Thursday, February 07, 2013

Doctor What? Doctor Who?

I'm neck deep in my Doctor Who indoctrination period, so please pardon my rabid descent into unbridled fandom. I started with the Ninth Doctor and have not yet caught up to the newest Doctor. Yet I'm both regressing and progressing in terms of timeline ... which, coincidentally, feels very situation appropriate. Like Tardis via DVDs.

My father and I periodically exchange chatty phone calls. On Tuesday evening, I told him, "I've started watching Doctor Who."

He laughed. "Oh, really? I thought that would be too campy for you."

I should take this moment to note that my dad and I are both sci-fi/fantasy fans. I stole his Anne McCaffery and Robert Heinlein. We sat on the same couch every week to see the new FarScape episodes as they came out while I was a teen.

"But it's got this great narrative storyline." I said. Each season is downright brilliant in its structure and foreshadowing which draws to an inevitable yet surprising conclusion -- exactly what good fiction should do. "And I'm willing to forgive the campy aliens and cyborgs since I understand that they're based off a storyline born out of 1960s special effects creations." A lesson Star Wars could use (or one the Who-reboot producers derived from the utter patheticness of Star Wars I-III). 

Yet, it's both more and less than that.

Doctor Who is humor and levity. There's that fight to overcome odds. There's the notion that the most ordinary and idiotic and absurd among us, those with menial jobs, and too much eyeshadow, and not enough self-worth can save the universe. A brilliant message that ordinary humans are fabulous creatures. Brilliant. 

Several years ago, I unknowingly caught the latter half of one of the Christmas specials on TV. With no Whovian knowledge -- no campy effect background info or larger-message notions -- I could hardly stand watching Voyage of the Damned. And to be honest, it's not the best of the Who-verse. Not by a long shot. Although, as absurd as a giant spaceliner named Titanic was, I flipped back to the channel as many times as I flipped away. Even then I wanted to know what would happened. But arriving at it now, via a greater understanding of the mythos, I gladly watched the whole thing end to end. Not just because I know the tales of the mythos and therefore the set up and plot forms a better sort of sense in my mind, but because I have finally learned to embrace the inherent message in Doctor Who:

It's not just about ordinary people saving the world, although that is a great big giant wondrous part of it. It's about not taking yourself too seriously and yet fighting for everything that is right and important and worthwhile. That flourish and verbosity are not bad things. That shoot first and ask questions later is a bad policy. That even the malicious deserve a chance to change. That allowing someone to change their mind is a kindness, not a weakness. That we are nothing but the sum of our choices, a sum that is always changeable.

But I think I got carried away.

I just meant to say that I've previously had an issue with taking myself too seriously for my own good. It's hard to laugh at yourself if you wrapped up in (the possibility of) achieving accomplishment, accolades, recognition and advancement. Too focused on facts and figures and praise.

The new Doctor Who may have started airing seven years ago, but I wasn't ready for the message back then. But now I'm finally ready for the Doctor's visit.

Highly Recommended