By Molly Sanchez
Illustrations by Kirstie Haruta
Don’t you hate it when you’re at a party and someone mentions their love for the doctor? ‘The doctor?’ you think ‘what kind of person loves their doctor? Is it a Haight Asbury type doctor? Or one of those sexy ones that gets handsy with the novacane? And who is this doctor, who?’ Doctor Who, the question, and the answer. “Doctor Who” is a British science fiction television show that features a time traveling alien. It’s also frightfully popular in nerd culture on both sides of the pond. This means that nerds at a party may have more to talk about than you do, and you don’t want to be socially outgunned by a nerd do you? What follows is enough about Doctor Who and his cohorts to make you look cool at a party. Suck it, nerds!
Things not to say to Doctor Who fans:
1) “I like that actor who plays Doctor Who.”
Why it’s dumb: There have been eleven actors who have assumed the role since the show’s inception. This is not a Darren from Bewitched situation (actor quit, substituted with worse actor), or a Richard Harris from the Harry Potter movies situation (inconsiderately died of old age) but is instead a major plot point. The Doctor is a member of an alien race called the Time Lords. Time Lords have the ability to regenerate and to change their physical form and personality. Thus the doctor can be millions of years old and still look like a 30-year-old bloke in converse sneakers. There is even some buzz that the next incarnation of The Doctor might be a woman. Let’s just hope they wouldn’t start calling her The Nurse.
Say instead: “Who is your favorite Doctor? They’re all so different!”
2) “Doctor Who? Oh is that the medical drama where everyone is boning in the supply closet?
Why it’s dumb: First of all, the show you’re thinking of is Downton Abbey. Second of all the name “The Doctor” seems to be an arbitrary title. After sifting through heated message board arguments I came to the conclusion that the title may refer to the way he tends to fix problems in time and space. As a fledgling Whovian myself I’d like to put forth the theory that the title could also refer to his vast knowledge of our world and others, similar to someone with a doctorate degree. But I dare not share this on tumblr, for fear of being torn new one by fifteen year old fan girls. Also the “Doctor? Doctor Who?” joke is one that is played out literally five times each season.
Say instead: “Gee the British make good television. That Doctor Who show just gets better with age!” (Except don’t say “gee”. Only losers say “gee”.)
3) “Sonic Screwdriver? That’s my favorite drink!”
Why it’s dumb: The Sonic Screwdriver is actually The Doctor’s go-to bit of alien technology. The screwdriver can pick locks, mend broken wires, and “in a pinch you could put up some shelves,” The Doctor boasts in one episode. This tool is not without its limitations and substances such as wood, deadlock doors, and hairdryers are impervious to the screwdriver. Lushes of the world need not despair; it is also a fancy cocktail.
Say instead: “That dress you’re wearing must not be a sonic screwdriver because it definitely works on wood. On the serious though, would you rather have a sonic screwdriver or a wand from Harry Potter?”
4) “I love that new show, Doctor Who!”
Why it’s dumb: Calling Doctor Who a new show is like saying a blonde girl has no leg hair: outwardly accurate but on closer inspection untrue. Yes the show, as fans know it today started up in 2005. However that shows is a modern reboot of a show that ran on the BBC from 1963-1996. The show was intended to be a family show about a man exploring iconic moments in history by way of scientific elements. This went well until the final series in 1995 received low ratings and shark -jumpy plotlines. Then there was a movie made (very Arrested Development) with a new Doctor and was barely a blip at the box office. At that point it looked like the series, which had run twenty six seasons would be no more. Then in 2005 the series itself regenerated, now incorporating more stand alone episodes, and has done well ever since.
Say instead: “Girl, you must be David Tennant because you are a ten! No seriously isn’t it cool that the series has such longevity? Wish Star Trek would come back to TV”(You don’t have to say that last bit. That last bit is for me.)
5) “So what are you guys? Whosiers? Whoovers? Trekkies?”
Why it’s dumb: It’s not, really. Batshit , meaningless distinctions are part of any mega fandom. Just as contentious and equally silly as the heated “Trekker versus Trekkie” debate, the Whovian v. Wholigan conflict has been going on for years. Urban dictionary makes the distinction that a Whovian is “specifically and old fan” of Doctor Who and a Wholigan is “specifically a new fan, Doctor 9 and up.” Then again urban dictionary may not be the most reliable source, as they seem to define my name as a pure form of MDMA. Which is crazy, right guys? Guys?
Say instead: “Whovian, Wholigan, Who-freaking-cares! Lets just drink and be nice to eachother, ok?”
Here are some more things to add to your Who knowledge tool belt.
The Doctor, like P Diddy, likes to travel with an entourage. This entourage usually comes in the form of an earth girl he whisks away from her boring life, Peter Pan style, to join him in his adventures. This girl is called a companion and she represents the viewing audience of the show in that she is being lead by the doctor into fantastical worlds. There have been roughly forty companions ( even the occasional male companion) and all of them have ranged in appearance, ages, and time spent snogging the Doctor. Snogging, it’s a fun word. Try to use it sometime.
The main adversaries of any Doctor are the Daleks. Daleks are octopus-like mutants who live inside metal shells equipped with an eyestalk and heavy artillery. They are protected by a bullet repelling force field and speak with a robot voice. Daleks live to exterminate the human race.
The Tardis is the Doctor’s main mode of intergalactic transportation. The time machine appears to be a blue police box on the outside and is famously much larger on the inside. The Tardis can only be controlled by Doctor Who and can be uses to travel through time and space. It also translates languages, both alien and domestic for anyone standing within a few feet of it. The Doctor and the Tardis have a loving relationship and at times they share a telepathic link.
Cyber men are human beings whose brains and organs have been put into scary robotic bodies. When humans are put in these bodies their emotions are mechanically suppressed so that they can become lean, mean, remorseless killing machines.
Weeping angels are easily the scariest monster in the Who universe and considering the series has featured faceless people, zombies, and more than one possessed child, that’s saying something. The angels look like stone statues but are actually ancient and powerful beings. They derive energy from sending people back in time but are strong enough to kill a human should the need arise. The trick is, the angels cannot hurt you as long as you are looking at them, but the space of a single blink is all the time they need to attack.
Why does everyone on Facebook have tally marks on their face?
April 23rd was a special day for Who fans and many of them celebrated by drawing on their hands. This isn’t the mark of some weird Sci Fi drinking game (though such a game does exist). It is instead homage to an episode that took place on that same date called “The Impossible Astronaut” which aired last year and featured and alien group called “The Silence.” Freshman cinema major and tally mark wearer, Collin Searles had this to say “The marks are a way the Doctor deals with an alien species called The Silence. Their sort of power is that you forget their presence when you look away from them. The Doctor tallies his arm when he sees one so that he can remember that he”s seen one of the silence.” Searles and others marked their bodies that day and took pictures on facebook and instagram (#thesilence), some bearing the ominous caption “what are these marks on my arm?”