My Mom really took advantage of the “recommended for you” bit of Netflix when she first signed up, several years ago. I was either still living at home, or freshly married, so I benefited from the bits of randomness in the DVD player almost every weekend.
One sunny Sunday, I dropped in to my entire family packed into the little sunroom, which doubled as the TV room. They were entranced. Two of my siblings AND my father were sitting on the floor to be closer to the screen. No one broke eye contact as my mom whispered, “it’s called Doctor Who; it’s British.”
I pish poshed my way out of the room and made myself a sandwich, since the kitchen was uncharacteristically unoccupied. Don’t get me wrong, I love British things, but it looked like sci-fi to me, and cool people don’t watch sci-fi.
Two hours later, when my husband (or fiance, I still can’t remember) came to fetch me for our next visit, I was sandwiched between Mom and Cay on the sunroom couch, and probably drooling a bit. Hubs pried me away but I did not go gently.
I signed up for Netflix that night and put all available Doctor Who DVDs at the top of the queue. Hubs tried to resist, but he caved halfway into the second season. He was so hooked, in fact, that I had to re-rent the first season so he could catch up. The guy will never admit it, but I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes at the heart-wrenching finale of season two. (Ok, I flooded the entire apartment with tears for DAYS while he only got a bit misty, but still…)
Briefly: the show follows the main character, called “The Doctor” around. He can travel through space and time in an old-school British police box. Plots of individual episodes vary widely, from helping famous characters in Earth’s history, like Dickens or the villagers of Pompeii, to visiting other planets and discovering other life forms. Everything comes back to humans and the Earth, though, which is nice. It’s cheeky; it’s creepy; it’s geeky; it’s funny; it’s often deep.
Here’s a clip from the first few minutes of the first episode of season one. Show title, “Rose.” If you take nothing else from this post, watch this clip. (The line at about 6:55 is great.)
When we moved to Mexas, our cable package included BBC America, which ran Doctor Who about six month behind the BBC One (UK) schedule, but on regular TV, with promos and everything! Our Netflix queue was free of Doctor Who, and we have since been guilty, multiple times, of scheduling our Saturday nights around the television broadcasts.
DVR saved our social life. (Not really… but kind of.)
In the past few years I have converted from “pish posh” to having and vocalizing very strong opinions about the second generation of Doctor Who. (First gen ran from 1963 to 1981.) I have laughed hysterically, shed copious tears, and compiled my own Top Ten Episodes list. I’m still not sure which incarnation of the main character I like the best (his change is an integral part of the plot, which makes for new actors every few years, and fun new personalities).
The problem is that when I try to talk to my Tejas friends about Doctor Who, I get “what the what?!” faces. It’s a random show, and the initial impression of sci-fi masks the fantastic rom-com, metaphysical, action-adventure, all around amazing family show aspects that are so addicting. I don’t know how to get through, other than buying everyone DVD gift sets (then they would be obliged to watch it). Netflix streams the first few seasons instantly, now, but I’m not so far gone that I want to tie people to their desk chairs.
I have no easy solutions for this, and season six (with a new actor who looks and acts fabulously like the lead in That Thing You Do) doesn’t begin until the spring so I have nothing to distract me.
My solution is to rewatch the entire series in my spare time (I’ll have so much), beginning with the original generation in 1963, taking a brief break to sleep between 1981 and the second generation’s season one (in 2005), then finishing with a box of tissues as David Tennant bows out and the new actor/creator/logo take over.
On a side note, the new head-0f-everything for season six wrote some of the BEST episodes from the previous five seasons. He’s an old-school diehard fan and creates very crisp, powerful episodes. One of the major complaints of the guy who revived the series (Davies) is that he often writes for effect at the expense of plausibility. Sort of an “we’re already outside the box, so who cares if it all makes sense?!” The new head guy (Moffat) seems to have a better handle on how to write successful fantasy, never letting the fun of “what if?” turn into “who cares!”
I’m excited. Here is the trailer for the next season so you can join me in my excitement: