DWM 474 The Votes are In!

Our Who-watch has reached Underworld. The Doctor Who Magazine poll results are still being compiled as I write, but a reliable source tells me that Underworld will be in the bottom five. Sadly this comes as no surprise. The one positive thing about watching Underworld is that it’s so unmemorable that at least I get a few surprises every time I watch it, unlike those more favoured stories that I practically know by heart, although some of the surprises are along the lines of ‘surely it can’t be as bad as I remember it being’ only to find out that it, in fact, is.

When I was asked to make this column relate to the DWM poll, it seemed easy. All I had to do was find out what marks the rest of my family would award to various Who stories and try to make some amusing observations regarding this. But instead the process revealed how differently we look at things.

Fan Twin’s observations were almost totally polarised – really like or really not like. Anything that featured the word ‘Daleks’ in its title went in the first column. Historicals, without exception, went in the second column. There were some surprises though – he doesn’t like The Green Death or The Ark in Space, but the frankly uninspiring Colony in Space is entered under ‘really like’. The Rescue – a story I adore – is, it seems, not liked by Fan Twin, but the worse news was that husband revealed he’d only give it four out of ten. Four out of ten! And yet I married this man? I did have my suspicions recently when his reaction to the newly discovered Web of Fear didn’t match mine (definitely up in the high nines for me, only six out of ten for him). That stifling atmosphere of rising terror and claustrophobia and suspicion was, in his eyes, a bit dull. Eeek!

As I understand it, the marriage of Jack Spratt and his wife was extremely successful because they liked different things (in our family this means I get to eat all the nut ones in a box of chocolates), but it doesn’t work in the case of non-consumables and is no help at all with watching Doctor Who stories unless it’s about sharing out the DVDs after a divorce – which is irrelevant as (a) we plan to love each other for ever and (b) they all technically belong to him anyway, apart from, I think, an early edition of The Five Doctors. But how can I get over the discovery that he would give only five out of ten to The Awakening and seven out of ten to Survial?

Thinking I knew a place where our opinions would definitely coincide, I asked what mark he’d award Love & Monsters. Nine out of ten, he said. Nine out of ten? Nine out of ten?! NINE out of ten?!!! I queried in the manner of the Sixth Doctor, knowing this to be a story that he has raved about on many, many occasions. ‘Well, only City of Death can have a ten,’ he told me.

Interesting. I had been liberally sprinkling ten out of tens all over the place. But I hadn’t given any one out of tens, even to Underworld, while he had no compunction about awarding it the lowest mark possible. For me, Underworld is badly made and extremely dull, but it’s not actually offensive. For him, badly made and extremely dull is offensive.

I have – I may have mentioned this before – an obsession with certain Hartnell stories that probably borders on the worrying. To my horror, husband awarded Mission to the Unknown a five, while The Daleks’ Master Plan and The Ark only fared a tiny bit better with six! How could that be? Except… although I could write pages on how brilliant those stories are, I also have to admit that they can be, in places, a tiny bit rubbish. So can I really give ten out of ten to both City of Death (perfection) and The Ark (silly monsters who plan genocide but whose actual worst acts are to smash a vase menacingly and keep their prisoners in a Security Kitchen)? What is needed is the system advocated by friends of mine called Favourite and Best, where one can distinguish between things that are both perfect and adored or merely adored. The Ark may be my favourite, but sadly I have to conclude it isn’t the best.

What did we learn from this experience? Children tend to have polarised opinions, husband and I disagree about some stories, but then I know we generally more or less agree about most of them and where we don’t it gives us something to talk about, so… um. Probably the most surprising thing I learned was how much Non-Fan Twin, being Not A Fan and all, loves The Pandorica Opens. At the end of the day, differing opinions aside, all that matters is that husband and twins are, as Lola of Charlie and Lola would have it, both my favourite and my best.