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See, it's not just for kids! It has THEMES...Doctor Who, 2005 series

(I'm bringing this over from my LiveJounral page. Only my second day on this blog, and I'm already plagiarizing myself. This doesn't bode well.)

2005: While it took me a few years to catch on, many people, on both sides of the Atlantic (and Pacific), awaited the return of Doctor Who baited breath. Many others, perhaps a larger group, mocked it as being that dumb kids' show.
2010: Doctor Who is once again the phenomenon it once was, popular in its native land, and exported to dozens of countries. Even many of the naysayers came around to the sheer quality of the new series. This kids' show was the most popular non-soap on British TV, and its spin-off was the most popular show on BBC America.

So, aside from the amazing affects, acting, and general glossiness of the new show, what makes it so special? Well, I would argue that it's not just a kids show--if anyone even believes that out there anymore. Indeed, I think outgoing Executive Producer Russell T. Davies knew that adults wanted an escapist show with emotional content, full of ideas and themes. In an ongoing series, I'm going to do my best to try to flesh out those themes to see why NuWho, as fans call it, resonates even deeper with adults than it does with the kiddies.

The 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston, one of the best, and, unfortunately, shortest-lived, Doctors) comes into our televisions quietly enough at the start. The entire first episode of the revived series, "Rose," is told from Rose's point of view, played here by pop sensation Billie Piper, who immediately creates an authentic, believable and sympathetic character. But I digress. The Doctor saves Rose, defeats the Autons, etc., etc, but also expresses a rather moody, isolationist vibe. Unusual for the Doctor, he at first tries to get rid of Rose--classically, the Doctor tended to gather people wherever he landed. There are some obscure references to many planets or peoples having been destroyed, perhaps by the Doctor, or certainly with his knowledge. Even though there is a joy in Eccleston's Doctor, we sense there is something deep, dark, and painful lurking beneath the smile and Northern accent. As, indeed, there is.

The 9th Doctor is alone, guilty, and damaged goods. In essence, he is suffering from survivor's guilt and PTSD, and the thematic stream of the 2005 series is that this Doctor, no matter what, can never be truly happy. So, we have an entire series focusing on guilt, isolation, and loneliness. The hints and references begin early and last through the entirety of the 2005 series. The Nestene Consciousness. Cassandra, the Last Human. The Earth being engulfed in a fireball. Finally, at the end of "End of the World," the Doctor tells Rose the truth: his planet (Gallifrey) has been destroyed. He is (in a phrase which would become iconic in the show) the "last of the Time Lords." This much is merely backstory, but it continues. We have the Gelph, with a similar plight to the Nestenes. We have the encounter with the lone Dalek, where we finally learn (if we hadn't already guessed) what race the Time Lords fault in the Last Great Time War. We have Rose's encounter with her dead father. We have "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" which are entirely about guilt and accepting responsibility for one's actions. We have "Boomtown," which is conversations about the mind of a killer and the possibility of redemption through new life. Sometimes guilt and isolation are main thrusts, sometime just hints, but they are the driving forces of Series '05.

And they are the reasons for the 9th Doctor's regeneration. After Rose's famous pronouncement, "The Time War ends," the Doctor sacrifices himself in order to save Rose, just as she had done to save him. In doing so, the Doctor's faith in himself and his ability to connect with another spirit is restored. The Doctor releases his guilt; he did what he could. He abandons his isolation; he has found Rose. And he will once again truly enjoy his travels in the Tardis, but the price is his face. The 9th Doctor, full of gloom, and blood, and guilt, must die; in his place, we have an utterly guilt free Doctor, the 10th Doctor (David Tennant). Indeed, he overcomes his guilt so well that he forgets its lessons, which will lead us to the 2006 Series...


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