Ten years ago today, Doctor Who was revived… and my life hasn’t been quite the same! Has yours?
I wish I could say that I watched that first new episode when it aired. But although I had heard of Doctor Who, it had never been something I was interested in. I guess the memories of cheesy-looking episodes aired on PBS when I was a kid had stuck with me.
Fortunately, I did decide to give the new series a try while flying home one day. Thank goodness for free sample episodes on iTunes!
I can’t speak to how it felt to be a longtime fan when Who was reinvented. I don’t know if fans were horrified or delighted at a revamped version, or how Eccleston’s Doctor stood up to their own favorites. I knew nothing of companions or assistants or regeneration or sonic screwdrivers or why the spaceship looked like a phone booth. I was one of the new generation of potential fans that I’m sure producers were hoping to see show up. And show up, I did.
In my first viewing of “Rose,” I loved the accessible Average Joe (Jane?) companion through whom we met the Doctor. I loved the running and the series’ ability to not take itself too seriously (“Lots of planets have a north!”). I loved Christopher Eccleston’s lanky, slightly odd alien who loved life and just wanted to travel around having adventures instead of missions. It was irreverent and fun and fantastical. It was not trying to solve the meaning of life or hold viewers hostage to the next character death. It was, in short, something I could just enjoy the heck out of.
Little did I know that it would quickly become something I’d become sadly codependent with, of course. By the time that David Tennant arrived (and blinking, stepped into the sun… oh, wait, that’s not right…), I was totally hooked and couldn’t get enough. I put off watching Tennant’s last episodes because I couldn’t deal with losing my Doctor. Then, I learned that bow ties are cool and all was right with the world again. I plunked over my money and stood in line to see the 50th Anniversary Special at the theater, despite having watched it on TV the day before. And then I tried to be stoic when that Doctor left, too, and a grumpy set of attack eyebrows took his place.
I know there are those of you who have been with Doctor Who through thick and thin, good and bad, renewal and cancellation, and I bow before you. I’ve only had a few years of Who fandom, and it’s a heck of a roller coaster. I’m sure the next 10 years will bring more Doctors, more Companions, more controversy, more swearing I’ll never watch the show again, and more returning each year despite the potential trauma it’ll bring me.