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Not a doctor, but The Doctor. The Definite Article, you might say.

Your Humble Blogger, as I believe I have mentioned here before, spent five years or so as a Doctor Who fanatic. Maybe more—I can’t be sure when I first started watching (or why, frankly), but it was certainly by 1983, right? And I maintained fanatical levels of devotion until, oh, 1989 or so. Something like that, anyway. I remember learning that they weren’t going to make any more episodes, so I was involved enough in 1989 to have heard that, but I don’t think I was broken up about it, really.

My Doctor, of course, is the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, the one with the hat and the scarf. You know. The one Americans like. Or Americans of my generation, anyway.

I watched the first season of the New Doctor Who (with the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston), and I enjoyed it a fair amount but not as Doctor Who; it didn’t really feel like the old shows. Or it didn’t succeed in making me feel like a teenager. Something like that, anyway. The production values were too good, the writing too serious, the scary bits too scary, the characters too obviously straining at a third dimension. As it were. Actually, despite the Fourth Doctor being my Doctor, I probably enjoy many of the Third Doctor episodes best, as they are even more goofy, lighthearted, shoddy and entertaining, with the dandy Doctor riding Bessie and finding trisilicate keys and fighting Sontarans and reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I mean, the Fourth Doctor does all that stuff, too, and I love it, but he also does thing like come to grips with his mortality, and face ethical conundrums. Still, the Fourth Doctor is my Doctor—if you asked me what does Doctor Who look like, and you didn’t let me explain that he regenerates and that he is just called the Doctor and so on and so forth, I would have to say: curly hair, toothy smile, scarf, hat.

So. My Perfect Non-Reader is nine, now, nine-and-a-half, really, and I thought that maybe it was time to start watching the Doctor together. Because I would enjoy that a lot, really. And even though we don’t currently subscribe to that video-delivery service, YouTube provides. So we watched the first episode with the Fourth Doctor: Robot. Big robot, eventually a Giant Robot, disintegrator guns, fascist scientists, the Brigadier, and a tank that is very, very clearly a plastic toy. That tank is one of my favorite things in the whole series. If you didn’t start watching until 2005, you may not understand how a toy tank could be one of my favorite things in the whole series, but then one of us doesn’t really get Doctor Who.

Alas, my Perfect Non-Reader didn’t really enjoy the show, either. Perhaps it’s a twenty-first century thing. Or, you know, maybe I built it up too much, because after all, it’s just a cheesy tv show. And she has a lot less experience with cheesy tv shows than I did at her age. Which was before I started watching Doctor Who, anyway. It occurred to me, afterward, that perhaps what we should do is start with The Sarah Jane Adventures, which are, after all, children’s shows. That worked better. We watched the whole first episode, and I think she had a good time. The production values were good enough for her to enjoy, while not being, you know, very good at all, really, so that’s all right. My favorite trick where a human pulls off a rubber mask and is discovered to be a hideous alien who is much larger than when wearing the mask is handled reasonably well, although I do miss the mask.

We haven’t watched another episode of either show yet (and we haven’t finished watching the Superman movie, either, which is a higher priority now), but the experience has reawakened my fondness for the whole thing. I had (did I talk about this at some point? Oh yes, briefly) gone sort of sour on the whole Doctor Who thing, what with it becoming all popular and so on. Part of the fun, when I was fifteen, was being—well, part of the fun was clearly being fifteen. But part of the fun was being on the Inside of something. I was a Person Who Knew About Stuff, I was Different From The Rest. I mean, I wasn’t, really—I was watching a show that was on one-sixth of the available television channels, taking up more audience share than the Law and Order universe ever did—but it felt like I was, and in fact people who didn’t watch the show hadn’t ever heard of it. Now, it’s different. I neither have indie cred (since the show is popular) nor cult cred (since I am one of those lame guys who only really knows the Fourth Doctor and bits of the Third). The only thing left to enjoy is the actual show itself. Which, it turns out, I can enjoy. So now that’s all right.

All of which is to say that I have started wearing my scarf again. Well, it’s my Best Reader’s, really. She knitted it—my recollection is that I taught her to knit on the first few feet of that scarf, but that’s just my recollection, and may have little to do with any events outside my head. But she hasn’t worn it in years, and I lost my more sedate scarves somehow, so I have done the old-married-couple thing and taken possession of it. It’s a great scarf, too, about eighteen feet long, I suppose, very warm, and in handsome colors of dark blue, dark green, black and ivory. And since my hat these days is a brown floppy-brimmed one, almost a Borsolino style, I think it looks pretty good.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.