When it comes to fandom these days, I have to be exceptionally picky. It’s not like when I was in college, where I had stupid amounts of free time and no cares in the world. I’ve got kids. I’ve got work, finances, responsibilities. Just like my game playing, my television/movie fandom-watching selection have suddenly achieved what feels like an unreachable standard.
But in the last two years, if there’s one fandom that’s risen above all the rest, it’s Doctor Who. People near and far, influences across the board from Neil Gaiman to my closest personal friends have all praised the new series, festooned their Pinterest boards, and gone all gangbusters for the new doctors and their (admittedly) rather confounding stories. (I mean, seriously, try to explain an episode to a non-Whovian and watch their facial expressions. It really is priceless.) And that’s not to say I’ve had no influence from Who at all. In fact, as a kid, I watched the older series (Baker period) religiously on PBS. I remember nothing but scarves and hair, but I like to think it’s made some kind of imprint even though dim. It was predestined!
So, about a year ago I decided it was time for me to sit down and start. My husband was on board. We revved up Netflix and began, as was suggested, with Eccleston and the Christmas special. I was prepared for that wonderful moment when a fandom enters my heart, when I find something I’d been looking for for years and years and wonder how I ever saw the world without it. I mean, seriously, everyone I know and respect and love adores the show, so it seemed like there was no possible way for me to fail.
But it did. It failed hard. “Let’s watch another,” we said. And we did. But we still didn’t get it. Then we tried the next doctor, the tenth. Oh yes, I loved Tennant. This was far better. The hair, the smile, those eyes. So much to love. But Rose. Rose. I had problems with Rose, and so, for a second time, we stop watching. Mostly because I kept yelling at the screen for her being stupid (for the record, I mind Rose less these days, but I don’t get the whole Rose adoration thing–really, I just wish Martha could have been Ten’s Rose! She kicked so much butt.)
Then about four months ago we decided to try one last time. We met Donna, the runaway bride. And then I met Martha. And at last, at long last, it happened. Some strange chemical combination (wait, they’re talking to Shakespeare and quoting Harry Potter!) kindled in my brain and began to calcify, to take shape, to click. We plowed through season three and four, watching sometimes two or three episodes a night (and staying up far past our bedtime, considering the kids).
But then… then…
You could say that one of the themes of the Doctor Who series has to do with life and death, with moving on and coping with loss. Because that’s what the Doctor does. He doesn’t die, he regenerates. But he’s always coping. He’s still carrying other lifetimes on his shoulders, and no matter how silly or strong he pretends to be, it follows him everywhere.
See, that’s the thing. I’m no Doctor. I can’t cope. I absolutely knew that Tennant’s end was approaching. We’d seen “Turn Left.” I’m not dumb. I know what’s happening. And, frankly, I don’t want to deal with that. So, like what I did with Firefly (for the record there are two episodes I still haven’t seen) I delayed the inevitable.
“We can’t,” I told my husband.
“Can’t what?” he asked.
“I can’t have him go. Not now. I just can’t.”
He seemed to understand. He fired up the queue. “Well, we can start with Eccleston again.”
And we have. Sure, I’m not churning through episodes like before. I know, eventually, I’m going to run out of time. I’m going to have to let Ten go and welcome Eleven, I’m going to have to avoid spoilers as much as possible (which, honestly, has been nearly impossible, damn you Pinterest). But not right now. Today the Doctor is happy and bright and new. Because that’s the Doctor that I need.
Which, really, is why he’s here to begin with.