Wednesday, March 11, 2015

struggles with Doctor Who.

Have you ever wanted so desperately to like something because you feel like you’re totally missing out on a huge part of pop culture, but you try and you try and you just fail?

I feel that way about Doctor Who.
I generally don't condone using "epic" as an adjective, but this photo is epic.
James loves Doctor Who. LOVES. He started watching it shortly after we got Netflix, and he hasn’t stopped. He loves space and sci fi, and this show is perfect for him.

James has also been begging me to watch Doctor Who with him for about as long as he’s been watching it himself. He says, “You’ll love it! It’s British and clever and you’ll really really like it!”


I’m more of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer kind of gal. I love that brand of pithy humor, which James claims Doctor Who shares. However, I’m not big on space: I didn’t watch the original Star Wars trilogy until I was out of college. And time travel? Back to the Future is about as far as I’ll go with time travel.

Quite a while ago, I agreed to watch two episodes with James. He was thrilled, but he warned me that season one was terrible. I requested that we just skip season one and get to the good stuff, but he insisted that season one was too important and contained too much background information.

So we watched two episodes of season one. I met Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, and I thought that those two episodes were the most God-awful things I’d ever seen. 
Ugh. Billie Piper.
It was low-budget and completely corny: I have even managed to block out what those two episodes were about. I think there were cat people in a space hospital, and some talking skin. Just awful.

James knew how much I wanted to like Doctor Who. There are t-shirts and action figures everywhere, and everyone seems to know all about Doctor Who except for me. I wanted in, but what I’d seen of Doctor Who thus far was basically a nightmare. However, those episodes successfully put me off Doctor Who, and I resisted James’s pleas to give it another chance. He promised that it got better and that I’d get the quirky Britishness that I’d signed up for.

I wasn’t convinced.

James finally got me to agree two watch more Doctor Who when we struck a wintertime bargain. We live on a corner lot, and shoveling snow is a bitch. James agreed to do all the shoveling for the rest of the winter if I would watch two seasons of Doctor Who with him. I would’ve been an idiot not to take that deal.

So I grudgingly watched two seasons of Doctor Who. Most of the episodes of season one were indeed terrible, but every now and again, there was a gem. There’s a World War II-era two-parter in season one with creepy children in gas masks, and much to my surprise, I found myself really enjoying that episode. (It’s creepy as hell: this little kid in an old-fashioned gas mask keeps saying “Are you my mummy?” in this terrifying high-pitched British little boy voice as he goes around transforming people into gas mask creatures.) And James was right about season two: while some of the episodes surely weren’t great, they were ALL better than the garbage season one had to offer. (Excluding the gas mask “are you my mummy” episode, of course.)

I met the Daleks in season one, and I know they’re supposed to be these evil creatures with no feelings besides hate, but I think they’re adorable. Yes, that’s the completely wrong reaction, but they’re so cute! They have these funny little voices and sometimes make terrible jokes, and they have little bulbs on top of their heads that light up and look like little ears. I’m not supposed to like the Daleks because they’re evil and kill everything, but I really look forward to the Dalek episodes.
So cute!
In my two seasons of Doctor Who, there was all sorts of cast-changing. Christopher Eccleston (the Doctor, for the uninitiated) grew on me, and I was genuinely disappointed when he left at the end of season one. However, Billie Piper was a huge problem for me. 
Also, she is a horrendously ugly crier.
She has the horsiest face of anyone I’ve ever seen, and her character (Rose Tyler) is so blindingly annoying that I actually cheered when she left at the end of season two. (That is supposed to be a huge emotional moment, and James was pretty scowly when I reacted with utter joy.) Also, Rose’s mother Jackie and Rose’s sort-of-boyfriend/stalker Mickey are just as irritating. I was so glad to see the whole lot of them ride off into the sunset.

But David Tennant? I LOVE HIM. I didn’t want to love him because I had just gotten used to Christopher Eccleston, but you can’t help but love David Tennant as the Doctor. He’s so expressive and goofy, and I found myself actually becoming invested in the show with David Tennant at the helm. And that’s when the British humor finally kicked in.
Plus he wears cool glasses sometimes.
Even though Doctor Who hasn’t yet grown on me like I had hoped it would, I am very much appreciative of all the Doctor Who pop culture references I now understand. Turns out? They’re EVERYWHERE. I finally appreciate sayings like “it’s bigger on the inside” and “wibbly wobbly timey wimey.” Not only do I now totally get all the themed shirts (or, most of them – I haven’t gotten to the Matt Smith episodes that insist that bowties and fezzes are cool), but I also pick up on more subtle references. For example: on the computer game Plants vs Zombies (which is completely awesome and please don’t judge me), one of the plants is called Torchwood – an oft-referenced organization in Doctor WhoAlso: in the completely hilarious song “Horse Outside,” the singer tells us that his horse “looks like Billie Piper after half an ounce of coke.” When I first heard the song, the reference was lost on me. Now? Hilarious. And true.
I liked David Tennant enough to concede to continuing to watch the show with James. James has been kind enough to let me skip the episodes he has deemed as terrible and non-essential to the show as a whole. We are into season three, and while it still veers into corny, it’s even better than season two. James just had me watch the first Weeping Angels episode, which is his favorite episode of all time and sufficiently creepy.
Don't blink.
James says, “Wait until we get to season four!” He claims that season four is far more awesome than I could ever imagine.

We’ll see, James. We’ll see.

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