Since defending my thesis and officially turning in the final draft to the graduate school, I’ve had a lot of free time. I’ve filled it by increasing my running regimen, hunting for the perfect job, freelancing for the honors office, and watching Doctor Who.
Yes, I have finally discovered the magic of the Doctor. I always knew I would love this show. The only reason I waited so long to start watching it is because of its reputation for evoking so many strong emotions in viewers, and as someone who cries at olympic commercials featuring Morgan Freeman’s voice, I knew I would be a sobbing mess with this show. And I wasn’t wrong.
I went ahead and just started watching at the reboot with the 9th doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston). Thank goodness for Netflix, otherwise this never would have been possible. In about three days I made it through two seasons and I had to take a break. This show is emotionally intense and it made me stress eat. If that’s not a mark of success for a show, I don’t know what is.
The hardest thing about watching Doctor Who is knowing that every character you love will eventually leave you. And yet, you let yourself fall in love and believe that they will be around forever, only to get to the end of each season and feel like your heart has been ripped out and now you need to go for an extra long run in the rain just to hide your endless tears.
I haven’t caught up to the most recent episodes yet, I’m still on season three with the 10th Doctor (played by David Tennant), but I feel like I have begun to learn a lot from this incredible show. Like, how to emotionally manipulate my readers into never leaving me, ever, but you know, in a non-abusive way. Like how you give someone love and joy, and even when it goes away, they still stick around because it might come back, and it does. And the only things that get physically accosted are the Daleks because they’re jerks and they deserve it for trying to kill everything, ever.
EXTERMINATE. EXTERMINATE. EXTERMINATE.
The magic of Doctor Who no doubt comes from the amazing characters, the swift moving plot lines and, as Craig Ferguson quite accurately states, the fact that the show is “all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.”
What is so mesmerizing about these characters is how they value each other above all else, making the tough decisions even tougher. Do you save the whole human race, or just the woman you love? Do you stay with the Doctor even though it means you will never see anyone in your family ever again? Can you let the woman you love abandon everything to be with you? The characters of Doctor Who walk a really interesting line between incredibly selfish and utterly selfless, to a point where sometimes you can’t tell which one they are being.
But what is truly inspiring is how the doctor is notoriously unarmed and always so incredibly chipper, walking right into danger with a smile and a positive attitude–and all he wants to do is help. And to him, everyone is important, everyone is special. He meets a number of truly evil beings, but always gives them a chance to redeem themselves. Absolutely inspiring. That is, of course, until he becomes a more hardened man and that just leads into an awesome character arc. Character change for the win!
This show is definitely in the category of science fiction which can sometimes give it a bad reputation. My little brother tried to start watching and just couldn’t get past the goofy production and unique style of British television. “But it’s so worth it!” I told him. He ignored me and went back to watching LOST, and then later called me and told me how stupid the LOST series finale was. “No kidding,” I told him. “That’s American TV for you.” He scoffed, hung up, and I went right back to browsing Doctor Who fan pages.
So the plots and side characters can get a bit goofy, that’s all part of the charm! Doctor Who does not lack for plot or feeling or anything, despite it’s goofy, eccentric exterior. There is so much more beneath the jokes and silly alien creatures. You have to unzip the flesh suit to really see what’s inside!
In each episode there is the perfect amount of plot building to reach a very terrifying climax where you don’t know what will happen next. How can this problem possibly be fixed, you will inevitably ask. How will the characters be saved? They will be saved, right? RIGHT? Well, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes people just have to die. And the fact that every plot isn’t wrapped up so neat and tidy gives every moment a feeling of heightened intensity. Maybe things don’t work out perfectly this time, and as the viewer, I have to accept this, try to live with it. I’ll grieve, and I’ll not want to keep watching, but I will. Because even with so much hurt, there was so much triumph. Life is pain, right? And life keeps going. And that is a message Doctor Who keeps hammering away at with such incredible accuracy and effectiveness that you just can’t stop watching.