How to be inhuman, with Cas and the Doctor

Posted: October 15, 2012 in How to... (Writing Tips), TV Shows, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Here’s the next post in this series where I discuss TV shows and movies and the knowledge that we can gain from watching them. We can apply that knowledge to our writing. As always, I never pretend to be an expert. I just like exploring my own thoughts on the matter as I write these blog posts! I welcome all comments and would love to hear what you think about this topic.

Make sure you check out my previous post, titled, “How to be human AND evil, with Rumpel and Regina.”

I’m not exactly quiet when it comes to which fandoms I particularly enjoy being a part of. Supernatural and Doctor Who are certainly two of them. Within each of those shows, there are some favorite characters. Dean is obviously one of them – how could you not love his sarcastic dialogue and amazing one-liners? I miss and love Donna Noble, not to mention Amy and Rory, too.

But Castiel and the Doctor own my heart.

You can probably count the number of times Cas smiles throughout the whole series on one hand.

Cas popped up in Supernatural about half way through its run. It’s a new-ish character (at least, not as old as Dean, Sam, or Bobby), but he made quite an impact. At first you’re not sure if he’s a good guy or a bad guy – or, rather, a good guy with interests that don’t involve keeping Dean and Sam alive. But he slowly grows on you as he becomes more and more aware of how amazing the human race is.

The Doctor is an alien that travels all across space and time. He visits different galaxies and planets like we visit our local grocery story. But he seems to have a particular affinity for Earth. He loves the human race – we have so much potential, so much greatness flowing through our veins. And although he’s run into plenty of people that don’t live up to that standard, he never gives up hope for us as a whole.

Neither one of these characters is human, yet they have to interact with humans on a daily basis. This often leads to plenty of hilarious situations, particularly because neither one truly knows how to act human. They’re like foreigners on steroids – it’s a little obvious they’re not from around here.

Castiel’s voicemail message: I… I don’t understand… Why do you want me to say my name? (sound of random phone buttons being pushed)

Take Cas, for instance. He just about never shows emotion. He doesn’t understand sarcasm. And he doesn’t know about that little thing called personal space. The writers make his inhumanity obvious by putting him in situations where he wouldn’t understand what’s going on. It’s not giving him wings and a white robe to wear to make him seem inhuman – it’s more about making it subtle.

This is where the latest version of the Doctor discovers his favorite food – fish fingers and custard.

This goes with the Doctor as well. He’s an alien, but he looks just like one of us. So how do you make him seem alien? It’s in the way he acts – his insistence on kissing a person’s cheeks when he meets them, whether or not the occasion calls for it. It’s also about what he doesn’t know – like modern currency. Giving someone a million dollars to rent a flat for a few weeks? Sure, why not? He’s also never surprised, not matter what kind of alien race he’s bumped into this time. Where humans would probably run screaming for the hills, the Doctor just sits there and marvels at the creature he’s discovered.

Craig: Where did you learn to cook?
The Doctor: Paris in the 18th century. No, hang on, that’s not recent is it? 17th? No no, 20th. Sorry, I’m not used to doing it in the right order.
Craig: Has anyone ever told you that you’re a bit weird?
The Doctor: They never really stop.

If you’re writing a book about aliens, it’s not always about the big grand spectacle. Sometimes it’s about the subtle things, the little hints that this person might not be who we thought they were at first. It’ll keep things fresh and allow you plenty of moments for hilarity – a winning combination in my book.

Do you like your favorite inhuman characters armed to the teeth with tentacles, or do you prefer someone like Cas or the Doctor? (Also, share your favorite Cas & Doctor moments in the comments!)

  1. Jae says:

    Okay, now I know I’ve gotta stop by here more often. Supernatural AND Doctor Who. Yes please! You wouldn’t believe how hard it is for me to get friends into Doctor Who. They’ll watch Firefly, Heroes, Supernatural, but Doctor Who… argh! I just don’t get why they won’t watch it. Despite promises of its supreme awesomeness it’s like pulling teeth. Those who give it a chance are suddenly devouring whole seasons in one sitting.

    Okay, enough of that frustration venting. Great post on pointing out what makes these great characters loveable!

    • Karen Rought says:

      I know what you mean! One of my friends watched a random episode and thought the acting was bad and the premise was stupid (she’s also a theatre major so she’s a little critical). But I made her watch “Blink” this weekend and she was totally into it! The characters are so strong in this show that if you can connect with them, you’ll totally be pulled in forever. Thanks for commenting – I’m always looking for new people I can fangirl with over my favorite TV shows. 🙂

      • Jae says:

        Blink has that extra special Doctor Who magic, which is funny because he’s barely in it. Some of the acting is a little hoaky in the beginning, it’s true, but it’s such a wonderful journey. Maybe I should just start them off with Blink and press onward to Matt Smith. Then when we run out of episodes they can start over with Christopher.

        And I’m glad too, to meet a fellow Doctor Who fangirl. 😀

  2. EM Castellan says:

    Love this post 🙂 You’ve outlined exactly why I love both these characters. On the topic of Doctor Who, one of my friends has recently launched a cool Facebook page Check it out if you want!

  3. […] Make sure you check out my previous post, titled, “How to be inhuman, with Cas and the Doctor.” […]

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