If you haven’t watched all of Doctor Who… minor spoilers, Sweetie.
I was raised on a steady diet of sci-fi, fantasy, literature, dreams, art, science, history, myths, legends, fables; anything that would fire my overactive imagination and keep the monsters at bay. My father kept me supplied with my moving picture drugs of choice; Red Dwarf, old Doctor Who, Original Star Trek, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Muppets, Fraggle Rock, Benny Hill, Monty Python… the list just goes on.
I’ve heard it said all kids are artists; the struggle is remaining so as you get older. The pressure of life and work and paying bills take over and people lose their way. When I was a kid I wrote, I drew, painted, learned photography (with actual film), the world was my art box and I used it as such. I managed to maintain everything through college and beyond but lost it as life got in the way. That is only partially why I am now writing this so let’s get on with the story and start at my beginning of Doctor Who.
First, let me set the stage. The year is 2006 my roommate at the time had just received the UK version of first season of the new Doctor Who. We had a wild weekend planned of wine, ordering in, comfy recliners and The Doctor. We watched the entire season in one weekend, binge watching at its finest before Netflix streaming.
Right as the last episode started, my roommate paused the disc, stood in front of the TV and cautiously warned me the Doctor was going to regenerate. Please be aware it had been a very long time since I watched any of the old Doctor Who, add in my goldfish like memory and I remembered nothing about regeneration. So, me being the impatient person I was, waved him to the side mumbling something like “yeah, yeah, yeah, just push play already”.
We watched the last episode and, as such things go, 9 regenerated into 10. I was tired; I had to work the next day. David Tennant just made his appearance as the Doctor and the credits started rolling. At that point I sat up with what I am sure was a very confused expression.
“What just happened?” I asked, glancing back and forth between my roommate and the rolling credits.
“The Doctor regenerated.”
“Ok, and what in the bloody hell does that mean.” I probably actually said bloody, it was a phase I was going through and I just finished watching an entire season of the Doctor. Don’t judge.
My roommate walked into the kitchen grabbed a bottle of wine all the while explaining Christopher Eccleston was no longer playing the Doctor and now this new actor with amazing hair was playing him.
“Ok” I said “But this is just temporary, we get the normal Doctor back soon right?”
Calmly my roommate handed me a glass of fresh poured wine then stepped back, out of reach.
“Nope, that’s it. Doctor regenerated, new actor playing the Doctor.”
I’m a little fuzzy on the next details but I do remember throwing a bit of a fit. Something about it being a stupid show replacing actors like that and I liked Christopher Eccleston so why would I keep watching it. My roommate threw up his hands and went to bed. I can’t blame him, I can get pretty silly sometimes. And by silly I mean ridiculous.
From that day forward I refused to watch any more Doctor Who. See what I mean? Ridiculous.
Fast forward several years, it’s 2012 and I start hearing all the fuss about the upcoming 50th Anniversary. At first it was background noise but it became increasingly more insistent until I decided it was time to revisit the series. I added it to my Netflix queue and moved on.
At the time I was working a lot, some may say too much, almost another year passed before I got around to watching it.
Somehow I managed to avoid anything even remotely considered a spoiler. I knew David Tennant was no longer the Doctor and someone named Matt Smith had taken up the sonic screwdriver. Besides the increasing ruckus about the 50th Anniversary and the cosplay I saw at cons, that was the extent of my knowledge.
This is where I sidebar before continuing my story.
I was in the throes of a horrible, no good, very bad year one that lead me to a dark place. My creativity was stagnant, my writing stale, I had stopped drawing or painting, my camera sat unused, gathering dust. My imagination was gone, it was Silent.
There was a loud voice that kept telling me this is the price of growing up, get over it and accept it. But there was a smaller, tiny voice that wouldn’t quite go away and kept calling bullshit, it wasn’t the price of growing up, something was wrong and I needed to fix it. I was at a loss of where to start.
It was at that point I started watching Doctor Who. I started with the 9th Doctor and Rose. I started again where I had before.
I watched Bad Wolf and 9 regenerate into 10. I watched 10 lose Rose. I watched as Martha left, he sacrificed Donna and became the lonely god once more. I watched 10 regenerate into 11. I watched as he crash landed into the Ponds and rediscovered River, I watched as he lost all. I watched the impossible girl and was introduced to the War Doctor. I watched 11 regenerate into 12.
Doctor Who became my drug of choice and I was a junkie looking for my next fix.
Despite the need for my drug I found myself taking breaks as one Doctor was about to be lost and a new Doctor found. It wasn’t a conscious thought, days or weeks would go by before I picked it up again at those final, pivotal episodes and bid farewell to 9, 10 and 11.
I hear people talk about their favorite Doctor, I hear people bad mouth one companion and love another. I’ve thought about this as I was watching and decided I would try not to have a favorite Doctor because they are ALL the Doctor. They are different sides of him, they are different incarnations, different parts of the same whole. It doesn’t matter who plays the Doctor, it matters that it IS The Doctor.
Similarly, his companions each bring something unique to their roles; they are all strong in their own way. They all have flaws and personality quirks that can get aggravating, if you let them. In that way they are human and carry the same characteristics as all of us. I love those characters because of their idiosyncrasies not in spite of them.
The show is not perfect, there is no such thing as a perfect show just like there is no such thing as a perfect human. There are good episodes, bad episodes, amazing episodes, episodes that take your breath away, and episodes that bring you to tears. Doctor Who can and does get absolutely ridiculous and campy but it also gets serious, dark and thoughtful, it isn’t afraid to be any of these or all of these at once, sometimes in the same episode. The Doctor is who he is and is completely unapologetic about it.
At the core of it, despite being about an alien, Doctor Who is ultimately about the human condition. The Doctor teaches us to live, to go on adventures, to love, to defend, to push through, to help people and to always be you. Above all, be true to yourself no matter what that may mean. Be silly, be serious, be both, be something completely new. Try new things; change yourself if you want to, be who and what you want to be. It’s never too late to make your own destiny.
I took all of this in as I watched. Through all of this, the binge watching and the breaks, a funny thing happened, my imagination began to fire again. I started thinking thoughts again the like that I had not thought in quite some time. I started coming round to myself again. I once again recognized the person in the mirror. All of time and space was at my disposal and my mind was my TARDIS.
I found my muchness, my moxie, I found me again and everything started to become shiny.
I started going through my life and reevaluating everything, I took a hard look at the people in my life, my situation, my job, my everything. I worked to identify what made me happy and where I wanted to go and with whom I wanted with me. I started the very difficult process of excising toxic people from my life and eventually left the job that made me miserable.
I met new, amazing people, I moved forward. I did some travelling; I met more fantastic people. I met people that inspired me, people that reminded me to stop sidestepping my nerd and scream loud and proud once more. People that restored my faith and let me know there are good, genuine humans out there.
It’s not perfect, I’ve had setbacks, and admittedly, I did backslide for a while but that is a story for another time. I still struggle from day to day, I sometimes want to tell the world to go away and leave me alone. That little voice still speaks in the back of my mind, screaming all my insecurities, telling me I’m not worthy. I try not to listen, some days are easier than others but I’m moving forward. Moving forward and being happy are what matter, everything else is just details.
Doctor Who will always hold a special place in my heart and mind. It helped me kick my own ass and got me back into doing what I love, helped me find my passions once more. It wasn’t the only thing that did it, I now have amazing friends that helped me along the way, but it is the one that blew on the coals of my hibernating imagination and coaxed it back to life. For that I will be forever grateful.
We’re all stories in the end. Make it a good one.
Art by Alex X. Zhang, a BBC licensed artist, check out her amazing work here!
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