(Originally Written for Jedi News)
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I am not a bandwagon jumper.
Yes, I am a huge fan of many popular franchises, but I came into them on my own terms. In fact, I have a history of avoiding things that would later become some of my favorites simply because people startle me by never shutting up about it. One prime example is the Harry Potter series. I avoided it like the plague until I saw a trailer for the first film and thought it looked interesting enough to check out. Today, it’s perhaps my favorite book series of all time.
Even my beloved Star Wars started out as just this thing everyone kept quoting. It wasn’t until the Special Editions were coming out that I decided it was about time I gave it a chance. As you can see, I never looked back.
|"Very Special Indeed."|
Where am I going with this? I mention it because the internet seems to be filled with reference upon reference to rave upon rave of a little television show called Doctor Who. The rabidity of the fanbase has caused me to inch away slowly for years. It wasn’t until last fall, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the show, that I got interested enough to see what all the yapping was about. I went on Amazon Prime, found the 2005 revival (what I was told was a good starting point for beginners), and watched it.
And I didn’t get it.
Wait, let me explain. Lest you think I’m about to bash one of the UK’s treasures in an article for a UK website, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I LOVE Doctor Who. I’ve caught up on five and a half “series” of the revival (once I get up to the present, I plan on watching the best of Doctors 1-8), and I simply adore it. In just a few short months, it has become one of my all-time favorite television shows. I have yet to see an episode I’ve actively disliked. Everything is Fantastic. I finally appreciate wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff. I tell people I watch Doctor Who now; Doctor Who is cool. I’ve become a full-fledged Whovian (well, Nu-Whovian, but give me some time).
What I don’t get is why anyone else is. What I can’t wrap my head around is why the internet that considers Episodes I-III a crime against nature goes so completely bonkers for this show.
Because the truth of the matter is that Doctor Who is everything people claim to hate about I-III.
|"It's a fixed point in history. There's nothing I can do. I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."|
When you get right down to it, it’s corny as hell. The performances are hit and miss, as is the dialogue (except from the Doctor himself, of course). The effects are mostly just laughable, even in the more recent episodes where it’s clear they have a bigger budget and want to take themselves more seriously.
“But Adam,“ you say, “Doctor Who has a history of corniness. It’s part of the brand, so it’s forgivable in this case.” To which I would agree…and it’s the same for Star Wars. IV-VI have the same ham and cheese factor as I-III, as I’ve pointed out more than once.
“But Adam,” you say, “Doctor Who is full of such memorable creatures and settings with interesting concepts.” To which I would agree…and it’s the same for I-III. Subjectivity aside, the creatures, vehicles, and settings were given just as much thought and love as IV-VI. Even more in some cases.
“But Adam,” you say, “Sure Doctor Who has its moments that make even fans cringe, but it’s all forgivable because the majority of the episodes, well, they have a good story! The writing, at least in the plot department, is excellent, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Plus it’s a lot of fun.”
To which I would wholeheartedly agree.
|"I regenerate. You clearly don't."|
I’ve made no secret that I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, though I rarely advertise it either. Recently, the group I supervise was asked to come up with their one big passion. The one main pseudo-obsession that is one of the defining traits of the syndrome. And it got me thinking about mine, about how I could never pick one because I’ve always loved so many different things. It was then I had a revelation: my one big passion is stories. I studied acting and practiced writing because I love telling stories. I immerse myself in films, books, television shows, and even video games because I love hearing stories. I crave being able to share anecdotes and hear others share theirs.
I’ve liked many things others haven’t because I like the stories they’re telling. I can look past many flaws that others consider dealbreakers and enjoy the story being told. And the more people point out these flaws, real or imagined, the more I see the same things happening in stories they actually do like, making me even more confused why what I like is considered “bad”.
|"And speaking of, why does nobody say 'Wizard' anymore?"|
I have never claimed that I-III are Citizen Kane in the technique department, but neither are IV-VI and neither is Doctor Who. And none of them are meant to be (though they are all better at it than they are given credit for sometimes). And I love them all because in spite of anything that might be wrong with any of them, the stories they tell are damn good tales.
I mean, someone recently turned A New Hope into a Shakespearean play, when any of the Prequel films would have made a better fit. The story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise and fall in Elizabethan language would be indistinguishable from one of the Bard’s authentic tragedies. It’s deep, emotional, and says some pretty spot on things about the human condition.
And if you can look past the wacky trappings to appreciate such storytelling in Doctor Who, then you should be able to do it for Phantom, Clones, and Sith.
|"Like, just your opinion that is."|