I don’t know about the rest of the world but I really, really like the resurrected Doctor Who. I find its mischievous, upbeat and sometimes irreverent tone utterly infectious. It is episodic entertainment working perfectly within the constraints of its format. Each episode is a fantastical adventure fraught with danger and intrigue that almost always stands up to scrutiny on its own merits. Yet, throughout these isolated tales small, tantalising clues as to the larger, currently incomprehensible overarching story are sown. I know this is basic television writing and am not suggesting that Doctor Who has revolutionised the structure of plotting over many hours. What I am saying, though, is that these clues and symbols, whether they be recurring phrases or momentary glimpses into the unknown, always, without fail, coalesce into the most satisfying season finales I’ve ever witnessed.
Gushing over, let us get to the problem with Doctor Who. In my professional life working in post production I find myself invariably surrounded by the good Doctor. From his earliest adventures outsmarting men wearing bed sheets and tinfoil, through his days as a private military contractor in Wales, the shitty Eighties where even he wasn’t very entertaining, right up to today where we see him fighting men wearing CG bed sheets and CG tinfoil. All this exposure has led to unhealthy episodes of mania where I am unable to control my consumption, often staying late into the night in the office to re-watch serials whilst simultaneously creating collages of Jon Pertwee’s utterly beautiful hair.
I do this not for selfish reasons, quite the opposite, I do it for my girlfriend. I know, simply know, that old, or classic as it is professionally known, Doctor Who will be of no interest to her, my lovely, wonderful, beautiful partner. Christ, some of them are a stretch even for me and I genuinely like the stuff. The pacing can be terribly ponderous, especially in the Sixties, and a decent level of suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy a lot of the lower-budget aspects of the show. I’m big enough to not try and force this onto her, however much I’d to curl up with her under Tom Baker’s scarf and live happily ever after. I’m not big enough, though, to never watch the new stuff with her, even if she thinks she doesn’t like it.
My friend recently bought a flat and last weekend invited us around to test out her newly purchased garden furniture. Everything was going swimmingly until the recently broadcast Broadchurch was mentioned. “I really don’t like David Tennant” said my friend, scrunching her face up so completely until it resembled a potato after being thrown at a wall. “His ratty little face upsets me” she continued, oblivious to her current lack of facial beauty. “I fully agree with you, his little body is silly; his torso is so slight, he just can’t be very manly” piped up my girlfriend helpfully. Well, with that I embarked upon a courageous defence of Mr. Tennant, hitting all the bases I could in the fifteen seconds I had before gang-obliteration. Shakespearean acting chops, perfect Doctor balancing levity and dark brooding like no other, beardy narcissism in the aforementioned Broadchurch, cheeky hijinks in Casanova. I felt as though I’d defended his honour admirably, though it was all for nought. They simply didn’t see the merit in the great man’s talents; I had been bested by x chromosomes and sheer ignorance.
Undeterred, I sat my girlfriend down, partly as punishment for disagreeing with me, partly as a life lesson, and forced her to watch ‘Rose’, the first episode of the new run of Doctor Who. There I was, bouncing on the sofa in time to the running music which makes up about eighty-five percent of the episode, while my lovely partner was sitting stony-faced beside me, clearly having the time of her life. She persevered though, and slowly opened herself up to Doctor Who’s brand of rather particular, cheesy levity. First it was the wordplay and terrible Dad-jokes, then came the slapstick, and finally, last night, she was taken by the drama. In a harrowing episode which sees a previously deceased father saved from his fate only to create the most horrible of paradoxes, which kills the Doctor might I add, and then re-kill himself to set things straight, the tension in my living room was palpable. She smiled, she laughed, she gasped, and I’d go as far as saying she loved Doctor Who for the first time.
Such is the power of perfectly-written-Saturday-night-light-sci-fi. All I need do now is keep bombarding her with episodes until anything that remained of her own personality is gone and she is merely a female version of myself. For that is the real joy of a relationship, no?