I have fallen in love with Doctor Who. 6 months ago I’d never seen a second of the show. As of the current writing, there is probably nothing in the silly world of pop culture more important to me.
It’s good to note that this happens to me sometimes. And I think many people I know too. Getting really, really into stuff. Watching a whole season of some TV show in a weekend. Looking up all of a band’s interviews on the internet. Every live performance of some comedian on YouTube.
I think it’s a bit more like finishing your food.
Anyway, back to the Doctor. Of course, I’ve heard of him. And I’m completely aware that the Doctor Who phenomenon is one of the biggest, longest running sci fi franchises in the world. I know a Dalek if I see one. I know Billie Piper is in the new one. That’s about it.
But being here, one of the things I wanted to do was get into British culture. I’ve been watching British movies. Buying best of CDs by bands like James and Squeeze. And when the huge, inescapable publicity of the start of Doctor Who season three was everywhere, I sat myself on the couch and decided to give the thing a go.
And it’s love.
See, the problem with American sci fi, as typified by Star Trek, is it has to be believable and plausible. You can find books discussing the science of Star Trek. Whereas British sci fi has a long tradition of being just unexplained. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf and so forth. Sure, they screw around with what can possibly happen for drama (destroying the world to build a highway) or laughs (playing billiards with planets)…but at the heart of it, British sci fi will choose inspiring over plausible.
And Doctor Who, which from a distance seemed weird and cheap, is the most inspiring of all. The new series has shed the old crap production values. It’s a super slick, modern show. No wires. But the stories are so excellent.
Every week, the Doctor travels through time to a new adventure. He is a Time Lord, the last of an ancient race. His ship is a TARDIS, which due to a malfunction is stuck looking like a British Police Box. He’s usually got a companion or two in tow, who has befriended the friendly Doctor.
From that flimsy premise, we can go anywhere. Werewolves attacking Queen Elizabeth the first, to the day the sun finally goes nova. The fall of Pompeii, to the upcoming London Olympics.
At the heart of it all is the Doctor himself. Played by so many actors over the years, he is the same person who has fired the imagination of so many people for so many years. An adventurer, who rarely resorts to violence. An intellect and proud of it. An optimist and a knowledge seeker. Always wanting to see what this universe can be, always excited about new challenges. A man who always does good, an loves life.
And it’s easy to forget the bloody thing is at heart, a kids show. One Saturday morning, possibly because I was still up, I watched Totally Doctor Who, the kid’s talk show devoted to the Doctor. How lucky are these kids though, to have stories written for them that win sci fi writing awards, and best drama TV awards, year after year.
So for me, of course, I love the Doctor. I’m an optimist. I’m always excited by new things. I also like obsessive things. Things with rich histories. And a sense of funny. I also love good TV. The sad scenes – up there with some of best teen drama I’ve ever seen.
The Doctor explores every corner of the galaxy, hoping there is something amazing he has never seen before. And for me, after so many years of loving music, TV, movies, books etc…it’s a great feeling to know there are things out there I can fall in love with. I’m not that sad dude who still misses the X-Files.
Below: this Halloween, I dressed up as the Tenth Doctor. The raincoat came in handy for the weather, I tell you.