Once upon a time, Doctor Who was my favorite television show. I knew the reboot series episodes by heart and was working my way through the originals. I had memorabilia, t-shirts, and was designing a DW-inspired tattoo. I thought I would never love another show as much as I loved this one. But, as with so many other things in life, circumstances changed—and along with them, my affections. I stopped in the middle of a season with the 12th doctor and Clara Oswald. My interests waned and my passion faded. (I could go into detail about my issues with the show at that point, but that’s not what this post is about.)
Around the middle of 2018, the Collectress and I decided that we wanted to see what life the 13th doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and the new showrunner (Chris Chibnall) had purportedly breathed back into the adventures of the mad [wo]man with a box. Since neither of us had watched the show in ages, we did the only logical thing—we started rewatching from the 9th doctor’s pilot. What happened next was something I never expected. I fell back in love with the doctor.
We often think of falling in or out of love as something that only happens with people—our spouses, our partners, etc. There are hundreds of thousands of online articles detailing how someone can reignite “that spark” with an ex, or keep their relationship from falling apart. But no one really talks about what happens when you lose that spark with a hobby, or a sport, or even a favorite actor or singer. We fall in love with the things that make us happy—maybe not the same way that we fall in love with someone we want to marry, but we fall in love (and out of love) nonetheless.
As fans of something, we don’t just allow the object of our affection into our lives. We get to know it, we engage with it, we get excited about it. We buy things that remind us of it or help us enjoy it more. We dress up in clothes that represent it, and we feel like we know it better than anyone else. As fans, we have fallen in love. If you’ve ever felt nerdy about something, you know what I mean. We sometimes can’t explain why we feel this intense love, or why it gives us such joy, but we understand other fans on a nearly spiritual level—especially when they enjoy the same things that we do. We bond with others about this shared love. We go to the same concerts, conventions, stores, and showings. (Some people go a little too far and challenge newcomers about the depth of their love…don’t be that guy. Nobody likes a “true fan.”)
But back to the point. When I stopped watching DW all those years ago, I was sure that spark was gone. It seemed clear to me that I wasn’t in love with the doctor anymore, even though I still occasionally wore my favorite DW shirt like a wedding ring I didn’t have the heart to get rid of. At first, deciding to rewatch the show (and hopefully catch up all the way through 12’s episodes) felt like glancing through an old photo album and reminiscing about the good times. But before I knew it, it was more than just enjoying the memories. The spark was back, and I can’t even tell you how it happened. The show didn’t change…but maybe I did. There was something I was missing in my life, and the doctor brought it right back to me. The old photo album browsing became a happy getaway that reignited…okay, perhaps I’ve taken the analogy too far. Stay with me, we’re almost done.
Maybe it’s the state of the world, or my current mental wellbeing, but rewatching the doctor(s) and their companions explore the universe and do their best to help others reignited something in my soul. I just wrapped up 12’s last season, and am awaiting the release of 13’s first season on Amazon Prime. I’d forgotten how good it felt to be a DW fan, and how I love so, so, so much about the Doctor. It’s almost hard to remember that there was a time in my life when I wasn’t head over heels for our favorite Gallifreyan.
“Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.” Thank you for your childlike wisdom, Doctor. I wish I were more like you. I wish others were more like you. I do still love you. And I can’t wait to see what you do next.
The Collected Mutineer