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The definitive host: The Who in The Doctor

The definitive host

de·fin·i·tive host (duh-fin'eh-tiv) n. 1) An organism where a parasite undergoes the adult and sexual stages of its reproductive cycle 2) Someone you go to for interesting stories and/or facts, and puts on one hell of a dinner party 3) This blog, devoted to science and other geeky subjects

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Who in The Doctor

I absolutely love time-travel stories because they deal with so many issues that are universal, such as love, loss, pain and betrayal. And a good time-travel story never uses the science fiction aspect as a gimmick, but as a mechanism to further the story and the characters within.

This is not the first time I’ve discussed time-travel on my blog, but I won’t be discussing parallel time-lines and paradoxes this time you can find that here). No, today I’ll be talking about something a dash different.

If you’ve been following my Facebook or Twitter feeds over the past week or so, you know that I have recently become a fan of the 2005 BBC television re-launch of Doctor Who.

Friends have been telling me for years to sit down and watch it, but I never did. I always figured that I didn’t need another science fiction television series in my life and that I watch more than enough TV as it is. But, a few weeks back, a conversation with some friends on Twitter finally changed my mind.

Thanks to discussions with @cthulhuchick, @TheNerdyBird and @katiedoyle, I finally sat down and watched the pilot episode of the 2005 re-launch. I was a bit hesitant, as Doctor Who has A LOT of history behind it, but they were very encouraging. As people who have known me for a while, they reassured me that the new series was designed for new and old fans and I trusted their judgment.

And they were right.

But why is Doctor Who so popular, even today?

I’m no expert in Doctor Who (I’m only on season 2 of six of the re-launch so far), so all I can do is tell you about what I have noticed from my experiences watching it.

First and foremost, Doctor Who has a pretty simple premise for a sci-fi show. It is about a man, known only as The Doctor, who can travel in both space and time and picks up companions along the way to share his adventures with. It is really not all that different than any wandering traveler story, except that the road here is space and time.

The doctor travels in a ship called TARDIS (pronounced TAR-diss) is an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension In Space and resembles an old 1960’s London police call box. The ship is piloted by The Doctor, who is the last of an immortal race of aliens known as the Time Lords who can see everything that was, is, or could be all at the same time.

You also never learn The Doctor’s name, hence he always introduces himself as “The Doctor” leading to some characters replying with the title of the show, “Doctor who?”

If all of this sounds like nonsense, let me boil it down for you: The Doctor is the last of his species and travels around both space and time righting wrongs and protecting the sanctity of life with people he meets along the way.

To date, The Doctor has been played by 11 different actors from 1963 – 2011, all playing the same character who, when near death, “regenerates” into a new body while still retaining all his previous memories.

Using travel in space and time as a device, Doctor Who allows many complex topics to be discussed in a very interesting way, along with some very unique and British humor and characters. Through these methods, Doctor Who can address a wide variety of topics such as health (in the episode “New Earth”), warfare (in “The Empty Child” and ”The Doctor Dances") and even on the evils of television (in “The Idiot’s Lantern”).

Not only that, but Doctor Who prides itself on being a family friendly show that fans of all ages can watch together. It doesn’t rely on blood, guts and sex like other science fiction shows tend to fall back onto.

How many science fiction shows can say that, and boast being risen from the ashes 16 years after its initial cancellation, and be more popular than ever? Who can answer that?

The Doctor can.

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At June 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM , Anonymous Ruth said...

So glad that you're enjoying it!! We've been showing it to friends recently and watching them discover it and watching you discover it on Twitter...it's like seeing it through new eyes. :)

I love what Craig Ferguson said: "It's all about the triumph of intellect and romance
over brute force and cynicism." It can be a very dark show, but to quote a character in a later season: "Everyone knows that everyone dies. And nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies in all the worlds might just turn dark, if he ever accepts it."

The show has ups and downs, fantastic episodes & cringe-worthy ones (I really don't enjoy "The Wire")...but I'll always tune in.


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