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Doctor Who: 10 Reasons I’m Thankful for this Show 

doctor who 50th anniversary
Photo Credit: BBC America

As it is Thanksgiving (here in the US), we turn our minds to the blessings in our lives and how much food we can devour in one sitting. What better TV Goodness feast to start with than saying thanks for our good Doctor? Now, before you say “Which Doctor Who?” I dedicate this to all the Doctors in all their regenerations. All 50 years worth of sonic-screwdrivering, companion-loving, timey-wimey, TARDIS-stealing, adventuring through time and space Doctors. I’m thankful, as are the millions of Whovians following the 50th year anniversary episode that aired on Nov. 23rd, that we have a Doctor always on Earth’s side. 

10. The Beauty of the Human Spirit

Perhaps the reason the Doctor is beloved by millions around the world is because the Doctor loves the Earth so much. This is a show that is made to remind us of the beauty in our human spirit. He loves us for it. Every sticky situation the Doctor gets into is somehow remedied by using what humans have taught him about innate humanity. The Doctor’s companions exemplify this: curiosity, endurance, adaptation, compassion, love. The Doctor takes these traits and uses them wherever he goes. He reminds us to look within to endure and not to fall prey to our doubts and fears. Without the Doctor, the Earth would be a whole lot darker. And probably would have fallen to the Daleks long ago.

9. Flips the Backstory on its Ear

While we already established that anything goes in the Who-niverse, it’s worth a special mention that not all television shows can flip their entire mythology on its ear in one episode and have it make sense. But Doctor Who did just that with the 50th anniversary episode, Day of the Doctor. The Doctor has always carved himself out to be a lone, dangerous man. A man who made sacrifices, a man who made choices that killed millions but saved billions more. He committed genocide and therefore was cursed to wander the universe to make amends. It’s what made the Doctor….the Doctor. But even with all of time and space to work with it takes courage to change an entire ethos that 50 years had built. The Day of the Doctor flipped the whole backstory of what made the Doctor vanish. He’s now reconstructed with a new mission- to find his lost people. Maybe, just maybe, he won’t be alone. The Doctor himself will for once have hope. It takes a strong yet pliable show to pull that off and they did it beautifully.

8. The Gadgets

From the Time and Relative Dimension In Space (TARDIS) to the sonic screwdriver and psychic paper, the Doctor has the coolest, albeit low-key toys. (You thought it was Batman, didn’t you?) While he’s been called many things- warrior, healer, protector- the Doctor does it all without guns or force. Just a screwdriver to get him in and out of jams. It doesn’t do wood, but it helps with locked doors occasionally. The best part of the Doctor’s gadgets is that they aren’t meant to be life-saving but they almost always do. The Doctor’s gadgets encourage us to think outside the box and find another way, using the tools we have instead of the tools we think we need.

7. The Show that Launched a 1,000 British Film Careers

The best part of a Doctor Who episode can sometimes be “Spot the British Celeb.” It’s always fun to pick out which famous face is either pairing up or facing off with the Doctor. Well known talents like Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Simon Pegg, Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy and Kylie Minogue have all shown up in an episode or two. I’m just waiting for Colin Firth to show up.

6. Anything Goes

With all of time and space to work with, you’ve pretty much got carte blanche to just run with any story that you’d like in the Doctor’s world. Want the daughter of two companions to be kidnapped at birth only to come back and regenerate as their own childhood best friend? Done. Want your companion to break herself into a million timelines and steer the Doctor in all of his pathways through all his regenerations? Sure. Want to grow a second Doctor clone so that you don’t have to leave a companion alone in a parallel universe? Okay-dokey. A linear storyline is unheard of in this universe. Even when you’re scratching your head and rewinding to figure out exactly how all those pieces seemed to make that puzzle, a part of you doesn’t even care. It’s the Doctor. Just go with it.

5. The Tiny Show That Could

When Doctor Who first launched in the UK in 1963, it was on a tiny soundstage with a shoestring budget and barely any support. The effects were cheesy and the stories were ludicrous. But yet, something clicked. By the time the show stopped airing over 30 years later, millions adored the strange Doctor and his crazy adventures. It rebooted in 2005 with a new Doctor and a whole new crop of fans discovered the Doctor and his TARDIS. When the 50th anniversary show aired on Nov 23rd, it won a Guinness World Record for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama and was broadcast in 94 countries. It aired on 1,500 cinema screens across the world and stunned the entertainment world by winning the #2 spot in the US box office just this week, after Catching Fire. How’s that for a show that no one thought would ever amount to much? Sci-fi rules.

4. It’s OK to be Scared of the Dark

Only a show like Doctor Who could make you afraid of a tin can on wheels with a straw poking out. But somehow the Daleks are some of the most terrifying creatures in the universe. Doctor Who has now made me afraid of statues in gardens, robots in toy stores and basically anything that moves when it shouldn’t. The Cybermen, the Weeping Angels, the Master….the list goes on and on. The monsters of Doctor Who have been terrorizing children and adults alike for over 50 years. Even as you’re covering your face to see what is about to come crawling out of that closet, you can’t get enough. The Doctor explains every myth, ghost story and legend in our world in the most horrifying way but at least we know the Doctor will be there to save us.

3. Behind Every Good Man is a Woman Laughing

What fun is it to travel to the furthest reaches of the universe if you’ve got no one to share it with? The Doctor’s companions balance out the Doctor’s wacky ways and they have as much fun as he does. More often than not they are the ones doing the saving, instead of the other way around. The Doctor doesn’t have a type but what you can always count on is that she isn’t a pushover. From Rose to Amy Pond, the companions are strong-willed, smart and not afraid of a little running for your life. My favorite has always been Donna, whose feistiness kept the Doctor in check but her compassion outweighed her hefty attitude. The companions are what keep the Doctor from teetering too far over the edge of loneliness and they enable the audience to see the Doctor through their eyes. The Doctor walks away from each one changed for the better and we are always reminded “The Doctor shouldn’t travel alone.”

2. Something Else in the Universe besides Romantic Drama

The Doctor has at his side a companion, almost always a young woman with a taste for adventure. The two of them travel across time and space together, sometimes for years, in the Doctor’s little blue box and change each other for the better. But I’d like to point this out: Doctor Who is not a romance. Repeat: Doctor Who is not a romance. The Doctor always needs his companion, but not to get a little nookie while he passes through her solar system. This is a show that gives platonic men-women relationships a good name. Yes, there have been some heavy, loaded gazes and lingering touches (Really, could Journey’s End have gone any other way for Rose and Doctor?), and the occasional crush (how bad do you feel for Martha?) But his companions aren’t in the market for a man.They go along for the thrill of the ride and to broaden their narrow world. The Doctor takes from his companions the things he needs to be a better Doctor-strength, compassion, innocence, trust and spirit. It’s a show that encourages symbiotic friendships and shows what they can do to both sides without that messy love stuff getting in the way.

1. Because Regenerating is Hard to Do

Photo Credit: BBC America
Photo Credit: BBC America

Doctor Who is the longest running TV sci-fi series in history and that wouldn’t have happened if not for one very simple plot point: regeneration. Doctor Who is a Time Lord with the ability to regenerate into a new body instead of dying. Which means even if your lead actor goes away, his character never has to. Brilliant! It enables Doctor Who to constantly re-invent itself and keep the energy different, fresh and ever changing. Each Doctor has his own set of quirks and mannerisms, his own view on the universe and humanity within that universe. While you do get attached to your Doctor (TEN!), you somehow grow to love and care for each new Doctor and all his eccentricities.

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