“Okay, but really, you have to watch this.”
“Sure, I’ll get to it.”
“But watch it, though.”
“Sure, yeah. It’s on the list.”
“Sara. Watch it.”
That’s just a snippet of one of many coercion ridden conversations I had with my dear friend A. She was a fan of constantly peer pressuring me into watching new shows, weedling away at me until I caved and watched the first episode of whatever she pointed me towards.Then I blinked, and found myself three seasons in with a hopeless addiction. Not to mention offered a heaping helping of smug satisfaction, but that’s beside the point here.
Doctor Who was, obviously, no exception. I started on the first series of the reboot after some seismic levels of cajoling, with Christopher Eccelston’s Ninth Doctor. Anyone who’s seen pretty much anything the guy’s done knows why this was exciting. However, if you’re reading this and thinking not much more past “Hey, that guy’s got a funny last name…”, please take a moment and click on that funny name, and watch just about anything he’s been in. I recommend starting with Shallow Grave, but that’s just me.
I don’t think I had a clue what I was watching until I was slapped with the end of the series, The Parting of the Ways. Only after that did I look back dazedly and go “I kind of love this guy.”
I was Rose Tyler, and every other companion before or since. Going along for the ride for reasons that can’t be explained, only to find myself getting outrageously emotionally invested in a Madman with a Blue Box. Then just as quickly as I’d gone head over heels for this funny guy with big ears, a bigger grin, and a sharp tongue… He was gone.
Enter David Tennant, post regeneration. It’s amazing what first strikes you as a ploy for TV Executives to keep stringing a show along from here to Eternity sets in so quickly. You start off with a compulsive sense of mistrust and aggravation; a surity that this Doctor will never match up to the Doctor prior. Then there’s the tentative stage, one that you move through pretty swiftly in the face of Ten’s charm and infectuous energy.
Couple that with the rudeness (while still lamentably not ginger), and the sudden shifts into darkness and angst, and you can see the shades of The Doctor past that help you make the connection and bear the loss. This isn’t the same Doctor, but he’s still The Doctor. Of course he is. How could he not be?
It was this process that made my progressive induction into the fandom (or becoming a ‘Whovian’, as it’s more entertainingly labeled) all the more weird. I was raised on science fiction, sure, but that wasn’t where I was leaning. In fact around that time it was pretty much anything else, with Supernatural leading the pack. But here I was, seeing a whole new universe through Rose Tyler’s eyes, plowing through entire series and wondering just how shameful it’d be to pick up my own sonic screwdriver.
(Just so you know, not shameful at all. I have one that works as a flashlight, it’s fantastic, and when I use it I absolutely make sweepy scan-y dramatic motions. I defy anyone to hold one in their hand and not do the same.)
By the time I was finished, so was David Tennant. I know a lot of people scoff and snark at his exit, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve wanted to reach in and drag someone out for a hug more. Matt Smith, the youngest Doctor to date and what felt like the most random choice that could possibly be made, was next on the docket. This was the first time I got to be nervous about this particular Oncoming Storm. He was young, funny looking, and just didn’t inspire confidence.
The process struck again, but this time I was fully invested in it and forced to undergo the slow and steady progression once a week: Aggravation, mistrust, nervousness, tentative amusement, steadily growing affection…
If I wasn’t hooked before, that was the end of it. Following Eleven through his stint, regrowing that attachment for a new/old face, going on each adventure weekly, I was done for. There’re too many elements to it all aside from sci-fi to not find something to connect with; fantasy, romance, comedy, tragedy, horror, and thensome, in tons of forms.
Now Matt Smith’s just about done, the truly brilliant Peter Capaldi is on the way, and I’m just in time for the fiftieth anniversary. I’m watching An Adventure in Space and Time, Mark Gatiss’s rendition of how the whole thing began. Soon I’ll be watching the fiftieth anniversary special with fish fingers and custard (Well, in a manner of speaking…), and Monday I’ll be off to Boston to see it again in a theater chock full of fans just like me. My TV’s hardly left BBC America all week, and I’ve worn a different Who shirt all week thanks to the power of TeeFury and others like it.
Those are just small pieces of ways I’ve found to celebrate this strange fandom that makes you feel like you’re connected to something that’s universal. Finally, I understand what the hell’s going on with folks of the Trek and Wars persuasion.
I’ve been fascinated by the Ood, seriously disturbed by the Cybermen, discovered I can say without hesitation who my Doctor is (Ten), and what my favorite episode is (Blink), nevermind my favorite companion (Donna). When the Pandorica opened, I left my room in a daze and needed a hug. And every once a while I find myself looking to the skies and wondering, if I glanced at the right moment, I might catch a blue police box whizzing by.
Crazy notion, of course. But still. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
With or without that box, the spirit of the whole thing’s worth taking out with you into the world. We could all stand to be a little more Doctor-y. Any and all of them will suffice. Come on now, allons-y! Just take your pick, open the door to the adventure that lies ahead, grab that hand that tells you it’s all going to be alright, and get ready to run.
Oh, and of course…