Still cruisin’ with The Doctor at 60

     A publicity photo shows Clara (Jenna Coleman) and The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) from the BBC series 'Doctor Who.' (PRNewsFoto/BBC AMERICA)

    A publicity photo shows Clara (Jenna Coleman) and The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) from the BBC series 'Doctor Who.' (PRNewsFoto/BBC AMERICA)

    I just turned 60, a milestone at which many folks pause to reflect upon their lives and resolve to make meaningful changes. Me too! And the change I’m determined to make?

    Going forward, I plan to spend more time in the Whoniverse.

    The “Whoniverse” is the world of people who are fans of the BBC show “Doctor Who,” which first went on the air in 1963, and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The show holds the world record for the longest-running televised science-fiction series, with 813 episodes so far.

    If I want to watch them all — and I do — I’m going to have to spend a lot more time in the Whoniverse than I currently do.

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    I first got hooked on “Doctor Who” as a teenager in the ’70s but stopped watching as I got older. I’m not sure what it says about me that when I recently checked the 2010 season out of the library where I work, I quickly got sucked right back in.

    And I’ve got plenty of catching up to do, since the show has been running for decades without my watching it.

    Has the same actor played the main character for five decades? Of course not! When the dude who plays the Doctor wants to leave the role, the character “regenerates.” With a whoosh of greenish light and appropriate sound effects, he’s replaced by another actor, whom we viewers pretend is the same guy, who then continues in the role. There have been 12 doctors so far. By the time I reach 90, there could be a dozen more.

    What’s the show’s appeal for a mild-mannered middle-aged librarian? The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels through time and space, saving the universe and having adventures. It’s just like library work!

    No, I’m kidding. It’s about as far from library work as you can get, which is probably why it’s so much fun. After an afternoon spent wrangling with library patrons about paying overdue fines, it’s a pleasant relief to watch somebody else battling alien monsters and saving the universe. Plus it’s the BBC, so the writing is terrific and the acting is, too.

    I’ve got hundreds of episodes to watch. And re-watch, because the plots are so convoluted that it takes several viewings to figure them out. Plus there’s a limitless supply of podcast commentary, in which young men with engaging British accents speculate endlessly about every line and plot twist.

    There are also radio adventures, comics, special behind-the-scenes features, and, of course, books. Meanwhile, the BBC continues to churn out new episodes. I may never catch up!

    There probably aren’t all that many 60-year-old librarians in the Whoniverse. Most inhabitants, I believe, are sci-fi geeks and computer nerds in young adulthood. Many are the kind of people who get dressed up as Daleks (evil aliens) and attend conventions.

    I doubt I’ll ever dress up as an alien space monster and attend a convention. But who knows? I wouldn’t have predicted that at 60 I’d re-devote hours of my life to watching a TV show I loved at 14.

    By the time I turn 70, I may well be attending Doctor Who conferences dressed as a Ood.

    Turning 60, many resolve to eat more healthfully, lose weight, or learn a new skill. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m done improving myself. I’m okay with the way I am. I don’t want to gobble more quinoa, learn to play a Beethoven piano sonata or finally become fluent in French.

    I just want to spend more time having fabulous adventures in time and space with the Doctor. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

    This essay was first published by www.womensvoicesforchange.orgRoz Warren is the author of “Our Bodies, Our Shelves.”

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