Why Who?

In future my blogging energies will be shared between this site and Doctor Her, a new blog about all things Doctor Who, from a feminist perspective.   Given my previous post in defence of fantasy, this might not be too much of a surprise.  But I’m very well aware that to declare one’s love for Doctor Who, or Buffy, is to be dismissed with a contemptuous curl of the lip by some.  Their loss, clearly.   I have strong views about what’s worth reading, watching or listening to, increasingly so as I grow older and realise that I really may not have time to read/watch/listen to all the great stuff that’s out there, so I really don’t want to waste time on the merely OK, let alone the poor.  But my criteria don’t include genre categories – I may have a preference in televisual terms for fantasy rather than costume drama but I’ll only watch something if it’s written intelligently, if it has some emotional truth and weight to it, whatever category it’s in.  And that, most decidedly, includes Doctor Who.

We go back a long way, the Doctor and me.   Back to the mid-sixties, when he was a cosmic recorder-playing hobo.  I followed him as he regenerated, and whilst I did love some Doctors more than others, I never gave up on him altogether.  The BBC pretty much did though, and I wasn’t expecting the reboot at all, let alone expecting it to be – the odd clunky episode notwithstanding – a return to the quality of the very best era (Four, need you ask?).

As a kid, of course, I hid behind the sofa (metaphorically, I don’t recall literally doing so) and the limited budgets (the quarry which doubled for every alien planet ever visited, the visible zips on the monster costumes) didn’t make it less scary.  But it was always about more than scaring the kids, it was about ideas.  The first series had an overt educational mission, both historical and scientific, which has become less evident over the years.  But what has been constant is the real heart of speculative fiction, exploring what it is, what it could be to be human.

The reboot of Who, for me, has succeeded marvellously in that arena.  It’s explored love, loyalty, loss and longing.  It’s made me laugh, and its made me cry.  A lot.   It’s made me think, it’s prompted vigorous debates, on and off line, wild divergences of opinion amongst fans.  And I’m really excited about a forum where I can share and explore these things in the context of what it is, what it could be, to be a woman.

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