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All the doctors ranked from worse to best - The Best

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Finally, my favourite doctors, some were a surprise to me, some are expected.

The good

I never thought he would be in my top five. The doctor working with the military should not be a doctor I like. But he is just so nice. Not fake polite nice, like Five, but genuinely kind. This doctor, same as his stories, are comfort food television, and just like everyone else in the last two months, I needed that.
Best story: It's not considered a good story, but I really liked the Green Death ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The only NewWho doctor in the "good" category. His character is heavily based on the second doctor, which explains why I like him. He also has the alieness, sometimes reacts as detached as a 900+ year alien would to moral dilemmas which would bother a human, while still being inherently kind. While his stories lost in quality in later seasons, his persona stayed consistent. It also helped that I really like Amy and Rory as companions and Clara was less annoying paired with him than Twelve.
Best story: The Girl Who Waited (It is such a stand out that I don't want to name any others)

The doctor people either love or hate. He is rude, full of unearned confidence and pompous. All of this makes him extremely entertaining to watch, I even enjoy his many bad episodes. I'm probably one of the few people in the world who liked The Twin Dilemma. Maybe I'm over-analyzing, but I always feel like there is a very kind person under all the rudeness and a scared person who dares himself to be brave under the pompousness. The delivery of "Is Perry dead?" in Trial of a Time Lord broke my heart a little.
Best story: Vengeance on Varos

Best story: So many, Ark in Space to Genesis of the Daleks, most of season 13, Face of Evil, City of Death and I really liked the Pirate Planet, because of crazy Douglas Adams energy.
He is the archetype. As he said himself in his regeneration story, he is the doctor, with the definite article. He is enthusiastic, erratic, but smart and with a plan, alien and kind. His stories are some of the best stories in Who and if anyone wants to dip a toe into classic Who, he is the one I would start with. As much as I like Three, his show often feels like a different show, with his earth bound UNIT stories and One and Two often have very 60s TV pacing, which modern viewers might find glacial. Having said that, the best doctor, without a doubt is:

The moment I heard him described as the "space hobo" I knew I would love him. I was right. He really is the ultimate traveller, bumming around the galaxy with his friends, never really sure where he will end up, with his pockets full of knickknacks he randomly picked up. He is also the only doctor who is not an authority. The Time Lords are not turning towards him for help, they ignore him, because he isn't important and once he brings attention to himself, they harshly punish him for breaking their laws. In all other incarnations, he is much more powerful, this doctor really is the scrappy underdog, relying on his wits to safe the day. He also has the best companion ever, with Jamie.
Best story: The Power of the Daleks, The Macra Terror, The Enemy of the World, The Mind Robber and The War Games for the ending.

All the doctors ranked from worse to best - The Middle

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This is short, mostly because the doctors on here are those I do not have much to say about. They are all OK doctors, I just don't relate to them.

Lower middle

I first had him on the worst list, but he does not irritate me, he is just kind of bland. His regeneration story saves him, he knows for all the four episodes he is dying. saves his companion instead of himself and DOES NOT WHINE ABOUT IT, TEN!
Best story: The Caves of Androzani

The movie is just so bad. He is mostly confused about who he is or involved in an action scene. The badly written romance, which wouldn't even have worked had both characters been human does not help. In the few moments he is allowed to be the doctor (including Night of the Doctor) he is good and more interesting than Five (easy as this is).
No best story, just a bad movie and a television short

Upper middle

He just never clicked with me. He has a really good arc over the course of his series and is probably the most rounded characterised doctors, so he is here purely out of personal preference.
Best story: The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances

Is sooo much lower on this list then expected. The chess master with elaborate plans and kind of immoral seems like the kind of doctor I would like. I think it was because he had on one hand this adorable father - daughter relationship with Ace and on the other would sometimes actively lie to her for no reason other than plot. Maybe that would have been addressed in future stories.
Best story: Ghost Light or The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

I don't have that much to say about her. I like her, I like that she is kind, but also detached and seems to have different priorities a human would have.
Best story: Demons of the Punjab, (because it highlights everything, which is different with the new doctor and show runner), It takes you away (because it is so inventive)

All the doctors ranked from worse to best - The Worst

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So, despite the fact that I actually had to go to work as usual and had 10000000 other projects to work on, I decided that this is the time to finally watch classic Doctor Who. Not all episodes, just recommended ones from each season. And then I wrote blog posts about it. #priorities

Here are all the 13 doctors ranked starting with the worst:

The worst
These are the ones I actually dislike. Please read the explanations before you murder me.

Best story: An Unearthly Child (first episode). It's the first episode ever.
Ok, I actually do not dislike him, unlike the others in the "worst" category, who actively irritate me. The problem is his era. Most of his episodes are bad quality, have missing parts and are really slow paced, compared to modern television. He also gets sidelined a lot and the companions are driving the plot more than he is. I already watched his episodes some time ago and did not go back to him when I decided to have a proper go at classic Who this time. So if anyone thinks I´m being unfair to the first doctor, this is probably true unlike...

I can already hear all of tumblr screaming at me. He was the first doctor I watched and I loved him. And then his last "season" happened and I just could not stand the endless whining anymore and was actively looking forward to his death/regeneration. After getting to know the other doctors he went further and further down the list, as I find he is missing the alieness the other doctors have. But mostly the whining.
Best story: I admit he has a lot of good ones. The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Midnight

Just like with ten, it was one season, which made him drop down the list. The season with the sunglasses and electric guitar. I just don't enjoy seeing someone have a midlife crisis. His dynamic with Clara made me want to punch both of them in the face most of the time. I don't have a problem with the doctor being rude (Six is very high on this list), but the way Moffat writes his "asshole genius" characters just does not vibe with me.
Best Story: Heaven Sent (probably my favourite NewWho story)

First of May speech (kinda)

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This is the speech I wrote for 1st of May, but then didn't give it.

I always was the good foreigner, the one to show off, the example for good integration. I have the right skin colour. I come from a desirable country. Nationality matters. It appears to matter more than any other aspect of me, as it is usually the first question to be asked, sometimes even before my name. It is vital for judgement and to place me into the grand hierarchy of foreigners in this country. I'm high up in this hirarchy. I'm young(ish), educated and usually employed. Also, as Icelandic people like to tell me "Ég tala góða Íslensku". It is one of the many ways random Icelandic people like to let me know that my existence in this country has their approval.

Icelanders like to let me know how and why they approve of me. In conversations with more openly racist foreigners the adventitious nature of my skin colour, nationality and "culture" are commented on. If the Icelander is a self proclaimed liberal it's all about being "dugleg", next to my language skills.
Because if there is one defining trait of being a good foreigner it's being duglegur. Dugleg í vinnu, dugleg að tala íslensku, dugleg að blanda í samfélag, dugleg, dugleg, dugleg. A good foreigner works hard. A good foreigner speaks Icelandic. A good foreigner blends in. A good foreigner does not complain. Always. A good foreigner works tirelessly for the approval of any and every Icelander and is grateful when it is granted. "Þú tala góða íslensku". "Hún Christina er mjög dugleg".

I know I'm breaking protocol here. First and foremost a foreigner's function is to like Iceland and Icelanders, to soothe the nagging suspicion that "bezt í heimi" is just collective performative nationalism in the face of a crippling inferiority complex. After all, "How do you like Iceland?" is not more than fishing for compliments.

Being a good foreigner means confirming Icelands and Icelanders superiority, and because of that it is chasing an ever moving goalpost. With equality superiority is lost. First it's about working hard and learning the language. Then it is about not rocking the boat and staying pleasant when faced with underlying racism and structural inequalities. The promise of integration a mirage in the distance with acceptance just around the corner.

Individualism has taught us, that if we only work hard enough we can reach even the farthest goal. It is the grift of the capitalist society, which the lone foreigner is especially susceptible to. Sociocultural differences being used to justify socioeconomic ones. It is implicitly understood that we do not only have to compete with each other for our place in society, but even to have one at all. There are only so many token foreigners even the most liberal society needs after all.

The solution for sociocultural marginalisation is the same as for the socioeconomic one: organise, organise, organise. If you organise you do not have to work harder than everybody else to have a fraction of the rights and acceptance, you can demand it. Just look at the famous slogan: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!" We need a slogan like this for us foreigners. Then we can change our answer to "Þú ert dugleg að tala íslensku." from "takk" to "why do you think I would give a fuck about your approval?"

Posted on - Categories: Iceland

I spent the last month listening to every REM studio album in chronological order - Fables of the Reconstruction

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So, I spent the whole last post in this series (Reckoning) talking about how the record is so much more upbeat and when I read some old reviews of that album and they kept talking about how it deals with darker topics than Murmur. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

To keep consistent in quality during these posts, I now want to start by honouring an important feature of early the early IRS years from REM, which disappeared with this album:

Micheal Stipes amazing hair.

Everyone who only knows REM from the 90s is completely confused now, but he used to have amazing hair, which can only be described as long flowing locks of auburn. They all had a miserable time making this album and Stipe reacted by cutting his hair off and colouring it blonde. By the next album he had coloured it pinkish red and then slowly went back to his natural colour, he grew it long again for a hot minute and when the 90's came around cut it off and then shaved it off, because he was going bald. RIP beautiful hair, you are remembered at least by me.

But lets talk about the album!

Fables of the Reconstruction
The reviews, I smartly decided to read beforehand this time, tell me this is a concept album, about the idea of the American South. To me, it is the most interesting of the IRS records, it is the weirdest and has a lot of experiments sound wise. It starts with the electric guitar riffs of Feeling Gravity's pull, moves on to the more faster paced folky single Driver 8 and ends with the melodic off-beat Wendell Gee. It has a string arrangement in Feeling Gravity's pull, a harmonica in Driver 8, a brass section in Can't get there from here (which I did not even notice at first, it is fits so well into the song) and a beautiful banjo part in Wendell Gee.

Beautiful is a good descriptor for this album, it is full of beautiful melodies (Maps and Legends, Green Grow the Rushes and the aforementioned Wendell Gee), I have a hard time concentrating and writing something coherent, because I keep stopping just to close my eyes and soak in the music. This album is often listed as a favourite by fans of the IRS era, me included (REM members usually list Murmur). It combines all the best things from Murmur and Reckoning, while experimenting with the sounds from these albums. The lyrics tell stories, strange dreamlike stories, but understandable enough for critics to determine a theme and this is the album where they started to mix the vocals into the foreground (something the producer, Joe Boyd convinced Stipe to do).
REM almost split during the making of the album, they had a miserable time, being stuck in rainy England, burned out from touring and frustrated with their record company (IRS), while their record company was frustrated with them for refusing to be less weird. Maybe beautiful art does require the artist to suffer, I'm glad they stuck to their guns considering being weird.

Shout outs:

  • Feeling Gravity's pull is one one of my favourite songs, not just one of my favourite REM songs, but simply one of my favourite songs. I love Buck's sharp electric lead guitar, a departure from his usual melodic guitar style. I love the break, where the song dissolves from the sharp electric sound into Stipe and Mills harmonizing. I love how the short string arrangement increases the drama of the song.

  • Green Grow the Rushes is the most beautiful REM song. I actually went to find the different versions (original album version, remastered and demo version) and played around with levels to try and here the different parts. It is basically 3 or 4 different melodies (bass, guitar, 2 vocals), harmonizing or running counterpoint to each other. It is also the first explicitly political lyrics from Stipe (about migrant labour), something that will become more frequent and reach critical mass with Green.

  • Peter Buck did not like Wendell Gee he only agreed for it to be on the album after they added the banjo part and is probably the reason why they seldom play it live. Why? No idea. It doesn't only have Mills' backing vocals, but also Berry harmonizing in the background. Berry does not get enough credit, most of the time people only comment on his drumming, but he is also a really good songwriter (Perfect Circle, Everybody Hurts, Leave) and a good singer. Every time Stipe, Mills and him harmonize, magic happens.

  • Closing thoughts: Is it an album every music collection needs? Yes, because then you can tell people that this is your favourite REM album and that they went downhill after, which is the music snob thing to do. Otherwise, yes, if you are interested in early REM and like beautiful music. You can also watch the Rockpalast concert from 2nd October 1985 (it's on youtube) for the IRS years experience (they were so young). This album and Lifes Rich Pageant are my favourite from the IRS years. Lifes Rich Pageant is up next and with it we can start playing the game: is this the album REM sold-out with?

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