So unless you’ve been under a rock for the past year or two, you’ve probably noticed that Doctor Who is EVERYWHERE now. I’m still not quite sure how that happened…when did the wagon I’ve been on for years get a band attached to it? But I’m not complaining. A bigger fan base–even a fan base of teen-aged girls who think the old series is boring–means better ratings and a longer life for the show I love. So I’ll take it. I’m thrilled to have band-wagoners jumping on board, as long as the show doesn’t suffer for it–and it hasn’t. If anything it keeps getting better. So thank God for the fair-weather fans. I love them.
Leading into the 50th anniversary of the show (this year!) I just wanted to write about it for a bit…so here we go…
I’ve had a longer relationship with Doctor Who than I even remember sometimes. My first memories of the show are grainy and gloriously technicolor, with older gentlemen who don’t look like Sci-Fi/Action heroes running around fighting silly looking monsters or humanoid villians who ended up being much more scary due to the grainy technicolor. It was cheesy. The sets looked like they might fall over. A lot of the acting was…sub-Blair Witch… But it was great.
My very earliest memory of knowing I was watching Doctor Who was a Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor) era episode. I remember that I was home sick from school–in fact I THINK it was when I had the chicken pox. I was up later than usual because when you’re a sick kid you get to stay up late sometimes. Channel 9 (public television) was running a Baker episode and I remember my dad kind of sitting me down to watch it with him. (It should be noted that Baker had already left the role by that time–I believe he stopped being The Doctor before I was born; but as one of the more recognized Doctors his work was being shown for a LONG time after he left.) I think it was a Cybermen episode, but I might be wrong about that. I knew right then that I wanted one of those long scarves…
Time passed, as it does… At that time (pre-Internet as we know it) it was difficult to be a fan of a British TV show and live in America. You had to chance onto Channel 9 showing a marathon of the thing you love and have your VCR ready to record it. (I still have many a “Red Dwarf” tape made by just that method–even though I now have the full series on DVD.) Even though I’d occasionally be up late enough to see a Baker or Davidson episode–or rarely even a Sylvester McCoy–I eventually lost track of Doctor Who and it faded into being a distant memory.
Then one day, when digital cable became a thing, they relaunched the series with a NEW Doctor (#9). I for some reason convinced myself that it was blasphemy. But my dad watched. And I took in part of the first episode and thought, “That still looks like it did in the 80s…cheesy…” and dismissed it, not realizing that they were sort of doing that on purpose, hearkening back to the old Third Doctor story of the Autons. Then I caught part of an episode (that my dad was watching–again) with slightly better effects, wherein the “last human” was so plastic-surgery addicted that she’d just become skin stretched out like a trampoline. Caught my attention. Made me laugh once or twice… And I dismissed it.
Then I was home sick from work one day–maybe that’s what it takes with me–and I saw my first David Tennant episode (Doctor #10). It was the one with the cat-nurses where he heals all of the sick semi-zombie people in the hospital. I was floored by how good it was and knew I’d have to see more…then didn’t know when to catch it and kind of forgot about it…
Then the Sci-Fi network picked it up and was running the arc where the Master returned. Not fully knowing what it was I happened upon something with Derek Jacobi in it (I’m a big fan of his) and stuck on it for a bit, realizing “Oh this is Doctor Who!” when Tennant sauntered it. It kept going for the whole of that episode arc and I knew I was going to have to move heaven and earth to see the whole of the relaunched series. Fortunately, all I had to do was buy the DVDs–thanks for having since been invented, Internet!
And that’s how I became a fan of the modern version…and Doctor #11 is great. He and Tennant keep switching places as my favorite all-time Doctor. (Never thought anybody would’ve overtaken Baker, much less TWO of them!)
Now a couple loose-ends…
My top-five favorite Doctors:
- Tennant/Smith (Tie)
My Favorite Villains:
- The Master (hands-down, my favorite–any era)
- The Silence
- The Cubes from the “Slow Invasion.” Thought they were funny. Sue me.
- The OLD Cybermen–especially the one that would open its mouth as far as possible and spew out pre-recorded lines. Creepy looking as HELL.
- Davros–even though I’m not a big fan of the Daleks. (Don’t get me wrong, I have liked most of the Dalek stories I’ve seen, but I just find them grating. Though I would probably put “Asylum of the Daleks” from this past season in my top five episodes of the relaunch–or possibly EVER. That was excellent.)
- Sarah Jane – The companion against which ALL OTHER companions must be measured, and they don’t come close. (You’ll notice Rose isn’t even on the LIST.)
- The Brigadier – Though I kind of feel that “companion” is an unfair term for him. Brig became the Doctor’s best friend and was so important to the old series that without any real explanation, the new series paid him tribute by dropping his name into a story when the actor who played him died recently.
- Jack Harkness – Because…come on…Captain Jack.
- The Ponds/Williams – I fell in love with Amy before I did Doctor #11. That’s saying something.
- Wilfred Mott – An unlikely choice and an unlikely companion. Brought a human, fragile touch to Doctor #10 toward the end of the run that was desperately needed, if you ask me.
And finally…here’s a picture of me in my Tom Baker-type scarf that I bought this year. For the record, my dad is the first person I called to tell about it…because in many ways this is all his fault, anyway.