(Originally posted at http://mikelpen.wordpress.com)
Doctor Who is truly a remarkable thing. Any science fiction or fantasy fan who has not had the pleasure of watching Doctor Who owes it to themselves to at least dip a toe here or there to get a feel for what they’re missing.
Doctor Who is also a truly strange thing.
Doctor Who is often not very good. When you watch Doctor Who regularly, you are constantly on the verge of witnessing the show take a precipitous dive in quality. Sometimes these falls seem to take an endless amount of time before hitting bottom and bouncing back, but it always bounces back hard enough to become something worth watching again.
There is absolutely no consensus among the fans on which parts are worth watching and which parts are not.
Doctor Who is always worth watching.
There is a seemingly endless amount of minutia one needs to learn in order to fully understand Doctor Who:
- He is called “the Doctor,” not “Doctor Who.”
- The Doctor is a Time Lord who hails from the planet Gallifrey.
- All Time Lords are Gallifreyans, but apparently not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords.
- Gallifreyans have two hearts.
- Time Lords can cheat death through a process called regeneration, which triggers a complete change in appearance and personality.
- Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times, meaning that Time Lords have thirteen lives.
- The Doctor has regenerated several times and been played by several actors.
- The Doctor is hundreds of years old.
- Time Lords are observers, with laws, rules, and customs that prohibit and limit interfering with other worlds and the threads of time.
- The Time Lords are all dead.
- The Doctor is something of a rebel who fled Gallifrey hundreds of years ago.
- The Doctor travels through space in time in a machine called the TARDIS.
- Thanks to a faulty “chameleon circuit,” the TARDIS is permanently disguised as a 1960’s London Police Box.
- TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.
And on and on and on and on. A list of everything you need to know in order to understand Doctor Who could span several pages. At least.
But forget most of that stuff. Once such a list becomes too detailed, half the items would start contradicting the other half anyway. The only thing you need to know to truly understand Doctor Who, to comprehend Doctor Who, to grok Doctor Who at its most base level, to slip your mind sideways into a mode that understands why Doctor Who is remarkable at its core, is that the Doctor’s space/time ship, the TARDIS, is bigger on the inside than the outside. Small blue box the size of a phone booth on the outside; big space/time machine inside. And not just big. Huge. Vast. Infinite. If not actually infinite, then capable of infinite combinations and variations.
It is this simple conceit of a space/time machine that’s bigger on the inside that makes Doctor Who remarkable. Not because this is a fun idea, which it is, but because it’s a perfect metaphor.
The TARDIS is a metaphor for stories and books, which can take you anywhere and anywhen, and which are “bigger on the inside,” because they are only made of words, but open up into images, ideas, worlds, and lives.
The TARDIS is a metaphor for the mind, which is housed in the all-too mortal meat of the brain, but which holds the sweeping vastness of the imagination.
The TARDIS is a metaphor for the heart.
The TARDIS is a metaphor for love.
But these metaphors are not what makes Doctor Who remarkable or special. It’s this. The TARDIS is a metaphor for Doctor Who itself. What makes Doctor Who strike into and become permanently embedded in the heart of a die-hard, lifelong fan, is that the show itself is also bigger on the inside. Doctor Who and its central image of the TARDIS are representations of the same idea; “bigger on the inside.” They orbit each other and resonate, each amplifying the other to create a show that is the most perfect celebration of the imagination in the history of genre television.
Any movie or television show can be said to be “bigger on the inside,” but Doctor Who is different. Doctor Who is a show that demands the active participation of your imagination. You cannot passively consume Doctor Who and take what you see at face value. It won’t hold together. Its continuity will eventually stretch beyond the breaking point. Its moments of contradiction, ill-defined plotting, bad melodrama, shoddy characterization, cheesy effects, tonal shifts, and meta storytelling will eventually shake the strongest, most rigid suspension of disbelief. You either choose to simply not care about these “problems,” or you imagine your own explanations and images that make the show bigger and better than it sometimes actually is.
The notoriously cheap and shoddy effects (even for their time) of Doctor Who from 1963 to 1989 are a perfect example. You can’t be engaged in or scared of stories with poorly blue-screened rubber monsters if some part of your imagination doesn’t turn them into something “real.” I don’t love those classic episodes in spite of their cheap effects, but usually because of them.
And how do you explain multiple accounts of the destruction of Atlantis without concocting some explanation involving time travel and alternate timelines or dimensions?
Things get very interesting when you begin to notice all the “gaps” that are peppered throughout the show’s long history. Those moments that are between stories and off-screen where the Doctor and his companions could be experiencing countless adventures. If the show was cancelled tomorrow, never to return, the framework that already exists from first episode to last holds within it infinite story possibilities.
This is why I love Doctor Who. Greater than the sum of its parts. Bigger on the inside.
Doctor Who is not simply a story. Doctor Who is its own storytelling medium.
The Doctor and Clara try to squeeze in and out of a mini Tardis.
David Tennant being ridiculously cute: Nativity 2 (2/2)
i’m such a last minute person that even the expression last minute person cant describe how much of a last minute person i am. it’s 8:30pm, i have to deliver my assignment tomorrow and i have written exactly 0 words.
Question: What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever given you
Peter/Sylvester: *mumbling* oh i dont know….
Audience member: “A GRANDDAUGHTER”
no but today we managed to scare a bunch of guys that were sitting next to us by arguing about Stony and lunahermione shouting “Captain America bottoms”.
The gripping legal thriller The Escape Artist will première on Sky New Zealand premium channel SoHo from Wednesday 16th July.
Click the link for more details
Reblogging for bondage!Tennant.
David Tennant - Suit Manip
You know you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do in life right? Always live in the moment and boy we lived that moment for two and a half freaking hours! [more torchwood cast]