Doctor Who

I am upset about Doctor Who moving to cable because I like Doctor Who.  Now, you may or may not be surprised at this; you may think, “I thought this guy really only liked literature, Classics, Christianity, and the occasional poem.”  I also like science fiction and Vikings (and many other things besides).

When I was a kid, I sometimes watched reruns of Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) Doctor Who.  I liked them well enough but am fuzzy on the details.  When the new Doctor Who started up with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor (they’re all actually the same person, he can just regenerate his body, so multiple actors have played him through the years; like James Bond but alien and with an explanation).

I watched every episode of the first season.  It was truly awesome.  I was in Cyprus and television-less for Season Two.  Before Season Three started, a friend loaned me the DVDs of Season Two with David Tennant as the Doctor.  I watched them all in five days and became an addict.  I have since then watched all of Seasons Three and Four, relying mainly on the CBC website since I have no TV (and no space for one, either).

But CBC has abandoned Doctor Who, possibly because of there only being a few specials this season and no regular episodes, possibly because they don’t realise that science fiction is actually popular, possibly because there’s nothing politically correct about an alien who has two hearts and travels through time in a Police Box.  Who knows?

I like Doctor Who because it is witty and funny.  The Doctor, in these last two incarnations, is a funny guy.  He’s also dreadfully clever, which makes the show pleasant for me to watch, being moderately clever myself.  There is lots of fun action and many interesting aliens.  They pose interesting questions in many episodes.  There are Daleks, Cybermen, and more to keep us interested.  Derek Jacobi was in an episode.  All sorts of reasons to like Doctor Who.

I especially like Doctor Who because of its realistic take on humanity.  The Doctor’s view of us and the show’s portrayal of us is, first of all, hopeful.  The Doctor is aware, as a Time Lord, of all the amazing things the human race has done, will do, and can do.  He sees us with great hope.  He knows we are capable of much good in the universe.  However, we see human beings failing to live up to their potential on various occasions —  killing aliens when not necessary, genetically engineering slave races, that sort of thing.  We are a flawed people of great promise, and the show does not avoid either aspect (a lot of science fiction shows only the promise, and a lot of “real” TV shows show only the flaws).

Perhaps this point of view could be called “optimistic realism.”

I also like Doctor Who because it is one of those few TV shows that a broad swath of people could like, of various ages and backgrounds and occupations and interests.  This is in contrast to its spinoff Torchwood which claims to be Doctor Who for grown-ups.  Except that it may more closely be termed, “Doctor Who for sex-crazed maniacs.”  I don’t see having an alien who feeds of the energy of orgasms being more properly “adult” than the ethical issues of Doctor Who; it’s more like “inappropriate for younger audiences.”  Indeed, it’s the sort of alien a 16-year-old boy could invent.  For something to be adult, I don’t think it needs to be of the “adult video” or “adult entertainment” variety.  It should, rather, deal with issues that run deep, with concepts that the adult mind can grapple with.

Doctor Who deals with what to do about the father you never knew, how far can we push the created order, what is the power of a simple story, what is the power of belief, how do we treat those who are different, what value is there in war, is the human race worth saving, what would it be like to be the only surviving member of your race, that sort of thing.

I hope I get to watch Season Five.


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