Monday, January 16, 2012

The Doctor is inside my head.

Well, it finally happened, as it inevitably would.

I've found my Doctor.

After forty-odd (some very odd) years of nerdhood, with Doctor Who as a pleasant faraway hum in the background radiation of SF pop culture during my lifetime, I finally started watching the most recent series. (Thank you, Netflix!) (Thank you, too, iTunes Store, for carrying the newest episodes within weeks of airing!)

I started, naturally enough, with the first episode of the first series, "Rose", introducing both the new Doctor and his new companion, Rose Tyler. A romp, it was, with living plastic people, some fun special effect work, and banter between the characters to keep things fun. Enjoyable, but not life-changing by any stretch of the imagination.

Then, a few days later, having a rare evening to myself, I started looking through the episodes, trying to find and finish one I'd actually caught the first few minutes of back when we still had cable (between the kids viewing various Law & Orders and godawful "reality" shows) (No, I don't miss cable, why do you ask?) and stumbled onto the first David Tennant episode, "The Christmas Invasion".

Life-changing experience, anyone?

It wasn't the story, the monsters, or the effects that got me. It was the characters. Especially the Doctor, this Doctor in particular. Playful, intense, adventurous, dashing, clever, and witty. All the things I wish I was.

Hooked, is what I was.

So, every few days, I'd treat myself to another jaunt with the Doctor and company, and then I got daring and put it on when the rest of the household was in but not watching anything. We watched several, or rather I watched several, interspersing with "Sherlock" episodes, and the rest would get sucked in for the big dramatic scenes every now and then.

Aaand then... I started the series with the newest Doctor.

I'd heard of the change, and some small bit of the inevitable controversy, not long after the first episode aired, with an interview with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan about their taking up the roles of the new Doctor and his new companion, respectively, well before I'd fallen down the rabbit-hole (or the Tardis' Vortex, if you will), and was slightly hesitant to see what had changed in the world I'd only just discovered myself, though I'd known about it for most of my adult life.

My first reaction was an entirely irrational "Why wasn't I told about this?". The stories were even more carefully knitted around time and the characters and how they affect each other, the characters were even more delightful to watch, and there were so many more levels to the whole experience.

"Hooked" doesn't even begin to describe it. I now have most of the latest series with me at all times, I listen to it on while I'm driving to work and while I'm working, and when I have any chance at all, I'm watching one of two episodes that have captured my imagination like nothing before: "The Big Bang" and "The Wedding of River Song".

If you know these two episodes, you probably know some of what makes these two resonate so strongly with me; there's a deeply romantic undercurrent to both of them, a strength and a vulnerability to the Doctor that I can't resist, and a few more personal connections: The Doctor's companion, Amy Pond, reminds me quite a bit of my stepdaughters, one of whom got married recently as well; and the connection between River Song and the Doctor makes a great big bell sound in the romantic part of my brain, particularly since I married my wife some twenty-five-plus years after we first met.

How could I possibly resist?

And why would I possibly want to?

And so, to the real point of this post: If you don't already follow the Doctor, where would be a good place to start?

That, I think, depends on what you want out of the relationship. (And make no mistake about it, a relationship it is. Much of Great Britain has grown up, literally, with the Doctor in their minds as much as Superman and The Lone Ranger is over here in cowboy country.) If you're just curious and want to see what all the fuss is about, "The Christmas Invasion" might be a good place to start; if you like to skip ahead to the good bits, "The Eleventh Hour", the first with the current Doctor, Matt Smith, makes an excellent jumping-on point, with "Amy's Choice" and "The Big Bang" hitting all the essential character arc points, at least in flashbacks.

And, of course, if you're ready, really ready for someone to whisk you away from everything you know and show you something amazing?

You know what to do.