Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Anna's Favorite Show

For today, I'm allowing Anna to tell you about her favorite show: Doctor Who. Grab a cuppa, some jelly babies or jammy dodgers or fish fingers and custard and sit back to enjoy.

Doctor Who is a British creation established in 1963 as a "sci-fi time travel show for children". It was to be an educational show, showing different events in history and teaching them in a fun way. (Isn't that a great way to teach history? We teachers know ANYTHING you can do to make learning fun is better than straight rote reciting and this show sure manages that!) The main character, The Doctor, is a Time Lord, a race of people able to manipulate and travel through time, yet forbiden in any way to interfere with its events. He is the last surviving member of this race and while he is capable of every human emotion including anger, love, envy, etc. he is, largely, non violent, using "his brains" over muscles (sort of like Robin does) to solve conflicts and save planets, races or simply one person. There's no 'bad' language, sex or graphic violence in Doctor Who, which I believe is why it has endured for 50 years. It can be intense and scary at times, so caution with young children should be taken (especially if the Weeping Angels or Daleks are about).

Which leads me to the Doctor Who show villains. Some are beyond terrifying, like the above mentioned Weeping Angels (who prey on people by sending them back in time and absorbing their energy-- I hide my face whenever I see them, so I smacked the crap out of Robin for moving this angel statue at school around when my back was turned and making me freak out) and the Daleks, a robotic race whose main word, EXTERMINATE! seems almost unstoppable. The Daleks are the oldest Doctor Who show villains, and the ones who engaged in a Time War with the Time Lords and caused their destruction. There's also the Cyber Men, the Ice Warriors, vampires, demons, The Silence, The Headless Monks and loads of other aliens determined to cause death and destruction. For the Doctor, I think (and Robin disagrees, so we debate this) the greatest enemy is The Master, who was once a childhood friend and has become, through manipulation and greed, twisted, insane and all but emotionless in his determination to dominate the universe. Yet the Doctor won't give up on him and wants more than anything to 'save' the Master and be the friends they once where.

The greatest mystery of Doctor Who is The Doctor's 'real' name. He has jokingly called himself  'John Smith' and other names at times, but his 'true' name is never (to date, at least, though I doubt it ever will be) been revealed. Only one other character knows his name, his wife, River Song, (OMG I love her! She's strong and amazing and Robin calls her 'hot', which is fine; she's the only woman Robin can call hot besides me and not get punched) who is as mysterious as The Doctor himself and has coined the iconic phrase "spoilers!" to keep from revealing secrets. Their relationship is...complicated. They have their own separate adventures, yet as River says, "He always comes whenever I call and he always knows what I need". (Sighs, isn't that a great description of the man you love? And yeah, okay, Robin probably fits that description most of the time, too).

The Doctor is able to travel through time in his time machine, the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), a 'blue police box' that is alive and a mostly silent character. The TARDIS is also my favorite Doctor Who character. She (and yes, it's been established very firmly the TARDIS is female) endures a lot from The Doctor and his companions , the strong, silent type who can be a force not to be ignored when she's ticked or protecting her beloved Doctor. In the one and only episode where the TARDIS takes human form, she proves she's also no pansy-- while the Doctor insists he is the one who 'stole' the TARDIS and ran off to have great adventures, the TARDIS sets him straight fast: "I was unlocked because I wanted to see the universe so I stole myself a Time Lord and I ran away. Do you know how ridiculous you sound?" She also doesn't hesitate to correct him when he rages that she, "never takes me where I want to go!". The TARDIS, in immortal correctness responds, "Yes, but I always take you where you NEED to go." And she's right, as woman so often are.

Several companions have joined The Doctor in his travels; from strong women, fellow Time Lords, a 'tin dog', a robot, teachers, nurses, men, even a grandparent and a mother of established companions. The Doctor, told over and over, not "to become emotional" does the opposite; he becomes a part of the companions lives, and loves them deeply. The first companion to die (and the only one, to date, while traveling with The Doctor) was a teenage boy and the Doctor has never recovered from the loss. Nor has he recovered from the loss of his entire race, all his family, friends and home. When the companions leave for their own lives, or through circumstance, the Doctor suffers a loss as great as death. He doesn't do being alone well so new companions often come along fairly quickly.

He is ageless, over 1,000 years old, and has two hearts as opposed to the human one. He has no true 'superpower' besides an incredibly brilliant mind and the ability to regenerate. (Robin debates this with me, too and says the TARDIS is a weapon, but I don't think so. The TARDIS is the female version of The Doctor, just trying to have fun, see the universe's wonders and save those she can without harming anyone. The TARDIS just wants to have fun, oh The TARDIS just wanna have fun! and so does the Doctor. Robin says they are the heroes who have to save everybody, but that's not true, either, because there's been those the Doctor couldn't save-- hello, Robin-Know-it-All, the Ood, recall them?).

Regeneration is what truly set and still sets Doctor Who apart from 'other' shows: the ability of The Doctor to 'regenerate': to be 'reborn', totally change his appearance, mannerisms, habits, speech, etc. and yet retain all memories and knowledge of the person he regenerated from. It's best explained this way: "Imagine everything that makes you, you, dies and is gone and some other bloke goes wandering off and you are just gone" (spoken by the 10th Doctor in the episode The End of Time, pt. 1). It's a death that's not a death. like putting your brain in someone else's body yet with all new outer shell, too. (I always cry when the Doctor regenerates, because it means some new guy is coming and I liked the old one. Robin supplies tissues and hugs and tells me to give the next Doctor a chance).

In reality, the regeneration theory was created by the Doctor Who writers when the first man to play the character became too ill to continue yet the show was popular and needed to go on. He 'regenerated' into another actor (hence the 'change in appearance, mannerisms, habits, speech, etc'.) and the show continued. This regeneration is limited by The Time Lord race to 13-- so The Doctor can regenerate 13 times. To date, 13 actors have now played The Doctor, but I'm told a plot twist has increased the Doctor's 'limit' of 'cheating death'. (though I was too busy planning my wedding to watch the show so Robin and I are going to rectify that before the new season starts by having a marathon Doctor Who viewing with pizza and chocolate and our sofa).

One last thing: I'm a Carolina girl, born and bred in the great state of North Carolina, nicknamed 'the Tarheel State'. So God is also a Tarheel because the sky is Carolina Blue (swats Robin as he groans and says that's a lousy joke). But though Carolina blue is a gorgeous color (imagine the sky in summer, when it's cloudless and clear and just heavenly), my favorite color is TARDIS blue, which is a deep blue like a sapphire and the deepest part of the ocean combined and the color of the TARDIS itself.

So there's Doctor Who in a nutshell (shut up, Robin, so this is longer than a nutshell. It takes a bit to explain, and I didn't say anything when you droned on and on about football and basketball). Watch an episode and fall in love. I highly recommend 'The Doctor's Wife', the episode where the TARDIS is in human form; 'The Christmas Invasion' which shows regeneration aftermath and is so, so British; 'The Wedding of River Song', which explains time lines and alternate universes and also shows the Doctor and River's wedding and loads of others. (I did NOT add too many pictures, Robin). Many Seasons are connected, so it's hard to watch one episode without watching them all. Have fun!

Thank you, Anna. Here's a picture of 11 of the actors who have played The Doctor in Doctor Who, in the outfits each wore for his years on the show and the awesome TARDIS. And there's Anna's favorite show :)

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