I’ve mentioned in My life: Built by Masonry I am a huge Doctor Who fan or a Whovian. It may seem that there aren’t very many, but there are legions of us the world over. It’s not just for Brits anymore. Doctor Who and comic conventions featuring current Doctor Who stars and alumns are notoriously well-attended in the US.
Doctor Who’s appeal transcends oceans, international borders, and even time itself. Fans in the UK always see new episodes before fans in the US, however due to the show’s tremendous popularity on our side of the Pond the 50th Anniversary special was aired in a simulcast so that fans from all over the world could enjoy it together.
Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi show on TV. It premiered on the BBC in November of 1963 with the starring role of The Doctor played by William Hartnell. There was a TV movie made in 1996 and a re-boot of the series in 2005 spearheaded by Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffatt. Thirteen men have played the iconic role of The Doctor. After Hartnell, The Doctor regenerated into Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi. If you’re ever unable to get to sleep, try counting Doctors instead of sheep. To the un-initiated, Doctor Who can seem like a strange thing to be into, maybe even off-putting. I won’t try to change your mind, but I will tell you why I love it.
It all started with a Saturday afternoon lying sick on the couch and my boyfriend’s Netflix account. I am a fan of all things different and as I watched in my cold medicine-induced stupor, I quickly realized that Doctor Who is very different from most other shows on TV today. Every episode of Doctor Who has a beginning, a middle, and an end; just not in that order. One of the main premises of the show is time travel and time travel is complicated. Ask a physicist all about it if you have a few hours to kill. The lack of strict progression from cause to effect is unlike anything I’ve seen and I love how unique that is. It forces you to pay attention. Don’t miss the first five minutes or you may end up watching an episode of Doctor Wait, Rewind That instead of Doctor Who. It doesn’t treat people like idiots. The writers take literary devices like dramatic irony and foreshadowing and put them on TV. You can call me a nerd if you want to, but I think that’s cool.
The Doctor that made me fall in love with the show was the 10th Doctor played by David Tennant. It was casual at first, but when he took Donna Noble as his companion, their interactions drew me all the way in and I never looked back. My favorite classic Doctor is Sylvester McCoy because of his relationship with his companion, Ace. He was her teacher, a father figure, and partner in mischief all at once. Ace is my homegirl. River Song made a Dalek, a supposedly indestructible villain from the planet Skaro, beg for mercy, but Ace paved the way by beating a Dalek senseless with a baseball bat.
There’s a lot about The Doctor, regardless of his incarnation that resonates with me. He may be an alien, but he’s more human than any of us. He’s over 1,000 years old, but still has the curiosity and exuberant spirit of a child. He’s got two hearts and I think that gives him empathy beyond what humans are capable of. He’s a superhero who wears a snazzy outfit instead of a cape, carries a sonic screwdriver to fix things instead of a destructive weapon, and even flies around in a blue box that people can use to call for help. Eat your heart out, Batman.
Then there are the Companions. Having a machine that can travel anywhere in space and time means having a lot of power and that could go to your head, so The Doctor takes along a human companion to keep him grounded. Being over 1,000 years old and able to feel the turn of the universe makes for an interesting dynamic. My favorite companion is Donna Noble. She’s everything a companion should be. She’s a proper friend to The Doctor: always there for him, but with enough sass to put him in his place when necessary. I’m big enough to admit that I cried when she left the Tardis. River Song is a very close runner up. Her story is brilliantly done. She seems like The Doctor’s foil at first, but she loves him fiercely and she’s down for him in a way that nobody else has ever been. That’s probably why he married her. She’s a total badass who made a practically indestructible cyborg full of hate beg for mercy before blowing it sky-high. Recognize.
Let’s not forget the villains. The Whoniverse is full of scary things and The Doctor’s fought nearly all that time and space has to offer. If you watch for long enough, you’re bound to come across at least one villain you love to hate. Because of Doctor Who, I’m now afraid of statues, snowmen, and Wi-Fi networks named with strange characters. Upon hearing of the discovery of water on Mars, I immediately shouted “Don’t drink it!!” You know a writing staff is good when they can make you afraid of a metal trashcan armed with a whisk and a plunger.
One of the greatest things that we can do as humans is share our love of things with each other. Doctor Who literally has something for everybody. That’s probably the reason why Whovians are like the evangelists of sci-fi fandoms.