Doctor Who: A Casual Fan Celebrates 50 years

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Through a series of circumstances beyond my control, I recently found myself in a theatre with my husband and youngest daughter amongst a horde of Whovians watching The Day of the Doctor in 3D, no less. Thinking it would have been a great father/daughters outing (and a quiet night home for me), I snatched up 3 tickets. My eldest daughter then informed me that she preferred to attend at a different theatre with her friend who had also invited her. Online tickets were selling out faster than we could BLINK. The prospect of an extra ticket was too intriguing to pass up. So I quickly abandoned the idea of time alone and enjoyed an opportunity for my youngest daughter to have the undivided attention of her parents.

The episode The Day of the Doctor celebrated the 50 year anniversary of Doctor Who, the longest running Science Fiction TV series ever (1963-89, 1996 (TV movie), 2005-present).  When the original lead actor fell ill, out of necessity was born a genius idea that afforded the TV series longevity. The title character was given the ability of regeneration.

With regeneration the Doctor could take on a new form (replacement actor) and the adventures continued ad infinitum.

For the uninitiated, Doctor Who is an alien called a Time Lord who travels through space and time in a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) that looks like a police call box circa 1963.

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He travels with companion(s) and has adventures. Some episodes stand alone and some are part of a multi-episode story arc. To enjoy this latest episode, there is some necessary back stories about villains and rivalries that were quickly provided by my husband. I was able to enjoy this special episode as a story in its own right. Watching the 6 min prequel webisode The Night of the Doctor helped fill in a few gaps as well.

The Day of the Doctor is a solid tale that manages to re-write the mythology of the series. Through the magic of space travel, 3 different incarnations of the Doctor (portrayed exquisitely by John Hurt, David Tennant and Matt Smith) co-operate to solve a mystery. In doing so, they resolve a soul destroying dilemma that alters history and sets up the next series of adventures. If this sounds heavy, rest assured, the story unfolds in a completely entertaining fashion. I was treated to a perfect blend of drama and comedy with many winks to the past. A casual fan like myself could easily follow and enjoy the episode. To top it off, there is a touching cameo by a beloved actor who played my husband’s favourite doctor from childhood (you guessed it, that would be Tom Baker). To watch it in a theatre, in 3D with an enthusiastic crowd was a delightful experience for all of us.

Doctor Who is a show that my husband watches faithfully with my daughters. What started as a nostalgic venture has become a tradition because the girls really enjoy the show. I, on the other hand, have no nostalgia toward Doctor Who. I remember it coming on TV when I was a child. I enjoyed the iconic opening theme and then promptly changed the channel when the show began. What little I saw at a young age seemed incredibly cheesy even to my indiscriminate TV palate. In the new incarnation (2005 to present), I would catch an episode here and there, especially if there was a guest star (Dougray Scott) or guest writer (Neil Gaiman) that piqued my interest. I tried to catch any episode that involved a regeneration or new companion, just to stay in the loop. But when I am busy, I find it difficult to give it my undivided attention. This show is not made for me, despite several attempts to get into it.

So I found myself at the theatre somewhat reluctantly for this special one day Doctor Who extravaganza. Once I was surrounded by die-hard fans of all ages, many wearing costumes or Who T-shirts, it was hard to not embrace the enthusiasm. I was very pleasantly surprised and am looking forward to the next (Christmas) episode.

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