My family is made up of late arrivals to the Doctor Who phenomenon. We came to it backwards. We saw the Torchwood: Miracle Day series on STARZ last year and then watched the earlier episodes of Torchwood through DVDs from Netflix. That led us to try Doctor Who, the series from which Torchwood evolved. So now we are seeing some of the earlier incarnations of Doctor Who – played by other actors from the previous ten evolutions of the series. But we are obviously enamored with Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, since he is the first one we became acquainted with.
What I love about Doctor Who is the humor, the camp, the adventures, the mythology, the companions, the history lessons, The Doctor himself, and the Tardis. I love that The Doctor and his companions can enter into their time travelling machine – the Tardis – and go on amazing adventures (and I love that it is bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside – isn’t that a great image?). The Tardis is a Time and Relative Dimension in Space vehicle. It is spacecraft and time machine. It is healing station and information portal. It is a place for reconnecting and for flights of fancy. It is a place of hospitality and a place of community. It is a place of salvation and a station for regeneration for The Doctor. And it is oh so cool!
Theology may not be an active part of the writers’ process, but maybe they are thinking of their own understanding of faith as they write – I don’t know. I sometimes hear it in the dialogue and sense it in the mythology. And it makes me happy to watch the shows.
The Doctor is not a human but often must act humanely. He is often arrogant, cheerfully fun, and completely goofy. He struggles with what it actually means to “be human” and marvels at the capacity of those humans around him both for grace and for violence (in a recent episode humans are cloned and some of their “Gangers” are completely like the originals and others are not – so it begs the questions “what does it mean to be human?” “And what does it mean if the “Ganger” is more human than the original human?”). There are some both inside and outside of the show who talk about the double meaning of the word “doctor” – one means healer and the other means warrior. The Doctor certainly creates this sense of dichotomy. He is an interesting character.
There is a constant struggle between good and evil on the show. There is even an episode with angels – who are none too nice in the show. And there is a clear import to the companionship between The Doctor and those who travel with him. There is a community between The Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and River Song – they are family and they care for each other, are devoted to one another, and protect each other (Rory even stands guard over Amy for 2,000 years in one episode). The Doctor – an amazingly talented and powerful being with a fantastic “sonic screwdriver”– is constantly in need of the assistance of Amy and others. The communal nature of the story appeals to many people – as does its sense of the need for others in our lives.
I am not saying that Doctor Who has deep spiritual meaning or that The Doctor represents any deity whatsoever – absolutely not. What I am saying is that it speaks to my faith and my own struggles with being human, dealing with issues of good and evil, trying to make sane decisions in difficult situations, being part of a community/family, and remaining faithful to one’s true convictions despite the circumstances.
So I’m gonna stay a Whovian for a long time. I love it. I love its seriousness and its silliness. So I include the video below for fun. Enjoy!