This was a special journey today, for a Whovian. And I most certainly am one. On November 23, 1963, the first episode of Doctor Who aired on British television. Fifty-two years, and thirteen Doctors later, the show continues to do well, producing quality episodes that expand the mind and touch the heart.
I was introduced to this phenomenal show by my grandson, Dayan. I originally watched it so I could discuss his favorite show with him. But something happened three episodes into New Who, Series One, which launched in 2005. I was hooked. I fell in love with the show, which is often described as being more of a fairy tale, rather than sci-fi or fantasy. The stories are powerful glimpses into the frailties and the magnificence of humanity, as seen through the eyes of an ancient Time Lord, who does not die, but regenerates when death is imminent.
Dayan and I established the weekly practice of getting together after school on Wednesdays to have a late lunch and watch two or three episodes, to catch me up to the current 9th Series. That’s eight seasons to get through. With some binge watching thrown in this past summer, Dayan succeeded in getting me to the current season in a little more than a year.
I will always treasure that year of Doctor Who. The episodes, the characters, the actors, made me laugh, made me chew my lip, made my eyes fill with tears. I’ll never look at angel statues in the same way, or bow ties, or bright blue police boxes. I think of Shakespeare differently and seeing a Vincent Van Gogh painting makes my lip quiver. Doctor Who has made me “bigger on the inside” and my experiences are richer because of the impact of that show.
Today I celebrated Doctor Who Day in the best possible way. Dayan and I watched two episodes together. We completed series eight with the Christmas special and I’m now ready for this year’s episodes. Scottish actor Peter Capaldi is the Twelfth Doctor (the War Doctor didn’t have a number). I’ve watched through four Doctors, three regenerations, and six companions so far. While the Tenth Doctor is still my favorite, by a very slim margin, I’ve found characteristics about each portrayal to appreciate.
I completed Doctor Who Day by watching the first episode that aired on this date in 1963. The film was black and white and the special effects minimal, but there was the same TARDIS, and the familiar opening song that starts with WOOOO EEEEEE OOOOOO…. The Doctor looked different. And his companion was his granddaughter Susan. I’ve heard her referenced in the newer episodes. I looked up info about her. Her Gallifreyan name meant “Rose”. What a nice tie-in that the Ninth Doctor’s companion in New Who is named Rose.
The thing I love most about Doctor Who is that Dayan and I watch it together. We have shared Chinese food and conversation, laughter and teary eyes around this campy British show. Some of the episodes have sparked new thoughts and made us wonder, “what if?”. We have fun spotting obscure references and seeing the connections between the current Doctor and past ones. Doctor Who has created another strong connection between my grandson and me, one that will endure. I can image texting Dayan while he’s away in college, saying “Wow, what did you think of that Doctor Who episode?”.
Travels through Time and Space can be experienced without a TARDIS. Dayan and I share a Whovian vocabulary that will instantly connect us, no matter how far away he goes in his own adventures, no matter how much time passes. For that, I’m extremely grateful to Doctor Who. Allons y, Dayan.