Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday Rendezvous With Doctor Who

The Doctor Who page on Tumblr asked for people to post about their introduction to Doctor Who, so i posted the following:

I was about 8 when I started watching Doctor Who, which I hate to say happened in the late 70's. Where I grew up in America, it aired on Saturday nights at ten p.m. on PBS.  We didn't get the individual episodes, but an edited 90 minute (give or take) movie that those episodes comprised. I had to work hard to convince my mom to let me stay up, since we had church the next morning. At that church was the family who introduced me to The Doctor. We are still in contact after all these years, and marvel at the surreal journey we have taken with this uniquely tenacious show. 

You have to have imagination to appreciate Doctor Who, but in classic form it takes on a whole different meaning than today. With typically no budget to work with, the sets and effects of the classic series turn away the viewers who can't get past it. But I had enough imagination to see past any of that and focus on the story, the characters, and the mythology, a mythology that has only deepened with time. For many years Saturday night was THE night. It was the night I was able to escape with The Doctor and his companions to the far reaches of time and the universe. 

Technically, the first episode I saw was "Underworld", with Tom Baker as The Doctor. I understood nothing, but was fascinated by these people and their situation. It wasn't until the last of the fourth Doctor's adventures, Logoplis, that I began regularly watching. When The Doctor regenerated at the end of the episode, I learned early on the frustration many feel when one actor leaves and another takes on the role, but I also learned how thrilling it is to begin anew, yet continue on from the same point in the story. Our local PBS station did not air any episodes previous to Tom Baker, but I saw the other Doctors at viewings at monthly fan club meetings I attended with the friends I mentioned. 

And so for a number of years it went with fan club meetings and cons, which in the early 80's were intimate affairs. The panel with Jon Pertwee at my first con only had about 150 people in the room. I met companions and Doctors and bought merchandise like the TARDIS key, sonic screwdriver, novels and magazine back issues. I even begged my mother to crochet me a scarf, fashioned more on the one Tom Baker wore in his last series. A scarf i still have today.

After the show went off the air and I lost my video tapes, I almost forgot about Doctor Who. Every once in a while I would encounter someone with a tape of episodes and I would insist on watching. I never, at the time, had an opportunity to see the tv movie, but was leery of it anyway.

Then I heard it was coming back. I was dumbstruck and I was elated. A very familiar and welcome part of my childhood was returning, but would it pick up on what was already done or be a complete reboot? Thankfully it continued on from the original, more than less. I couldn't be more pleased with the direction it's taken. My favorite part about it's return has been in introducing new people to The Doctor. It's a given they will like it, because like The Doctor I choose my friends well, but the excitement I get from watching them discovering the show is a rush.

Typically I have a hard time with favorites. I don't even have a favorite color. I prefer to find favorite things about each Doctor or episode or writer. But I will say that I am most endeared towards Steven Moffat's way of doing things and hope he is in control for many years to come. And when it comes to Doctors, I prefer to pick a favorite from both new and old. Matt Smith is my pick for the new era of Who. He sucked me in early on and along with the excellent dialog he is given it's a hands down choice for me. For the classic series there is also no hard decision to make. Tom Baker, my first Doctor. His ability to be both man and alien at the same time is seconded only by Matt.

I have gone back and watched the Paul Mcgann movie, ordered merchandise I had lost long ago, ordered new merchandise and listened to the licensed audioplays. I wore out those video tapes I had, and not much has changed except for now they're in dvd and bluray formats. I still get the greatest pleasure from watching episodes multiple times, with my 30+ years of memories flooding back each and every time. Doctor Who is back with a vengeance, though it feels like it was never gone, and I think that's fantastic.

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