Saturday, December 7, 2013

Doctor Who Saturday: We Are Not Alone

Does your calendar have the words "Doctor Who" in front of "Saturday"? Mine does!

Hello and welcome I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with confused polarity.

I am Dave-El and THIS is Doctor Who Saturday

I'm still holding on to the thrill and the joy of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special two weeks ago even as the specter of Matt Smith's departure as The Doctor looms ever closer with each passing hour until Christmas Day.   

But the good feelings from the special still resonate. One of the cooler aspects of Day of the Doctor (other than the show itself which I thought was fantastic. See review here.) was how I got to see this episode.

But before getting into that, let me ask this. As a Doctor Who fan, do you feel you are alone?

I know that Doctor Who fandom exists. My Twitter feed is chocked full of posts from around the world. Whovians are all over Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit and all sorts of social media outlets.

But being a Doctor Who fan can be a lonely experience. We watch it on our TV screens or computer screens in relative isolation from each other. Small pinpoints of light from 2 or 3 people here and there, lots more watching alone. Being isolated but still part of a growing and vibrant fan base can be a bit of a disconnect.

I guess that's why there are conventions: Sci-Fi conventions, comic book conventions and sometimes conventions dedicated solely to Doctor Who. Chances to meet up and transform our individual joy into mutual happiness, a chance to share handshakes and hugs with different people with a common appreciation for the Doctor and his travels.

Whovians, much like the Doctor himself, should not travel alone. My first exposure to Doctor Who was in a group setting.

I haven't been to a convention in years, certainly not since the current Doctor Who was revived in 2005. But I've recently had a chance to share space with a group of Whovians at a very special event, the 50th Anniversary special.

The place: Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema in Greensboro, NC. Why it took me so long to venture inside I don't know because this place is a virtual wonderland of all things geeky. Framed pictures of Doctor Who on the walls along with other sci-fi/fantasy stuff from Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and more.

And they have a TARDIS. 

Let me go over that one more time:

It's a coffeehouse with a TARDIS!


My wife, daughter and myself headed out from the El-Fortress into the bright sunny Saturday afternoon of November 23rd to watch Doctor Who.

With a bunch of Whovians.

My wife and daughter were wide eyed at all the people who came dressed as various Doctors, companions and Daleks. Neither of them had seen anything like it. Well, yeah they had, in videos and pictures but not in real life.

And while we were waiting for the show to begin, we were talking amongst ourselves in the secret language of Whovians. We spoke freely of Time Lords and Daleks and Doctors and Regenerations. We spoke of the TARDIS in mutually understood terms: bigger on the inside, time rotor, desk top theme. And we nodded in acknowledgement if not agreement as companions were discussed: Sarah Jane, Rose, Amy, Clara. It was the language of Doctor Who and in that place, we all understood one another.

Here's a photo from Geeksboro of the crowd watching Doctor Who on the first floor. (There were as many in the downstairs cinema.)

And in case you're wondering: yes, I am in the picture.  OK, fine, I'll show you.

I'm the guy behind "Tom Baker's" head, really intensely rocking a strawberry smoothie.

What can I say? Geeksboro makes a pretty good smoothie. To my left (your right) are my daughter and wife. By the way, the guy in the bowtie behind me? There's a story about him in a bit.

But now it's time.


The classic theme comes on and the crowed applauds.

Clara rides a motorcycle into the TARDIS as the Doctor looks up from a book and the crowd cheers.

There's a collective tension as we see the War Doctor in action. What is Moffat up to with this guy?

There are shouts of joy as David Tennant, the 10th Doctor, bounds out of the TARDIS on the back of a horse! And shared laughter as he challenges a rabbit.

The mutual excitement is barely contained as the 10th and 11th Doctors size each other up. We've seen the clip of the comparison of sonic screwdrivers a hundred times online and all of us thinks its still funny.

There's a group wide sigh of relief when we realize Osgood's okay. (We all liked her; she was us.)

Emotional electricity surged through the assembled fans as the mad plan to save Gallifrey is put into effect with the help of 12 Doctors.

No, 13! Oh my God, IT'S PETER CAPALDI!!

The voice of the curator sounds familiar. Oh my God, IT'S TOM BAKER!!

Every emotion I experienced while watching this special was multiplied a hundred times over. My laughter was their laughter, my excitement was their excitement.

Then I experienced it again two days later when we saw Day of the Doctor again, this time in 3-D in the same movie theater where we saw Catching Fire the day before. Afterwards, Doctor Who fans of different types were cavorting outside the theater by the Day of the Doctor poster. What other chance are we going to get to see a Doctor Who poster outside of a movie theater?

Mutual joy brings the isolated together.

It is a good feeling, isn't it, knowing we are not alone.

Which brings us back to Saturday and the Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema.

And the guy in the red bow tie.

After the special, the Geeksboro gang had a costume contest and it was a lot of fun to see some rather uncannily realized costumes of Doctors and other Doctor Who characters. Then Joe Scott, the Geekhouse manager who was emceeing the event, said "Now we have a special grand prize. Nick, come on up here". The guy in the red bow tie behind me got up and walked up to the front. Joe reached into the TARDIS and withdrew a small box.

Then Nick asked for Wendy to join him and the young lady who had sat by him during show nervously approached the front of the room. At this point, the man in the red bow tie opened the box with the ring inside and he asked her to marry him.

She said yes.

It is a good feeling, isn't it, knowing we are not alone. 

Until the next time, be good to one another.

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