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Five Good Reasons I Would Live in the Doctor Who Fantasy Universe

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

As far as science fiction royalty goes, the fan-boy arguments for which franchise takes the throne is usually between Star Trek and its character driven morality tales, and Star Wars and its epic space battles.  But there has always been a third option, which has married the best of both worlds for 50 years now, and that is Doctor Who. Image

When I went to the United States from Brazil I was about 8 years old and somehow I got wind of Doctor Who on some PBS station. Its fantastic monsters and strange sets were an immediate hit with me. And of course Tom Baker´s Fourth Doctor was loony, outrageous, fearless and smart all at one time. It was a perfect mix of suspense and adventure and I was soon running around the house in big scarfs and trench coats, using my two nephews as my companions as we saved the universe from inside my big sister´s house.

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Through the years I was an off and on viewer, as PBS seemed to always be changing the schedule around for the series, but I never let go of my love of the traveling time lord. I remember that in the summers my father would take me with him to work in the little town of Haddonfield, NJ so I wouldn´t be left home alone. I would always make time to walk down to the public library and read the huge Doctor Who almanac and novels. And imagine my amazement when I learned that there was more than one Doctor after borrowing the movie The Five Doctors for the very first time. My only disappointment was that Tom Baker was not prominently featured in it.

The epitome of my Who craze came when I was about 12 and my best friend Dan invited me to go to a Star Trek convention with him. And though I had become a formal Trekkie, I was really there to see if there were any Doctor Who memorabilia – maybe a miniature TARDIS to stick in my back yard! I did by a t-shirt that had a TARDIS which would appear when the sun hit it. I loved Star Trek, but Doctor Who was my passion – more fun, more adventure and much more bizarre.

So with the 50th Anniversary episode looming just hours away I bring you five good reasons for why I would choose to live in a Doctor Who universe as opposed to any other sci-fi world.

 

1.The Doctor:

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Never has there been a more complex hero to lead a series. He is someone you can´t really trust to take you home; the first Doctor lied his way into persuading his companions to step onto a radiation filled planet inhabited by Daleks and this after kidnapping them into their first adventure to begin. But as terrible as this is, you sort of stop minding that he takes you around the touristic route before dropping you off on your front step – if I were hitchhiking and some weirdo did this to me I´d want to jump out of the car! The Doctor seems to have the magic touch that makes one feel at ease in the same circumstance. Perhaps it´s his little regard for order and authority that sways his companions, or maybe just his simple thirst for adventure. Though it´s true, some of his companions have died – I would take my chances just to have some killer stories to tell at dinner parties or maybe a lunatic asylum.

2. The TARDIS:

ImageYes, traveling off into the uncharted corners of space may be enticing but it´s also dangerous; there are Sith Lords and Borg out there. While the Doctor does have some formidable foes – with an operational TARDIS you can pretty much hop around time and space and check out history as it happens on your off time. The TARDIS is also small and unassuming – you can plop in, observe, and then be off without anyone even noticing you dropped by. Of course there are occasional run-ins with the likes of The Master and the Cybermen, and those pesky little hiccups in the space time continuum that land the Doctor somewhere far from where he was planning to go aren´t always pleasant, but it´s par for the course and better then being assimilate into the Borg or chopped in half by a light saber.  Given the options, the TARDIS would be my home for life.

3. The Enemies:

While on the topic of problems and bad guys, it´s clear to note that Doctor Who´s foes are classic for sure, but no match for the aforementioned Borg or Darth Vader or even the Super Soldiers from the X-Files. I wouldn´t want to run into any of those guys on my best day.  On the other hand, if I saw some Daleks sliding down the street I know I would have to look for some steps quickly, and if there were none in sight I´d have to run around the back of them really low to the ground so as to take away their firing angle. Image

Now the Cyberman do have appendages (so the steps won´t work) but they´re not the fastest moving things either.  In fact, most Who villains can be avoided with a quick jog around a corner. The Master can be a burden, but I would just let the Doctor and him dialogue it out – they always seemed to have some backwards bromance thing going on. Best part is: if all else fails we can jump in the TARDIS and get the hell out of Dodge – can´t do that with a star ship without being followed even at warp speed. Yes, the Who villains are iconic and I wouldn´t want to meet up with any of them, but they´re deadliness is eclipsed by other fantasy baddies who weren´t created just to scare the kiddies before bedtime.

4. The Companions:

ImageThe Doctor has had a revolving door of some of the most diverse bunch of people one could ever want to meet who end up traveling around aimlessly with him.  Willing to drop what they´re doing at the drop of a hat – or quick to forget about it after an extraordinary adventure or two – these are the types of people I would get along with immediately. Like Guinan on Star Trek TNG, they are mostly just there enjoying the ride (although very helpful to the Doctor) and ready for some drinks and a good chat as soon as the danger is over. Doctor Who companions are mostly nomadic types, some not happy with their current lives and others just in search of a good time.  None are boring and all have something of themselves to contribute to a greater good. Who wouldn´t want to travel around with people like that – better than having to take orders from rank and file.

5. The Adventures:

Though Doctor Who was a show I loved from early on, I could never really keep up with it due to how much it changed around on the television schedule. So I became a a bona fide science fiction fan through the Star Trek movies. After that, Star Trek TNG was the first science fiction show that I really got into on a week to week basis. Nonetheless it took me a while to take to TNG as I was used to the Kirk and Spock fly by the seat of your pants style. It was only after seeing episodes featuring the holodeck and Q that my imagination was sparked. I love my science-fiction based on some “reality” but with a good mix of otherworldliness.

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After finding Doctor Who again on T.V. I realized that the show was the perfect mix of what I loved. There were morality tales of prejudice and injustice – mixed in with sinister mummies, five eyed monsters, and Yeti. There was no limit to what the Doctor would run into – no rules to follow. Instead of having to either find new ways to destroy the Empire´s new combat ships, or convince a gaseous formation to not engulf my star ship by reasoning ethically with it, I could have a little of both. Helping President Nixon ward off space monsters and solving the mystery of fire to a tribe of cavemen who are ready to kill me is difficult to do one week from the next but it´s what Doctor Who is all about. There is never a dull moment (okay maybe one or two – the series was on for 26 seasons before it got canceled so not every adventure is a gem)!  The point is Dr. Who adventures expand the bounds of what is real while staying firmly grounded in its meager London junkyard beginnings.  This is the ride I want to take.

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In closing I have to say, both as a lover of Sci-Fi and a proud geek, that celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who and seeing how much the series has come back to public consciousness – especially States-side and abroad (the tickets for the showing of “The Day of the Doctor” here in Brazil sold old before you can spell out what TARDIS stands for) – touches me a lot.

For a show that is so admittedly British it´s great to see it have the same longevity and world-wide acceptance as the American franchises. I admit I have some catching up to do with the new Doctors as at first I was a bit put off by the new glossy style of the show – but these last two weeks of Doctor Who overdose have made me much more interested in seeing the new series for it seems I´ve been missing out on some great science fiction fun.

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I guess the Doctor will never be for just anybody – even some of the newbies find it hard to watch the old shows with the slower pace and cheesy special effects. I recommend they do though, there are many great stories and adventures there which really help bring new light to what the show is doing today. One thing is for sure, though never receiving the full blown out media attention that Star Trek and Star Wars have had through their franchise history (and this may be a good thing, i.e. J.J. Abrams stay far away)  – Doctor Who is probably still the most influential of the the three. It did come first, after all!

Doctor Who also manages to do in one show what divides fan-boys from the two other franchises – it marries fantasy with serious story telling while keeping a light comical touch. Laser battles are as welcome in the Whovian universe as is the theme of the moral capacity of one man to eradicate an entire race – even if they are as evil as the Daleks.

Doctor Who was a solid part of my past childhood and early teen years.  He was off the air with the exception of the Fox TV movie for most of my early adult years. He´s back now full force in my adult life. I´ll be in my 80s in another 50 years, and it would be amazing to sit and see if the Time Lord has continued on until then and found himself a whole new legion of fans. Since I don´t have a TARDIS to jump into the future to see, I´ll enjoy what I have in the present while I wait – over 30 years of episodes to rummage through and what looks to be many more years of continuing adventures do go. I´ll get through them all eventually I swear.

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