You never really see it coming. Everything seems fine, you're going along thinking it will last forever and then suddenly...it's over. Perhaps things weren't quite what they had been. I grew complacent. I stopped paying close attention, while you suddenly stopped splurging on the good effects and the better directors (not that I'd have known a David Maloney from a George Spenton-Foster at the time). The shine had simply gone off (or perhaps the bright lights had just come up)...
The Invasion of Time came right before the breakup. I remember it fondly. We were going home to meet your family. A stuffy lot they were. Smug, arrogant, insular. Were they in for a shock when the barriers started to come down. You'd think they'd never seen tin foil before! It was two and a half hours of fighting and bickering. Suspicion and intrigue. Banishment to the backyard with the crazy cousins. And then the big farewell. Hell, more like an abrupt WTF by-your-leave.
The harbinger of most failed relationships is when they exist inside a bubble. Outside of bribing my sister to sit on the couch with me, no one I knew was watching; no one ever mentioned Doctor Who. Truth be told, I felt a little embarrassed for my commitment. This was the golden age of Return of the Jedi, and The Wrath of Khan or on television: Knight Rider and The A-Team. To be fair we were kinda stuck in the past: 1974 to 1976 to be specific. We had the cultural divide to be sure. Mixed marriages never work is the old adage. But that was the very appeal behind my fascination. Too bad my parents weren't on board. They never could see your charms. "Crazy googled-eyes," my father called you. "Doctor Who-who-who," my mother intoned like an owl.
And when The Invasion of Time ended I tuned in the next week as always, cause that's what I did. Stupid me, I thought we were moving to the next step. And then it was back to Robot. At first it was nice to relive "the way we were". But I was antsy, I wanted to advance to the next phase. Oh the disappointment. Then the disenchantment set in. We had a couple of halfhearted make-ups. And then suddenly one Sunday evening...you just weren't there . A couple of months later we did The Android Invasion on a Sunday afternoon. We chatted. But it was the same old same old. I didn't even recognize you anymore: same face but different somehow. I started seeing someone else. V was much more exciting. Oh the drama. V was so deep with it socio-political undercurrents. And it was nice to be with someone that everyone was talking about. Lizards eating mice! I felt special.
It's strange to look back after all these years together: 28 more or less in total. I've got you under my skin. We've had our ups and downs. Another break up in 1991 - thought that one was permanent. I still regret throwing all your books in the dumpster, I should of at least gotten a couple of bucks for them. But when a mutual friend brought us back together it was like magic. That's when I started writing you all those enlightening love letters.
[The Invasion of Time is such a watchable story, full of incident and great moments. Sure the production values are shite and the last two episodes are a complete runaround, but they're entertaining if not particularly sharply drawn. The buildup to the Vardan's arrival is quite effective and ominous, to bad about the ultimate materialization of the actual Vardans. It's also curious to watch the throwaway scenes of nameless Time Lords' chatting. Whereas comparable scenes in The Deadly Assassin are full of wit and satire, here they're purposeless bits of techno-babble, as if someone observed that the scenes were expected, but had no concept of what made them great. It's also fascinating to observe that absolutely nobody is in charge. There is a massive vacuum of power on Gallifrey and one gets the sense that Borusa is content to wile away his time in his study, making course corrections only when they're necessary. Such a shame that he even bothered to take on the mantle of Lord President later on--it would have been a great experiment to see what would have happened next!]
This week an old friend died. Seems like we've lost quite a few over the past years. He was particularly special, being present at the beginning of all this. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was a rock throughout a good chunk of Doctor Who; a steady presence offering a foil to much of the madness. Whether he was cool and steely in The Invasion and Spearhead from Space, or broad and pompous in The Three Doctors and Robot, he was a welcome addition to time and space. Rest soundly old soldier, you will be greatly missed.
Sarah Jane Smith: It's started Brigadier.
The Brigadier: Here we go again.
Dedicated to Nicholas Courtney (1929 - 2011)
Original viewing date: February 11, 1984
Wine: 120, a Sauvignon Blanc, honouring 120 patriots who helped lead Chile to independence. I'll admit that's what we had in the house. After mixing some inadvisable alcoholic choices at Saturday night's retro 80s dance party, I merely sipped from this forgettable wine.
Music: 99 Luftballoons by Nena.