaveDWC on Twitter, where notables such as Russell Tovey, Neil Gaiman, and even Steven Moffat have followed, endorsed, and retweeted them; the hashtag to apply to your own tweets is #SaveDWCBBC. You can sign their online petition which garnered 14,000 signatures on its first day, and as of this writing boasts over 24,000. If Facebook is your thing, the SAVE Doctor Who Confidential community page is the place for your "like" clicks. They have also started an official blog. And of course, you can contact BBC Three by all the standard avenues of communication to voice your support for Doctor Who Confidential and urge them to reconsider its fate.