Doctor WhoPosted: August 20, 2014
by Barbara Whitener
British pop culture was just beginning to spread worldwide in 1963. The Beatles first album Please Please Me was released, James Bond was on the screen in From Russia with Love, The Avengers staring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg was on the television airwaves. This year also saw the beginning of Doctor Who a television program that The New Yorker calls “the most original science-fiction television series ever made.” Beginning as a British phenomenon, Doctor Who is now more popular than ever and has a worldwide following estimated at over 100 million.
What is the appeal of this 50 year old science fiction television show? The hallmark of Doctor Who is the humanity and compassion that pervades every episode. The Doctor and his companions care about all beings and believe that life is important and should be defended. Wrongs are addressed by the Doctor but rarely with violence. It is not unusual that when an enemy is brought down, the Doctor is there to comfort the dying villain. The Doctor is a Time Lord but no superhero. There is a vulnerability, sadness and solitary aspect to this time traveling alien. But above all there is in Doctor Who a sense of wonder and respect for the universe and its inhabitants and a hope that we will learn to understand ourselves and others better. The Doctor moves throughout the galaxy in time and space and during these travels we see mirrors of our own society.
Doctor Who like much of science fiction addresses issues we see daily in the newspaper headlines. It addresses war, genocide, terrorism, totalitarianism, race relations, diversity, equality, technology, family , responsibility, and as one article mentioned – a way to deal with the fears we face as a society. But lest we forget, there is also fun and adventure along the way.
What didn’t I get around to discussing? Doctor Who isn’t complete without knowing about the TARDIS, Daleks, the Cybermen, regeneration, and the sonic screwdriver. If you are a geek or just a Whovian, Ekstrom has many resources that will satisfy your longing to get to know The Doctor better.
Want to watch the episodes? Media has DVDs of the original series (1963-1989) including Doctor Who: The beginning. This consists of 3 serials with a total of 13 episodes. The rebooted series (2005-) 1-7, the Complete Specials, and The Next Doctor are available.
Articles? There are thousands of articles that run the gamut from popular magazine articles to serious academic studies. Interested in the history of Doctor Who? There are many articles that examine the television program including “The Man In The Box” , “Fifty Years in the TARDIS: The Historical Moments of Doctor Who” and “Revenge of the Geeks, Fifty Years of Doctor Who.” These and many more articles can be found in multiple databases including Google Scholar, EBSCO Academic Search Complete, ProQuest Direct. International Index to Performing Arts, Film & Television Literature Index, Humanities Index, MLA International Bibliography, Sociological Abstracts, PsycInfo, Business Source Premier, and Historical Abstracts.
Many books are available. You can pick up and read a Doctor Who novel such as Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter. Our holdings are not extensive so if the pickings too slim here in Ekstrom, try the Louisville Free Public Library, bookstores or Amazon. There are about 200 tie-in or spin-off novels that follow the voyages of The Doctor.
Non-fiction books about Doctor Who are numerous including Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. There are many general science fiction books and encyclopedias that cover the phenomena and history of Doctor Who. Two examples are: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction and The History of Science Fiction.