Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things About Me That People Want To Know Apparently: Why I Love The Doctor

About a year ago, I was working third shift in a candle factory enduring hours of incredible boredom and stress and candle wax. The job is not what you would call "fun" by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, most days it turned me into a horrible person that I did not recognize, nor enjoy being. 

However, in the midst of the wax and the strong scents and the blood blisters caused by foolishly putting your hand on the gap where two conveyor belts meet, I met some very interesting people and learned about some very interesting things. 

One of these things had to do with a mad man in a box. A blue box to be exact. And, from what I could understand from conversation, he was also an alien. This honestly sounded like the most boring thing on the face of the planet and I could not understand why I was wasting my time hearing about it, nor could I understand why people would waste their time watching such a thing. 

I don't even remember now what made me cave one day, but I remember going home one morning and watching the episode "Blink" and deciding that I would now and forever be terrified of weeping angel statues. From the line, "Life is short and you are hot," I was hooked. The only problem was that I was smack in the middle of the third (revived) season. Which meant going back and watching from the beginning of the (revived) series. 

This would be no problem, I thought. It would be fun, I thought. It would not have the potential to crush all that was good and wonderful in my heart and soul and make my feels cry for mercy.

If you think any of those things about Doctor Who, by the way, you are so very, very wrong. 

It will hurt so much. You will sob and rock back and forth in a corner and if you don't, you probably aren't watching it right. 

Before I get to in depth here, it's important to note that the reason I keep emphasizing that I've seen the entire (revised) series, is that there are basically two classes of Doctor Who fans, known affectionately as Whovians. 

Classic Whovians refers to a group of people who appreciate the series as a whole, and by appreciate, I mean have actually watched the whole thing. The show will have been around for fifty years this November, which will be marked by a simply fantastic anniversary special, and these people have seen most, if not all. Some of these have gone all the way back to the first Doctor, and a subsection of these have started somewhere in the middle of Classic Who, generally about the fourth Doctor. 

New Age Whovians refer to the group that got in a little late in the game, either starting with the ninth Doctor (Chris Eccleston), the tenth Doctor (David Tennant and his companion, amazing freaking seductive hair), or the eleventh, and most recent, Doctor (Matt Smith, who will be leaving at Christmas) These people sometimes have basic or extensive knowledge of Classic Who (I'd just like to admit up front that I am not one of those people) and some have none at all (like me).  

It is possible to be both of these, but at this moment, because I haven't got around to watching Classic Who, qualify solidly as a New Age Whovian.  

To the casual observer, a few things to be aware of will be the main cause of disagreements within the Whovian fandom. These are, generally, but certainly not limited to:

  1. Who is/was the best Doctor? (For some background, The Doctor is the main character of Doctor Who. His name is The Doctor. Not Doctor Who. This is very important. He is a Time Lord. He is from the planet Gallifrey, which was destroyed many, many years ago. And he is about 900 years old. It's really important that you don't try to understand this without watching the show. Even if you've been watching the show it will probably make your head hurt. Just go with it.)
  2. Who is/are/was/were the best companion(s)? (A Note: A companion is an individual that travels with The Doctor for either an extended period of time or a brief period of time. The companion is typically female, but occasionally male. Typically younger, but occasionally old. They will stick around long enough for you to get attached to them and then they will either die or get stuck in a parallel universe. This will happen. Accept it and be prepared.)
This is an extremely divisive issue, as we are all nerds and don't really have anything better to argue about. For the record, my favorite Doctor is David Tennant and my favorite companion is a solid draw between the Ponds and Donna Noble. If you're a Whovian you understand this reference and if you are not, just smile and read along and pretend like you understand.

Furthermore, if you're a Whovian, you will understand that River Song is my favorite in general, but really doesn't qualify as a companion. She's just River.

The show itself, as I mentioned, and as you've probably gathered from my brief and very simplified (I'm serious) synopsis, is incredibly complicated and were it not for Tumblr, I probably would have missed a LOT. However, it has the addictive properties found in things such as crack cocaine, so it's pretty easy to get invested.

On a shallow level, the writing is fantastic. The fact that the show can maintain 47 different story arcs that intersect and reappear over the course of fifty years AND maintain SOLID continuity is nothing short of spectacular. Anyone familiar with the River Song story arc and all of the heart wrenching feels involved can certainly attest to this. The characters are easy to love (save this most recent season's companion, with whom I take great issue) and relate to and are just overall incredibly entertaining. Dry British humor at its finest with pop culture references not so subtly dropped throughout. Honestly, there are very few things from the BBC that I do not find magical.

However, it is important to not reduce Doctor Who down to just a means for entertainment. The biggest thing that I love about it is that you can't help get an overwhelming sense that the writers are trying to teach you something throughout the whole thing. Things like, "You know that in nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before." The fact that diversity is not only appreciated, but also emphasized and praised. Over and over again, there is an overwhelming undertone that people, any kind of people, old people, young people, rich people, poor people, white, black, beige, or green and scaly people are just as important. Each person contributes something to time and space and life and without that one person, that one seemingly insignificant individual, life would never, ever be the same. 

And so for these reasons, I encourage you to take it in. 
Absorb it.
Enjoy it. 
But whatever you do...
Don't blink. 

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