What’s on the ipod right now? Darren Hayes How to Build a Time Machine.
In the backpack: Ursula K Le Guin Steering the Craft.
As a child in Oklahoma, I had an open love of Science Fiction Television. Every night at 6 pm Star Trek reruns would play on Channel 34. I didn’t yet understand that it had been off the air for years. It was all new to me. Even when the cycle of reruns would repeat, it was okay. I reveled in the characters and the adventures. The bright colors of alien worlds, green women, and bizarre outfits (what was it with Gene Rodenberry and pink faux fur anyway?) added a nightly dose of color to my drab rural world.
My father was working nights at the time, and he’d come home after 10, wake me up, and put me in front of the TV to watch Doctor Who with him at 10:30. In that sleepy state, I’d travel time and space with the Doctor. This was the Tom Baker period and I couldn’t tell you how far off our syndication on PBS Channel 13 was from the original British airdate. I wanted a TARDIS. I wanted a robot dog. I wanted to be Adric (he made math cool in my adolescent eyes).
At some point Doctor Who decayed for me. PBS stopped airing it or I stopped watching. I knew it was still out there, getting lower budgets and a bit weirder. (I remember tuning in once to see ice monsters made of cellophane wrap and plastic party ware). So the Doctor and his adventures slipped into my past, a nice hazy memory of watching TV with my dad.
It took me a while to check out the BBC’s recent revival. I knew Russell T. Davies could write witty dialogue. I knew he’d update it for a twenty-first century world. I knew I also liked Steven Moffat’s writing, but in my brain it remained kid’s stuff, something I’d left behind.
I gave it another shot recently, brought in by the tricky bit of marketing they used to bring back Sarah Jane Smith and K-9, the robot dog I so remembered. Sarah Jane was a vaguer memory, but she’d been part of the mythos when I was little, so off I went on another trip with the Doctor.
The Sarah Jane episode really brought home the sense of lost first loves and closure. She had to move on, let go. In doing so, she got a new life, new purpose, and got her dog back.
Yeah, it’s still kind of kid’s stuff: family friendly and a bit adolescent, but it’s grown up enough to play with themes of loss and growth. I’m all caught up, through Season Four, and while David Tennant’s departure saddens me, I’m going to stick with it for a bit. Maybe someday I’ll have a son and we’ll be dragging out the DVDs. Maybe I’ll even name him Adric.