Saturday, November 23, 2013

50WHO: In The Name of The Doctor

This is the eleventh part of a series of articles celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Over the years there are certain stories that mean a lot to me either from personal memories or involvement I had in fandom through the years. These articles are not meant to be close examinations of the plot or production but more about what these stories mean to me on a personal level. Enjoy.

When does a TV series transcends itself into something more? A program that lives well beyond the simple confines of the television set and jumps into the hearts and imagination of millions. A TV series that influences its fans on how they live their lives and how they interact with others right down to their belief systems. A TV series that could manage that would have to been around for a long time. Try 50 years.

For my eleventh 50WHO article, I originally thought about looking back at the stories that have multiple doctors. You know, the stories like The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and The Two Doctors. These are pretty amazing stories where we see old friends again with current friends. It seemed to make sense since The Day of the Doctor is a multi-Doctor story. Then I thought the scope of the article was too small. It was too narrow in focus. This wasn’t about multi-Doctors, it wasn’t about reunions, in so many ways it’s no longer about the series itself. It is about us the fans.

I don’t think I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams where Doctor Who would take my life. Yes, I said where Doctor Who, that TV series that has run on BBC1 from 1963-2013, would take my life. It’s like I’m saying my life had been led by a TV series. When it is at its most basic, that sounds pretty sad. It’s not sad and I would like to tell you why and by the time I am done you may actually agree with me about the same thing for your life.

This isn’t about Doctors, TARDISes, Cybermen or Daleks. It’s about the people I met on my journey of growing up and living my life. It’s about the people who helped shape my life. So many of them I met because we all watched Doctor Who. Being a fan of a TV show, to me, means watching it on TV and then being done with it. What we do with Doctor Who is enjoy it, discuss it, debate it, love it and seek out new friends through it. The majority of friends I still have from when I was young are the same people I met through Doctor Who fandom. These are the people who I consider close friends. It would be easy to dismiss it meaning all that I talk about with them is Doctor Who but that is so wrong and untrue. These are the people I met and loved through life. For example, one was the best man at my wedding, I stood up for a couple at another wedding. I have gone on vacation with these friends and have spent many hours and dollars on the phone with them conversing about all manner of things.

This article is for those of us who have never let go of the series. Never needed a rest from it. Still find stories even like The Twin Dilemma to have merit. This is for those of us who are not afraid to dress up like characters from the series, who knew bow ties were cool before he even wore one. This is for those who say squee even though I hate that word. The fact we have the word means we have Doctor Who.

A life without Doctor Who in it is impossible to think about. It’s not just putting DVDs on the shelf, it is interacting with everyone. Ask yourself, where would you be without the influence of Doctor Who in your life? I did and I didn’t like that answer.

I feel like without Doctor Who, I would lose what was unique about me. I wouldn’t have my sense of humour, I wouldn’t have my friends that I met through the years and all around the world. Some of these people I have lost track of but eventually we always reconnect.

My job(s) have allowed me to get involved with the series in small ways. I have been around the world going to conventions and meeting people who worked in the series. Without Doctor Who I would have never gone to Minnehaha park in the fall of 1988 which changed my life forever, never been to conventions to listen to Jon Pertwee tell someone off, never listen to Sylvester McCoy tell someone to leave him alone. I would have never been able to tell Terry Walsh to fuck off in Chicago or stay in Richard Franklin’s house let alone have John Levene stay in my house. I would have never been able to drape myself in a flag that was half US and half UK, never been able to surprise Deborah Waitling in a bar in LA that I knew who she was. I would have never found myself in a PBS board room with other people trying to bring Doctor Who back to their station. I would have never been able to start up the Minnesota Doctor Who Viewing Society but refuse to watch anything I was showing. I could go on for pages….. but so could you.

I know people who have made it their lives to become experts on the series, people who went into writing or production not only because of Doctor Who but the sole purpose was to bring it back and work on it. People who make thousands of other people happy by putting on conventions. Other people who name their pets or children after Doctor Who companions or characters. Men who grow sideburns because they want to look like David Tennant and women who die their hair red to look more like Karen Gillan.

Back in 1984, I never would have thought how insanely popular the series would have become. How often does Entertainment Weekly cover it or CNN have a news article on a link on their web site. BBC America has virtually turned themselves into the Doctor Who channel. I see people walking on the streets in downtown Minneapolis wearing Doctor Who t-shrts. I see cars drive down freeways that have the Doctor Who emblem on the back window. I will be at an IHOP and see a woman carry around a homemade TARDIS purse. Many people where I work watch the show whenever they can. They talk to me about it a lot too. I will walk past people’s cubes and see a sonic screwdriver on their desk. I have seen co-workers have their kids dress as the Doctor for Halloween while their wives are dressed as a Dalek. When missing episodes were found, I got quite a few emails from people in my industry (film production) genuinely excited about the news.

Finally there is this site. I am excited that on November 23rd 2013, I can post an article about why this glorious series is so important to me. Even though I am having a hard time really articulating it in the way I want, I am still happy I can do so. I am so very proud of this web site and what it has become; it all came about because of Doctor Who.

I am grateful that I am quoted in a BBC America article for the 50th anniversary of the series. It doesn’t get any better than that; my 10 year old self would have never believed it. Of course first he would have asked what is a web site?  Here is the article I am quoted in and here is my bio on the BBC America site.

Doctor Who has helped shape what I would become and what I became.

And why do I do it?

Why do we do it?

All in the name of the Doctor.

Happy 50th anniversary to a show I absolutely cherish and would be completely lost without it.

Next and final 50WHO article: There is one fourth Doctor story that always intrigued and fascinated me. It was never finished and a wonderfully ingenious idea almost got a worldwide release of it. I end this series of articles celebrating the 50th anniversary with my story of Shada and how I worked on the impossible idea.

Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.

No comments: