Guess Who?  by Tom Williams and George Barany
"Midrash" by Tom Williams (November 2013)


You are living in a world where a television program about an alien time traveling the universe armed only with a screwdriver can stay on air (albeit with brief interruptions) for fifty years. That's right, "Doctor Who" is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, which makes your world AWESOME.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, the fiftieth anniversary episode ["The Day of the Doctor"] is being simulcast in theaters in eleven U.S. cities on November 23rd, and then in 300 theaters across the country on November 25th. [GB adds: It is also widely chronicled in the print media, of which this New Yorker piece was particularly useful in bringing me up to speed.]  To further celebrate this Day of the Geek, we have created the Guess Who? puzzle, which features key people, monsters, and locations in the Who-niverse. A special thanks to Craig Hurle of The Doctor Who Hub for helping us share this puzzle with Whovians around the world.

If you don't have the distinct pleasure of being a Doctor Who fan, or "Whovian," you may need some explanation for several of the clues. Our eponymous hero is named THE_DOCTOR (64-Across). He is the last TIME_LORD (40-Down), a race of time-travelers from the planet GALLIFREY (57-Across), a circumbinary planet like the recently discovered Kepler 47. In the opposite corner, weighing in at CRAZY is The Doctor's Nemesis, THE_MASTER (17-Across): very intelligent, a sociopath, and a psychopath. In this puzzle, we also see two of The Doctor's most infamous foes, the CYBERMEN (9-Down) and the DALEKS (23-Across), who can be seen together here [you may notice a certain similarity between the Dalek and R2D2, a.k.a. ARTOO (52-Down)]. Finally, in this puzzle you'll find the doctor's spaceship, the TARDIS (53-Across), which is supposed to be able to shape shift, but due to a technical problem (or more likely, a budget problem) is stuck in the shape of a 1960s-style POLICE_BOX (21-Across).

2 A brief diversion:
 The Name Of The Doctor

You will notice that outside of this sidebar, this midrash does not contain the abbreviation "Dr."; no "Dr. Who", no "The Dr." This is for a good reason: to forestall the wrath of True Fans. Upon seeing "Dr. Who," many Whovians experience a range of unwanted symptoms including, but not limited to, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and, most commonly, pure, unbridled rage. This is related to the fact that the character's name is "The Doctor," and not "Doctor Who," so it doesn't make sense to abbreviate the title. Of course, this ignores the fact that Doctors 1, 2, 3, and 9 (that's out of 11 thus far) were credited not as "The Doctor" but as either "Doctor Who" or "Dr. Who." I must admit feeling squeamish at the sight of "Dr. Who," but the issue isn't set in stone. If you are really nerdy and want to hear more on the issue, a nice discussion is found here.  [GB adds:  I myself fell into the trap with 2-Down in Of Blessed Memory, and note that five Shortz-era New York Times puzzles have done the same.]

3 Other fun words

In addition to the themed words, we would like to point out the following words:

4 Also

And finally, a few more links to names and terms you may or may not be familiar with: Michael CERA (13-Across), EL_NINO (36-Across; note same clue was used for 5-Across = SCARF), Midori ITO (41-Across; we link to a video clip that shows her doing a 34-Down = AXEL at approx. 1:00), ELLA Baker (51-Across), Gabrielle REECE (62-Across), Mortimer SNERD (66-Across), Zubin MEHTA (1-Down), Our Gang's DARLA (7-Down), Eddie ARCARO (42-Down), SERBS (56-Down) Tesla and Djokovic, and EHUD (60-Down) Barak/Olmert.

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