No, wait. Wrong reference.
It just feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted here. (Oh wait–it has been.) BUT! Never fear. As many of you already know, the Half-Life LP over at my YouTube account is nearing its end (which means Half-Life 2 is just around the corner, you guys!) and Portal (to be followed by Portal 2) has begun. However, while there will be much written in the coming weeks about Half-Life, it’s ending, the ecosystem of Xen, and Portal (yeah, next post will probably be about Portal. I heart it so), that is not what this particular article is about. No. This article is about a whole other kind of Who, and about how SoldierHawk became a British sci-fi convert.
See, as you might have guessed from the site, I’m quite a sci-fi fan. I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: TOS. Watched all the Aliens and Star Wars. As I got older, I cut my teeth on The X-files (to this day, probably my favorite TV series of all time) and Quantum Leap. And then of course there was Mystery Science Theater 3000 the only show that has ever even come close to The X-files in my own personal fangirl heart.
One thing I stubbornly never got into, though, was British sci-fi: specifically, the Doctor Who and Red Dwarf that everyone gushes on about. This is especially odd since I’m an Anglophile from way back (Those accents, man!), but it just never happened.
However, when I discovered that my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, would be writing an episode (and subsequently that he was personally a huge fan of the show)m well…I figured it was about time to look into this phenomenon. But where to start? I didn’t have a clue. Almost fifty years of history, multiple actors, aliens from all over the universe, and I STILL didn’t even know what the hell this “Tardis” thing that Who-fans kept going on about was. And then…then I read this quote by my favorite author/comic writer/literary genius:
Question: What would you say to someone worried about having to understand 47 years of backstory before watching Doctor Who?
Neil Gaiman: No, look. There’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed ’cause he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.
Well! When the creator of Sandman tells me to sit down, shut up, and do something, I bloody well do it. So, I did. Not by watching ‘Blink,’ oddly enough (comics have trained me to be enough of a continuity fiend that I have a hard time jumping into something in the middle), but with the first Christopher Eccleston episodes. And then, because there was no way in hell I was going to wait to watch four entire seasons before watching the episode penned by my hero, I started watching season five on BBC America so I would have at least some vague idea of what led up to the episode, and who the current Doctor was. This will go down in my personal sci-fi education history as The Best Decision That SoldierHawk Ever Made.
Not only did I get the start of the new series proper and the wonderful, manic acting of Christopher Eccleston, I also got to get in on the ground floor of BBCA’s “Bringing Doctor Who to America!” push. While I’m sure that was near blasphemy to Who-purists, I LOVED it–the epic setting of the West, falling in love with Matt Smith and the 11th Doctor, and–above all–the line that sealed by enjoyment of the show now and forever, “I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.”
Although Matt Smith and that line are what convinced me to give my heart to a TV show in a way I hadn’t since The X-files, it was episode six of the new series’ first season–titled simply “Dalek”–that helped me understand the true storytelling potential of the series. Of course, I had zero idea at this point what the heck a Dalek was (I was still learning about Time Lords, TARDISes and Sonic Screwdrivers, mind.) That episode, both watching the Doctor face down something that actually scared him, and watching him get really and truly angry for the first time I’d ever seen, threw me for (the good kind) of a loop. The ending was quite an unexpected gut punch as well, and it remains one of my favorite hours of television to this day.
And as for the episode I started watching the series for in the first place? Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” was a great episode, although based both on my experience watching it and the reviews I read afterward, I have a feeling I’ll appreciate it a lot more after five or ten more years of viewing the series. There were so many winks and nods that I wish I had understood. Frankly though, the episode is awesome just for the brilliant idea of using the TARDIS as some kind of time and reality bending house of horror. Spooky as hell, and very effective.
In summary: Doctor Who is awesome. Neil Gaiman is awesome. And BBCA is super awesome for giving us Yanks the chance to watch one of the best sci-fi series of all time.