Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sheridan Sees A Who-Intro To My Doctor Who Blog

I grew up watching quite a bit of television. All types of shows interest me, and I am very pleased with the advancements that have been made in the programs that are coming out now. I must say that I have a penchant for British productions, as I find the quality and attention to detail fits my compulsive personality. As a kid, this mostly came to me via my local PBS station, where just like the Brits themselves I enjoyed commercial free viewing of my favorite shows. And no better night existed than Saturday night at 10 p.m., when Doctor Who came on.

For some unknown reason I have never written about the show, despite it being a major part of my entertainment world, certainly the foundation of my television world. Since the show has been around forever (1963) a large part of my love must come from the connection to my inner child it brings out when I see each new episode. Back then it was all about imagination. It had to be, at times they literally had no budget. I've always felt a person did not like Doctor Who for one of two reasons: They have no imagination or they are not that intelligent. Looking beyond the recycled sets and flimsy costuming the show was exploring concepts that at the best of times required mental gymnastics. Mixing the basic human elements of good and evil with completely fictitious, mindbending, extraterrestrial situations where you not only believe the impossible could happen, but how it would affect life as you know it. The show promotes conceptual thinking and I can think of no better way to escape the mundane evils we face daily. Yet while it weaves it's typical multi-layered storylines, it retains a heart grounded in humanity so you find yourself emotionally invested in how these characters fare, laughing with them, weeping for them.

When I talk about Doctor Who I speak honestly and from the heart, for the show needs little help in being seen as great. I wasn't a film student or a creative writing student so I leave the technical discussions on writing styles and the like to others more suited to this approach. One of the most exciting things about the show is that it is ever-changing. 11 actors have played the main character, companions come and go, a morphing theme tune, and even the production team and writers change on a regular basis. But the foundation is still there. All the previous stories stand as a background to what is happening now. The faces always change but the names remain the same.

As a quick history, the show began in 1963 and ran until 1989, when it was cancelled. A television movie was made in 1996, but we had to wait until 2005 for a proper return, and it was so worth the wait. Instead of a reboot, starting from the beginning, the show's reviver picked up at a point after the t.v. movie while introducing the show to viewers who had never seen it before, drawing them in to the magic and complexity contained within.

Picking up there we meet an alien, but not just any alien, a Time Lord. Time Lords have mastered travelling in time and space in a ridiculously "bigger-on-the-inside" space/time craft called the TARDIS, with the added benefit of being able to regenerate their bodies in the case of an injury, a concept introduced early on when it was clear the show would survive beyond the lead actor departing the show. In this way the Doctor, now in his ninth century of life, brings with him a wisdom and attitude gained through experience, riddled with both wonderous joy and deep tragedy. With practically seasonal companion changes, the mysterious Doctor (name to this date remaining unknown) travels to both the far reaches of space as well as the distant corners of time to thwart the evil factions of the universe who seek to destroy and conquer. It isn't hard to see the marvels of different galaxies and alien invaders through the eyes of the normally human companion as they try to digest what is happening and apply some human logic to their surroundings, usually finding that those basic human elements of good and evil, right and wrong, reach far beyond the little blue orb they left behind.

Doctor Who is a hard show to sum up. I once tweeted a joke Craigslist posting that if you had a quarter bag of weed and three hours I would explain Doctor Who to you. Deeply thought out story arcs, returning nemeses, both tangible and deep-rooted psychological fears, and a habit of questioning the very foundations of humanity are just a few of the ways this show has not just gained an entirely new generation of viewers, but has kept them and the faithful fans of old by keeping the integrity of the shows history with the added bonus of technological advances to production quality.

One of the best things I can say about the new show is how it stands up under repeated viewing. I'm not one to pick apart a show for mistakes, no matter how glaring. These people wear me out and if they don't like it they should stop watching. But if you do try it, and you enjoy it, you will be rewarded by rewatching episodes to catch many of the subtle nuances you may not pick up on in the first viewing. But the best thing is that the show makes me happy. These are characters and situations I have been following for some 30 odd years now, and never more so than now are they taking me to places and emotions that create not just a world on the television screen, but a land of imagination and wonder that has existed in my head and my heart since childhood.

My Doctor Who Blog can be found on the "New Who" and "Who Classic" pages above

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