I am approaching the half-way point (Meglos….wow) in my “Watching Doctor Who all the way through, from the beginning, in order” Project (which I am now officially designating The 1963 Project). As the 50% milestone looms, I’ve noticed that my perspective of the show is changing…significantly.
The 1963 Project
I initially saw New and Classic Who as distinctly different shows with a shared central character and narrative structure. Those earliest episodes (Unearthly Child, Web of Fear, The Krotons, etc.) failed to shift my perspective. The long multi-episode story arcs, the historical/educational focus, a Gallifrey that was alive and well…different is an understatement.
I binged on New Who over an incredibly energized period of 3-4 months. It was like a shot of espresso-it hit me hard and fast. The flavors were complex, all present at once. It went down hot and fierce and delicious.
As I describe below, I began to watch Classic Who immediately after watching Day of the Doctor. I found it to be like steamed milk. Not as intense, or even as flavorful. But, rich and complex in it’s own way. Definitely a different breed from New Who.
Halfway through The 1963 Project, I am beginning to see Doctor Who like a Macchiatto right after the expresso is poured into the milk. At first, two distinct drinks. However, as the expresso sinks into the milk, there is a mingling, a dissolving until there is no expresso or milk, only macchiato. Cool. (…and….the metaphor fails….)
It’s All About Rose
I was initially captured by Rose.
The epitome of a spunky girl. And yet, way more. When those TARDIS doors swing open, Rose has no idea where or when she will find herself. Imagine…your first adventure with your new BFF’s+ in his sweet ride and he takes you to the ending of the Earth. Or better yet, a whole different earth? That takes guts.
What I love about Rose is the way her eyes light up for every escapade. Her ability to smile that enormous smile (OK-bit of a crush on Rose…), put on a fabulous outfit, and rush out to face the potential ending of some world, some when. As a woman just hitting the mid-40’s/kid in elementary school/”What’s next?” phase of life, this got me thinking about how I approached the journey out my front door every morning.
Then there was the Doctor. While I tolerated Nine (yep, definitely all about Rose), I fell in love with Ten and would have run away with Eleven if I wasn’t that mid-40’s/kid in elementary school mom.
And then, it was over. I was inexplicably, ridiculously bereft.
So, inevitably, my project was born.
I waited to watch The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor until the week before Series 8 began. At that point I had already begun The 1963 Project and I wanted as much continuity as I could get before I watched the 50th (….it is slightly possible that waiting as long as I could to say goodbye to Matt Smith may have played a part in my delay…perhaps…). I had only gotten through Patrick Troughton’s era by August 23, 2014. I had not even reached the Fourth Doctor while Series 8 was airing, so jelly bellying was still a much-anticipated Whoism.
Now, 5/6ths of the way through Tom Baker and almost 50% through the entire catalogue, my perspective is definately shifting.
New doctors are merging with Classic doctors as I recognize threads of continuity choices made by the actors and production teams. When I watch Classic Who, I see the origination stories-not in the narrative as much, but in the character development of the Doctor and the role of the companion. When I occasionally indulge in re-watching New Who, I find greater depth, complexity, and richness in the Doctor.
Overall, the experience is similar to working with long-term psychotherapy clients. At the beginning of treatment, it’s all about my clients’ life stories. What happened, when it happened, what it felt like. We are focused on problems and how to make changes in their lives.
Lots of clients leave treatment after those problems are fixed, feeling better and ready to move forward.
For many reasons, some stay longer in therapy. Regular sessions give them a caring reflection, coaching, or a non-biased sounding board, among other things.
After more time with someone, complexity emerges. We, together, experience the continuity of the client’s life. The ability to see long standing threads within their own stories, to trace them (often intergenerationally) back to their past and forward to likely futures, is a form of time travel within one’s own timeline, creating a sense of pattern, cohesion and yes, continuity. They begin to see themselves, not as separate and fractured, but whole and complete. Within this experience lies the healing.
1963 Marches On
And so with Doctor Who. As I continue to work my way through Classic Who, I have become less and less concerned with tracking continuity threads within the narrative (though I still enjoy that very much) and more about experiencing the story for itself. The more I just experience the stories, the more integrated the narratives becomes and true continuity emerges; continuity that is not about plot, but about character.
If you haven’t started your own 1963 Project, I highly reccomend it.
Totally Meaningless Question Intended to Create the Impression This Post Has Value
What have you experienced the relationship between Classic and New Who? How is this similar to or different from a relationship deepening over time. Discuss.