I’ve been watching Doctor Who on DVD and Netflix. Great show! How did a nerd like me miss this?
It occurred to me that it’s very hard to come up with something original for a story. People would argue it’s all been done. Well, blimey, I think the TARDIS is pretty original. “Time and Relative Dimension in Space” is a pretty funny name for a spaceship. But then, the TARDIS is no ordinary ship.
Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, published one of the first successful time travel novels, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, in 1889. So time travel fiction has been around for a while.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s produced by the BBC, and was on from 1963 to 1985 originally, and was revived in 2005. It’s the madcap adventures of a 900-year-old alien, a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey, who flies around in his TARDIS.
The Doctor is one character, played by different actors, because he goes through a periodic regeneration. My favorite was David Tennant, the tenth Doctor. The current eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, is kind of growing on me. I plan to watch as many of the older shows as I can.
The Doctor is just known as “The Doctor,” and someone invariably asks, “Doctor who?” Hence the show’s name. He travels with one primary companion and often a few extras. The companions are usually women, caught at a crossroads when the Doctor comes into their lives. He doesn’t date them, but he does love them in a deeply protective and mentoring way.
His TARDIS looks like a 1950s blue police box, something like a phone booth, and makes a very distinctive sound as it materializes and dematerializes. It’s sort of a mechanical wheeze. According to a recent episode, it’s not supposed to do that, but it’s due to some wonky adjustment. The Doctor likes it so he left it that way.
Click HERE for the sound of the TARDIS!
Its most distinguishing feature is that it’s bigger on the inside than the outside. This often amazes first-time visitors. It contains many outfits from different time periods, although the Doctor and his current companion never seem to change clothes when they visit the past. And no one there seems to notice.
Despite the incongruities, the show is a plethora of fast-talking sci-fi / fantasy action adventure with great character and awesomely creative villains. Because it’s time travel, they can encounter everyone from Shakespeare to a giant slumbering futuristic head (The Face of Boe). And since they can go to other planets, monsters and aliens abound.
One of the scariest monsters in any show ever appeared in a Season 4 Doctor Who episode called “Blink.” Weeping Angels are classical-looking statue-like creatures that feed off energy. They don’t move when you’re looking, but when you’re not…**
The Doctor tricked them into surrounding the TARDIS and then dematerialized it so they were trapped, looking at each other, and couldn’t move. Clever!
Sci-fi and fantasy genres give television, film and novel writers endless possibilities. There’s almost nothing you can’t do. Speculative fiction has produced some real dogs, but there are lists and lists of excellently written books out there. Tons of good TV shows, too. I know people who don’t like that sort of thing. That’s cool. Go read some boring political thriller and leave me to my TARDIS!
If you have any suggestions on sci-fi books or shows to share, please do tell in the comments.