“I am, and always will be, the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes, and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”
I was halfway through preparing a blog-post about why Doctor Who is one of my favourite TV shows, when I stumbled upon this post by the amazing Halley, who got there before I did. You should definitely read it, then watch the show. And here is why.
I first started watching Doctor Who a few months ago. I had just finished watching Sherlock (twice) and had heard from several friends that Who was worth watching. I was always a little iffy – I’m not a sci-fi girl. As much as I love theoretical physics and astronomy, sci-fi just isn’t my thing. So I stayed away from Who. And then I found out that Steven Moffat – one of the writers of Sherlock – was the writer for Who.
And so I figured, alright. I’ll give it a try.
I got my hands on the new Who (the one which started airing in 2005 – haven’t watched classic Who yet, although I plan to as soon as I’m done with my dissertation). I’ll admit, season 1 didn’t do much for me. It was seriously low budget and a little bit cheesy, and it starred Billie Piper as the Doctor’s companion. And, for all of you on my side of the pond who grew up on a diet of Smash Hits, Top of the Pops, and MTV, Billie Piper will always be the singer of that godawful ‘Because We Want To!’ song.
But then again, I found its sheer cheesiness endearing, and so I kept watching.
And then, suddenly… BAM. DAVID TENNANT.
And suddenly I was really hooked. I even forgot Billie Piper was ever an annoying pop starlet. And the more I started to watch the show, the more brilliant it became, and the more I started to consider it a fast favourite. But it wasn’t just the lovely colour schemes or the clever references to pop culture that was doing it for me. No, my infatuation with the Doctor was about something a lot simpler and a lot more profound. I’m going to try and explain it without sounding like too much of a raging fangirl.
First of all, the Doctor is a traveller. Forget the fact that he travels through time and space in a little blue box. He is, at the core, a traveller who has committed to a life of knowledge and discovery. That’s the first box checked, right there. It helps that he is also a complete and utter smartarse. I like smartarses.
More than that, the Doctor is the last of his kind. Alright, so I’m not a Time Lord, nor do I come from a burning red planet very few people have ever heard of (although Malta’s pretty obscure and can get unbearably hot in the summertime). No – this is about feeling like an outsider. We’ve all felt that way, especially those of us who are not happy with an ordinary life; those of us who feel like it would be a sin to disregard the big, big world in favour of a small, sheltered existence. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for us it just isn’t enough. We would never be happy settling down in one place, in one little nook of creation.
And then there is the pursuit of knowledge. If you’re anything like me, your mind aches to learn more. You’ll want to devour books and books; you love big conversations about all sorts of topics (from eating to existentialism) and you love meeting people from foreign countries, foreign cultures, who speak foreign languages. Heck, you’ll even try to learn a few phrases of their foreign language!
And then, there is the Doctor’s regeneration. Alright, alright: none of us has two hearts or bursts into a golden glow and suddenly changes form completely. Although if I could do that, I’d rather like to be Rachel Weisz. Look at the issue of regeneration metaphorically. Sometimes, the Doctor goes through experiences so big, so traumatic, so life-altering, that he is irreversibly changed. Changed forever. Change isn’t bad – it just is. It’s a part of life, a part of learning. Nobody can grow without changing.
And finally – the Doctor’s companions. We’re all alone: we’re born alone and we die alone. Our qualia only extends as far as our own self-consciousness and that makes us solitary creatures. Might sound depressing, but it’s true. HOWEVER: sometimes… sometimes we meet people who share our passions in life, and it’s utterly brilliant, because if we’re lucky, they’ll step into our time stream and walk some of the way with us. Not everybody will make a suitable companion, and it’s better sometimes to be alone than to settle for somebody who just isn’t right. But when it’s right, oh, then it’s gorgeous.
And so, you should watch Doctor Who because it’s a sci-fi show that isn’t really a sci-fi show. It’s a show about life and friendship and doing your own thing, whether you have a blue box or not. Also, it’s clever. And the visuals are lovely. And the script is fantastic. And the incidental music is divine.
I guess what I’m trying to say is…