Exterminate, Moisturize me, Fantastic!
(Essay on how I learned “Who” was Doctor Who)
(Warning: As River Song would say, “SPOILERS”)
Two months ago, if you had asked me what a Whovian was, I would have replied,
“One of the people who live in Doctor Seuss.”
I am a nerd of the 90’s generation. I played Pokemon and Digimon cards, watched Yugioh, dined on “Clarissa Explains it all,” (But did she?) Family Matters, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Sailor Moon, a foot from my eye level TV, while questioning my deteriorating vision with squinted eyes.
I’ve been on the margins of “geek-dom,” hunting down groups that play the board game version of Dungeons and Dragons, and I’ve watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail so many times that any time I hear the word “hand” I immediately precede it with “holy,” and end it with “grenade.”
Still, I had not yet explored the British nerd world. Frankly, it seemed too overwhelming. The show “Community” made several references to it using the character Abed, and his obsession with Inspector Spacetime, known as “The Inspector.”
I didn’t pay it much mind until I was hanging out with a friend. For all intensive purposes, her name is Summer.
Summer and I were sporting about in New York taking a stroll about the town. We were talking about a party she had went to where the birthday boy (well man) had gotten a Tardis cake,
and I asked, “What’s a Tardis?”
I had…no idea, of what I had unleashed upon myself.
I was foolish to lead myself down such a dangerous path. Summer turned to me and asked, “Have you ever seen Doctor Who?”
“No. Have you?”
The woman nearly had a heart attack in the middle of 34th and 10th.
“Are you kidding me? Oh my Gosh Sydney! Seriously?”
This woman, of an age I shall not disclose, but is older than 30, began to…for lack of better terms, “freak the fuck out.”
She spoke in absolute hyper-ventilation, and I could only stare at her in abject horror. Then she paused, as though catching herself from the throes of a dream, and turned to me with a pleasant smile.
“I know you’re looking at me like I’m crazy,”
“…but you have to see it to understand.”
I shook my head up and down. “Right.”
“Yes, yes Summer I get it.”
She knew I didn’t, so she tried to explain it to me. This only made it worse.
“So…the scariest thing in the universe…is a salt shaker with a whisk?”
“I know! Isn’t that insane?”
“But I’m telling you. The original series started out low budget. They had these key characters that were portrayed by extremely talented actors, and so while the things themselves seem silly, they do actually make you scared.”
We left the conversation. Later on she would subtly mention it, always in a voice field with madness. It was as though she was trying to lure me into some odd cult. In fact, she was.Not only did I find out that Doctor Who is considered a National British Treasure, but it does in fact have a cult following.
I wanted to know why…but without actually watching the show. So I kept asking questions, until eventually she was ready to throttle me.
What had pushed her over the edge?
I had called the TARDIS a telephone booth.
“Sydney, I swear to God…don’t talk to me again until you’ve watched it. You have to watch it.”
She had been my one source of info and despite myself, I was curious. I was also daring as well. Somehow, despite my genuine love of science fiction, I was determined to not fall in love with Doctor Who.
I was not a sheep. I was a stead, a noble stead ready to prance off into whatever sunset I desired. I was not going to become a zombie lover of what was for all intensive purposes, a phone booth, nor idolize the skinny man who rode inside of it.
That was the perfect plan.
And then, I met Rose Tyler.
Rose and I were both 19, something I found really odd. It was right before my 20th birthday.
Weird. I tried not to dwell on it. Her character was compelling, if not hilarious. The first thing I noticed was that she worked in retail, like me.
You see, at the time I was working as a visual merchandiser for a large scale retail company. (Basically means, I make displays and mannequins look nice.)
In a hideaway that only support associates know, there are these two large rooms with full floors of naked mannequins. They just stand there at weird angles, all roosting about in their sickly white skin. The place was creepy when the sensor lights didn’t click on right away. That second in the dark sucked, but I was never in fear for my life or anything.
Even if I was surrounded by expressionless mannequins all day.
Then I watched Episode One of Doctor Who. (Well not one, Summer said I couldn’t start from “one” even though I wanted too, because that’s what you did after you saw the others. Illogical, ilogical I say!)
Enter: The living plastic, the Nestene consciousness, a large thing that resembles Flubber but makes mannequins move on their own. There was nothing creepier to be seen.
As soon as I saw the mannequins running, I texted Summer and asked her if she was out of her mind.
“You know I work at a clothing store!”
She laughed at me.
Now, as a young impressionable woman, the first thing I thought of when I saw them (the Mannequin Americans) coming towards her was, “Oh my gosh, rape.”
I mean, Rose is very pretty and she was alone…in a basement. But then they tried to karate chop her head off, and I saw that was clearly not the case.
That’s when I hear for the first time this odd sound that’s like…metal crows cawing over and over. Or a gentle scraping and churn.
The phone booth appears and in it is a very cheery dude who I assume to be, The Doctor.
I had seen the actor him once before and I hated him. He was the evil guy in GI Joe:Rise of Cobra. I could only watch, stunned as he smiled, introduced himself, and said quite charmingly,
I immediately felt myself drawn to this oddball who seemed to be way too…I don’t know. Happily tragic? There was a sense of power emitting from him that was interesting to see play out. He seemed utter clueless, but knowledgeable about everything.
I mean come on. He missed that big ass Ferris wheel?
Rose was starting to get on my nerves as well. When I saw the two Rubber men and the Nestene consciousness was freaking out, while the vial of whatever it was, “Kill juice” was perched precariously over the pit, all I could think was, “Girl! You need to knock that into that vat! Come on! What are you waiting for?”
Rose rewarded my patience by swinging from a rope because “surprise” she was a bronze medalist in gymnastics in like 8th grade or something. Then the doctor catches her and my heart flutters, and I don’t know why.
It shocks me when the Doctor asks if she’ll go with him. She refuses, Mickey clings like a baby and there is this moment when I feel where Rose and I are one. There’s something terribly hot about a man versus a boy. This man isn’t just exciting, he can time travel. So when she runs in, I’m rooting for her to do whatever it is she intends. I’m worried now.
So, I don’t watch Who for a week.
The next week I spy it on my Netflix. I finished my duties, so I can spare time for an episode right?
Turns out I can spare time for three episodes.
Either my reflexes were too slow to stop the auto-play,or things started to get GOOD.
I won’t go into details, but suddenly the cheery peppy doctor was bipolar.
Dude, where did this come from?
Literally, the man who was supposed to be a man threw a 2-year old “tantrum.” He went dead silent and crossed his arms.
Rose, the intelligent gal that she is, backed off. I was just sitting there wondering, where did that come from? You’re a stranger! Shouldn’t she get to know what stranger danger she’s in? Then he offers up air from his lungs (super intimate), smiles and charms, has to let this gorgeous black tree woman die in order to save a space station. Then lets a creepy sheet that claims to be human, splatter into a fleshy pile of un-moisturized gunk.
The Doctor? Yeah, boy did I learn that he has a dark side.
This fact is further demonstrated when he tangos with the Daleks, but I’ll talk about that later. For now let’s go back to center. The Doctor.
There’s nothing really amazing about the actor (Christopher Eccleston) who portrays him. He’s cool, but he is a great actor..and the first role I saw him in was creepy. (I need an adult creepy.)
In a completely different setting? I found Christopher Eccelston to be irresistibly sexy, and it bothered me more than you know. Why? I could not for the life of me figure out why. I asked Summer what she thought and she only laughed at me and said this was all part of the process.
Process? Ugh, this really was a cult.
Repulsed, I revolted and strayed from Doctor Who for another month. It called to me like whispers of some dream. I got angsty when I was alone and just searching the web. It was so near, so close I could taste it. I gave in.
Four episodes later I could feel myself losing. I was watching the Doctor go to check out an alien that had been tortured by this rich dick with a pornstache when suddenly…he flips out!
And I’m just like, seriously sir, you need to chill. It’s chained…and it has a whisk hand…A whisk hand!
Then the Doctor loses it again. He says some really messed up stuff, considering that hunk of metal is supposedly “alive.” His utter disregard for its supposed life is not what I expect from Mr. Benevolent. This Dalek thing haunts me. What is the deal?
I have to consult Summer before going forward.
Her advice? All I need to know is that Daleks are pure evil and I need to keep watching.
Yet, how can it be pure evil? It is so nice to Rose and so sad. It has been tortured, dying, and it is all alone. Rose touches it to give it comfort, like I would have, because dammit all! Rose and I are both 20-year old bleeding hearts.
(My birthday’s passed and she’s been missing from home for a year by then. Seriously, God planned this.)
Then…the Dalek recovers and kills 200 people. And the whisk is a laser. A laser!
Who writes this stuff? Really? Is there a group of British guys sitting in a room that’s just talking and asking themselves, “What can we do that’s going to scar everybody who sees this? I know! We can make a mass murderer that looks like a tall condiment and has common household items for arms. How about two things that should never be combined, a kitchen whisk and a bathroom plunger. But the plunger? It should devour flesh. The whisk?
Yeah, let’s make that bitch a laser.
Then things get really intense, and gosh by now I’m so into it…it’s sickening. I haven’t come up for air in days. Weeks actually, I go to work, eat, and watch Doctor Who.
I can feel a fever coming on, a delusion that says that I don’t want to watch, I need to watch. And I start to wonder about things that are inconsequential, like the fact that they replace the Doctor every season, and the fact that I love this Doctor and I can’t live without him.
Well, Rose can’t at least. Does that mean they might kill her? Is he going to start with a fresh companion? Why is it she seems so good at almost dying? How can anyone be that danger prone?
Rose goes Superwoman with the Bad Wolf thing, and I know what’s coming. I’m not ready.
I have Whovian knowledge and it tells me the Doctor is…being changed. I tried so hard to hold back my tears, but they came anyway. My heart ached with such despair.
Oh sweet Doctor, oh beautiful Christopher Eccelston, how will I endure without your Mad-Eye stare?
I heard from reliable sources that there were several real world consequences and decisions made that made it in Christopher’s best interest to divest himself of the role as the Doctor. But it still hurt like a bitch.
What if I don’t like the new doctor? Don’t take me and Rose’s baby away from us!
Then I realize it’s too late. I’m actually like 3 seasons behind and he’s already been replaced…twice. And maybe it’s too late for me too. I’m already infected and sooner or later, I’m going to be a Whovian.
No…I am a Whovian, and the TARDIS, is a Police Box, and that box, is….