Saturday, February 12, 2011

Podcast Review - Traveling the Vortex

I review a lot of things here.  I've reviewed TV shows and movies on this blog.  My current project involves blog posts from my Young Adult Library Services class on different YA books I've been reading.  Shoot, I've been known to review food a bit - not to mention the endless sports analysis (all you non-football people out there can breathe easily now that the Super Bowl is over).  Yet, I have never reviewed a podcast. However, I think I've found one that merits a post.

I may talk about Doctor Who quite a bit, but in reality I've only been watching since last June (I'm just a baby Whovian compared to so many others).  Nevertheless, I've devoured the new series (three times!), got going on some of Classic Who, bought t-shirts and DVD boxed sets, created fanvids and even dressed up as the 10th Doctor for Halloween.  I've listened to the audiobooks and I have a TARDIS screensaver and I've made Doctor Who-themed crafty-things.  But something was missing in my fandom experience.

Back when I was heavy into Harry Potter fandom, I would listen to The Leaky Cauldron's PotterCast and I quite liked their format and style - news, discussion, interviews with people involved with the franchise, etc.  I think because I'd been a Potter fan since nearly the beginning, I felt like I was up on the jokes and meaningful exchanges between the hosts - like I was part of the club.  However, when I began my search for a Doctor Who podcast, I realized I was "behind" on 40+ years of material, so I felt like I was at a real disadvantage to lifelong fans (never mind the fact that I was born in the '80s in the United States and had no way of being introduced to Doctor Who until the advent of the internet). Even so, my search for Doctor Who podcasts began.

Let me tell you, it was overwhelming - I finally decided on about four podcasts to take up iPod space.  The main one was Radio Free Skaro, with it's PotterCast-esque news-and-information commentary take on Doctor Who (and the Miniscope segments are great for me to get a feel for directors and writers and other creative talent from the show).  The next two were The Two-Minute Time Lord and The Minute Doctor Who Podcast, which I like for their brevity and getting-right-to-the-point-ive-ness.  The last was The Ood Cast, which I enjoy for it's creative flair and humor (lucky they're tackling various aspects of the new series right now, or I'd be totally lost).

While I love and appreciate all of these podcasts, there's one thing I noticed - they are produced for and by members of "The Good Old Boys Club" of Doctor Who.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing - do you want a podcast where the hosts have little or no knowledge of their topic?  But I felt that my voice was not being heard -  the new fan whose first episodes featured the likes of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith and who had a desire to join in the club, but wasn't sure how to do it.  I found this kind of disheartening, especially where the new series has reached people (like me) who otherwise would not have watched Doctor Who at all.  Surely, there had to be other "newbies" like me, right?

Enter Traveling the Vortex - basically, two guys (Glenn and Shaun) who have been DW fans for years introducing their friend, Keith (a DW newbie), to the show.  The podcast is still relatively new, but I love the concept of following the experiences of someone watching Doctor Who for the first time (see also - Mark Watches Doctor Who.  Just in case anyone's interested).  This podcast is a concerted effort to include the "Not We" that Chip of Two-Minute Time Lord often refers to (well, the "Not We" that would go looking for a DW podcast, anyway).  I can't tell you how many times a DW podcaster has cracked a joke hearkening back to the Patrick Troughton or Sylvester McCoy era and I'm left with a blank "I don't get it" look on my face (hey, I'm getting there - be patient with me).  Looking back, I could have done with someone like Shaun or Glenn while I was watching Doctor Who for the first time (even though I did have online friends to squee with - not quite the same as having someone in real life to watch it with, though).

Another reason to like TtV - I mentioned earlier that I've watched some Classic Who here and there.  But there is so stinking much that it can be overwhelming.  Especially where I am of a mindset that I need to watch every single episode of what came before - doesn't matter what it is - if it's Doctor Who or Torchwood or 24 or CSI or The Big Bang Theory, I have to know what's come up before now (it's quite a commitment for me to watch anything).  So, I also decided to use Traveling the Vortex to keep up with Classic Who - when they review classic episodes, I'll watch them on Netflix before I listen to TtV's review.  I'll probably watch some on my own (sort of the way I watched "Genesis of the Daleks" because it came highly recommended, but then I went on to watch "Revenge of the Cybermen" and "Terror of the Zygons" after that), but it's nice to have someone give you a point to start from that isn't the very, very beginning.

Also (and this might be a little odd, but bear with me here) - TtV is based in Kansas.  In fact, their website banner proclaims the hosts as being "two Midwest United States fans, and one person being introduced to the Doctor for the first time." Maybe it's just a result of living in that mystical "flyover land" in the US (I'm from Utah rather than Kansas, but sometimes we all get lumped in together by the media), but I feel a bit of a kinship with these guys.

In conclusion, there are many, many Doctor Who podcasts out there (trust me, I've looked), but none that brings a new fan's voice to the table.  Traveling the Vortex is a great podcast for helping us newbies along and letting us know that we too have a place at the table of Doctor Who fandom.

(Note to Keith - the best advice to enjoying Doctor Who I got was this: Value consistency over continuity and you'll sleep better at night)

PS - I know it sounds like I'm dumping on the fans who've been around for a long time, but I'm not.  Honestly, where would we new kids be without you all keeping the fandom afloat all those years before the new series?  (I'd probably be watching Wizards of Waverly Place with my little sister - fun times).

1 comment:

  1. Chrissy,

    Thank you so much for the kind words! It means a lot to know that something we do for fun and yet treat very seriously is enjoyed by someone like yourself! When Glenn pitched the concept to me, I was totally in, because I feel there should be some better kinship between the old and new series (well, honestly I was in the moment he said "I want to do a Doctor Who Podcast", but what can I say, I'm easy! lol) I'm very much like you in the continuity department, I have to see ALL of something, but in many ways, the expansiveness of the Whoniverse is so vast, I constantly find myself finding new things, weather an episode I missed, or the audio adventures (working on listening to Paul McGann right now actually!) Thanks for the kind words and for listening, I hope we continue to inspire!

    Shaun Collins,
    Traveling The Vortex