The WHO 37 FAQ by JB Anderton

WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY WITH DOCTOR WHO?

I discovered Doctor Who in 1984. I was a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy since its first theatrical run, and I had also started watching reruns of Star Trek (The Original Series) at the time I started watching Who. There were two PBS stations in my area that had broadcast the show. WSIU in Carbondale, IL was broadcasting the first season of Peter Davison in episodic format Monday through Friday, while KETC in St. Louis, MO was broadcasting the last season of Tom Baker in the Omnibus format late Sunday evenings. About a month into watching the show I was very entertained and impressed with the story “Earthshock”, and I often cite that story as the one that made me a fan of the program.

WHAT IS THIS PODCAST ALL ABOUT?

Often critical but always reverent, the podcast format is as varied as the series itself, featuring panel discussions, interviews, reviews of the televised episodes and audio adventures, comedy sketches, original music, episode commentaries, and lots of personal stories.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

I launched the podcast in early 2013, the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who. I am an introvert by nature and tend to shy away from large fan gatherings. The podcast is my way of participating in fandom.

At Chicago TARDIS 2012 I attended a podcast panel featuring three of the biggest names in Doctor Who podcasting - Steven Schpansky from “Radio Free Skaro”, Chip Suduth from “Two-Minute Time Lord” (later to co-host “This Week in Time Travel”), and Lynne Thomas who was about to co-launch the “Verity!” podcast. They encouraged the attendees to start their own podcasts and explained in great detail what you needed to get started. As I already had recording equipment and a space to record, all I needed was to open a Libsyn account to begin my journey.

WHY IS THE PODCAST CALLED “WHO 37”?

Back when I lived in downstate Illinois and owned my first car, I applied for vanity plates. I wanted to have “WHO 1” which is the plate of Jon Pertwee’s car, “Bessie”. Thirty-six other residents of the State of Illinois must have had the same idea, because I ended up with WHO 37.

When I finally bought my first new car in 2004, I didn’t bother to transfer the plate because it was cheaper to get new plates, so my rear plate marked “WHO 37” became a wall decoration. When I converted a coat closet to a home recording studio, I hung the plate inside the closet and christened the space the WHO 37 Studio.

In 2005 I turned 37 years old. Two significant events happened that year. In March the new series of Doctor Who was launched on BBC1; it would be a year later when it debut in the United States on the Sci-Fi channel. In August I moved to Chicago to live with my girlfriend, a life-long Chicago resident.

Recently I noted that the plate still had a vehicle sticker with the expiration date of September 2004, which is when my mom died. I was astonished that I had not noted this until a decade after the fact. So the license plate represents a series of major turning points in my life.

I am also a fan of Kevin Smith, and of course 37 was a significant number in his movie “Clerks”. A year before I started the podcast, I discovered and subscribed to Smith’s “Fatman on Batman” podcast and soon after subscribed to his other shows on the Smodcast network. He is a natural born storyteller who can make you laugh your guts out and cry your eyes out - often seconds apart. We’re roughly the same age, we’ve both struggled with body weight most of our lives, and we’re both fans from childhood of Batman and Star Wars, so in many ways he is my role model. He inspired me to sit behind the mic and share my own stories and my passion for my favorite geek franchises.

WHO WROTE/RECORDED YOUR THEME TUNE?

I co-wrote the opening theme music with Casey Blick (1970 - 2012). In the mid-1990’s Casey and I were the co-founders of “Yarn”, a St. Louis based pop/alternative band. The podcast theme started as an instrumental piece that Casey titled “Pioneer 10”. We played this piece at a few gigs but never recorded it. Several years later, I added a bridge and wrote lyrics about Doctor Who, and the song became “The Doctor (Not A Human Being)”, which I recorded for a unreleased project called “Sci-Fi Hi-Fi”. When it came time to chose a theme, I took out the piano and vocals, added guitar, and trimmed the recording to about 1 minute and 45 seconds.

I also arranged and recorded the occasionally used closing theme, which is officially titled “Sexy Doctor Who Theme” and unofficially titled “the porn version of the Doctor Who theme.”

In the first few years of the podcast, the bumper music played between segments were excerpts of a 12-minute Progressive Rock suite “The New Who Review” which is based on Murray Gold’s themes from the modern series. Some of my other homemade demos were also used as bumper music.

WHAT’S YOUR BEEF WITH STEVEN MOFFAT?

I’ll try to be brief in bullet points:

* While his stories under the script editing of Russel T. Davies were some of the best and most fondly remembered of the new series, I feel that he was not a strong show-runner/script-editor.

* He comes across in press interviews as very arrogant and smug.

* He is often labeled as a misogynist, and I believe that is accurate. His initial description of Karen Gillian at the time of her casting was “dumpy”. He often wrote Capaldi’s Doctor making fun of Clara’s body. He allowed Mark Gatiss to have Smith’s Doctor sexually assault a lesbian character. His creation of River Song is solely defined by her romantic relationship with the Doctor.

* He doesn’t believe that the Doctor should be a role model for children; rather it should be the companion. Note that Amy was going to cheat on Rory on the night before their wedding, and Clara lied to Danny about traveling with the Doctor and lied to the Doctor about how Danny was okay with it.

* He has no respect for many of the actors who played Doctors or companions in the classic series.

* He doesn’t follow through on plot threads that would really bring dimension to the characters (the Doctor inspiring young Danny Pink to become a soldier but never being confronted by that action).

* His time-travel plots are not fully developed or even well thought out (the Claradox, Amy & Rory being stuck in 1930’s New York). He creates paradoxes and just waves them away and saying “timey-wimey”, underestimating his audience’s intelligence and not treating them with respect.

* He has shamelessly retconned the entirety of the 54-year history of the program to fit his “vision”.

I could go on, but you can dive into the back catalog of podcast to hear more.

WHO IS THE MYSTERIOUS ST. XTOFER WHO SOMETIMES CO-HOSTS THE PODCAST?

You’ll have to ask him about his reasons for the anonymity, but St. Xtofer (or X for short) previously co-ran the Facebook page for the Dirty WHOers podcast (also an early inspiration for WHO 37), and he guested on a couple of their Series 8 review episodes. We struck up a friendship over Facebook and have met in person once (at Chicago TARDIS 2015). He brings to the podcast a renewed passion for Doctor Who, particularly the Big Finish audios and other spinoff media. To date he has made the most guest appearances (at 19), and I always enjoy our conversations on the podcast.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BEST/FAVORITE EPISODES OF WHO 37?

Again a short list in bullet point form:

008 - Timey Wimey Confidential - An audio documentary about a local Doctor Who stage production featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

022 - Suburban TARDIS 2013 - Featuring my only Doctor Who celebrity interview to date: classic sound designer Dick Mills. Also my first podcast panel with the folks from Verity and Reality Bomb.

046 - Walking On Eggshells - This, to me, is the turning point where Moffat Who took a sharp nosedive. After enjoying my initial viewing of “Kill The Moon”, I found that my opinion changed for the worse on second viewing. After that, I vowed to never be taken in again by glossy production values which distracts from the bad writing. This episode also features a chat with an old college friend at Archon, a St. Louis Sci-Fi convention.

052 - Suburban TARDIS 2014 - More podcast panel fun, plus in-the-lobby interviews with friends and fellow podcasters, including a rather uncomfortable one-on-one with Reality Bomb host Graeme Burk.

059 - ChiFail - my personal account of the failure that was ChiFi 2015. For a long time this was the most downloaded episode of the podcast.

072 - When The Levee Breaks - St. Xtofer’s first guest appearance where we talk at length about our problems with Moffat Who.

076 - Randomizer - Mostly featuring my first chat over Skype with Sean Homrig, co-host of The TARDIS Tavern (another of my favorite Doctor Who podcasts)

077 - (Not That) Star Wars Holiday Special - the first of my “cross-genre” episodes. Lauren Faits (who formerly wrote the blog Geek Girl Chicago) and I share our Star Wars memories and our hopes and expectations for the current trilogy.

083 - Fear Is Not A Super Power - Xtofer and I review a politically-charged Big Finish audio adventure on the eve of the ugliest presidential campaign in U.S. history.

086 - Eight Is Enough - I read and comment on a review of “The TV Movie” that I posted on Usenet (rec.arts.dr-who) a few days after its 1996 broadcast.

091 - We Built This City On The Edge Of Forever - Celebrating 50 years of Star Trek with political Doctor Who podcaster Daniel Harper (Oi! Spaceman Podcast).

093 - Trock Opera - I recorded and produced a Doctor Who rock opera.

101 - The Doctor’s Babes - To date the only time I’ve done a traditional review-of-an-old-episode podcast, but it’s with the hosts of the Babes Watch Buffy Podcast who bring a fresh and unique perspective on this well-regarded story.

107 - Yo Mama - The mother of all rants. X and I review the “Monk” three-parter and show it no mercy.

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