Thursday, 3 April 2008

TIME WAS: (OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT LOVING DOCTOR WHO AND CARRIED ON LOVING DOCTOR WHO)

I CAN say it now, of course: I love Doctor Who. Always have, always will. Can’t remember a time when I didn’t. If you haven’t got the message, let me put it this way: I Think Doctor Who Is Brilliant. And now everybody else does, too! Great, isn’t it? When two young men can walk into a pub, order alcoholic drinks and freely discuss - ooh, I dunno; their Ood habits - without fear of scorn, or worse, you have to believe the world (older viewers may know it as Sol 3) is not such a bad place after all…
Because it wasn’t always like that. There were no ‘watercooler moments’ in – I pluck a date from the ether – 1987, for example (the year Pete Tyler died, right kids?); ask a colleague back then what they thought of Delta and the Bannermen last night and they’d reply: “I think you ought to kill yourself.” Nowadays men, women - adults - wax about the way David Tennant puts his glasses on. But be assured, when it came to seventh Doctor’s spoons, it was no dice, conversation-wise.
No, there weren’t watercooler moments. There were snatched - I hesitate to say furtive, but furtive - moments, mainly grabbed in playgrounds, libraries and canteen queues, brief sequences where fellow-travellers might share a muttered ‘joke’ about reversing the polarity of a broken tea urn, or some such. We saw, and understood in each other, the flatness after the fourth Doctor went; shared the same symptoms through the sixth Doctor era (headaches, mainly); were unsteadied by the mad gleaming joy of getting the novelisation of The Five Doctors before the show itself had even been on the blimmin’ telly! I still get a weird feeling in the, er, tummy about that – the tingle of a bottled-up feeling with nowhere else to go (see also: Elisabeth Sladen).
It was torture on the old love life, actually, especially in The Teen Years. Three moments grabbed from the vortex (humour me): a too-involved discussion of thermodynamics on a bus that ultimately ‘forced’ a feeling-left-out girlfriend into the arms of a trumpeter; a rather-too-casually-left-about copy of Revenge of the Cybermen scuppering a lunchtime tryst; and a horrible, cringe-making scene that went: ‘MustyoureadDoctorWhoMagazinewhenyou’resupposedtobewatchingmeplaytennisGodyou’resoembarrassingIhateyou (In fact, girls turned out be vastly overrated, anyway; but still).
No, I don’t know from where this Who love sprang; first memories, unlocked by expensive medical experts, show a confused picture of the third Doctor fleeing giant bats in a haunted house and falling headlong down a creaking staircase, landing, heroic but broken, only to regenerate into… Captain Kirk. Needless to say that never happened, not on Sol 3 telly anyway, and is not, in fans’ parlance, canonical; but it’s etched in the old tablets nonetheless.
I think it all started there… but then, I don’t remember the moment I ‘picked’ my football team, either, and regard those that do with a deep suspicion. Sometimes stuff – the good stuff – finds you. And it’s a lifelong affair from then. Over the years, we Doctor Who fans have seen it all: some amazing Saturday afternoons, especially in the seventies, with famous victories and bitter defeats; brilliant signings; strange managerial decision, and appalling tactical gaffes (Tegan, Adric and Nyssa?!); flat midweek action; misguided foreign interference; relegation and - ulp - administration… Exterminated. Us, of all people.
Still, I’m not bitter - far from it. There’s new money in the club - the, er, show - now, and everybody’s a fan. Good. Very, very occasionally you might find me browsing for... well, let’s say special interest DVDs (all right: Doctor Who DVDs), and some young scamp will push past and tell his mum how this DVD is the one with the old Doctor - that’s Christopher Eccleston - and the Slitheen from ages and ages ago, but could he have £13.99 to complete his collection anyway?
‘Complete your collection!?’ I almost say, but don’t; ‘Where were you in ’89?’ likewise. Why bother his slightly-too-big head with talk of Androgums, Binro, Cheetah People, Daemons, E-Space, Fendhal, the Great Intelligence, Haemovores, Ice Warriors, Jasko, K’anpo Rinpoche, Li H’sen Chang, Morbius, N-Space, Omega, Peladon, Quiquaequod, Rasillon, Sea Devils, Theta Sigma, Ultima, the Valeyard, Warriors’ Gate, Xoanan, the Yeti and the Zarbi? He already knows about Autons, the Boeshane Peninsula, the Cybermen and the Daleks - and before too long there’ll be a brush with the Sontarans, a cloned, militaristic race from the planet Sontar, locked in a millennia-long war with the Rutans… Oops. I nearly went then…
No, the important things is the adventure is still unfolding; next Saturday night, and the Saturday after, and after that, and after that, forward, backwards, sidewards, courtesy of the old timey-wimey stuff. Anything and everything could happen.
And it’s okay: nowadays, we can talk about it… right here, every week...

3 comments:

Ken Bruce said...

Great blog, flowing text and poignant observations. I laughed, cried and curled up into a ball having read it. Can't wait for new series, Ken. PS. I understand the author is rather a fan of my rounded features

Lactose said...

Lookin' forward to the forthcoming critiques, if not the forthcoming series ;-)

Tinydancer said...

I loved this blog - v funny! Is this gonna be a regular thing. What spoils the new Doctor Who series for me is watching it when it is light outside. How can I be scared of the monsters? V sexxxy doctor though is the boy Tennant