Week of Geek: VFC Fandom Countdown Part 4, our own British Invasion…

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Hi again Geeklings!  It’s week four of our Fandom Countdown.  We’re getting psyched for Vaughan Fan Con, which is just over 2 weeks away!  Click here, here and here to see parts 1, 2 and 3.

For this week we’re heading back to the UK (after our look at Harry Potter a couple weeks back).  For fandoms we sometimes have to do a little globetrotting, like with Japan last week.  But since two massive fandoms are from the UK I figured it’d be good to put them together and mention a few other favorite British exports while we’re at it.

First, let’s talk about one of the longest-running Sci Fi franchises of the modern era.  It predates Star Wars, Star Trek, and just about every other Sci Fi series you can name.  It had a bumpy start, premiering just the day after the Kennedy Assassination, and was often held back a bit by its low budget.  But, 54 years later, we still long for the time and space adventures of our favorite madman (and now madwoman) with a box.

Yup, the Doctor is in!

First airing on November 23rd, 1963, Doctor Who was meant to be a family-friendly educational program, mixing Sci Fi with history for younger viewers.  But over the last few decades it has grown into so much more.  With several doctors giving it a fresh look every few years, the show’s been able to reinvent itself while still keeping to it’s tried and true tropes; an alien travels through time and space defeating evils and setting things right while taking a few companions along for the ride.

Who has always had it’s fans, but when the show was rebooted in 2005 for a new generation it acquired quite the following.  The new series’ mix of drama, comedy, big ideas, action, adventure and much cooler special effects hit the marks for many viewers.  And even this late in the game, the show is about to hit another first, by making the 14th incarnation (if you count the War Doctor) of the Doctor a woman.

So check out our Doctor Who DVDs, Blu Rays and Books (including Graphic Novels).  All of time and space… where will you go?

Now let’s switch gears a bit to one of the other big geeky British exports, one that, in some ways, helped to define fandom as we know it and is one of the oldest examples of such a thing.  Let’s stop by Baker Street for our favorite consulting detective.

First appearing in the novel A Study in Scarlet all the way back in 1886, Sherlock Holmes has become one of the most well-known characters in history… so much so that some people don’t realize that he is a work of fiction and just assume he’s a real person.  Regardless, for most people if you ask them ‘Name a detective’ odds are they’ll say ‘Sherlock Holmes’.

He was popular back in the 19th century as well, so much so that when author Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill him off in “The Adventure of the Final Problem”, a short story published in The Strand Magazine in 1893, there was a public outcry.  Had that happened today the outcry would likely form on the internet.  Back then fans made their disappointment known by writing letters and cancelling their subscriptions (that may seem almost quaint by our standards but it did get the message across).  Doyle would bring the character back a few years later with “The Adventure of the Empty House” but would marvel at how upset people got over a fictional character.  Clearly the power of fan outrage was still a new thing to the Victorians.  Also a new thing?  Some of the earliest examples of what we now know as fanfiction was written about Holmes.

Holmes has appeared in so many movies, TV shows and books (not all written by Doyle, some by many authors) he could have his own library.  But some would argue that what helped got modern fans back into the die-hard love was the show Sherlock.  First airing in July of 2010, this modern, smart and powerful update of the Sherlock Holmes story has earned a huge following worldwide.  And fans have had to learn to be patient, because the show only has four seasons and a special, and each season is only 3 EPISODES LONG!  Some seasons also aired up to a couple of years apart!

As much as I love shorter TV seasons, that’s a little low even for me.  Why?!

Fans have been split on how good the fourth season was, little bit on the third season too, but all agree the first two seasons are great!  Check em’ out.  And I’ve got a list of recommended reads for Sherlock and mystery fans in general.

I’ve noticed, and I’m sure other fans have noticed too, that there’s some common elements between Sherlock and Doctor Who.  Though Sherlock tends to steer clear of fantastical elements, both shows feature a hero (or sort-of-hero in Sherlock’s case) who value intellect over a lot of other things.  Both praise loyalty, friendship, curiosity and the idea that the world (or galaxy) is much bigger than one would suspect at first glance.  And both shows have delightfully bonkers villains (Moriarty and The Master).  And they share writers and show-runners too, so there’s that.  Good times.

And to wrap up, here’s a couple of other BBC or English-produced shows you may want to take a look at; Merlin, Downton Abbey (not Sci Fi or Fantasy, but man, does it have its fans), Orphan Black and Being Human (there’s an English and an American version of that show).  Anything I’ve missed?  Post in the comments!

I’ll leave you guys with this fan-made video of The Doctor and Sherlock finally meeting!  Be sure to check out our other teen programs, including Unleash Your Story and the Teen Writer’s Club, as well as our new photo contest.  Stay tuned for more Fan Con news, and until next time, End of Line.

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