Saturday, June 1, 2013

Journeys With the Doctor: My Stories of Doctor Who#1

Greetings, Earth Creatures!

Dave-El here and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You.

We're a couple of weeks out from Doctor Who's Series 7 finale, The Name of the Doctor, and six months away from the 50th Anniversary special coming in November.

In order to cope with the intervening Doctor Who withdrawal, I am posting something each Saturday (because the Doctor loves Saturdays!) relating to Doctor Who. Last week, I dashed off a bit of trifle about the 10th Doctor and Rose encountering Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise where we learn Rose is a closet Trekker and what opinions the Doctor and Rose have about David Tennant and Billie Piper

(For more, click this link: "The Doctor Meets Capt. Kirk: Untold Tales of Doctor Who#2.)

I have other (rather goofy) ideas for future fiction posts (including...possibly...my own idea for a multi-Doctor epic) but I also to use this weekly forum to post other things. For example, today I post installment #1 of Journeys With the Doctor: My Stories of Doctor Who.  This is to share my discovery of the program and my development as a Doctor Who fan.


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Part 1
"I thought Doctor Who was the dumbest thing
I had ever seen!"

Fall 1981: I began attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and it was a major transition for me. It's a major transition for most young men and women moving from High School Land to College World. But I had led a rather sheltered small town life so going away to college was particularly a big deal for me and it was not always an easy adjustment for me. A lot of the social interaction skills that most of my fellow freshmen had worked on in their formative grade school years were still a mystery to me.  But being (by my standards) far away from home, I had few options to retreat. I was going to have learn to interact with people.

I was going to have to learn to be human.

One of the significant hubs of UNC-G was Elliot Student Center, a place to go to get out of the dorms for awhile, to get something to eat other than the food-like substances at the cafeteria, to just hang out.  Around the student center were 3 area set up with couches and other quasi-comfortable chairs in a semi-circle around a television set.

(On the ground floor, there was a 4th area with a projection TV. Oddly enough, few people used that TV. 1981 projection TV technology was not all that great.)

One day in the middle of the fall of my freshman  year in college, I was at Elliot Student Center. I was very much on a budget so hanging out around the student center was about all I could afford at that time.  I decided to seek out one of the TV areas with only a vague idea of maybe catching up on the news. It was a few minutes before 6:00PM and there was this one area with one guy sitting on a sofa. He was writing in a notebook, not particularly watching the TV which was on the local PBS station. Still, to be polite, before changing the channel, I asked, "Are you watching this?"

He looked up and said, "Well, actually, I'm waiting for something to come on at 6:00. I mean, if that's OK." Well, he was being polite and I really had no burning desire to watch the local news. Besides, I had a book with me that I really needed to get started on for one of my classes. So I said, tapping my book, "Nah, I really need to get started on this anyway." So I plopped down in one of the soft chairs and opened my book.

A moment later, 2 guys and 2 girls approached and one of them said to the guy already there, "Hey, we're not late?" and the reply was that no, they were just in time. So these new arrivals found various spots on the chairs and sofas and made themselves comfortable,

Then I heard something, an other worldly music. I looked up at the TV screen and saw a strange visual effect, swirling patterns moving outward as the large head of curly haired man appeared. The assembled group actually gave a shout that I heard only at basketball games when someone made a 3 point shot. A graphic, some kind of stylized shield identified the program as Doctor Who.



I asked one of the closer viewers what was this.

"It's Doctor Who," he replied.

Well, I kind of worked that out for myself. Then there was a title: "The Seeds of Doom" followed by "Part Five".

What transpired over the next half hour boggled my mind.

A tall man with a helmet of curly brown hair and a ridiculously long scarf appeared to be the hero of the show, this "Doctor Who" although I noticed no one ever called him that, just "The Doctor". And he didn't do anything. Well, I mean, he walked, he run, he did stuff with machines and talked a lot. But where's his phaser or light saber, you know all the stuff science fiction heroes are supposed to have? Maybe he had super powers but he didn't seem to be super strong or possess telekinesis or anything of that sort.



And there was this young woman who appeared to be a sidekick. Or a damsel in distress. Or something. All I know she asked a lot of questions and screamed lot.



And everyone was oh so properly British. Don't know why but that struck me as odd.

And there was this...monster sort of thing. What I could gather, it was some kind of weird mutant alien plant creature. Apparently, in England, plant life looks like rubber.



And a lot of other..stuff...transpired over the half hour and then it ended. Or rather, it didn't. There was a moment of intense danger, things look very dire indeed and then....the swirling light effects and closing credits.

The other college students who had gathered to watch this seemed rather happy over what they had just seen. Me, I'm wondering that perhaps they were high or something. Because what I saw wasn't worth the joyous outburst I was witnessing.

I thought Doctor Who was the dumbest thing I had ever seen. An absurdly dressed hero who didn't act like a hero, a goofy looking monster/alien thing that would've embarrassed third season Star Trek. The whole thing looked silly.

And these five other people must know that too. Yeah, they were probably enjoying this show on some kind of ironic level.

The next day, I had an evening class to attend that started at 6:30 PM. There were a few pages from the assigned text I hadn't read yet and I had a half hour before class so I ducked into Elliot Student Center to find a spot to read. There were those five people watching that silly show again.

But I was mildly curious: how would that cliffhanger from the last episode be resolved? I really didn't care that much but OK, to satisfy that small bit of curiosity, I would watch just long enough to see how that worked out. But then I would need to go. I had to get ready for a class and I didn't have time to waste on this silly little TV show.

30 minutes later I was scrambling down the hall towards my class. I couldn't believe I had stood there and watched that whole "silly little TV show". Although, well, it wasn't completely silly. This Doctor Who guy was a different sort of hero, solving problems with his wits. I had to admit that was interesting to me. Still, it was a very silly show.

A month later, that group of five people watching that "silly little TV show" had become a group of six. I knew their names: Mike, John, Laird, Anna & Tracy. And I knew that strange very different hero on the TV screen was not Doctor Who, he was The Doctor.

And so my journeys with the Doctor began.
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Later: "I still have a lot to learn."
 
On the next Journeys With
the Doctor: My Stories of
Doctor Who.
 
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And follow Dave-El's journeys on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DayWayLo.

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