Friday, March 15, 2013

From the Silly to the Sublime - Podcast Review of Verity!

A few weeks before Gallifrey One (my life lately has been divided into Pre-Gally, Gally, and Post-Gally eras), there was chatter about a new podcast making the rounds.  This in itself is nothing new. In "Doctor Who" circles, podcasts multiply like rabbits. A search on iTunes for "Doctor Who podcast" will overwhelm you with the number of people wanting to broadcast their own discussions of Who.  Hell, if I knew any of the technical stuff of podcasting, I would probably do it too! (on second thought - after listening to my inane babbling on the Traveling the Vortex Gally updates, I'll stick to blogging).  However, it seemed like so many other podcasts and bloggers and even Twitter were talking about this particular podcast.  I'm speaking of Verity!

According to the tagline on the website, Verity! is "Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who" as well as the namesake of Verity Lambert, the first producer of Doctor Who (not the first female producer, the first producer. Period. End of Sentence. No qualifier necessary).  There are six regular contributors to the podcast, but they don't all appear on the podcast at the same time (I can imagine how difficult it would be sync up six different calendars in different timezones on different continents).

Initially, I was very skeptical.  More often than not, a group of women discussing geek-related things tends to devolve into a snippy "She-Woman, Man-Hater" fest and that gets really old, really fast. I've had to unsubscribe to plenty of "girl geek" blogs and podcasts because of the abject hate and poisonous spew that issues forth all in the name of being a female fan (and if that's the prevailing definition of a female fan, I want no part of it).  Because of this, I tread lightly around anything that advertises itself as "A woman's view of X."  That may be a sad commentary on the state of things (and another topic to be covered another day), but I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

However, I actually met Liz and Deb from Verity! at LobbyCon the night before Gallifrey One and they were a joy to meet (Liz actually introduced herself as "the crazy Scottish one" and I immediately wanted to be her best friend).  I later sat in on the "Evolution of the Daleks" panel that Liz was featured on (among others) I very much enjoyed what she brought to the panel.  The discussions started out serious but slowly made it way into well-mannered silliness, culminating in Liz proclaiming the Skittles Daleks were fabulous because Daleks now had careers and she had her Orange Scientist Dalek there to prove it.  So, as I headed home with renewed joy in "Doctor Who" and a desire to keep the good Gally feelings going, I resolved to do a series of things:

1 - Scour the Salt Lake City Public Library for any "Doctor Who" media that Salt Lake County Library doesn't have (I've long-since exhausted the latter's resources).
2 - Locate more "Doctor Who" novels, particularly the Eighth Doctor New Adventures.
3 - Subscribe and listen to Verity!

Once I downloaded all the Verity! episodes available, I proceeded to take in everything that they were saying.  And it was all a joy to behold!  The discussions are very smart and very organized, but always with that little layer of giggly-glee bubbling under the surface that I myself indulge in from time to time (okay, a little more than "from time to time").  You get the sense that all of the Verity! ladies are the best of best friends, but there are things that they all don't agree with (the debate of what episode best exemplified the 10th Doctor's era was a debate for the ages!)  But even when they present conflicting arguments and have spirited debate, they still close out the podcast with the feeling that they all could still sit down around a cuppa and ask how the family's doing (or some such).  You have to admire that in a group of friends, really.

What I love about the Verity! ladies is that their interests in Who range all over the place, as does their experience with Who - which is typical of any sampling of Whovians, it seems. And I apologize because I don't have everyone's names matched up with their voices quiet yet (with the exception of Liz and Deb, since I met them at Gally - and even then, I'm still not 100% sure). But among the group, there are those who remember the first run of the Classic Series, there are those who came to the New Series, there are those who are TV-only, there are those who delve into books and Big Finish and comics and toys or some combination of the expanded media. Are there any crafters or cosplayers amongst the Verity! ladies? I don't think that's come up yet, but I imagine it will at some point - and the discussion will be glorious!

I also love how they utilize their website as an extension of the podcast by linking things that they like that go along with the latest discussion - and also allowing the ladies who weren't on the latest episode to chime in with their contribution to the topics at hand. It still means we get a well-rounded coverage (not that the podcast itself doesn't do this), but not all six contributors have to be present (like I said - syncing up different calendars in different time zones).

My next point is going to be long and rambly (like that never happens around here), but hear me out: In my (relatively short) time as a Whovian, I've devoured everything Who-related that I could get my hands on.  I even went back to delve into the behind the scenes history of the show - including fan culture in the Wilderness Years.  And, yes, it was very male-dominated.  I don't think that was by design, it was just how things happened.  However, what I love about Doctor Who is while there were lots of guys keeping this thing going, when the girls came knocking on the clubhouse door, they got to come inside.  And no one makes a huge deal out of it (the Tennant-fangirl stereotype notwithstanding - and I really don't think that is as prevalent as the jokes would have us believe. Then again, there's a huge swath of Tumblr that I pretend doesn't exist).  While I do have a huge beef with "girl geeks" who use their love of sci-fi and fantasy as an excuse to play the perpetual female victim card, I also have a problem with guys who still think they're in elementary school and do the whole "Ew - girls can't like boy stuff!" thing.  But I really haven't had that problem in Who fandom (oh, how I wish I could go back in time and tell my-five-year-old-Ninja-Turtle-loving-self that it really does get better - you grow up and leave all those snotty children on the kindergarten playground far behind!). Basically, if you have something to contribute that's Who-related, then you're in.  That's what I think is great about the premise of Verity! - not only the way that premise has been carried out, but also how it has been received. Not that I thought there would be an issue with it, but it's just good to see verification that so-called "The Old Boys' Club" has opened its doors widely for all who care to enter.

My entire point in this long, sprawling and sometime deviating blog post is to convince all within the sound of my typing to listen to Verity! and to express some admiration and appreciation for a quality podcast.  I'm sure that Verity! isn't lacking in praise or recommendations, but I just like to add my voice to the mix (and also mention that, after hearing about it in the latest Verity! Extra about the Eighth Doctor's Big Finish stories, I kind of want a copy of Tansy's list).

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