Wow. Fifty years, seems like too long a period of time and still wow! I love stories about how we came to have post-it notes from 3M. Or how cranberry juice overcame the faux cancer scare of the 1950s to become a product that is on the shelves 365 days per year. The business person in me loves the stories of paper clips, 3D printers, BIC lighters, glow sticks. Who comes up with this stuff? Sometimes we know, sometimes we don’t. There are literally hundreds of stories of some brilliant person who came up with a very simple fix and a product or idea wormed its way into our consciousness and stayed.
Case in point. William Hartnell was ill, not doing well, couldn’t continue in the BBC show, Dr. Who. the program was a hit. BBC didn’t want to let it go. To replace Hartnell had to be believable and entertaining, not just putting in one actor for the same part and pretending he was the same person, Bewitched comes to mind. Dr. Who was alien, a Time Lord, not like us humans at all, except maybe in his outward appearance. And so we have ‘regeneration’. Brilliant! I hope the person who came up with this idea was paid a huge sum, probably not, but still. And now we’re at fifty years and counting. We’ve had eleven doctors, ten regenerations, and we’re about to have another. Cool, very cool.
But it is annoying. Because we’ve taken a fantastic story device and made it all mystical and literary, deep and mysterious. For heaven’s sake, we have Neil Gaiman [who is hot right now in the fantasy/scifi world, and is just plain hot] talking about the Dr. Who character as if we’ve discovered the cure for cancer. It’s all so Marshall McLuhen, the ‘medium is the message’. It’s less about the doctor and more about the Knowings, those in the know who are supposedly on the inside of the show. These Knowings make a name for themselves and possibly even money, talking about how wonderful and unique it all is, all the parts as they come together. There’s a whole cottage industry of Whovians. They even have a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.
They analyze the doctor. What he represents to us. What we see in this alien who can come and come again. What each actor brings to the doctor and how each imbues the role with his own special and unique flair.
POSH! And, I say that with the utmost sincerity. Posh. It’s no longer about the story. It’s about the humans who are his companions. And the humans are, in many ways the mirror of the doctor, but he never seems to be able to come to this conclusion. Sort of reminds me of Plato’s Cave. Those shadows, those reflections, they are not real life. And, we have no capacity to figure that out.