Monday, November 25, 2013

Celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who

So there's this show about an alien who travels through space and time in a big blue police box...

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but no--this alien, known only as the Doctor, inspired decades (generations, even) of fans so passionate that they stuck with this man through changing times and faces.

Oh wait--I didn't mention that this spacetime traveling alien reincarnates into a new body when he dies?

Many of you, I'm sure, have seen snippets of Doctor Who. Others have been bitten by the Whovian bug and are positiviely overjoyed from this weekend's 50th anniversary episode. But don't tell me anything! I'm seeing it tonight.

If you haven't been exposed to Doctor Who, you're probably wearing the same look I had when I saw Jersey Shore for the first time. Unlike that reality TV travesty (sorry I'm not sorry...), Doctor Who is about exploring the depths of what it means to be alive and human.

I can't speak for every Whovian, but my utter love for the Doctor stems from seeing worlds through his eyes. There are ugly realities about modern life that we don't want to face, but can acknowledge and criticize when we see those same flaws in a different time or place.

On a more micro scale, Doctor Who raises questions about what it means to be alive and human (Gallifreyan, in the Doctor's case...). If your circumstances change--your body, your companions, your time and place--to what extent are you still the same person? If everything has been stripped from you, how can you find that remaining kernel of kindness--and does the enemy even deserve that?

It's fascinating to see different aspects of one being highlighted in each incarnation. The 9th Doctor (Eccleston) was dark and brooding; the 10th (Tennant) was a believer in the goodness of people, though that covered up so much angst; the 11th (Smith) was a jolly good time, right up until his loved ones were ripped away--then he was downright frightening in his coldness. Same man, different faces, and it's impossible for me to watch that without thinking of how we have a tendency to silo our personalities, or how nature and nurture battle for supremacy in our formation.

But beyond that, the thing that it most awe-inspiring is how this powerful, ancient alien so desperately needs human companionship to keep him whole. Us, petty little humans, are absolutely essential to the Doctor. 

Maybe I'm overthinking this whole thing...maybe he's just a 900+ year old alien who picks up human strays and gallivants around the universe with them. But where's the passion and hope in that?

If you're a Doctor Who fan, leave a comment with either your favorite episode, or why you love the show!


PG Forte said...

I'm more a follower than a fan. I keep tabs on what's going on with the show--and I love the whole premise, of course--but I don't really watch it. I think I'm afraid of becoming too obsessed.

Kate Davies said...

I haven't watched much of Doctor Who, though I feel more familiar with it thanks to the legions of fans I count among my friends. I'm also a passionate lover of seasons 1-2 1/2 of Torchwood. Nothing happened after episode three of Children of Earth. *nods firmly*

So count me in PG's camp. Follower, peripheral, able to appreciate the show and the fandom, but not dialed all the way in.

PG Forte said...

Yes, and I'm in Kate's camp with Torchwood. Episode three, the end. Move along, nothing to see...oh, look over there: men in kilts.

Fiona McGier said...

I've been a fan for as long as I've known my husband, which is over 30 years. We used to tape Tom Baker's episodes off the local PBS station. The kids have since given the DVDs to us, so we have at least a few episodes of all of the Doctors up to Tom Baker (the 4th one) and all of them since then, including all of the most recent. We even have the movie starring Paul McGann, and all of the Torchwood seasons. A couple of my sons have met some of the actors, and one son told Peter Davison, "I grew up watching you!"

We were at the "LIVE" telecast of the "Day of the Doctors", and saw it when it debuted in Britain, only we got to see it in a packed theater near Chicago,full of other fans wearing scarves, fezs (fezis?), River Song dresses and trenchcoats, and light-up Tardis tee shirts. It was in 3-D! My 2 kids who don't live at home both drove in for the weekend just so they could go with us, so it was a family affair!

Just thought I'd speak up for the rabid fans who totally love Doctor Who. And judging by the Guiness Book of Records award the show got for most amount of people watching a TV broadcast, there are a whole lot of us on the planet!