I was having dinner with friends Monday night, and (all of us being at least somewhat of a nerd-like bent) the topic of Dr. Who came up in conversation. Because, lets face it, if you’ve watched Dr. Who for very long, you have to concur that there really isn’t any other television program worth discussing over dinner. Three of us were raving about the current season, and explaining the series to another person at the table, while making plans for a marathon weekend in which we could catch up the uninitiated friend so that she will be addicted, also (because friends should do that for each other). Someone in the conversation referenced some research she had done on all of the previous incarnations of the Doctor, and that she didn’t understand how I was able to store all of the information that I remember about the Doctor, and his companions, and his adventures.
Perhaps I’m just getting old, but I’ve had this thing for nostalgia over the past few years. At first, it only surfaced during the holidays. More recently, its been showing up rather unexpectedly in various places that I least expect. But for a few moments as my friends and I talked on Monday, I vividly recalled the Saturday night ritual of my childhood: staying up late to watch Dr. Who on PBS. I’ve loved many a science fiction adventure since, but never in quite the same way.
My friend said she didn’t understand this, similar to how she didn’t understand how a gentleman she knows is able to recall classic baseball games, with the players and scores and all other relevant data, upon request. My theory is that it has something to do with the age at which we were exposed. If my father had made it a point to take me to baseball games, I likely would have developed a similar interest. However, we lived nowhere near a major sports arena, and my mother was a science fiction lover. Interestingly, she was first exposed to Star Trek at about the same age at which I was exposed to Dr. Who. She’s been an enduring Trekkie ever since, and can recall Star Trek trivia with the same precise ability that I have for Dr. Who. Something about falling in love with something that we’re encouraged to enjoy in those formative years makes it stick.
There are other stories and universes to which I’ve grown close, of course: X-Men, James Bond, and others. Perhaps those just don’t hold with them that same sense of family unity that Dr. Who holds. We occasionally sat down together to watch a Bond film, but every Saturday night for years brought Dr. Who to our living room…from the time I was so young that I fell asleep during the episodes, forward. During my middle school days, I went with some friends to see an touring exhibit of Dr. Who. I still have one of the question mark lapel pins to this day. A poster of K-9 hangs above my writing desk, and I seriously want one of these.
I’ve grown into whatever level of storyteller I am in part of because of the amazing story arcs of Dr. Who (plots unduplicated in the rest of science fiction, as far as I’m concerned…and I think many would agree). I learned to appreciate the intelligent, complex, and engaging adventures of a character who abhorred violence and held his intellect as his greatest weapon. I’ve watched the character grow through the years, and religiously watch every episode today. And, through it all, I’ve maintained that sense of togetherness and safety that formed the base from which we engaged in those adventures in other times and far away lands.
So, yes, perhaps I am getting more nostalgic as I get older. I’ll accept that. And it will only get worse, dear reader, because, unlike the Doctor, I won’t regenerate. You will always continue to find the Doctor referenced here at times, though, because the character and his adventures have become that referent, that signal that helps me orient myself to a more innocent time, to the foundation for my current adventures. I find the insights and “what if” questions posed by the series everywhere, informing my worldview as though seeing “Bad Wolf” graffiti for myself at every turn.
And, if you know what I’m talking about when I say that, then I’m certain you understand.