My father made a startling announcement over lunch today.
“Your mother and I have decided what our esoteric summer entertainment will be this year.”
“Oh, joy! I love the annual summer esotericism,” I said, leaning forward in my seat a little. Every summer for as many, many years, my family and I have selected some random television program to check out from the library to watch on Saturday nights. We don’t have television—no cable, just a TV—so if we want to watch episodes of anything, we have to find it on DVD. A few summers ago, we watched our way through Star Trek: The Next Generation. Years ago we watched as many episodes of BBC’s Miss Marple we could get our hands on. Then there was the summer where we watched nothing but episodes of Rumpole of the Bailey, which is about as random and British as a show can get. Summers of watching esoteric (which, in case you were wondering, means “obscure”) television programs hold some of my fondest family bonding memories, because every episode would lead to a discussion about some principle of morality, or a discussion of relevant historical facts, or even a discussion of politics. We Ramblers are scatterbrained that way.
“Yes,” my father continued. “We recently discovered that there are several seasons of Dr. Who on Netflix, and we want to give it a try.”
The room spun for a moment as I tried to grapple with the implications of what my father just said. We’re all sci-fi fans in my family, and we all have a taste for British humor. But Dr. Who is more than a just show. It’s practically a cult. Just ask any of the Whovians.
Yes. The Whovians. That’s a self-proclaimed title, lest any of you think I’m being derisive. Whovians are people who have such a deep appreciation for the show that their lifestyles start to undergo certain…changes. Things like painting the kitchens a certain shade of blue, wearing bowties or suspenders, and arguing over which is better—11 or 10. Or 9. Or whatever. And they always bring bananas to parties. If you’re short on bananas, just invite a Whovian.
I know more about the show than I should for someone who only watched part of an episode before falling asleep. There’s this guy who’s a Time Lord (not sure what all that entails) who travels around in a time machine called the TARDIS (apparently that stands for something) which can assume any form but has somehow gotten stuck in the shape of a Police call box. This time lord guy goes by the name “Dr. Who” (no one knows his real first name) and travels around in his TARDIS saving the universe from impending doom. He occasionally “dies” and “regenerates,” which is a convenient way for the producers to use a different actor for every season to keep things fresh. He also goes through a long series of assistants, usually female, called “companions,” one or two of whom he marries. That part gets really confusing. Again, I don’t get it.
As far as I can figure, Dr. Who is more or less Star Trek meets Monty Python. And it’s addicting. Rumor has it that it only takes watching two episodes to get you completely hooked.
I’m sure the show is wonderful. I know the writing is good, and I know it’s incredibly quotable material.
But this could be the dawn of a new family fandom. I ‘m not sure if I’m ready for this. This could be huge. This could change our family bonding dynamic forever. Irreconcilably. We, too, might become…Whovians.