Yep. I’m one of the converted. Sometime in the 70s, on a lonely afternoon, I stumbled across the strange warbling theme song of Doctor Who on PBS. I was instantly entranced, and the rubber monsters the bug-eyed fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, encountered, were right up my alley. I didn’t always know when the show was on, but if I happened to be flipping channels and it was on, I’d watch.
Years later in the 80s, my stepfather watched the adventures of the fifth and sixth doctors religiously, and I would tune out thinking how bad the sets and effects were by 80s standards, and thinking those guys weren’t the real Doctor. My stepfather had explained the regeneration thing to me, but I really was only interested if a Tom Baker re-run was showing.
Many years later, in the mid 90s, I befriended illustrator and author Scott P. ‘Doc’ Vaughn. Everyone calls him Doc. But for the sake of this post, I’ll refer to him as Scott to avoid confusion. Scott was a huge Doctor Who fan. He had stuck with the show through the McCoy years, and even had a TARDIS console in his place. He had signed memorabilia, the books, the CDs, everything. I remember he tried to get me into it, but by that point I was soured on the weak effects and shaky scenery of the 80s. But I dutifully went to Scott’s place for the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie with the eighth Doctor. If I recall, we first watched the last seventh Doctor episodes. Then the main event. I remember both liking the film, and liking McGann as the Doctor, but also still being biased and thinking it wasn’t going to fly as an ongoing series. It didn’t. (An aside here though—I recently re-watched that film and it holds up amazingly well.)
More years flew by until in 2005, I was visiting Scott in Phoenix and he showed me the new series episodes “Rose” and “Dalek”. If I’m honest, I was hooked before the end of “Rose”. At last, Scott had converted me to a fan.
In the last eight years, I have dutifully watched each new episode of the revived show, and I’ve sought out all the older episodes and documentaries I could find. I’m a huge fan now. And if you haven’t guessed yet, I’m loving the deluge of Doctor Who related shows and documentaries in the last two weeks. But today is the day. The Day of the Doctor. 50 years, the show has been around, and somehow, miraculously, Doctor Who is now both the longest running science fiction TV show ever and the most popular. People like my pal Scott, who stuck with it through the grim years are feeling an amazing tidal wave of vindication. Fans who dabbled in the Tom Baker years are rediscovering their love for the series—even if they haven’t been following the show for the last eight years.
When DVDs became the thing, I really started getting into the meta aspects of films and TV shows. I sometimes enjoy the Behind the Scenes documentaries more than the actual programs. So the flood of Who documentaries lately is making me a happy camper. Later today, when my nearly two-year old daughter takes a nap, my nine-year old son, my wife, and I will sit down and watch the 50th anniversary episode of the show. I’ll be loving every monster-filled second of it, just like that little boy who stumbled on the creepy theme music in the 1970s.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Doctor! Here’s hoping we are both around for the 100th!