Archive for ‘Dennie Kuhn’
October 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
living-with-otters

Is “The Caretaker” good? Yeesss… But not unequivocally. There are emotional disappointments along the way and I feel some resentment at both another Clara story and another Earth story, but there are also reasons to forgive these.

I want to love the Doctor like I always have but it’s not easy. He’s very different. He wears his kindness on the inside and we only get to see it when he thinks no one’s watching. I need to be shown that this is the same man who lost Rose, the same man who loved River. “The Caretaker” is reassuring that way. Plus Pink Floyd.

The Doctor is painfully aware that his regeneration has redefined his relationship with Clara. He acts okay with it because there’s no alternative but a part of him misses that dynamic. When he sees Adrian and jumps to *that* conclusion he’s showing that. His disproportionate anger at Danny shows that. When Clara finally admits to Danny that her friend is “an alien,” the Doctor’s face projects disappointment because he’s more than that, much more, and it seems to him like Clara has provided minimal information to Danny on purpose.

Danny intentionally finds a raw nerve, “Ooh, a Time Lord!” and presses, hard. It’s his chance to push back and he leaps on it like a PE teacher throwing himself on a grenade. The Doctor becomes enraged not only at the suggestion that’s he’s an aristocrat, but the saluting, the “Sir, yes, sir!” sends him off the deep end. I thought this reaction was justified, Danny was showing off in front of Clara and “That’s who he really is” was way too much. I’m pretty sure Clara knows a bit better who the Doctor is, and so do we, thank you very much. True, the Doctor’s anti soldier bias seems very out of character but he did just spend a few hundred years defending Christmas from all manner of soldier so maybe that’s why. Bit the Doctor used to be a soldier and he’s no PE teacher so this is a bit mystifying to me. Danny pressed too hard though.

Danny is sensitive, curious, brave, and arrogant. He gracefully redirects the Caretaker’s unkind dismissal and presumptions; he doesn’t like it, but without Clara in the picture, it’s not worth it to him to push back. Danny doesn’t like soldiers either. He’s quick to point out that he *was* a soldier and he certainly doesn’t hesitate to judge the Doctor harshly right back and even resent his influence over Clara once he realizes they have a relationship. “Do you love him?” “What other way is there?” He’s doesn’t seems fazed at all by what Clara tells him about travel in time and space except to reflect on how this affects him and his relationship with Clara. He’s all, Hm, well, okay, I guess it’s all right for you to keep doing that when really he should be Wow! You’re even more amazing than I thought Clara Oswald! I know I said I don’t do weird but you know what? You’re worth it. I trust your decisions.

Clara has been juggling two lives for so long they were bound to come crashing down. She’s clearly torn between the Doctor and Danny, constantly defending one to the other, wanting so much for them to like each other. Clara takes a hit in this episode in terms of strength. Since when did she need Danny Pink’s help? He makes her promise to tell him if the Doctor pushes her too far… How far is that? Trenzalore? The end of the Universe? The Center of the TARDIS? I wanted Clara to say something sassy here, something strong, but she didn’t. She just made a promise (not a deal) and turned the TV back on. (If you only knew what I’ve seen, you would beg me to help you and keep you safe. And the Doctor taught me that, etc, etc).

It’s interesting to look back at season one of Doctor Who, way back in 1963, and we start to realize what Moffat may be up to. Ian and the standoffish Doctor argued often, with Barbara either mediating or taking Ian’s side and Susan… Susan? What better motivation to introduce Courtney Woods, disruptive influence? Love how gleeful the Doctor became at this pronouncement. It was also kind of him to take her up into space–this is what I meant, I need to see this kindness, not just the alien but the ancient kind being as well, the grandfather. He is the Doctor, after all, and either Danny will see this or he won’t. We don’t need his approval and neither does Clara.

I should say something about how “The Caretaker” also has a cool wheeled killing machine. That was pretty sweet. And the parents were funny. And the River reference. But mostly it was all about the triangle and that’s okay. We saw some warmth from the Doctor, as a side dish to snark, which was splendid and Capaldi appears to channel previous actors at will. Hopefully we’ll be treated to much, much more of him in the near future.

September 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
first-for-fifth

“Castrovalva” is weird. I mean in a creepy way. A creepy awesome way.

The shock of the Doctor’s fall and regeneration has barely registered but our heroes are struggling to get to the TARDIS. The cops are yelling… The Master’s TARDIS is hovering… And the Doctor is barely conscious. We’re used to the Doctor being in charge, on top of things, with the situation in hand and under control. Always strong, confident, a huge personality, reduced now to a pallid thin face. Both we and his frantic companions have our doubts.

Authority falls to Adric, because he’s been with the Doctor the longest. Was also briefly captured by the Master in all the confusion and is now acting fairly bizarrely, but okay. He seems single minded yet preoccupied… “Zero room? I’ll go.” He sets coordinates without a word then disappears after the Doctor who is searching for himself in the depths of the TARDIS.

The atmosphere of extreme uneasiness grows.

Nyssa and Tegan are having a bad dream. The kind of dream where you’re late for work but can never get there and nobody’s worried about it but you. The TARDIS is traveling they know not where and Adric and the Doctor are doing they know not what. They feel the need to locate their friends, but when they finally catch up it seems Adric has disappeared again, leaving them alone with a sick Time Lord. Adric’s absence is like the dream: Someone’s missing, and you need to find him, but you keep getting distracted by little things like Event One. Adric’s sudden appearance in the Zero Room is unsettling; he’s in distress but unreachable, choking out a dire warning before disappearing again. When the Doctor asks for Adric, Nyssa and Tegan have no idea what to tell him. So, they don’t tell him anything. The Doctor’s recovery has to come first and whether they like it or not, Adric will have to wait.

If you know Escher’s Castrovalva you might know what’s coming… But that 1930 lithograph is just obscure enough (especially to children) that you might not. Either way is cool.

The Doctor is confused, weak, vulnerable, and largely helpless. Nyssa and Tegan have no choice but to cart him out of the TARDIS and into a forest where they stumble around first rolling, then carrying their new-old friend in his coffin… I mean Zero Cabinet, hoping Castrovalva’s within walking distance but with no way to be sure. Luckily it is nearby, since the whole point of laying a trap is to make it easy to find.

Remember the accompanying music? Castrovalva and that music. So perfect.

When we find out Adric’s a prisoner of the Master, it actually helps quite a bit. We comprehend the creepy vague disappearance and concentrate on solving the problem. Problem: Adric is wired up like a block-transfer computation battery. Math is power! At least he’s showing fierce loyalty and trying to fight while the Master drains his calculation juice to power his illusions and chuckles merrily at his pain.

The Doctor still doesn’t really know who he is, and at first he’s just relieved to be welcomed by the denizens of Castrovalva, who are so hospitable it’s a bit suspicious. But that old guy the Portreeve seems nice. And Michael Sheard.

It is of course an obvious Who irony (Whorony?) that the Master could have killed the Doctor easily at this point in the story and at any time onward… But where’s the fun in that? Not his style at all, as we all know.

Other creepy things about Castrovalva include the PVR tapestry and old books with new history. The Portreeve knows the Doctor. The people of Castrovalva aren’t in on the joke… Except maybe Shardovan. It’s hard to leave, no way out, like a shut box or small universe. Or a trap. From his TARDIS the Master watches his reality TV, gloats over Adric struggling on the web, chuckles. We as an audience know something our heroes don’t and all we can do is wring our hands and wait for them to figure it out.

The chaos that ensues when they do figure it out is the peak of the nightmare; the Doctor, remembering Adric in a rush and racing off, the mounting sense of urgency, running up and down stairs that lead nowhere, a recursive mish mash of reality, and no way out no matter what. Then the big Portreeve reveal and Shardovan smashes the web and and the Castrovalvans turn on their creator in horror and close in on him while he screams “My WEEEEEB!!!” Our heroes escape narrowly the fake reality as though escaping a collapsing cave, leaving behind heavy claustrophobia and the shrieks of their enemy and his creations.

The Universe is a scary place, the Master’s a dangerous guy, and he isn’t the only one by any means. You can trust each other, but only just, and no one else. This was the flavour of Who in the very early 80s and this story is the salt in the stew. Sophisticated, gritty, fantastically satisfying stew. No more antics; travelling the cosmos is serious business and actions have serious consequences. It’s hard to get home and sometimes a companion might try to kill you. Good thing you have the Doctor to keep you safe. For the most part, unless you jump out of an elevator at the last minute trying to be the hero.

The sunny forest is welcoming. The Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric are together again, awake, they can breathe again. They’re stronger for the experience and trust each other. The Doctor has recovered and the TARDIS is fine. Phew!

Of course, they’re about to land on a claustrophobic spaceship, and, escaping that, welcomed to the claustrophobic jungles of Kinda. But don’t worry, these guys are tough. They’ll have to be.

August 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
Long ago, when I was eight, I watched with horror my beloved Doctor plummet hundreds of feet to arrive as a crumpled mass at the base of a radio telescope (Logopolis, 1981).  He lay there, pale, looking so old and hurt, saying scary things like “It’s the end…” And I knew.  I knew he was going to die.  This was the end of Doctor Who.  My heart shattered instantly.  I had only just found Who, and what would happen now?  So, so sudden… Master die now.
But… The Watcher?  He’s approaching.  The end credits are not rolling.  The Doctor’s face… It’s melting, reshaping… the years are falling away.  Abruptly, he sits up.  He looks very different.  He also looks as bewildered as I feel!
There was no time or opportunity to wonder about the next Doctor; suddenly, there he was, blonde and smooth-faced, with a sort of feckless charm.  Stunned, I watched “Castrovalva” with narrowed eyes, aware that the flavour of my show had changed, trying to decide if I liked it.
I did.  This stranger was the Doctor and it didn’t take me long to recognize him, even with a different face.  By the time the Master was defeated, I was won over.
This was regeneration.
On June 1, 2013, “the BBC is today announcing that Matt Smith is to leave Doctor Who after four incredible years on the hit BBC One show” (www.bbc.co.uk).  Tweets flew.  Blogs crackled.  Who would be the next actor to play the Doctor?  Would it be a woman?  A visible minority?  Peter Capaldi?  Predictions and speculation became a torrent for two whole months.
On August 1, 2013, the next Doctor was announced!  Exciting stuff!  And that cameo in “Day of the Doctor!”  Sublime.  You can find pictures of Season (Series) eight shooting anywhere online.  If you’re black of heart, you may even have sought out some notorious leaks.  The new costume is classy, isn’t it?  So Pertwee!  Everyone’s excited, anticipating a shift, hungry for stories and adventure.
“And now it’s time for one last bow
“Like all your other selves
“Eleven’s hour is ending now
“The clock is striking Twelve’s.”
- The Time of the Doctor, December 2013
Matt Smith’s Doctor had a final, glorious episode and a heartshredding farewell speech.  The fourth wall was dissolved.  Amy Pond bade farewell to her Raggedy Man.  And then he was gone, pow, new bewildered face, new kidneys, new era, leaving us grieving, but not as surprised as Clara looked.
This is regeneration.
The death of one of the Doctor’s incarnations is no longer the shock it was.  Maybe you guys in the UK had more access to information but in Canada we watched Who on PBS.  When my Doctor died, I had no memes to laugh at, no Twitter for therapy, no Whovians to mourn with en masse.  Fan Clubs were rare and modest.  The best I could do is outdated copies of Doctor Who Magazine and, thankfully, my sister.  Wrote a couple letters to some other fans somewhere.  Maybe they wrote back.  Read the Target novelizations over and over.  But this is not the same thing as daily interaction, personal communication, instant validation.
Times have changed!  Everyone knows everything instantly and can communicate at light speed on a planetwide scale, so yeah, regeneration’s a festival now!  We all share the experience, we can bond.  Change is scary as hell, but the Doctor’s been all right for 2000 years without social media-hosted opinion parties.  It’s just that the opinion parties help us cope with the change.  It’s a glorious time to be a fan with unlimited access to other fans.  I’m not old you guys.  You wrote letters once, right?  Right?
There’s always huge anticipation the few weeks before the start of a new series of course.  Whenever we start a new season with a new lead playing the Doctor… Well, is frenzy too strong a word?  I must say as a longtime Whovian, Mr. Capaldi’s comments about his Doctor being less accessible, less tolerant of humans, more impatient, more alien…  All of this foreknowledge, more than I ever dreamed possible!  It’s like gazing at unopened Christmas presents!  I can’t wait.  I’m eight years old all over again.
Maybe someday we’ll see a surprise present pulled put of the closet.  A part of me misses that dawning suspicion that the Great Spider or the Spectrox Toxemia or (ahem) that knock on the head might be fatal.  Wouldn’t it be insane if we saw that soon?  I can see the Moffat or one of his predecessors springing that exact trap.  That would be brilliant.
Change is scary, but it’ll be all right so take a deep breath.  This is the genius of Who, and it always has been.  The only difference now is, WANA.  We are not alone.  So debate, dream, postulate, create, connect.  He’s a coming and we can all be excited together as we venture into the darkness.
July 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

OK, Doctor Who: Legacy is super fun to play. Not gonna talk about that much; the gameplay is simple enough, doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Match rows, build up power, hit the bad guys, advance. But this addictive game is also crammed full of inside jokes, references, heart, and insight, the exactly perfect bait for a Whovian. Seriously, you guys, we’ve got:

Companions who are unexpectedly awesome. We collect a companion like Amy or Clara and it’s no surprise of course. Only this is Doctor Who: Legacy. So we have Bitey the Cybermat. And Stormageddon, and Handles. Spoonhead and Flesh Doctors, young and old Canton, young and old Amy, fighting together! Ianto and Jack! Oods! Sarah Jane Smith! There are literally dozens of companions to help the Doctor save the Universe, some obvious, some obscure, each with their own contribution to make. We build their strength and endurance to higher and higher levels as we play.

These collectible companions have a special ability that is specific to their characters. For example, Clara’s special ability is to heal, just like she healed the Doctor after he was blasted with loss. Sassy River Song converts blue gems (Eleven’s colour) into her own red gems, just, you know, because she’s River Song. We have added a Dalek to our allies. A Dalek?! It’s Oswin Oswald in there, failing at soufflé, but increasing Eleven’s strength while she does. Rory heals because he’s a nurse, Vincent resets the game board because of how he sees the world… It’s all so wonderfully familiar, so… right.

The Doctor himself appears in several of his incarnations and we get to choose our favourite for each level (or episode) when we play. Will it be Sixie, with special ability Cavalier? Or Two, with his, I Don’t Like It. Nine offers Air From My Lungs. Grinning yet? The War Doctor’s ability is named No More. The Doctor’s abilities range from superhuman healing to stunning an enemy for up to four turns to changing gems from one colour to another to dealing a devastating hit to the enemy.

AMY: Okay, so we’ve basically run up the inside of a chimney, yeah? So what if the gravity fails?
DOCTOR: I’ve thought about that.
AMY: And?
DOCTOR: And we’ll all plunge to our deaths. See? I’ve thought about it. The security protocols are still live. There’s no way to override them. It’s impossible.
RIVER: How impossible?
DOCTOR: Two minutes.

- Flesh and Stone, 2010

Very, very often during his adventures, the Doctor faces a scenario where that extra two minutes is critical, where two minutes means the difference between annihilation and salvation. In Legacy, for the Doctor ‘s special ability only, you can use it as soon as it’s charged… Or you can stall, give the Doctor the extra two minutes he needs, dig in for a few more turns. And if you can hold off just that tiny bit longer, his ability’s power doubles. How many times have we seen the Doctor frantically wiring a solution, concocting an antidote, executing a plan, counting on those two minutes? Legacy gets it. There’s this, too: You can’t build the Doctor’s strength and endurance to higher and higher levels as we play–because his level is calculated by his team. His companions make him stronger, and the better they are, the better he is. Way to be, Legacy! Very satisfying.

In the meantime we’re navigating the Asylum of the Daleks. We’re fighting Angels in Manhattan and we’re traveling to Trenzalore. During all of this we face time distortions that make The Bells of Saint John interrupt Season Six, for example. We’re battling Cybermen, Daleks, Tocolofane, Dinosaurs, Weeping Angels… Many with their own, evil version of special abilities.

The key in this game is to never, ever give up, and never give in. Sound familiar? Just when we’re at our lowest, when Winston is stunned and the TARDIS (yes, of course she’s a character, I told you, this is LEGACY) won’t dematerialize and K-9’s low on batteries, a plan will unfold in your mind… The pieces will move on the board and you will not only survive (love it when that happens), but you will finish off those Sontarans and move on to the next level.

Levels of Legacy are accompanied by something else Whovians covet: A story. The levels of the game are like episodes of the show, complete with story arc and cliff-hangers. The Doctor and his team gather allies, defeat enemies, gain strength and intelligence, all in order to progress through the story. What’s the story about you ask? Spoilers…

As with most matters Whovian, we fans hold no small amount of influence with the Legacy team at Tiny Rebel Games. They not only accept suggestions from fans–they invite suggestions from fans! They encourage and consider and even appreciate suggestions from fans! When Jack Harkness was released into the Legacy universe, he had brown eyes. For about an hour. Now they’re blue. That’s how it’s done, Legacy! Details, everyone knows, are crucial to a believable Universe.

More addictive than Vraxoin, with gameplay as urgent and engaging as the most exciting episode, employing tactics that would make BBC producers proud, and set in a Universe where we all feel at home, I give you Doctor Who: Legacy, ladies and gentlemen! An ordinary game with extraordinary heart, crafted especially for us.

Editorial written by Dennie Kuhn

June 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

The Doctor and the Daleks have been enemies for centuries, and these hate-filled cans of mutant supremacy are as recognizable an icon as the TARDIS herself.  This is partly because Daleks are polar opposites of our hero—and you know what they say about opposites attracting.  Throughout time and space, the Doctor and his most hated enemies cross paths again and again, because they are destined to do battle forever, like darkness and light, cruelty and kindness, Microsoft and Apple.  As the Doctor has evolved (can you imagine Jon Pertwee asserting that “Bow ties are cool?” OK, actually so can I), so has his relationship with the Daleks.  To the Daleks, it’s all business:  Extermination of inferior (ie not Dalek) species and universal domination. For a long while, it was all business to the Doctor as well:  Stopping or generally interfering in the Daleks’ business.

But then, something changed.
There are two types of Dalek story:
1. The Daleks have a plan.  They have a very good plan, usually involving invasion of some sort, and the Oncoming Storm interferes again.
2. The Daleks do something so horrible, so reprehensible, so evil, that the Doctor takes it personally and *stuff* goes down.
a) This horrible, reprehensible, evil action is meant to be taken personally.

The Plan type of Dalek story is mostly fun and dominated the classic years.  It’s scary (The Daleks, 1963) or thrilling (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, 1964), (The Chase, 1965) or heartsbreaking (The Daleks’ Master Plan, 1965-1966). The Daleks are the villain we love to hate.  Their affinity for slavery (The Power of the Daleks, 1966) is repugnant and their ruthless will to dominate or exterminate (every episode ever) is offensive.  We root against the Daleks and their single-minded intolerance with aplomb.  And our Doctor always wins.  The Day of the Daleks (1972) was short because our hero did not give up, he never does, and it’s not necessarily the Daleks themselves he is fighting against as much as all they represent.

From Genesis of the Daleks (1975):
“Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other and that’s it. The Daleks cease to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek.  But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent lifeform, then I become like them. I’d be no better than the Daleks.” – The Doctor

Some encounters are frothy (Destiny of the Daleks, 1979) or nostalgic (Remembrance of the Daleks, 1988) or just plain creepy (Revelation of the Daleks, 1985), but it’s okay because we know he’s going to be all right, even if Tegan did just scamper off on an appalled whim (Resurrection of the Daleks, 1984).

The Personal Attack type of Dalek story is not fun.  It’s terrifying and heartsbreaking.  When he reappears after a long absence, the ninth incarnation of the Doctor no longer views the Dalek simply as a galactic menace to all, a force to be opposed—he hates them.  Truly, truly despises them.  We first see this in “Dalek” in 2005; the lone Dalek has no master plan; it’s helpless, in pain, alone, and this is the Doctor’s reaction:

“I know what should happen. I know what you deserve. Exterminate!”

“Why don’t you finish the job, and make the Daleks extinct? Rid the universe of your filth! Why don’t you just die?”   Suddenly, we know—we know—that if he had another chance to touch those two wires together, he would do it.

It’s different now… it’s personal.  What happened?  What changed?  What has happened to our Doctor?  And then:   “I’ve got to do this; I’ve got to end it. The Daleks destroyed my home, my people. I’ve got nothing left.”

Ah.  The Doctor battled the Daleks many times in the old days and he saved not only the Earth, but hundreds of other planets from their machinations as well.  Although always a grim experience, never were the stakes higher than during the Time War.  Worst of all, most terrible, is what he was forced to do to truly and finally defeat them.  His revulsion and rage at the Dalek’s reappearance is powered by ultimate pain and a horrific realization that it was all in vain.

The Doctor started fighting the Daleks because of their atrocities, but he started hating them when he realized he would never be able to truly and finally defeat them, even with the ultimate sacrifice; that his victories over them would always come at great personal loss (think Doomsday, 2006).  No personal loss was greater than Gallifrey and they came… back… anyway.  This is the turning, when indignation on behalf of the cosmos takes a back seat to pure, unadulterated hatred.  The Doctor knows what the Daleks have twisted in him, he recognizes their effect on his psyche, and that makes him hate them even more.  “I’m gonna save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet, and then I’m gonna save the Earth, and then – just to finish you off – I’m gonna wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky! (Bad Wolf, 2005).

They’ve been there since his beginning and he was present at theirs.   Although Daleks never deviate from their mission, they have affected cataclysmic change in our hero.  They are the darkness to his light, the cruelty to his kindness, and so they have become more than despotic tin cans over the last fifty years.  This, more than any other reason, is why the Daleks remain the Doctor’s most iconic adversary.

“Prime Minister: It is offensive to us to extinguish such divine hatred.
The Doctor: Offensive?
Prime Minister: Does it surprise you to know that Daleks have a concept of beauty?
The Doctor: I thought you’d run out of ways to make me sick. But hello again. You think hatred is beautiful?
Prime Minister:  Perhaps that is why we have never been able to kill you.”

– Asylum of the Daleks, 2012

Editorial written by Dennie Kuhn

May 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

Religion is a complicated word, because by definition it means different things to different folks. On an unemotional, pragmatic level however, religion overall has basic characteristics — and because as a following Whovians can be defined by these characteristics, we can, indeed, upgrade our “cult following” status to “religion.”

My sources can be found by typing “Basic characteristics of religion” into Google. You will find many that are not discussed here. Since my word limit is less than two billion, here are four basic characteristics of religion, including Whovianism.

A Doctrine of Salvation

Heheh. Doctrine. Doctrine, even, is open to interpretation. No, Whovians do not generally believe that watching Who will secure us a comfy chair in the afterlife. We do generally believe however that salvation is always possible and so hope is eternal. In many circumstances, even death itself can be conquered! Rory, Jack Harkness, I’m looking at you guys. We may also believe, per the Doctor’s teachings, that by saving others we may also save ourselves. The Doctor frequently (all right, constantly) finds himself in seemingly hopeless situations, but we have faith, we believe and we know that the situation is never hopeless after all. Because we believe (let’s call it faith, shall we?) that there is always another way, that miracles do happen, and, even better, that we can construct, jerry-rig, or improvise our own, you could say we have a doctrine of salvation. The Doctor is a saviour and we follow his example. We can save ourselves and we can save others, if we can just hold on long enough, run fast enough, think hard enough, and allow our compassion to dictate our actions.

A Code of Conduct

When the Doctor first encounters a life form, no matter how odd, how smelly or single eyed or rubbery, he invariably beams, sticks out his hand, and enthusiastically introduces himself. He may even admire the BEM, or offer an appreciative comment (“You are beautiful!”). Remember “The Creature From the Pit?” The Doctor’s acceptance, that willingness to reach out, to listen, to care – that in itself was the resolution to the conflict and the end of fear. What if everyone greeted fellow humans like old friends? What if differences were not only tolerated, but appreciated? The Doctor sometimes seeks out injustice, but more often he stumbles into it. His reaction to oppression is not a choice for him. He helps. He makes a stand, he gives himself, he cares. He does the exact opposite of what he’s supposed to – he gets involved. “Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold” (Survival, 1989). Rose could’ve stayed home, ate chips, gone to work, but instead she broke into the TARDIS because the Doctor showed her a better way to live her life and there was no turning back from that for her (“The Parting of the Ways”). What if everyone worried about other people, their freedom, their safety and well being? It would mean Utopia. Not that Utopia; the good kind.

The Use of Sacred Stories

Um… I feel like this one speaks for itself, but the question is, what makes episodes of Who sacred stories? The fact that they’ve existed for a generation already? That they are watched and rewatched, quotations are memorized and reproduced, tattooed on people, used as a daily mantra? That episodes were thought lost to the ages, but discovered and hailed as a holy find? So yeah, we use sacred stories. Don’t even get me started on expansion sacred stories like books, audio plays, and comics. Sacred. Stories. Religious Rituals Rituals can be words, like crying “Allons-y!” when you get on the bus, or keeping one eye on the angel statue on the way home. It can be gathering in front of a TV screen every Saturday night, or adorning yourself in a fez and sacred scarf and attending an annual pilgrimage to a nearby con to worship en masse. Social media has played a huge part in expanding our rituals. We all share rites like It’s Time for a Regeneration, the New Companion Shakedown, and The Remade Classic Monster Debate. As evidenced on social media, rituals require a substantial emotional investment. Discussions (arguments) are common, passions run high! Who is the best Doctor? Which model of the Dalek is most menacing? Which writers are pleasing us most? Checking your favourite social media frequently has become a ritual, a shared ritual! Not only are we communing with each other and WhovianNet, but I’m sure most of you have Tweeted Mark Gatiss, @sawboneshex, @rattyburvil, or another like demigod at some point in your online alter life.

A Belief in a Deity, the Supernatural, or Some Other Ultimate Reality Beyond, Yet Connected to, the Human Experience

A deity has been defined as “a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life” (C. Scott Littleton).

Our Doctor has dominion over space and time, regenerative capabilities and an extended lifespan, and possesses technology that appears magical to more primitive peeps. His interaction with humans is pretty much the whole point. He has been mistaken for a god more than once (think Janus thorns). New levels of consciousness could be argued for every companion, especially Amy, Rose, Peri, and the Brig. He has changed them. “The grounded preoccupations of ordinary life?” See: “The Power of Three” to get started. The Doctor’s a deity, at least by this definition.

There is this to consider as well: Once cast as the Doctor, an actor is elevated to godlike status. His image is everywhere! Idols of him are constructed! His costume is replicated, his accent analyzed, his performance critiqued. He bends to comfort a child and we all know about it. He becomes legendary; legendary in the digital present, aka immortal.

Does this make the Doctor a real god? Whatever that is? This is where I must tread delicately; I don’t wish to offend believers in deities other than the Doctor, who is a fictional character. To me, the Doctor is more real than whatever god you worship; but what is real? Do I expect our hero to actually materialize his TARDIS in my backyard? No. Do I sometimes daydream he will? Of course. It’s what the Doctor represents that I believe in — his view of the Universe, his willingness to get involved, his sense of wonder even after more than 1000 years of experience and heartbreak. I believe that there is More Out There and furthermore, that we can only find it by getting off the couch. I choose to believe. Although the Doctor and I unfortunately are not able to “interact” in the conventional sense, his influence is undeniable. I believe I have attained new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life. He has changed me, and forgive me if I’m overstepping, but he has probably changed you.

The sheer number of participants in our religion adds credence to it! We number in the thousands, the hundreds of thousands, yes… even in the millions. If millions of people believe the same thing, doesn’t that, to some extent, make it true? The answer is yes, at least to the millions of people who believe it. If the broad definition of religion – An organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world view that relate humanity to an order of existence – is all we’re looking to meet, we’ve met it. We know the Doctor is fond of us. We humans, we are quite his favourite species and that gives me hope. Yes, we make him angry at times, but we also impress him. Aspiring to impress the Doctor, now that is a hell of a guiding principle. I’ll leave you with these… I’d love to read yours; as you know ours is a democratic religion who despises dictatorships!

Thou shalt take joy in exploration until the end of time itself
Thou shalt be terribly nice to each other
Thou shalt not carry any weapon
Thou shalt not wander off

Editorial written by Dennie Kuhn

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