Doctor Who – What It Means To Me
I know we’re a gaming focused website but I do like putting out my thoughts on other media platforms as well on here. I’d like to take a moment and chat about Doctor Who, and what it means to me, and why I consider it to be the best series ever made and to ever grace our television sets. Agree, or disagree it’s all about opinions from here on in. A show spanning 50 years, and still releasing new episodes. That’s pretty damn amazing. However, this article will contain spoilers so please read with caution if you’re not up to date on Doctor Who.
I remember when I first heard of the show it was about 2006 and David Tennant was The Doctor. I always thought it was about some medical dude who could travel through space. That’s really all I thought it was, and it didn’t really interest me. I kept hearing stuff about it for years but always tuned it out, I wasn’t interested, and didn’t want to watch something that I thought would be boring, and just plain stupid. So, I just ignored people telling me to watch it and stuck to my anime (I had a huge anime phase around this time) and pretty much tuned out every other show on television.
Fast forward to around 2010 and I was flicking through the channels and saw something with a man in a tweed jacket, bowtie, and interesting hair running about and stuff. It caught my attention and I watched for about 15 minutes before switching the channel out due to being heavily confused as to what was going on. I eventually found out that it was Doctor Who, but I was extremely confused as to who this man in the bowtie was as I thought The Doctor wore a brown trench-coat and had wild hair or something.
This was also before I knew that the show had been one since 1963, and that the lead actor would always change due to an effect called regeneration. For those of you who don’t follow the show, it’s a sort of effect where Timelords (The Doctor’s race) can change every cell in their body to prevent themselves from dying. However, doing this causes their appearance to change and thus the reason for thirteen different actors to have played the part over the course of it’s fifty years on television.
When I started watching Doctor Who in 2010 (started with two Tennant episodes) I thought David was the First Doctor, and that Matt was the second. But, I was clueless on how/why Matt was now The Doctor, and why David was no longer playing the part. So, I watched all of Matt’s run and was slightly confused on the whole thing. While watching Matt’s first series (Series 5) a friend of mine told me that another actor was The Doctor before David and his name was Christopher Eccleston, and that was an actor whom I had known from his roles in 28 Days Later, Gone In 60 Seconds, etc. So now, I thought Chris was the First Doctor to ever take the role, and then David, and finally Matt.
I was still confused on how another actor could take the role though, and my friend told me all about regeneration and that The Doctor could change his cells, blah, blah to avoid death but essentially became a new man. This made sense to me, and explained why Matt was now The Doctor. So, I watched all of Matt’s episodes (Series 5), then went through all of David’s, and then watched all of Christopher’s. Backwards yes, but it just made more sense for me to do it that way.
Then I sort of found out about all the other actors, and that the show had been around since 1963 which was a detail my friend who watched the show never told me. He had no idea that the show had other Doctors before Chris ever stepped into the TARDIS and this just fueled more interest in the show for me, and I soon found myself watching classic episodes of Doctor Who, and eventually stumbling onto some wonderful episodes starring my now two favorite classic Doctors, Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor) and Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor). I polished off most of Pertwee’s run on Doctor Who, and I’m currently making my way through Baker’s entire era. I’ve seen episodes from every Doctor’s run now, but Pertwee and Tom are the two classic Doctors that really got their hooks into me, and captivated me to follow their portrayal of The Doctor.
Now, every actor who has taken over the role have been excellent but Tom Baker, and Jon Pertwee will always be the two Doctors who got me interested, and kept me interested in Classic Who. Something I guess most modern Who fans have trouble watching. I can understand why, but the stories in Classic Who are equally as good, if not better than what we’re offered in New Who sometimes. So, that being said if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, and haven’t seen anything from the classic series, please go check it out. It’s so darn good.
The show also offers some of the most interesting stories, and concepts that I’ve ever seen. A police-box that travels through time & space, an alien-humanoid who can change his fan when he’s dying, uses a trusty device called a Sonic Screwdriver and doesn’t really believe in violence, and prefers talking problems out and solving them with his intellect. It’s pretty neat. However, the show has also been very good at capturing emotions and making the fans feel very…emotional when watching the program. Killing of characters, making emotional scenes, and even killing off the main character so to speak after fans have gotten emotionally attached to them, and then introduce a new man into the same clothes that your Doctor was wearing is quite the emotional rollercoaster, and something I never really experienced until 2013′s Christmas special where my Doctor, Matt Smith regenerated into Peter Capaldi.
Even though the actors leave the role, they’re still The Doctor, and always will be The Doctor to the true Who fans. It’s also a show that can do something unique, and has the tendency to bring back Doctor’s for anniversary specials, which we saw in the 50th anniversary episode in November which brought back David Tennant (10th Doctor), gave a nice little cameo to Tom Baker (4th Doctor), gave us some more delicious information on an unknown incarnation “The War Doctor” (John Hurt) whom was between the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston). It also sort-of introduced Peter Capaldi, whom took over for Matt Smith and became the Twelfth Doctor on Christmas Day.
I just think it’s really cool that this show is so unique and it’s really one of the only shows that allow different actors whom have played the role of The Doctor to interact with one another on screen and actually have a reason to explain how. Yes, they’re all different people but they do play the same man. So, he’ll always be The Doctor no matter what face he’s wearing. That’s pretty darn cool.
The show is essentially about change when you get down to it, and it’s a really good way of explaining that change is a real thing that everyone needs to accept, and the show is constantly changing. The Doctor changes into a new man every so often, his companions always change, and the TARDIS (his ship) also changes constantly. The show is about change, and it’s been a good way for me to realize that life is all about change, and it helps me realize that change needs to happen for things to progress. Things never stay the same, change always happens, and we need to accept it.
A good example is Matt Smith’s (Eleventh Doctor) exiting speech on Christmas Day right before he regenerated. He said, and I quote: We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good. You gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. That’s a pretty nice quote explaining change, and how people should accept it. At least, that’s how I felt about it. It’s also very nice because Matt’s Doctor was known as the man who forgets, so the fact that he says he’ll remember his past lives, and the one that’s about to end is extremely touching and helped to deliver the emotion home, and break my hearts.
It’s also an extremely easy show for me to relate to. I may not be an immortal, time-traveling alien from space, but The Doctor in all sense of the word is an extremely lonely man, much like myself. He can essentially never die, and is a quirky man that would sometimes be classified as crazy. He’s an odd person, a loner at times and I can really relate to that. I’m a very lonely, depressed person and just being able to watch this show and relate to situations that The Doctor is in really makes me care for the character that much more and is part of the reason I love the show, and love The Doctor so much. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m alone when I watch it, and it makes my imagination run wild. What if I was The Doctor, what if I got to travel through time & space? It’s a show that makes you happy, and sad at the same time but also fuels the imagination and gives you characters you can relate to, and ultimately come to love. What more could you want in something?
Sure, the show can hit ruts once and a while but as do all other programs. But, I still want to continue watching and see what happens to these characters, and just see these amazing adventures, and places that I know I’d never get to see, or experience on my own. It’s a thrill ride, and Doctor Who knows how to deliver.
It’s also quite fair to say that The Doctor is also by far the most interesting character on television today, and quite possibly in all of television’s history. We have a time-traveling alien, who can change his face, and ultimately never die. He’s had numerous faces, numerous companions, travels in a police box, fights aliens & monsters, saves planets, and is the true definition of a hero. He rarely uses weapons, and rarely ever kills someone to end a problem. He’s peace-loving, and someone that people should look up to. He’s the type of person that everyone should strive to be, even though he’s kind of wacky and out there.
Not only does his face change, but as does his personality, habits, etc. One incarnation could be a grumpy man, and the next could be a bumbling clown who plays a recorder. That’s another interesting trait about the show, and The Doctor himself. It’s a new ride, and adventure every time someone new steps into the TARDIS. He’s the same man in essence, but he’s always a different person when you think about it. Just like Matt’s quote from above states. Cool, isn’t it?
Lots of people may judge the show, and think it’s silly without giving it a chance. Then again, it is silly and that’s what makes it so great. It captures our imagination, and gives us these experience we’d never have the chance to do ourselves. And, I’m trying to explain the show as best as I can in this article, even though I feel like I’m not really doing the show much justice. It’s difficult to get 50 years worth of content down into an article without boring people, and pushing them away with what I’m trying to convey and say about this show. A show that means a lot to me, and has helped me through depression, and other numerous issues in my life.
You could sort of say that The Doctor truly was a Doctor and helped out issues, and ailments that afflicted me. It opened my eyes, and made me realize things weren’t always going to be bad, and things would change, and get better. Maybe that’s why the show means so much to me, maybe that’s why I hold it so close to my heart, and maybe it’s due to the fact that it’s the most interesting, captivating, and coolest show on television, and in my opinion will always be the best show on television. Sorry, Breaking Bad.
So, when people ask me about Doctor Who and why they should watch it I don’t really give them any reasons other than it being interesting. I believe the show captivates, and captures the minds of it’s fans differently than others. We each have our own stories, and experiences with the show, just as every fan/Whovian has someone they call their Doctor. The Doctor they relate the most to, love the most, and most of the time is the one they started with. Is any one Doctor better than the others? Sure, but that doesn’t stop the fact that they’ve all been brilliant in the role, and that they’re all The Doctor. I’m a fan of all of the incarnations, but Matt is still my Doctor and I’ll still hold him close to my hearts than the others, but that doesn’t mean I snuff them, and hate them. They’re all The Doctor, and are all just as brilliant.
And now I’m sitting here waiting until August of this year to see more Doctor Who episodes, and see the new Doctor. Number Twelve get up to some antics in the TARDIS, and usher in a new era of the show with a new face, and new actor with Peter Capaldi. Sure, some “fans” got all mad about him not being as attractive as the previous New Who Timelords, but he’s a brilliant actor and that’s what matters in the end. Peter is also an extremely handsome fellow, and in my opinion can be pretty spiffy in a suit (Malcom Tucker anyone?).
However, this is an issue that bothers me about some of the fans of Doctor Who. It seems that these fans only liked David because he was “hot” and disliked Matt a lot for taking over David’s spot in the show. And now that Matt has been replaced by an older man (55 years old) they’re throwing a hissy fit because he isn’t “sexy” and because he’s old. It just bothers me to the core, and makes me realize that these aren’t fans of the show. Adapt to change, realize that The Doctor will always change, and never be the same face forever. Times change, and so must he. Sure, it sucks when your favorite Doctor leaves but that doesn’t mean that the new guy is a horrid human being, and will be a terrible Doctor. Heck, I think Matt blew David out of the water in terms of being The Doctor, but they brought their own unique spin on the role as did every other actor.
Complaining that the Doctor is an old man? He’s been played by older actors before. William Hartnell, whom played the first Doctor was the same age as Peter Capaldi when he took the role. Even John Hurt whom played the “forgotten incarnation” in Day Of The Doctor is 73, and was equally as brilliant in the role, and I think deserves his own series. Age, looks, accents, ethnicity, etc shouldn’t be a deciding factor of how a Doctor is good or not. It comes down to the portrayal, and the way they embody the character. Every Doctor has been good, and the showrunners, and people behind the show know what they’re doing. Every Doctor has been good, every Doctor from here on in will be good. So hell, bring on Capaldi.
This is probably coming off a big, rambly post but I’m doing my best to really explain my emotions, and feeling towards the show. So, if you’re still reading I thank you, and applaud you for following along and still keeping some shred of interest in my insanity.
Now, the show may have a ton of excellent episodes behind it, and some pretty neat ideas but there’s a lot of crap too. I can’t praise the show entirely, and do have to say there’s some negative aspects about it, but it doesn’t really take away from the Who experience as a whole, and I’ve found most of these issues in New Who. There’s always some episodes in the series that don’t really jive, and at times can be hard to watch. We saw a couple during Tennant’s era, and Matt’s era was plagued by a few of these. Most people will argue that Steven Moffat isn’t a good writer, but I don’t agree. I think he’s an excellent writer, and story-teller I just think he’s run as the showrunner, and head writer on Doctor Who has run its course. His stories have gotten stale, (as we saw in most of Series 7) and some of his characters, and ideas just don’t feel right being in Doctor Who and for me don’t really mesh. I’m also not really a fan of this whole having companions fall in love with The Doctor, and having sexual tension between him and his companions. What happened to him being a mentor, and teacher to them like in the Classic days? Can we go back to that? Can we stop having them fall in love with him?
I enjoy lots of Steven’s work on Doctor Who, but Series 7 really proved that he’s gotten stale and seems to be running out of ideas for the show. Sure, his stuff could pick up, and improve during Series 8 and Capaldi’s run as The Doctor, but I think his time should be up soon too. Bring on a new showrunner, let someone else take the reigns. Everything changes, and that’s not a bad thing. I’d still love to see Mark Gatiss take over as showrunner, or even Neil Gaiman. One can dream. One can only dream.
Now, more than just The Doctor, the time travel, and his TARDIS are memorable on the show. We also have some really memorable scenes, companions, and most of all the monsters that he encounters in his travels. The most famous, and prominent of those are the Daleks. The Doctor’s ultimate foe. These guys are awesome, and are pretty darn terrifying. They show no compassion, no remorse, and essentially kill everything in their paths.
They also have one of the most memorable catchphrases in the history of the show, and that’s “Exterminate”. A phrase they say before attacking, and dispatching their foes. Pretty great stuff the Daleks. We also have other monsters like the Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Sea Devils, Ice Warriors, Silurians, Sontarans, Silents, and heck even evil Snowmen that eat people. So, not only is the show good at creating memorable characters, it’s also great at creating terrifying monsters that can intimidate, and frighten even the oldest viewer of the show.
So, in the end I’m grateful to the BBC, and everyone who got Doctor Who off the ground, and an actual thing back in 1963. Without them this show wouldn’t be around today, and wouldn’t have garnered such a fan following fifty years later. It’s beaten the test of time, and came out victorious. Doctor Who is here to stay, and I have no doubts that it will be around for another fifty years and we’ll be sitting on the 24th Doctor, or something like that.
Doctor Who means the world to me, and it’s simply the best bit of entertainment on television today. So, to honor all the wonderful actors that have brought this show, and excellent character to life here’s a video of below just how unique, interesting, and emotional the whole regeneration concept of the show can be. Again, warning the video does contain spoilers.
Thanks for reading.