Doctor Who is one of my favorite SF series, even at one point endorsed by no less than Harlan Ellison in the preface of a series of Who novels published originally in the late 1970s, during the Tom Baker era.
I used to own some of those, almost a complete set if my memory serves me correctly.
Ever since a teenager, having seen pictures of Who monsters in comic books, I wanted to actually view it myself, being rather envious of those television viewers on the other side of the pond, until my wish was granted on a local television station not too many years later during my adolescence.
There’s a certain magic to the creativity of both the classic Who series, and with the reboot beginning in 2005 with the regrettably short stay of Chris Eccleston, though I’m aware of his reasons for leaving the show and respect that.
Nonetheless, both he and Tom Baker are ‘my Doctors,’ since my first viewing here “in the Colonies” was during the start of Tom’s seven-year tenure as Four.
But I’ve always loved the monsters, and the fact that the show rarely took itself seriously, even in the episodes with a darker tone.
In short, Doctor Who was and is often ridiculous, and sometimes campy — but it’s meant to be — and more than anything else, Doctor Who is a wild-and-wahoo, deliberately fantastic, science-fictional reflection of the Spirit of the Age, from the First Doctor, the late William Hartnell, to…well, to the Time Lord’s latest incarnation, Who-ever that may be at any given point.
Of course, I’m writing this during Matt Smith‘s run as Eleven, and though Four and Nine are my top favorites, Smith comes very, very close. At the very least, he makes a great madman with a box.
The series reflects the memes, themes, quirks, fears, fads, and hopes, and yes, the dress and music styles of the day, these trends even spilling over into the alien worlds, and to an extent, time periods traveled to, at least as far as the dress of the Doctor and his Companions, unless safety or decorum requires conforming to the local fashions wherever and whenever the TARDIS travels to.
Doctor Who is more than just a SF series, more than (currently) a dark faerie tale — it’s a cultural icon, whether of British pop-culture in the classic series, or it’s more British+international flavor in the reboot. That could also be the result of trends resulting from increasing globalization, though I haven’t seen the data on that and can only speculate.
Given the wider distribution and popularity of the current series in the English speaking world and elsewhere, it would seem to be the case, or at least reflect good marketing sense for appealing to a wider audience.
Who will be the next Doctor? Yes. But the question would be better asked as which actor, or if rumors have any basis at all, actress, will be next to play the role of the Time Lord?
Whatever the case, I’ll be sitting before my computer or television set, waiting for the surprises that almost surely come with each new episode.