Thursday, November 3, 2011
Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Two: Doctor Who
I am thankful for Doctor Who. Due to a chance reference on The Big Bang Theory, my brother-in-law decided to give this BBC sci-fi show that he saw on Netflix a try- little did he know he was starting a chain of Whovians that continues to this day. He started watching, and my sister started watching over his shoulder, which prompted her to tell me about it. I then proceeded to watch the first four seasons of the new Who (and the 2009 specials) in a little over two weeks- devouring the show in up-til-4am marathons. I then bought all the new seasons plus the specials from eBay and watched them all again in a more leisurely manner with my roommate. And then again through season three with another friend. And I told my grandfather about them and he watched them all. And then my roommate's family started watching. Who knows how far the joy will go?
Doctor Who is a show that America wants to have- a show that the whole country loves that the whole family can watch and love together, but a family is not necessary for watching the show and enjoying it. The reason there is no corresponding show in America is the constant view that live action shows for kids must a) always include children and/or talk exclusively to them- b)always include adults that are dumb or condescending- c) always have simple plots and/or plot devices because children couldn't possibly understand complexity. And if it is a "family show" it must either be vanilla bland or include sly sexual jokes and innuendos "for the adults." Ugh.
Doctor Who succeeds because of the strength of its characters and storylines. It doesn't talk down to children or wink at adults. When I first watched the series, I was unaware of the fact that it was seen as a "family show" or a "children's show" in the UK. I just fell in love.
And I admit that no small part of that was because of David Tennant. He is and will always be "my Doctor." He portrayed a character who wasn't afraid of jumping into a wrong situation and talking his way into making things right. He was haunted by his past but he didn't let it stop him from saving the world. A lot. (Also why I like BtVS) He used his brain instead of guns. And he had fun! He could walk up to a monster and say "Brilliant! I've never seen a monster quite like you! Have you always had those large teeth?" and walk away! Christopher Eccleston did a remarkable job of reviving the Doctor's character and Matt Smith is wonderful and goofy and old in all the right ways, but David Tennant could go from fun and brilliant to intense and powerful in the blink of an eye (btw- love "Blink"). And he is just as amazing on stage- I was able to see him in Much Ado about Nothing this past July and he could stand on stage covered in paint and make the audience roll in the aisles with the twitch of his eyebrow. I may not have been able to get his autograph (they are serious about not being out backstage for long), but that show is a memory I will not be able to forget.
Finally, it is the best science fiction show ever. Period. Not every show hits all the right notes, but the ones that do- really do. Not because of their originality (though there is enough of that) or lack of holes (though the handwaving is, IMO kept to an ignorable minimum) but because of their service to the characters and the experience they give the audience. Neither I nor anyone who watches the show be in the position to save the world, but making sacrifices for our friends and standing up for what is right in the face of fierce opposition is certainly a possibility and having a character who isn't mostly vain and self-serving is, unfortunately for television in general, a fairly unusual occurrence.
And that is why I am thankful for Doctor Who.