Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Doctor & Me

With the Fiftieth Anniversary of Doctor Who occurring this year,  It makes me look back at my own personal history with the show.  So do I know the exact date I was introduced to Doctor Who?  No, I do not.  Do I remember the exact episode?  I cannot help you there either.  It was on a UHF channel from Glendale.  It was a Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith Episode.  It was in a Frankenstein like castle on an Alien Planet.  It was some time between 1976 and 1977, maybe even 1975.  You know what?  It had me hooked.  One small problem, getting reception was trying.  This was the days of Antennas and rabbit ears.  Cable was still new.  I am not sure if our local PBS carried it either.  Our reception of that in Oxnard, California was not the best either.  It was not until I visited my extended family in Oregon and later moved there that I was able to truly catch up on Doctor Who.  OPB or Oregon Public Broadcasting has always had a good relationship with Doctor Who.  Even after it went into hibernation they still showed episodes.  They even found old shows and broadcast them. 

Of course there is a saying among Whovians, Doctor Who Fans, there is nothing like your first Doctor.  In my case that is true.  The Fourth Doctor Portrayed by Tom Baker has a special place in my heart as well as my first companion Sarah Jane Smith.  Tom Baker was the delightfully mad and playful Doctor.  He still holds the record for most seasons and episodes.  His Jelly Baby eating, Scarf wearing and Sonic Screwdriver wielding Doctor is one of the most iconic of the Doctors. I watched most of his adventures with Leela, K-9, Romana and Sarah Jane Smith.  Later through the mid to late Eighties I caught up with the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors.  As older shows became available I was able to catch the stories of the First, Second and Third Doctors; I also saw the Fourth Doctor’s adventures I had missed.  When The BBC made the Video tape about Shada, the Fourth Doctor’s Story that was never finished, I bought that too.

Doctor Who was always fascinating.  His different incarnations made him refreshing and unpredictable.  During the Seventies to the Nineties, American Whovians were still kinda fringe.  In the UK Doctor Who was like what Star Trek is here in the U.S.  It was also very popular in British Commonwealth countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia.  In The U.S., it was not as widely known.  It took more to get into Doctor Who.  Not to mention, mainstream found the low budget costumes and special effects silly.  If you look closely, that can be said of many 20th Century Science Fiction Movies and Television.  From 1989 to 2005, when the BBC put Doctor Who on its long Hiatus there was very little fueling Doctor Who Fans.  There were books, audio plays, comic books, and in 1995 the failed Fox/ BBC reboot Television Movie with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

I personally loved the show; the idea of a Protagonist who tried to avoid physical confrontation and in some incarnations did not what the adulation was amazing to me.  I still found the Fourth Doctor to be my favorite, although the Seventh Doctor was a Close second.  The other concept I loved was the Companion.  Anyone could become a companion.  A companion did not need to be the fastest or strongest.  They definitely did not need to be the smartest; all they needed was the spark of spirit that the Doctor could see clearly.  Many of the Doctor’s companions were outsiders to their respective cultures.  Those things did not just resonate with me, but many Geeks and Nerds who grew up with the earlier version of the show.

In the Eighties many BBC executives saw the show as this silly little children’s show.  Some felt it had not place in the BBC.  Funny thing happened during the long Hiatus.  The people, who became BBC heads, were now the generations who grew up the Doctor.  That led to another discussion to attempt to revive the show.  The attempt in 1995 had some serious issues.  By being a joint U.S. and UK Production, it lost many of the things that made it unique.  Many of the unique flavors of Doctor Who have to do with it being ensconced in British Culture.  The 1995 Movie tried to Americanize it too much.  So in 2005, Doctor Who re-premiered.   This time with the Ninth Doctor and a young London Shop Girl, named Rose Tyler.

Not only did it premiere in the UK, but within a year it showed up all over the world.  With the advent of the internet, fans worldwide were able to keep each other up and discuss their passion for the show.  The show seemed to be a cultural juggernaut.  Some old school Whovians get irritated that the newer fans do not know the pre-2005 cannon.  Is it Necessary to enjoy the show? Not really.  My ex was a fan of the old show like me.  We watched faithfully the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s tenures.  We enjoyed the spin-off, Torchwood, up until the Last series.  When that relationship ended, Sixth season had just finished.  Honestly I am not a huge fan of the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith.  He is better than some of his predecessors.  He just does not connect with me like previous Doctors.  I will continue to watch, because I enjoy the show.  I still plan on catching up with another spin-off, the Sarah Jane Adventures, mostly due to my fond memories of the character when I was a kid.  To this Day Sarah Jane Smith and the Fourth Doctor are my Doctor and companion.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.  

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