Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Doctor Lives

The most important thing I have learned from finally watching Doctor Who is that, as I had suspected, it is, after all, nothing like my beloved Primeval--though the two sound similar in summary, their dynamics are completely different.

And, ha, ha, no, that is not really the most important thing I have gotten out of the experience. It's quite shameful, really, that I drifted through nine years of this franchise in one month. But I couldn't help it. In Season 1 (2005, that is), I felt lukewarm at first; by the end I was getting drawn in. And then along came David Tennant and I was completely absorbed by the show and never wanted to stop watching. So, yes, I can say that I am becoming, at long last, a bit of a fan of this show, this show that people have been telling me for a while now that I should watch. It's just that it's difficult to jump into something that you know is so iconic: you know there are so many opinions about it already and so it's hard to just sit and casually watch. But you know what I've found so nice about Doctor Who is everything that, as a whole, it offers. It has comedy, drama, adventure, mystery, fantasy. If you're ever not the fondest of a particular character (or even a particular doctor) or plot element, you know that this is only one element.

Now we will commence on the inclusion of, possibly, some spoilers up to the current episode, The Time of the Doctor.

What I think bothered me most about the first couple of episodes was the attitude toward humanity. I may be a pessimist in some things, but I choose to be an optimist in others, and so I don't like to dwell on negative perspectives. I was bothered by what I thought was just humanity-bashing. But then that changed, and I realized it was just one particular moment. The perspective changed to admiration of humanity's diligence, perseverance, and hope. And I liked that.

Has anything else in existence ever used time travel so well as Doctor Who? This show creates a wonderful spiral of cause and effect, then and now, moments both endless and forever over. And then, of course, time travel gives the opportunity to go anywhere, to do anything. There are historical episodes and sci-fi episodes, psychological and adventurous. The possibilities are endless. So here is what I mean about the show "as a whole." Maybe I didn't care too much for the Agatha Christie episode because I'm not a mystery person. But I loved all the drama in episodes like "Journey's End."

Which brings me to the next point. The Doctor, the Doctor, it's all about the Doctor. The Doctor is a great creation, ever so much better than any superhero. He becomes representative about so much of what society considers. He saves, he regrets, he forms friendships, he is fascinated by everything, he is excited to explore everything, he loves overcoming danger. And he is an exploration of identity: with every new actor, he becomes a new person while still staying himself. Even though it's heartbreaking every time he changes, it's such an interesting exploration of personality, habits, and such.

Before I ever even began watching, David Tennant was bound to be my favorite doctor. That was just always inevitable. He plays that ridiculous comedy that reminds me of Henry Higgins (in the play version of Pygmalion that I saw a few years ago), and yet he is also dramatic and hopelessly tragic like John Keats or someone like that. The energy plus the expression of sorrow, both in one character; love it. And he wears a long coat.

Because I liked the tenth doctor, I also really liked him with Rose--thank goodness for the way they at least gave them the "Journey's End" conclusion. I was so happy to see Rose reappear . . . When Matt Smith came along, he played more straight comedy. So for his episodes, the dramatic side went more to Amy and Rory, and their story is also concluded nicely. I used to think Walter Hartright from The Woman in White was the sweetest, most gentlemanly, steadfast, good, and honest male character in fiction. Rory, who always stood by Amy's side, reminds me quite a bit of him. Especially today, when fiction likes to explore the gray areas of a character, it's nice to simply see a good person portrayed.

It's ridiculous to try and react to nine years in one post. It would have been better to post about each season, but I was too busy watching, you see? Let me just say that "The Day of the Doctor" was one of the best things ever, not least because David Tennant was in it but also because it had that winning mix of comedy, drama, nostalgia, hope, and mixed timelines.

Through Netflix, Hulu Plus (I hate Hulu Plus, by the way), iTunes, and one DVD, I have managed to watch all of these newer episodes. Everyone told me I could start with the new series, instead of trying to start with the old episodes first, and it did seem much easier to start with the new ones. But I usually like to start at the beginning, and it feels so strange now to have started in the middle. So I will have to keep my temporary Hulu Plus subscription (yes, I am unhappy about this) and muddle back and forth between Hulu and Netflix, watching and watching and trying not to be driven crazy by the missing episodes. I wonder how long it will take me?

(Oh, yes, and thank you to The Hillywood Show for announcing that your next parody subject will be Doctor Who, as that announcement was what finally drove me to start watching.)

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