The Doctor, TV, and Me

I did something very uncharacteristic this week. I watched television.

I am woefully uniformed about pop culture as far as TV and movies go. If it’s been on television in the last ten years (unless it’s a kids’ show my sons watch) I guarantee you I haven’t seen it. It’s not that I object to TV on principle, and I understand there are many great programs on these days. I just don’t watch them.

I could plead the fact that I’m too busy to watch TV. That’s certainly true. But I find other ways to waste time. It’s just that when I sit down in front of a television, I start feeling antsy. I think about all the other things I could be doing, and within five minutes I usually switch off the set and leave the room.

Movies? Similar story. Every so often, I will see an ad for a movie that sounds interesting. I tell myself I’ll go see it. I hardly ever do. I don’t even rent the video. Most of the time, when I rent a video, I end up returning it late, unwatched. I just never make the time to sit down and watch the thing. People often ask me to cast my own books. Who would play Tres Navarre? Who would play Percy Jackson? I stare at them blankly. I don’t know the names of that many actors.

And so it was quite uncharacteristic for me to order a boxed set of DVDs on line – Doctor Who: The Complete First Season — and actually watch them! Becky and I watched a lot of the old Doctor Who episodes as PBS re-runs when we lived in the Bay Area. I had heard the new series, which the BBC aired in 2005, was very good, and so I decided to give it a try partly out of nostalgia, partly because I am a sci-fi/fantasy geek from way back. Wow . . . if modern television is this good, maybe I should be watching. The new Doctor Who series blew me away. The acting was great. The writing was great. As wonderful campy and fun as the old series was, the new series was much, much better in every way. If you like sci-fi, check it out. Even if you don’t like sci-fi, these stories are fabulous. They rely more on strong characterization and thrilling plot twists than on special effects. Haley loved them too, although some of the episodes are a bit frightening. Be warned!

I’m a sucker for British television, I will admit. Maybe it’s just the “difference” factor, or the fact that my mom was raised in England as a child after World War II, and so was attuned to all things British and passed this inclination along to me. I’m not sure. At any rate, Doctor Who was amazing. My next walk down memory lane: I just got word that the Red Dwarf boxed set is on its way! I can’t wait to get reacquainted with Lister and Rimmer and the Cat!

Rick Riordan