“It’s about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” – Craig Ferguson on Doctor Who
This quotation was embossed in gold on the first ribbon I ever received at the very first Doctor Who convention I ever attended: Gallifrey One, 2013. Being relatively new to the fandom, I hadn’t heard this quote before, and it wasn’t until a month or so after Gallifrey that I learned it was part of a musical tribute to Doctor Who, performed by Craig Ferguson on his talk show, back in 2010. It didn’t really matter where the quote was from, however. What really mattered was that my feelings about the show had never before been expressed so concisely, so poignantly. I had found a sort of Doctor Who mantra. Still, no assertion was ever hurt by greater expounding. And so, we shall do that here; expound upon the feelings contained in that line of song, and hopefully help you, the reader, garner some greater understanding of why this show seems to matter to so many.
A couple years ago, Doctor Who, Series 6 (that’s what they call “seasons” across the pond) was about to be unleashed upon its fandom. It was in that pocket of time that Agent Justin, himself, introduced me to the show, beginning with “Eleventh Hour,” the Series 5 premiere. Odd place to start, you might say. Honestly, I thought it was good a place as any. My general sci-fi knowledge told me that the Doctor was a time-traveling, regenerating alien, hundreds of years old. Also, I had jumped on at a new milestone in the show, with a new Doctor in Matt Smith, a new companion in Karen Gillan, and a new showrunner in Steven Moffat. At the end of the episode, I was hooked. I made my way through series 5 and 6, then decided to go back to the beginning of the 9th Doctor’s stint and make my way through until I was all caught up. When I had finally finished, I, with all certainty, had become a bonafide, solidified, irreversible fan of the Doctor, forever and ever, amen.
So, Earl… What’s so special about it? Well, I’m glad you asked.
First of all, there’s the reason that started this: Doctor Who is about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Restated, this might say, “Doctor Who is celebrates idealism over realism.” Now, I’m not saying that being a realist is a bad thing, I tend to be one in certain situations – but don’t we get enough of that as it is? I feel like we’re constantly being told about the current state of the world, and how everything is messed up, every day – through the news, reality television, even through the mouths of our families and friends. Now, I admit, I tend towards idealism. Some would say, to the point of fault. I’m the guy that believes the unbelievably perfect stories we watch unfold on the silver screen had to be inspired by a real-life counterpart. I believe in the cheesy sayings like “You just have to believe in yourself,” or “to thine own self be true.” Just because they don’t apply in 100% of cases doesn’t mean they should completely discounted. I believe in basic human goodness.
I think Doctor Who exemplifies this spirit, it celebrates idealism. It’s about the best that humans can be in the face of adversity. It’s about the dizzying heights we can aspire to if only we allow ourselves. We see this in the companions time and time again. They’re usually people caught in the trap of the everyday, who believe, however deep down, that there is more than the life they are currently living. And when they are given the chance to step outside that everyday, they take it, and are rewarded to the nth degree. Sometimes they don’t end up in the most ideal of situations, but some might say that’s a worthwhile price to pay for experiencing all that has been and all that ever will be.
The Doctor, himself, is an ideal. He is a being, a millennium old, that has lived through the infinity of time and space. He has seen more “evil” in his long life than we can possibly comprehend. Arguably, he’s has seen a comparable amount of “good” as well. The magic lies in the fact that despite all he’s seen, he still focuses on the good. He’s still out there, helping, changing, fixing, saving. Even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, he is stalwart. Yes, he can and has been broken, and has retreated into solitude, but he never stays there for too long. He sees and admonishes the flaws in humankind, but still chooses human companions if simply for their fearlesses and curiosity. Well, and the fact that he, once again, gets to look at the universe through their innocent eyes.
That’s enough for today I’ll let that marinate with y’all. To be continued sometime in the next week!
DISCLAIMER: Captions to images in this post may have been completely facetious.