I have fallen under the charms of Doctor Who. Despite having been aware of its presence, not to mention its cult status, I never really took to the eccentric British series. I made several attempts back in Vancouver, when CBC (Canada’s very own public television network) aired a few episodes. It might have been the era of David Tennant as The Doctor, but for the life of me, I cannot recall. All I know is I didn’t get the show at all. The setting was too unfamiliar, the plot too confusing and the whole thing just plain ridiculous.
Then I happened upon this news article (via Zite app) last year. It was during my era of fascination with British series, from the requisite Downton Abbey to Sherlock and even, especially at that time of reading the article, the latest Titanic miniseries (which starred the actress featured in the article). I swear I only saw that because the great Julian Fellowes wrote that. You know, the well-spoken gentleman who created Downton Abbey and came up with those delightful one-liners as spoken by Dame Maggie Smith. The article itself was an April Fools trick, but it did make me wonder: what is the show like NOW? After all, I had recently read another article, this one in Empire, the greatest movie magazine of all time. They were interviewing the current Doctor himself, Matt Smith. He came across as…well, normal. In fact, he sounded like a great guy. Could the show be different now?
At this point, most of you might wonder: what kind of show is Doctor Who? What the heck am I talking about? For those well-versed in the mythology, please skip to the next paragraph. This is for the uninitiated only, who are too lazy to check Wikipedia or read the lengthy entry on that site. Doctor Who is a long-running BBC series centered on a very eccentric individual named The Doctor. He is a Time Lord, practically immortal, and goes through space and time to…well, save the world. Or is that ‘worlds’ given the fact that he can travel across multiple galaxies and dimensions? Oh, anyway, he is an alien and he has a magic screwdriver, kind of like a magic wand. His ‘time machine’ (or spaceship, if you prefer) is called Tardis and it looks like an old-timey English police phone box (or whatever the proper term for it is). It’s bigger on the inside. He travels with a companion (or sometimes two) and occasionally changes his appearance, usually when it’s time to recast the role or reboot the series somehow. So, basically, it’s the same character since the show’s debut many many years ago. His villains come in all shapes and sizes and their evil deeds vary from the absurd to the genius. There, all caught up now.
So, back to the latest season of Doctor Who. I started watching three episodes ago, when The Doctor traveled to New York to stop evil statues destroy…something. As expected, I didn’t quite understand what was going on. I had no clue who River Song was, or of her extremely complex relationship to The Doctor. But I couldn’t care less. I LOVED the episode. Somehow, Matt Smith could project wisdom and experience to his character while at times managed to display an endearingly boyish and playful side. His sadness, though unvoiced, seemed real and his energy seems endless. Plus, the whole show is really, really funny. With the right amount of weird. I was a convert.
It was no surprise when the Christmas special rolled in, I watched it immediately. It was an even better episode. Jenna-Louise Coleman, the new Companion, has absolute chemistry with the Doctor. She sparred verbally with him and drove him mad but you would absolutely believe that she brought The Doctor back to life after…erm, a recent loss (don’t want to spoil too much here, not that it matters). My favorite. though, is the most recent episode, set in current day London. It has the perfect balance of humor, intelligence, and storytelling. Plus, that moment when The Doctor rushed to Clara’s (that’s the Companion) side when she called him was soooo fantastic.
I’ve seen a preview of the next episode and it seems a little too out there for me, kind of like the ‘old’ Doctor Who, the one that failed to attract me. And I still know too little of the history of the other characters, The Doctor’s old enemies, and other details about the universe of the show. But I couldn’t care less. As long as creator Steven Moffat and his genius team of writers could come up with stuff as compelling as their last three episodes, I will continue to watch. Perhaps that is why science fiction and fantasy as a genre in general has flourished and gained such a massive, loyal following, despite unbelievable and sometimes ridiculous settings: it’s never the trappings of the imaginary world that matters, it’s the universal human theme contained in these series. I don’t get Star Trek. I never see the attraction in Stargate, but I can understand why plenty of people are obsessed with them or dress up in costumes at Comic Con.
Still, I wouldn’t say no to a Tardis. Seems very neat.