On Monday, November 25, two days after the "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary special debuts through simulcasts around the world, I will pick up two young Whovians and drive to the local theater for a special 3D encore presentation of the show.
I will go wearing a brown floppy hat, a 10-foot-long striped scarf from Etsy, and a red velvet frock coat with a sonic screwdriver in the pocket. And I will carry a bag of jelly babies. All my years as a "Doctor Who" fan have been leading up to this moment, and I couldn't be happier to share it with the new generation of fans.
Thank you, PBS
"Doctor Who" has been around for 50 years and I have been a dedicated fan for about half that time. My big brother started watching some strange programs in the evening on PBS. One of them was "Monty Python's Flying Circus." The other was "Doctor Who." I wanted to do everything my brother did, so I started staying up and watching them, too.
They say the first Doctor you see is your Doctor. Mine is Tom Baker, him of the wide grin, long scarf, and floppy hat. I can't help but feel it was a special experience to watch those episodes before ever knowing where special effects would advance to some day. I never thought twice about a monster being made out of painted bubble wrap or a green screen leaving raggedy edges around the actors' hair.
I would imagine that blue police box materializing in the misty rains of Oregon and me jumping onboard. It made me consider history and all of time and space, and where I would go if only I could catch a ride with the Doctor. I didn't just want to be a companion, I wanted to be a Time Lady.
Classic "Who" revisited
I have recently been re-watching all of the Tom Baker episodes. My fears that the series wouldn't hold up visually have been largely unfounded. Sure, there's the occasional jarring green screen, and the bubble-wrap monster from "The Ark in Space" is still obviously bubble-wrapped. But overall, the look is remarkably good and the enthusiasm of the actors carries them right through any budget-related issues.
Somewhere around college I lost my hold on "Who." There hadn't been a new episode in years. The 1996 TV movie was a bit of a disappointment. At the time, I criticized it for having too large of a budget. But nothing can keep the good Doctor down, and, in 2005, I found ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston beckoning to me. He reminded me of some of my favorite qualities from Tom Baker in a smartly modern package. I was hooked on "Who" once again.
I effortlessly crossed the bridge between classic "Who" and new "Who." Streaming Internet video opened up unprecedented access to episodes from across the entire history of the series. I was dreaming about the Tardis, Earth history, and alien planets once again. Looking ahead, I am excited to welcome 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi into the fold.
One of the great side effects of the popularity of the new series is the flood of fun, entertaining, and sometimes just plain weird merchandise. Gold Dalek Mr. Potato Head, anyone? All I could find in my earlier "Who" days were comic books and magazines. Now, I snuggle into my fuzzy blue Tardis bathrobe every night and I've been measuring my house to see where I could fit a Tardis rug.
I lurk around the "Doctor Who" section of Reddit for news, analysis, and fan art. I have vague plans to build the ultimate expression of Whovianism: a life-size Tardis. I may be an adult, but I still hope to hear that familiar grinding sound as a blue box materializes nearby and the Doctor pops out. I would be ready to go along, and I would absolutely say, "It's bigger on the inside!" even though I already know.
My scarf is ready to be unfurled. I have 2 pounds of jelly babies in the cupboard. The "Day of the Doctor" is nigh. The present, past, and future are looking brighter than ever.