Friday, March 24, 2006

Who's On First, or Tenth, Actually

I wasn’t the Doctor Who fan; that honor belonged to my brother Greg, who attempted to convince me to join him in a marathon viewing back in the days when he had the television in the basement of the Chicago house – a basement glorious devoid of windows, allowing no passing of the sun or moon to break the spell of junk-food fueled, four-day long movie binges.

But to interrupt movie viewing with Doctor Who viewing was asking a bit much. I tried, but, oh! Those production values, and accents, and weird costumes (he’s an alien because he’s wearing a silver body suit? How does that work?) And forget about convincing me that the guy with the scarf in one episode is the same as that other actor in the next… I gave up and convinced my host to returned the television to the adventures of Martin Riggs.

Perhaps in aging, I have grown wiser. Or maybe it is nostalgia for a show I never liked, but is now showing new episodes.

Or maybe it’s because the good Doctor, being science fiction, is able to more easily portray big ideas, the kind I like to chew on these days.

Whatever the cause, I found myself turning to a somewhat better production valued series, that is still preposterous and requires a giddy suspension of disbelief that is only possible late at night or by the silly at heart.

And my head thanks my heart for agreeing to be a bit silly.

On a recent DOCTOR WHO episode:

The Doctor, trying to impress first-time time-traveler Rose, takes her 5 Billion years into the future, where they join a party watching the destruction of the earth as the sun explodes.

The show features three beings representing earth:

The last human from earth, who finally reached perfect physical perfection through surgery by literally being only a patch of skin spread out on a canvas stretcher, featureless if it weren’t for makeup pointing out her lips and eyes (can you get any thinner?) Petty, self absorbed, and obsessed by thinness and money. Her gift to the other guests is a fake ostrich egg.

A Tree alien, rumored to be descended from the Rain Forest, there to pay final respects to a planet that has so affected the galaxy. Noble, a bit presuming, and ultimately willing to give her life so that other lives may continue. Her gift to the other guests is a living tree sapling.

Rose, a traveler from our time, who upon learning that the earth is nearing its end is driven to call home and check in on Mum (who is fine, and trying to finish the laundry, and why are you calling in the middle of the day?). After the earth is destroyed, and the villain that is trying to destroy those watching the earth be destroyed is destroyed, Rose is the one that points out that they all were too busy trying to save themselves to notice the destruction of an entire planet. She had no gift to offer, since she didn’t know she was coming to a party were gifts were required.

And of course there is the Doctor, who as an alien doesn’t represent earth – except of course by being the one that has saved earth countless times throughout history. The Doctor is a bit of a paradox in this – while constantly saving the earth in the past, he is rather cavalier about its destruction now. He seems to feel that it isn’t death that is a problem, but rather premature death; a theory perhaps born out of his own planets premature demise. His gift to others – air from his lungs.

And after the adventure, the only way for Rose to deal with the inevitable destruction of all life is to stand in the middle of a busy London street, and pop off to the pub for some fresh chips.

Let the writing of the dissertations begin.

Just my thoughts,


The new DOCTOR WHO is now playing on the Sci Fi channel.

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