One does not have to be The Doctor to figure out that Whovians are a cantankerous, unpredictable bunch, in all but one way; whether it be a panel discussion, podcast, blog, article, or discussion among friends, we will vehemently disagree. If I love an episode, as sure as the rain won’t fall in Southern California during fire season, lots of people will hate it. (I am one of the three people, apparently in the entire world, whose favorite episode is Rings of Akhaten. Definitely writing a post about that soon.)
Why so much disagreement among friends?
I believe that the huge success of Doctor Who is attributable to The Doctor’s core traits as a character. Of course, some of you reading this will disagree about my list, but I’ll have a go anyway. The Doctor is: curious, adventuresome, intelligent, alien, commanding, imperious, funny/witty/clever, sad, wise, lonely, ancient, mysterious, and compassionate. He doesn’t just have a “save the world” complex, he wants to save all known and unknown aspects of existence. Wrapped up in one time-traveling, double-hearted, brilliant being, he becomes irresistible. Plus, there be monsters here.
Depending upon our personal stories, our heartbreaks, successes and longings, specific aspects of The Doctor resonate more powerfully than others. For example, I respond most to The Doctor’s intelligence, leadership, curiosity, loneliness, humor and “save the universeness.” This is why I loved Rings of Akhaten and Time Heist so much.
However, if you most love The Doctor’s imperious, mysterious, alieness, then perhaps (sticking to the current season) you grooved on Listen (a definite unfavorite for monster fans.) If you are about his humor and The Doctor as hero, Robot of Sherwood may have been your episode. If you are monster fan, Into the Dalek or Deep Breath may be it.
Congruent with my theory that Moffat is slowly unveiling this Doctor’s character via exploration of a few personality characteristics per episode, it may explain why we are so polarized about Capaldi. I have heard long-term commentators swear that Calpaldi is The Doctor they have been waiting their whole lives for, and others who are so upset and hopeless about the direction the show is taking that they are considering throwing in the towel after decades of dedication.
Doctor Who in all of its zany, monster filled, cheesiness also serves as one of the few television programs that consistently explores some of the most important questions about being human. What does it mean to be different? How do we connect to other people? How do we deal with the unpredictability of life? How can we face each day with curiosity and adventure when we have been deeply hurt? How do we cope with fear when we are so afraid? What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be good?
I believe that we feel most connected to and enthusiastic about Doctor Who when our hero spends 45 minutes (or more) struggling with the questions we are asking at that particular moment in our lives. During each crisis The Doctor faces, when he brings to bear the personality characteristics that we most aspire to have, that is when we fall in love with The Doctor, for the first time or the twelfth.
So, be easy with each other about favorite moments. The Doctor is just being their Doctor that day. He’ll be coming around your corner of the universe soon enough.
Completely Superfluous Question(s) to Create The Appearance That This Blog Has Real Value: How would you describe The Doctor’s core characteristics, regardless of incarnation? Which of these are your favorites? How are they reflected in your favorite episodes? What questions have you been asking of your life these days? What does The Doctor have to say about your questions? Discuss.