So yes, I’m still obsessed. But, to my credit, “Doctor Who” is a show that is very easy to obsess about. I’m starting to think that the U.K. has it in for me. Nearly every British cultural thing I have taken in recently has been so good and so entertaining. I’m turning into an Anglophile! Let’s look at the evidence, shall we? Harry Potter, Love Actually, Torchwood, The IT Crowd, Doctor Who… and I have a laundry list of other television shows that I must check out as soon as Kile and I are finished going through the rest of the “Doctor Who” seasons (they call them series over there, not seasons, and I’m getting so used to it that I nearly almost typed “series” before I realized all these American readers I have, all two of you, would have NO idea what I was on about). Shows like “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” and “Sherlock”. I find myself finding new appreciation for British actors as well… I’ve long since adored Colin Firth, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy, Keira Knightly, Gerard Butler and Andrew Lincoln to name a few… but now I’m adding the likes of David Tennant, Billie Piper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Hiddleston, Catherine Tate, Chris O’Dowd, Tom Hardy, and Arthur Darvill. I know (I KNOW) I’m leaving out many many many (why are there so many??), but this is supposed to be a post about Doctor Who and not about talented and attractive British actors and actresses. Seriously, if you are in the mood to drool over the pretty, go look some of these people up if they’re not familiar to you. You can thank me later.
ANYHOW. Where was I? Oh yes. Doctor Who. Listen, I know it sounds weird. And truly, it IS kind of weird. But I think it’s the weirdness that makes is so… epic. There really isn’t anything in American television pop culture that is equivalent. This show has been around since November of 1963. That is nearly 50 YEARS, people. Most everyone over there grewup with this show and it is a part of the public consciousness. Yeah, the show has changed a lot during that time. Most notably there was a large gap of time where there was no Doctor Who at all before it was brilliantly revived in 2005. I’m familiar with “Classic Who” as it is called, but my heart lies with “NuWho”. The point being, you don’t need to go watch ALL the “Doctor Who” to get an appreciation for the newer stuff. Enough of the gaps are filled in that you are able to just go with it in the newer series.
If you are interested in giving it a go, catch it on Netflix streaming or find the DVDs somewhere. Just start up with the series that aired in 2005, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose. BE WARNED: the early episodes teeter preciously on the “cheesy” side of things. But then, this is sci-fi and when isn’t sci-fi just a bit cheesy? The show as finding it’s footing during these early episodes and if you stick with it, you will be rewarded. Or punished, depending on your view. You will learn rather quickly that the BBC takes delight in making the viewers miserable. But that’s neither here nor there. Don’t be dissuaded! Before you know it, these actors and characters will worm into your heart and you will be left wondering what you did with your life before you discovered that fantastic world. Or maybe that’s just me.
All you really need to know to start out is that “Doctor Who” is a show about a 900+ year old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He is not called “Doctor Who” but rather just “the Doctor”. He has a real name but its kind of a major secret. Sometimes, when he needs to, he’ll tell people he’s John Smith or something. But really, he’s just the Doctor. He’s kind of a rogue, by Gallifreyan standards. He travels time and space in his TARDIS (which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) which looks like an old fashioned blue Police Box on the outside but is an enormous spaceship/time machine on the inside (“It’s bigger on the inside!”). He doesn’t die; rather, when he becomes mortally injured he “regenerates”. Every cell in his body changes in a somewhat violent reaction and he becomes a new man. He retains his old memories and emotions just fine, but his personality might change a bit. Still, he tends to be a little on the silly side and somewhat socially inappropriate. He has always traveled with human companions before, people he invites to travel along with him for fun, but in between his eighth and ninth regenerations, there was a Time War in which his entire species was obliterated (details are slowly revealed during the course of the show but for now, that’s all you need to know to get going) so he is the last of the Time Lords. It makes him a very very lonely man and he now needs companions for more than just fun… they save him from himself. His first companion, and arguably the most influential companion he has ever had, is Rose Tyler whom he meets in the first episode of the new series, entitled “Rose” (natch). From there, the adventures continue. You just strap in and enjoy the ride!
This show has everything: drama, romance, comedy, tragedy, mystery, action and adventure. It’s funny and it’s heartbreaking. The people who make this show LOVE it and it shows. From everything I’ve heard, working on “Doctor Who” is not a job, it is a delight. Imagine how infectious that is for the viewer?
The show is still on. The fans are anxiously awaiting the 7th series (or season) which has been delayed until the Fall of 2012. Everything I’ve been hearing promises a fascinating and wrenching and wonderful series. I wasn’t as happy with the 6th series because it was more convoluted than usual to keep up with so I’m hoping that series 7 makes up for it some.
So if you’ve ever thought you might want to watch it, give it a try. Don’t be too intimidated by the longevity of the show and the abundant history and fable that surrounds it. I was and I put off watching it for far longer than I should. I heard people talk about it and thought it sounded interesting but you know how it goes. You come in “mid-stream” and you feel like you could never quite catch up. “Doctor Who” is very accessible. Jump right in, the water is warm.
And then come back here and tell me how much you love it. Because I know you will.