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November 23 is TARDIS Day

On November 23, 1963, the BBC aired the first episode of its new science fiction series about a mysterious man and his time machine. (Why did it look like a British police box? Because its chameleon circuit jammed after it landed in 1960s England, of course.)

TARDIS DayNo one could have predicted that Doctor Who would go on to be the longest-running science fiction television show in history. The original pilot was deemed unwatchable, scrapped and reshot, delaying the premiere by a week.

By the time the retooled episode, An Unearthly Child, made it to air on November 23, 1963, it was overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy, which had occurred the day before.

But Doctor Who eventually found an audience, especially after the introduction of the Daleks. More than half a century later, it is still popular with millions of loyal viewers. William Hartnell was the First Doctor to hop aboard the TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space.

From the start, it was established that a Gallifreyan Time Lord can only regenerate twelve times. That would have made Peter Capaldi the last. Some fans insist the rule was nullified during Matt Smith’s tenure. Others maintain that John Hurt’s character was the forgotten regeneration between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, which meant Capaldi was the Thirteenth Doctor.

The debate was settled by Chris Chibnall, the show’s new head writer, who announced, “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.” The canon-busting series 11 began on October 7, 2018, and, while a few continued to cavil about the heresy of a female Doctor, fans voted with their eyeballs.

According to the UK Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), which includes online viewership, 10.9 million people watched the premiere, the highest number for a season opener since the show’s return in 2005. BARB also reported that more girls than boys under 16 watched the debut: 378,000 vs 339,000. Last season’s first episode drew 143,000 girls and 339,000 boys. Brilliant.

We celebrate TARDIS Day because Doctor Who continues to entertain us with its steadily expanding universe, at once strange and strangely familiar. It’s also created a legion of Whovians, fans who seek each other out, bond over their love of the show and debate about who is the best Doctor, the worst villain, or even how many Doctors Who there have been.

Find some great ways to celebrate TARDIS Day here. Find the Doctor Who episode that fell on (or closest to) your birthday on Tardisday.com. Catch up on recent (2005-present) seasons on Amazon Prime. Watch the classics (1963-1989) when you sign up for BritBox. Fair warning: Even without the 97 lost episodes discarded by the BBC in the 1970s, there are more than 700 episodes, making it impossible to watch them all during a seven-day free trial period. Unless you’ve figured out that whole wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey situation, in which case, enjoy!

Happy TARDIS Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

May 4 is Star Wars Day

star wars day

artwork: starwarz.com

Today is Star Wars Day. Its date is a play on words referencing the line, “May the Force be with you.” “May the fourth be with you” has become a rallying cry for fans.

It was inaugurated on May 4, 2011, at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Canada and has quickly spread around the world. Festivities include costume and trivia contests, Internet tributes, mashups and parodies.

Disney purchased Lucasfilm from its owner (and Star Wars creator) George Lucas in late 2012. Since May 4, 2013, the company has observed the holiday with events at Disney World and Disneyland. Today, its Star Wars homepage links to 37 purveyors of officially-licensed merchandise, from New Zealand Mint coins to Pendleton blankets.

If you’ve missed today’s celebrations or want to extend them 24 hours, you’re in luck. There is another. A new Star Wars holiday has arisen, this one from the pun “revenge of the fifth.” (By the way, on May 4, 2015, astronauts on the International Space Station watched Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. That got us thinking: Is there any distance great enough from which Hayden Christensen’s performance looks good?)

But wait, there’s more! In 2007, the Los Angeles City Council declared May 25th Star Wars Day to honor the 30th anniversary of the original movie’s release date. Diehard fans will take any excuse to celebrate. It puts us one day closer to the next installment.

Happy Star Wars Day(s), everybody!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 26 is Alien Day

alien dayToday is Alien Day. The date 4/26 pays homage to LV-426, the planet where Ripley and her expendable crew set down and take on a stowaway that no amount of Pepcid-AC can overcome. By the time the monster surprises Dallas with a gesture that looks suspiciously like jazz hands, it’s clear that the entire crew will indeed be expended.

Ripley and Jonesy, the luckiest cat in the universe, escape after a run-in with the alien, who has hidden in a shuttle so inefficiently designed that it has wasted space in the exact proportions of a slavering hell creature.

In the sequel, Aliens, Ripley returns to LV-426–as an advisor, that’s all–with the Colonial Marines and Burke, Carter J., a company man and (spoiler alert) not an okay guy, after contact is lost with the Weyland-Yutani employees working there. Suffice it to say there are problems and a few deaths are involved.

Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection take place on a penal planet and the USM Auriga spaceship, respectively. Prequel Prometheus occurs on LV-223, another moon in the same star system.

Director Ridley Scott’s sequel to his prequel will be called Alien: Covenant and is scheduled for release October 6, 2017. Scott has issued this description:

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

At the end of Prometheus, David and Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) survived. What’s happened to her? The films have always had a strong female lead. We hope Scott’s planning to keep it that way.

Meanwhile, Neill Blomkamp has been working on Alien 5, but that’s only the working title, since it appears that he plans to dropkick Alien³  and Alien: Resurrection and pick up where Aliens left off.

Many fans of the early movies are happy about this prospect. Unfortunately, Scott has “asked” Blomkamp to delay his movie until after Alien: Covenant opens.

alien day

Blomkamp has been sharing concept art since last year which shows Hicks and Ripley very much alive. He released this pic of Newt this morning in honor of Alien Day.

alien day

Can fans trust him to bring the series back to life? Will we get the director of District 9 or the one who made Chappie? Will Scott’s wishes put Blomkamp’s plans into permanent hypersleep? Stay tuned and have a happy Alien Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays