A Man in a Blue Box
Getting together with Paul brought a lot of great things into my life (or, as in the case of gaming, back into my life). One of those things was Doctor Who.
I did watch re-runs of Doctor Who on KCET when I was growing up. Not consistently or in any order (though my memory is that most were Tom Baker episodes) but enough so that 6 years ago or so when Paul told me the series was being restarted I at least knew what show he meant and remembered that there was a space ship that looked like a blue box. I confess I was slightly less excited than he was, but remember being pleased he’d be able to download the show and watch episodes the same day (or nearly) the day they were broadcast in Britain. For a number of reasons he could speak to better than me, TV, specifically British TV, is very important to Paul and one of the things he misses most living here in the US.
Suffice to say I loved the new series from the moment it aired. It captured me completely and I watched and re-watched each episode from “Rose” forward with great enthusiasm. I can’t ever remember feeling that way about anything on television.
O Doctor, My Doctor
This was, of course, 2005 — Christopher Eccleston’s first and only series. I fell in love with his tall, dark, awkward northern-ness. For the first time after years of watching random episodes of Doctor Who, rather than thinking about “a” doctor or even “The” Doctor, I began to think of “My Doctor.” There are those who fault his performances as dark or his comedy as clumsy but though I hear them, I see none of it. For him I was, for the first time probably in my life, a true fangirl.
I didn’t follow the news however and, though Paul tried to warn me, couldn’t really believe the lead actor in a show was going to leave after only 13 episodes (I say again, my experience was largely with US tv and not much of that). How could such a thing be allowed to happen? When he regenerated in “Parting of the Ways,” my heart broke and I wept with disbelief. So much so that I’ve only recently re-watched that final episode.
I watched the second series like a pouting child. This new Doctor was a usurper, could never be anything to me other than a new body into which my Doctor had somehow been forced. Paul tried to explain (and more than once) that part of what the show is about is the notion that everything changes. He also said (more than once) that your first Doctor is always special. But even so, even through Rose’s final heart-rending episode, I still didn’t fully take David Tennant on board. I would spend part of each viewing imagining how that episode could have, would have, been better with Eccleston in the role.
It was only in series three, “Family of Blood,” that I took to the 10th Doctor. Some might say it was the Edwardian school setting (complete with school cane prop) that won me over. That’s probably partly true — it was made for me in that sense. But I think it also showed up Tennant’s acting. More importantly, it was a version of the Doctor that I couldn’t imagine Eccleston (or anyone else for that matter) doing better. I enjoyed the rest of Tennant’s episodes and was sorry to see him go.
I’d become a Doctor Who fangirl.
In recognition of my new found fangirl status, last year Paul suggested we spend Valentine’s weekend at Gallifrey One (the Los Angeles Doctor Who convention, the oldest and largest in the United States). I was nervous, but agreed with great excitement. It was amazing good fun with amazing good people. The high point for me was getting to see the first US performance of Toby Hadoke’s amazing “Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf” which we’d been unable to see the previous summer when at the Edinburgh Festival. We really only attended Gallifrey one day — Saturday — but it was enough to convince me that this wasn’t an event I wanted to miss the following year.
The following year is almost here. GallifreyOne, number 21, starts February 26th. Not very many days from now.