Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doctor Who (proper introduction)

Hello, I am the Doctor.

Doctor Who?

Just the Doctor.

The above conversation can be heard in various episodes of the famous longest running science fiction series, Doctor Who (no, not Star Trek). With 776 episodes in total, and having started from 1963, the central idea in Doctor Who still fascinates old fans and attracts new fans alike.

What in the world can withstand ideas fashion changes of almost 50 years? Time Travel. Specifically, time travel inside a time machine that looks like a blue police box (in case you have not live in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, a police box is one shaped like a telephone box, but you put a criminal in it like a temporary jail). It is called the TARDIS, Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.

So what if the Doctor has a TARDIS? What does he do with it? Who is he in the first place?

Well, who is the Doctor has been one of the greatest mystery since the series is created. Up until now, we still do not know his true name. We do know that he is not a human (obviously), but a time-lord. Well, humans do look like time lords (they came first), but the most significant physical difference is that time-lords have two hearts and they regenerate.

Regeneration comes when a time lord sustains mortal wound, so the body regenerates itself..... into another completely different body (most of the time younger). This is how the series gets to survive that long. Each time an actor quits, or got too old, just have a regeneration in the story, and we get the next Doctor. So do not be surprised that it has now come to the 11th Doctor.

With so many episodes of Doctor Who, who in the world would have time to catch up with the series? Or even want to have the motivation to start watching it? Don't fret my dear science fiction enthusiastic, the old series, starring the first to the seventh Doctor runs from 1963 to 1989, and then the series was suspended until a movie starring the eight Doctor in 1996 comes to try to revive the franchise. However, it wasn't until 2005 do we get to see the ninth Doctor on screen again.

So the new series, starting from the ninth Doctor in 2005 runs for the 6th season now, has currently only 80 episodes to catch up on. This is a good place to start, as the new fans are reintroduced to the Doctor and the TARDIS and a companion or two to join the Doctor in fantastical adventures for each episodes. Well, the Doctor having lived for about 900 years (or more) gets bored and lonely travelling through all of time and space alone, so the series features companions to the Doctor, mostly humans from earth, during the time that the series is aired. So the current companions, Amy and her husband Rory, are from the year 2011, United Kingdom, but may appear in various moments in time and space with the Doctor to save the day.

Sorry, I haven't told you just what does the Doctor do, what makes him so amazing, so wonderful, so strange, and yet so human, so...... heroic. It is just that whenever and where-ever the Doctor and his companions landed, be it an asteroid outside of the Universe, a parallel universe, World War II, the forth bountiful human empire, the end of earth, on a planet orbiting a black hole, or just contemporary earth, something goes wrong, someone needed saving. Sometimes, it is just an alien civilisation, or just a few individuals, sometimes it is the whole earth, even the whole universe!

And the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver (does what it says, a screwdriver that uses sound to screw things), and his brilliant alien mind and alien know-how to save the day. So essentially it is a story about a hero. But with a time machine, and all of space and time to play with, the producers can make some any genre out of any episode. Want to meet Charles Dickens? William Shakespeare? Vincent van Goth? Marco Polo? The first colony on Mars? You got them and more.

Science Fiction wise, Doctor Who does a great job in making the improbable or even the impossible becomes believable. Witchcraft, space police, teleportation, robots that wants to convert you into them, emotionless aliens bent on destroying the whole universe, war-thirst alien species, ghost and more are all in Doctor Who, and they are all believable, the way they make the episodes. It is just a wonderful time enjoying the acting skills of all those involved and the sense of realism the produces inject in a series.

Well, if that is not enough to get you move out of your lazy chair and go out in search for Doctor Who, I do recommend reading this.

So to quote the tenth Doctor, there is an old Earth saying, a phrase of great power and wisdom and consolation to the soul in time of need:


No comments: