Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why Didn't Somebody Tell Me How Awesome This Was?!!

This week: Doctor Who

Ok, asking "why didn't somebody tell me how awesome this was" is a little unfair in the case of Doctor Who, because there are swarms of people on the internet who claim the awesomeness of this show. Fan clubs, societies, blogs, what have you. I guess I just didn't have so many friends who watched it and were like "omg you have to watch this right now!" Truth be told, even after I had heard all the great things about it I was really hesitant. Let me explain.

There is a reason why I primarily read comic books that have clearly defined, limited runs (Transmetropolitan, Sandman, Fables, Hellboy, and lately Y: The Last Man). I'm cool with starting at the bound graphic novel #1 and working my way through to like volume #10. There have been a few superhero comics I've read, but not that many. The reason behind this is mostly because I every time I pick up a superhero comic they reference events that happened in issues released like 10 years ago. Really? I'm supposed to keep track of all these ins and outs and who is whose son apparently? Anyway, so Doctor Who has been on TV for like a bajillion years and even though the most recent incarnation is only a few seasons old, I had this feeling like I couldn't just start watching in the middle because I'd have no idea what Daleks are or any of that other stuff. Would I need to start at the beginning beginning, like back in the 60s before I even started watching the recent version? I really had no idea how much back story I would miss. But, I decided to jump in head first and just deal with it.

Part of the problem, aside from the whole "Ack! 40 years of backstory" thing was that BBC America for whatever reason very rarely shows prior season Doctor Who in reruns. Similarly Syfy for whatever reason does not air it half as much as it shows old episodes of Stargate: Atlantis (which I've pretty much seen all of by now). Watching shows in syndication was the only way I ever saw most of the first 2 seasons of Buffy, for example (I only started at the 3rd season when it was on the air) and I really didn't know if I felt like renting disc by disc for every episode. Luckily for me they are all available on Netflix On Demand! Yay technology.

Despite the fact that I had all these concerns about backstory etc, I decided on a whim to begin with season 2. Why? Because David Tennant is just so freaking adorable, that's why. I want to poke his nose. Also, I had the misfortune of seeing Christopher Eccleston on Heroes first and was not particularly a fan. I'll have to go back and watch eventually because I missed out on a lot of stuff, but now that I've realized I only need a passing knowledge of things (easily found on Wikipedia) I'm a lot less intimidated. For example, in one episode a previous companion of the Doctor (Sarah Jane Smith) shows up, but I only had to Google her name to get all I needed to know to understand the rest of the episode. The rest is really explained in context. Anyway, not going to go for an episode by episode summary, but suffice it to say, the show is really great. Buffy is the perfect analogy for people who have never seen it before. Snarky pop culture references + pretty hilariously bad special effects + escapism. Having only seen the second season and 3 episodes of the third season I'm not sure if future episodes stay as lovely and frothy but I hope so. Even the "dark" episodes manage more humor than some of the broody 7th season of Buffy, for example, and it certainly takes itself less seriously than half the shows on Syfy.

What I like in particular is how much joy the Doctor gets from what is presumably his every day life. Early episodes of Buffy (again with the analogy) had Willow so exuberant over her newly found magical ability that even lifting a pencil in the air was special. By later episodes magic had become so commonplace that nobody stopped to think about how super neat everything was. The Doctor, on the other hand, has been around for eons and yet still gets this childlike glee from say, meeting Queen Victoria or discovering some new life form. Even in its darker moments, when characters are in genuine peril, things just seem more... I don't know... fun. While I always liked the Scoobies, I never actually wanted to live in Sunnydale, whereas I would hop aboard the TARDIS in a heartbeat even if I knew I would be doomed to live on a planet full of sentient squids for 5 years (this is not an actual episode of the show... I don't think. If it really is, then I'm pretty talented).

Science is played with fast and loose, which wasn't a problem for me. I don't really need scientific explanations for time travel or glorpy monsters. I enjoyed the way the show bounces around in time and space and you aren't in any one location for very long. Reminds me a bit of Star Trek: Next Generation, but again, since the Doctor doesn't have to be all impartial and rational he can totally just go up to a squishy looking guy and poke him in the head or something. Even though he is great and wonderful Time Lord and everything, I like the fact that there are things that he doesn't know or understand. Mysteries wouldn't be mysteries of the character was TOO powerful. The TARDIS itself has this tendancy to break down a lot, which reminded me a bit of Farscape. I like the old Fonzi kind of whack to the side of a conduit to make it work again. Oh... and have I mentioned how cute David Tennant is yet?

So yeah, I'm officially a complete fangirl for this show now. What do fans call themselves? Who-ites? Who-kins? Whatever. I'm not going to start writing my own fan fiction or anything nuts like that, and I know that joining so late in the game will never make me "one" of the folks who have been watching forever, but I think it is safe to say that I'm a cheerleader.

For those of you who HAVE watched the show, should I start watching Torchwood now? I'm not sure where "Torchwood" the show ties in with Doctor Who in terms of chronology. Like at the end of Season 2 you actually see the Torchwood Institute and all that, but it doesn't have any of the characters in it. I guess Captain Jack was in 1st season stuff I should probably watch, but do I need to see that first? Keep in mind this is coming from someone who first started watching Angel before she'd seen the first two seasons of Buffy.

Oh wait, I didn't even mention the best part! I watched all these episodes in the span of a week. I'm either very proud or very, very sad.

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