Thursday, May 3, 2012

First Thursday's Just For Fun: Doctor Who

When I tell you that I love Doctor Who, trust me when I say that statement might be the understatement of the year. One friend insists that I manage to bring the Doctor up at least once every time I see her (and we work at the same college, so that's a lot). Now, I know there are Whovians out there who will insist that I don't qualify for the club since I only got the bug last year, and since I started with the Ninth Doctor. I'm trying to rectify that situation and have recently been working my way through the First Doctor's series - the ones that are available anyway. After that, I'll move onto the Second and Third and so on, until I've watched them all.

In the meantime, I've been putting a lot of effort into figuring out why I'm so obsessed with this show. This isn't an all encompassing list, but here's what I've come up with so far:

The Show is Memetic
"Doctor Mew" by Jenny Parks
A meme is "a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another" (source). All you have to do to judge the memetic quality of Doctor Who is look at how broadly the concepts have spread, and think about all the different forms the concepts have taken.

It Makes Me Laugh
Case in point: Captain Jack Harkness.

Doctor Who Loves Me, Too
Well, maybe not me, but he does love libraries. Take this quote from the episode, "Tooth and Claw": " You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room's the greatest arsenal we could have - arm yourselves!"

The Characters Are Real People
I'm not saying that I think Time Lords and Daleks and Weeping Angels are real. (Dear lord, I hope Weeping Angels aren't real.) I am saying that the people, even minor characters, are multi-layered. The Doctor cries, I've seen it happen multiple times, and is still seen as a hero. Captain Jack Harkness is omnisexual, but his sexuality is not just there as a plot device and is instead one part of his character. And like the Doctor, Jack is still seen as a hero despite (because of?) this. The fact that Martha Jones is black comes up in discussions, but like Jack's sexuality her race isn't really a plot device. It's just one part of the whole. Oh, and Martha saves the day a time or two as well. More than anything else this, the way that the writers let the defining characteristics of the people come from within instead of without, is the reason I love Doctor Who.

What about you? If you're a Whovian, what do you love about the Doctor?


  1. I haven't seen much of the earlier series, but one thing I love about the three most recent Doctors is that each actor managed to communicate in different ways how the Doctor's personal history has affected him; Eccleston made him angry and sometimes frightening; Tennant made him vulnerable and sometimes frightening; and Smith makes him perverse and sometimes frightening. And all of them made him humorous! The Doctor is a scary, hard individual, but he does like a laugh. :)

    1. Exactly. It always makes me think about how the best fiction is truthful (truthful as opposed to factual). People are like ogres are like onions - layers!

  2. I'm also new to Who but immediately both my wife and I fell in love. I think we've gone through the new series at least 3 times so far and have started going back and checking out classic Who. I wasn't sure at first that I would really like it but I found I enjoy them almost as much as the new stuff. Especially the 7th Doctor and Ace and the 3rd (Doctor Who Judo AND frilly shirts?!). I think you completely summed it up so well that what makes the series so great are the characters and the fact that they really are complex characters with many levels. I think that's something that often is lacking in American tv.

    1. You are exactly right about the complexity being missing from American television - that's part of the reason why I haven't had a cable subscription in years. I've got Netflix and other streaming stuff online and almost never miss cable.

  3. The characters are real- I think that sums it up for me.

    While we viewers may not know the backstory for each character, it shines through and we know there's more to these people (I almost don't want to reduce them to mere "characters") than meets the eye.

    As I watched Donna grow beyond her shallow life, I realized something else I love about the people of DW- they're brilliantly dynamic! Their travels with the Doctor change them and they grow into even more amazing people.

    This dimensionality and dynamic-ness .. those are what I love about the story... and I come to love all the facets of these people.

    1. Yes! And what about Rory... talk about dynamic!