I finally started watching Doctor Who. And then I didn’t stop for a solid week. It is totally obsession-worthy. Once again I’m pitifully behind the curve on the Doctor Who love. But there’s a good reason for it this time, I swear. I’ve wanted to watch it for a really long time, but I’m a hopeless perfectionist and wanted to start at the beginning. Almost impossible, let me tell you. The show is British, right? One of those quintessentially British things. They don’t number their episodes like we do, and their seasons run differently. Doctor Who also has special episodes between regular seasons that aren’t part of either season. All of which adds up to a huge, confusing mess, which is then further compounded by the DVDs being released out of order and taking a million years to come out here in the Colonies. And then there’s the extra added bonus fact that this show has been on since the sixties and half of the old episodes are not on DVD and are probably lost to time altogether (haha, time – get it?). It’s really daunting and frustrating. Putting all of that behind me, I bit the bullet and A) got Netflix and B) started with the new episodes. I can watch the classic ones later when I get a region-free DVD player.
Whovianism is relatively new in the US, pretty much blowing up with the new Doctors. Sure, we got some of the old ones on PBS back in the day, but I was just a kid back then and I checked out of PBS programming as soon as Fraggle Rock was over. I do remember watching a few of the Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) episodes. But it’s practically been a religion in Britain since the get-go. And I can totally see why. It’s terribly funny. The writing is great. It’s cheesy, but not hard-to-watch cheesy. Hey-those-rubber-masked-aliens-are-super-fun kind of cheesy, which may just be because so many plot points had to carry over from an era of television that was camp before camp was camp. Most British scifi is as corny as Adam West’s Batman, but that accent makes it seem so much more sophisticated. Weird, that. But cheesy scifi is great, because the humor of it makes you love the characters, so then when something awful happens you have a genuine emotional response.
The space ship vs time machine convention of scifi is that usually the vessel is either one or the other, barring some horrible accident or unavoidable natural phenomenon. But the Doctor’s ship, the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space – a horrible acronym) is both! All the time! It’s fantastic. Which is probably the thing I love most about this show, honestly. That great big “fuck you” to the rules of scifi. He’s the Doctor. He does whatever he wants. So there. Take that, universe. And besides the occasional dark or serious moment, the Doctor himself seems to be having an absolute blast all the time. Almost reckless, his time-and-space-trotting fun. How can you not love that? So yeah. Now I’m hooked. I don’t know how long you have to have watched to say that you’re a huge fan of something, but I feel like I’ve definitely crossed that line. When you find yourself wondering which bills you can blow off so you’ll have the money to buy a t-shirt that says “The Angels Have the Phone Box”? That’s fan territory, for real. Also? I want a sonic screwdriver. I want one. I do. The 10th Doctor’s, though, not that weird pinchy one that the 11th Doctor has. I don’t care how over-the-top geeky that is.
I did have one pretty traumatic moment. There was a particular episode that made me sob and sob and sob. And this is selfish and somewhat unrelated to my otherwise pure enjoyment of the show. I was just going along, digging my marathon, cruising on a really great Doctor Who high, when all of a sudden this episode comes on and the first two minutes or so is (and I’m not even kidding) the entire fucking plot of my novel. My husband looks up at me and grabs my arm and he’s all bugeyed, not sure whether I’m going to cry or scream or what. I chose crying. It’s usually safer and more effective. That damned collective subconscious, man. I didn’t steal the idea from them, and obviously they couldn’t have stolen it from me. We probably all saw the same movies or read the same books and jumped to the same conclusions. Christ, that really hurt. I know I can still write it, the basic idea can still be used. But in the back of my head I’ll always wonder if people think I just copied that one episode of Doctor Who. They’ll call me a hack. They’ll say I have no original ideas. Let me tell you something, folks. There are no original ideas. Every single story that has ever been told by mankind is either a good-vs-evil story or a love story. That’s all we’ve got to work with. That is the human condition. All we are is our words. Make them good ones, right?