I love Doctor Who for many reasons. I have some early memories of driving across the country to visit my grandparents, arriving at their house late at night because my parents were tired of driving and made a push to get it done, and seeing my grandpa watching something strange on the television while we were rushed through hugs with grandma and then off to bed. I would later learn it was the Doctor fighting the Daleks.
Lately, as a parent and father, I have fallen in love with the message of the Doctor. I love when the 11th Doctor tells us he travels with companions because he wants to experience the wonder again through their eyes. I love how, from the first episode with Matt Smith, we see him encouraging strangers to be better than they are.
Some may wonder why I am starting this way. I’m not going to do a minute by minute exploration with how I felt about the season 8 premier of Doctor Who. However, there were some things which happened or were said in the episode which resounded with me. As I mentioned above, there are many messages in the series I love, and along the lines of challenging people to be better than we are, there was a message at the beginning of the premiere which I felt was directed more to the audience than to Clara. Madame Vastra says Clara is judging the Doctor for regenerating with an older face and appearance and basically accuses Clara of being shallow. Why do I think this is directed to the audience more than Clara? Many, if not most, of the new generation of Whovians say it takes them a while to get used to a new Doctor and begin to be judgmental with design choices by the showrunners. I think, with the trailers showing a darker side of the Doctor, the showrunners are asking us to be patient and trust them with the direction they will take the Doctor and Clara.
There is also the larger message, like many other Doctor messages, that we’d do well to not be so quick to judge someone. This is reinforced with the phone call Clara receives at the end of the episode. We are already shocked that the Doctor is having a harder time than before with adjusting to his new body, then he leaves Clara, TWICE! But then, when we approach the end of the episode and are ready to pass judgement, reconnect to social media free of the fear of spoilers, and we see the phone call. A man who has experienced so much more than we will ever know, asks Clara to help him. Then he asks her to really look at him. How heart wrenching! Can you imagine living and saving people for so many centuries and not feel like your one true friend is even looking at you?
That might actually sound familiar to some people. Not the living for centuries, obviously. Far too many people feel invisible to those around them. And, sadly, when they are finally noticed, it is in a moment of personal weakness, where they need help, and they are labeled something horrible and demoralizing.
As a writer, I have decided to address certain topics as often as I can. One of those topics, is the problem of the bully. I believe everyone has experienced at least one instance where they were on the receiving end of malicious and/or inconsiderate comments or actions. Regardless of whether you have been the victim of only one or a thousand taunts, you know the sting of it. And yet it continues to happen with each generation. My children are too young to watch Doctor Who. As my wife says, “It is too scary.” My immediate response was half joking and half serious. I said, “I am okay with it being scary. When they are old enough to handle it, they will know it is scary, but will also know something far more important. They will know the Doctor is always there to make it right.” This is the message of Doctor Who. It is a message of hope. Everyone will experience pain throughout life. But there is always something to hope for. And there is never a reason to judge someone else because you don’t know what they have been through. I am excited the Doctor is back and thrilled to see the writers are right back into showing us how to be better people. I do long for the day when we hear more stories of courage and hope than we do of strife and turmoil.