Doctor Who

I’ve gone on a strange Doctor Who kick of late.  I loved the old ones and I love the new ones, but my focus of late seems to be on the 2005-current series.  It’s a show that makes me smile.  It does dark and creepy.  It does rage and fire.  It does funny and sarcastic.  It does old school sci fi and new school sci fi.  It does philosophy and faith.  It does history and future dreams or nightmares. And let’s be honest, there is practically no other show on the planet that combines Shakespeare, magic, aliens, murder, and wit all in one episode.  Obviously, for someone who loves all of these things and is always interested in seeing the world in a new way, writing that encompasses all of human emotion, tendencies, history, and does it all in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously is going to be entertaining and thought provoking.

That said, the thing that I truly love is, in fact, The Doctor.  For those who don’t know, the title of the show is actually a question.  Throughout the show, various characters will see into The Doctor’s mind and see that he doesn’t actually know his name.  He is literally just “The Doctor”.  He is the last of his kind: a lonely god, a Time Lord, and there is truly no one else like him.  He is nine hundred years old and eleven all at the same time.

If you’ve never seen the show, let me explain what I mean by that statement.  The second bit first, as being eleven is easier to explain than being nine hundred.  He finds joy in the little things.  In ball bearings you can eat.  In bananas.  In tea.  In adventure.  In his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) A.K.A. his time machine/space ship.  He enjoys aliens and Shakespeare and mad escapades where he’s always in life threatening danger and always lives.  He’s like a little boy who sees the universe as one grand adventure after another.  He’s curious and knowledgeable, wise and witty.  He is the constant wonder we all remember from childhood and often lose as we age.  Only, he hasn’t lost it.

As you would expect from someone who is nine hundred years old and can jump through time in a spaceship cloaked as a blue police call box from the 1950s, he has seen many things.  He is a war veteran and it haunts him.  He is the last of his people, and it too, haunts him.  He has lost his family, friends, and his planet with it’s burnt orange sky.  He is eternally lonely, excepting those times where he has a companion.  Sometimes human, sometimes alien, sometimes robot dog (as we find out).  The one thing he really needs to cross time and space beyond his ship is a hand to hold.

Which brings me to Rose.  I love the episodes with Rose because you see him gradually opening himself up to her, regardless of the fact that he feels old and tired oft times.  Rose, the beloved companion who knows she’s loved even though he can’t say it, makes him brighter and happier.  Though he questions the reality of religions and faith because of the many things he has seen, in the darkest of times, literally when they are separated and have to face off with the Devil while sitting on the outer edge of a black hole, the one thing they have faith in is each other.  To quote the show directly (mainly because I love his brilliant, sometimes mad, speeches):

“I accept that you exist. I don’t have to accept what you are, but your physical existence, I give you that.  The Devil is an idea.  In all those civilizations, just an idea.  But an idea is hard to kill.  An idea could escape.  The mind—the mind of the great Beast—the mind can escape!  Oh, but that’s it!  You didn’t give me air, your jailers did!  They set this up!  All those years ago!  They need me alive.  Because if you’re escaping, then I’ve gotta stop you.  If I destroy the prison, your body is destroyed.  Your mind with it.  But then you’re clever enough to use this whole system against me.  If I destroy this planet I destroy the gravity field.  The rocket.  The rocket loses protection, falls into the black hole.  I’ll have to sacrifice Rose. {the Beast laughs.}  …Except that implies—in this big grand scheme of Gods and Devils—that she’s just a victim. But I’ve seen a lot of this Universe. I’ve seen fake gods and bad gods and demigods and would-be gods. And out of all that, out of that whole pantheon, if I believe in one thing—just one thing—I believe in her.”

After he loses Rose, though it is not in that episode, there’s a darkness there that mimics that Devil, and he becomes the fire that burns in the center of the universe and the white knight who tries to save everyone he possibly can.  There’s a quote from the show that goes, “Demons run when a good man goes to war,” and that is true of The Doctor.  He gives one warning, even commenting once on how he used to have so much mercy, and if you do not retreat or surrender, God help you.  This is especially true after he loses Rose and is mourning her loss.  Several episodes use the metaphor of fire for his rage.  Surrounded by fire, he is like the Devil from “The Satan Pit” episode.  In another episode, when the fire from a living sun possesses him, the line of the enraged entity inside him echoes his pain.  “Burn with me,” he says over and over, while trying to fight the darkness inside.  And then a couple of episodes later, he goes cold in one of the creepiest, gooseflesh creating scenes as the bad guy of a two-part episode explains his rage like this:

“He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing – the fury of the Time Lord – and then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind. He wrapped my father in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star. He tricked my mother into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy to be imprisoned there, forever. He still visits my sister, once a year, every year. I wonder if one day he might forgive her, but there she is. Can you see? He trapped her inside a mirror. Every mirror. If ever you look at your reflection and see something move behind you just for a second, that’s her. That’s always her. As for me, I was suspended in time and the Doctor put me to work standing over the fields of England, as their protector. We wanted to live forever. So the Doctor made sure we did. “

There is, to this show, a brilliance that you rarely see.  The moments of darkness are truly set off by moments of great light.  The seriousness set off by the humour.  The philosophy by the wit.  The rage by pure joy.  The haunted, angry man by the wondrous, awed little boy.  And all of it–really, I do mean all–is social commentary.  The Doctor, a man with no real name, is two sides of the coin.  He is the duality of human nature.  I could go on and on (and possibly on again) about The Doctor and the joy his character brings me, but the genius of The Doctor is something I think you should find for yourself.  I can relate to him on so many levels it’s almost frightening, but every episode leaves me wanting more and loving this alien–who seems so human–even more than I did the episode before.  And that, readers mine, is my rather random post on why I adore Doctor Who.

So, my question to you is as follows: What character do you love and why?

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