Saturday, September 1, 2012

Drinking the Whovian Kool-Aid

This summer I decided it was time to bite the bullet and check out the series that I had been avoiding, Doctor Who. As someone who loves pop culture, I knew enough about the show to get by, but given its nearly 50 year history, I found it a bit intimidating to just jump into the show. I was encouraged to start with the ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, and go from there. Thank you to everyone who said that.

I wanted to write this post a few weeks ago, but I found myself having a really hard time doing so because there's so much to talk about. Each time I sat down to write, I would end up writing a master's thesis on the various aspects of the show. Instead of doing that, I'm going to talk about the very strange journey I went on.

It normally takes me a while to warm up to fandoms. I enjoy shows, books, movies, etc. but I usually don't become a hardcore fan until several months or even years later. This was not the case with Doctor Who. It snuck up on me and then planted itself, refusing to leave.

While watching series 1 with Eccleston, I remember thinking, " Oh, this is interesting and odd. I like the angry quirkiness Eccleston brings, and Rose is pretty cool, even if she does treat Mickey like dirt. Let's see what happens." Then there's the regeneration, and I was bummed, and thought about giving up, but everyone told me I HAD to watch David Tennant's Doctor. So I kept going. 

I found the transition from 9 to 10 a little rough, and I wished there was more Eccleston, but I liked Tennant. He's a bit insane. I hated what happened to Rose, resisted Martha, and later, Donna Noble, but as the series progressed, I found I wanted to watch more episodes in a row. I became more emotional. I became invested. I fell for the Doctor and his companions, not to mention Jack Harkness. I am still convinced John Barrowman is not human or Barrowman is the alias, and he's really Harkness and unable to die. Seriously, he doesn't age! What's up with that?

The Doctor

*deep breath* Anyway, by the end of Tennant's run, I was a wreck. I can't remember crying so much during a tv show. Practically every other episode, I was in tears. WTH? I kept feeling like I was on this crazy ride that was twisting me in knots over and over again. I was so confused by it, but just as I started to accept this as my new reality, Tennant was gone, and Matt Smith took his place as the 11th and current Doctor.

I don't have the words to explain how much I detested the change. It wasn't because he was new. It was because the entire show changed, even the credits were different. We lost everyone. What I liked about the change from Eccleston to Tennant was we had someone, Rose, who could be there to help smooth the transition for the audience. She was our representative in tv world, but we didn't have that with Tennant to Smith. It was jarring. I almost stopped after the first couple of episodes, but like a good geek, I kept going.

The dynamic between Smith and his companions, the Ponds, was very different from the previous companions. With Eccleston and Tennant's Doctors the companions were there to compliment him. It was his show, and they were there to become amazing characters, but not overshadow the Doctor. That's not the case with Smith's Doctor. That's part of why I had so many problems with him at first. Amy Pond overshadowed the Doctor. She was the stronger character, and once Rory and River started to really come into play, the show became stronger because of them, and not Doctor. From an actor's point of view, it was a really interesting change, but from a fan's POV it was very frustrating.

Eccleston and Tennant both made me cry. Their acting moved me. If you had seen me by the end of Journey's End, if you weren't sobbing along with me, you would have been laughing at how destroyed I was. I couldn't stop crying. Tennant, Catherine Tate (Donna) and Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott) broke my heart into a hundred pieces. Even now, I can't talk about it without getting a little choked up. But Smith has yet to do that to me. The Ponds did. Vincent did too. In fact, Vincent Van Gogh was when I realized I had to continue with the series because there was great potential in it waiting to be realized.

After talking to Wilderowens about this, I figured out what was bugging me about Smith. He's too young, and it showed in his eyes. He had all the quirkiness and intelligence for the Doctor, but he didn't have that look in his eyes that says he'd been around for 900+ years. It's not his fault. He's the youngest person ever to play the Doctor, but during that first season it made a big difference. By his next season, something changed. The closest guess I can come up with is he matured very quickly with legions of Whovians going crazy for him. I could easily be wrong, but there is a definite change in him during his next season, and I liked it. A lot. I particularly liked it when he was allowed to get angry. Then there was something magical in Smith's performance. He was able to open up, and there was the Doctor I had been waiting for.
This about sums it up.

I can ramble on and on about this, but I won't, because that would take days. As I said in the beginning of the post, I don't fall hard for fandoms, but Doctor Who snuck up on me. I went from, "Oh, this is interesting," to "Oh, I want to know more," to "Oh my god! I need to know what happens next" in a matter on months. If you follow our Facebook page (if you don't, why not? We have a lot of great stuff there you can't find here. Go over there now) you might have noticed a dramatic increase in Who-related material. I've never experienced anything like this. I've found it both a little scary and exhilarating. Wilderowens even threatened to stage an intervention when I started to play with the Doctor Who toys at Midtown Comics. Then we got into a Dalek vs. the Enterprise battle. She won, but only because she's relentless, and I preferred to try and learn how to say, "exterminate" like a Dalek instead of battling her. See what I mean? I don't do that, but apparently I do, and I love every moment of it.

I am a Whovian and proud of it. And tonight, I get what I've been craving for several weeks - new episodes. That's right. If you've been off the grid, tonight is the series 7 BBC-A premiere of Doctor Who. Now I just need a sonic screwdriver, a TARDIS, and maybe an Ood, and all will be good. Will you be watching too?

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  1. Hey, look at this--I apparently had a twin out there in the world and didn't even know it. This is precisely what I did this summer. After years of being just about the only one in my circle of geek friends not watching Doctor Who, I decided why not, I'll give it a shot. I was told to watch the episode "Blink" to get my feet wet and THEN start with Nine, which I did.

    My progression was pretty much EXACTLY like yours was. Eccleston was quirky and angry and I wanted more of him, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to handle Ten(nant) when I'd only just gotten used to the dynamics of Nine/Rose, even if Rose did stick around to smooth the transition. Then there was the Rose stuff and Martha and Donna and dear lord, by the end of S4 I was crying all the time and wondering what on earth was wrong with me.

    I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear that someone else was just as much of a wreck as I was. I was actually chanting "fictional character, fictional character" through my sobbing as Ten regenerated. I have since tried to rewatch episodes from S3/S4 and I can't do it yet.

    You've hit the nail on the head with Smith, as well. I agree with everything you said, and thank you for putting into words the nagging feeling I had about him and couldn't place all through S5--he just seemed too young. The Van Gogh episode is my favorite in the Smith bunch so far and was a tipping point for me, as well.

    I'm really looking forward to S7, partially because I'm excited to watch the episodes in step with the rest of the Whovians. I don't think I quite realized what I was getting myself into when I sat down with Netflix a few months ago, but I'm another convert who's glad I drank the Kool-Aid!

    1. Thank you and yes! I've never been on such an emotional roller coaster with a show. I still can't wrap my brain around it. I'm excited about S7 too. I've seen both episodes, and I loved Asylum of the Daleks. I think I watched three or four times. I'm not sure how I feel about Dinosaurs on a Spaceship yet, but I did love Rory's dad. He was pretty cool. I hope you're enjoying it too.

  2. This was wonderfully said and I feel you. I cry pretty easily but I was doing the hardcore ugly sobs by the end of Tennant's run, and while i resisted Smith, I fell in such deep love/lust it rivaled what I had for Tennant.


    1. Thanks! I'm feeling the same way about Smith. I didn't like him at first, but now I'm all intrigued by his quirky face and mannerisms. There's something about him that draws me in. It's so weird.

      They really need to bring Barrowman back. I need a Captain Jack fix.