This weekend I was completely flabbergasted by what I can only describe as a phenomena that I would have never (in a million years) have expected. Unless you are sleeping under a rock, there is little doubt that you heard at least a little something about the 50th Anniversary of the first airing of Doctor Who.
Who is Doctor Who (pardon the pun) you ask?
Doctor Who is a [fictional character known as a] “time lord” from the planet Gallifrey who can regenerate his life, and travels through space and time in a transportation device known as the TARDIS. (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space). Besides space and time travel, one of the most notable attributes of the TARDIS is it’s dimensional transcendentality. Simply put, “it’s bigger on the inside”.
I could go on and on and on explaining the world of Doctor Who for the unfamiliar, but it would be an overwhelming task which is readily available with a simple search of the world wide web.
I am not here to explain the world of Doctor Who. Nope, I am here to expound upon by level of complete and utter flabbergastery (as noted above).
In order to do this, I need you to jump into the TARDIS, and I’ll take you back to 1980-1983.
(Push play on the YouTube play button)
The Father of Five (as you know him) is now a geeky,
chubby husky not-so-little 5th (6th, 7th or 8th grade) misfit attending Nativity of Mary Catholic School in a moderately isolated (and fairly “prestigious”) bubble of American Suburbia.
He doesn’t fit in with the athletic kids at all. His primary friends (Tom, Tim, Dan and Jim) are four of the most academically endowed boys in the class who (I honestly suspect) felt a little sorry for the young father-of-five-to-be misfit, and accepted him into their group (despite his mediocre (at best) academic performance). While he may not have been at the same level academically, he shared many of the same interests with these young lads and many fond memories were created through these outlets!
Things like… Early computing (Commodore, TI-99, Timex-Sinclair, etc), Dungeons & Dragons (and other role playing games), Risk, Chess, Star Wars (and other science fiction – like… Doctor Who)
Back then, Doctor Who was predominantly an underground phenomenon (even within the SciFi culture), and held a small but loyal “cult like” following known as “Whovians”.
If you openly talked about Doctor Who outside your Whovian circles, you were (at best) met with a blank stare followed by a raised eyebrow, and a “Who…” or “What… are you talking about?”. The subsequent explanation would often result in a completely uninterested blank stare.
If, on the other hand, you were not so lucky - you would find yourself teased unmercifully and your standing in the school-yard hierarchy would take an irreparable beating.
I admit. Back in the early 1980’s I was a Whovian. I really really enjoyed Doctor Who. Many times I would daydream that my bedroom door was a door to my own TARDIS. Picturing the space beyond the door as much larger that it really was. I often drifted off to sleep with the imagery of a TARDIS (MY TARDIS) whirling about in space, or traveling through a conduit of time – wondering just where I would wake up.
I wrote my own computer program (in TI-99 BASIC) that drew the TARDIS on the screen. The light on top of the TARDIS would flash a couple of times, then the whole TARDIS would flash a couple of times, and then the TARDIS disappear, leaving the computer screen blank. I spent a LOT of time writing that program!
Completing the full “ensemble” of my Whovian fanaticism (literally) – was the last year I went out trick-or-treating (circa 6th – 7th grade).
I dressed up as Doctor Who.
This was Tom Baker (4th incarnation) era. I wore a wool trench coat. I took three scarves and pinned them together in order to recreate the infamous oversized scarf. I donned a camouflaged “bucket hat” (which was the closest thing I had to the Doctor’s felt fedora) and carried my dad’s tire pressure gauge as my sonic screwdriver. I lost count of how many houses asked me who I was dressed as (and how many blank stares I got in return.)
Somewhere, in the farthest reaches of my parent’s home, there is a photo of me dressed as Doctor Who that Halloween. I will do my best to
find it and post it for all to seeembarrass myself by sharing it with you.
Speaking of the farthest reaches of my parents home – who here remembers my “Amateur Archeology” post (link provided)? Click on through, and scroll down. Pay attention to the 5th and 6th photos down, and even CLOSER attention to the 8th and 9th photos!
Over the years, my connection with my Whovian past has dwindled. At one point “Doctor Who” was not much more than a distant (pleasant, but distant) memory. That was until a few years back. The BBC decided it was time to breath some new life into the old series and “regenerated” it (see what I did there fellow Whovians?? “Regenerated it”?!?!)
The series was brought up to speed, polished, decorated, and repackaged – and to be honest with you, they did one helluva job on it!! When I first got wind of the update, I caught up with my old friend the Doctor. Over several months, I watched the first 2 1/2 seasons – and really liked what they did!
Alas, the Life of a Father of Five (chaos in paradise) does not allow for much leisure television viewing – and I quickly fell behind and then (once again) lost focus on Doctor Who.
This all brings me to last weekend.
The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.
The aforementioned update has really created a resurgence in the show… No, it’s even more that that. The update has created a truly unbelievable level of popularity (world wide) for my beloved Doctor. I can not believe how mainstream the series has become – even in the past couple of years!
I was ASTONISHED to see SO MANY Facebook posts about Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary. I saw postings about Doctor Who parties. I saw photos (plural) of TARDIS cakes, and SciFi themed snacks and decorations for said parties. I saw cover photos and profile photos of the TARDIS, users’ favorite Doctor, and even a Dalek or two. I saw links to articles, and to videos of all things Doctor Who. I saw photos of groups of kids gathered together for a Doctor Who marathons. I saw parents (some I knew where Whovians, and others I had no idea) participating in the Whovian festivities!
It was off my radar. I had NO IDEA how popular and mainstream Doctor Who had become.
Even MY MOTHER called me up and started sharing some Doctor Who trivia she picked up!!
I have mixed feelings about all of this.
On one hand I somehow feel as if I lost a “badge” I once wore. A “badge” I once EARNED! The badge was part of being associated with a “less than popular” subculture. It was quiet. It was unique. It was different. It was something special. On the other hand, I am ecstatic to see just how much the series has taken on a life of it’s own! Doctor Who is part of many of so many of my cherished childhood memories – and I am delighted to think that another generation of Whovians will grow up fueled by the stories of The Doctor and his adventures through space and time!
With this resurgence one thing is certain. I am looking forward to once again reconnecting with my old friend… The Doctor.