Misc.

Various topics, from theology to science, philosophy to gaming.

“Doctor Who” and the Twelfth

 

Recently, the world of the Whovians has exploded with excitement, wonder, puzzlement, worry, anxiety, and disappointment. Why? Because, as it was released a good bit of time ago, the eleventh Doctor is going to be leaving us, and the twelfth will rise.

For those of you who don’t know, Doctor Who is rather famous and fun TV series put on by BBC (BBC America here in the U.S.A). It’s hard to summarize a show that began in the 1960s, took a hiatus in the 80s, and came back with gusto in the new millennium, but I’ll try to catch the highlights. There were eight Doctors in the first twenty years of production, then the show resumed with the ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston.

The continuation of the series was far from a remake. The essence of the character, The Doctor, carried over, and some familiar faces can be seen in a few of the episodes.

How can this be done? Simple.

The original creators of Doctor Who made it amazingly adaptive to the world in which we live. The Doctor is not human, he is the “last” of an alien race known as the Time Lords (really, really, really good and smart time travelers). The Time Lords don’t die, they regenerate (not indefinitely). Each time the Doctor “dies,” he regenerates and comes back, but looks and acts differently (though some aspects of the character have never changed). Thus, it made it easy to keep the series going, even when actors could no longer do so. And since the Doctor would change personality as well, the writers could alter, or adapt, the show to fit the current times.

Here’s a picture of all the Doctors, 1-11:

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I began watching the show a few years ago and, like most of my generation who watch it, I started with the new Doctors. I started with the very first episode of the ninth doctor, Eccleston, then continued on through the tenth, played by David Tennant, and eventually to the eleventh, currently played by Matt Smith (On a personal note, I have to say that Tennant is my favorite of the most recent three).

This brings us to the heart of the matter.

It’s not news to many now, but the eleventh doctor (Smith) is leaving the show as his doctor regenerates. For weeks and weeks, the fans of the show, known as Whovians, have been speculating and arguing and theorizing who the next Doctor would be. The cannon of the show would even allow the Doctor to regenerate as a woman, so the options of actors and actresses was quite large.

After keeping us on the edges of our seats, Steven Moffat, the head writer and executive producer, has finally revealed who the next doctor, the twelfth, will be played by.

Peter Capaldi.

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To most of us Americans, he’s not very well-known (which, in my opinion, is better), but he’s an established British actor and even made an appearance on the the show during David Tennant’s time as Doctor.

Looking at the picture, it’s plain to see that he’s not a young man (he’s 55). Most people have been groaning and complaining, saying that he’s too old for such a youthful character. However, I’d like to point out that the Doctor is over 900 years old and has been played by older men before. The age of the actor doesn’t matter, it’s really about the character. The writers and producers, particularly Steven Moffat, have to look at the show and decide what would be better for its future. We still don’t know what type of character Capaldi will bring to the Doctor, but that’s what makes the show fun.

This brings people to wonder, after the last season of eleven, if the new Doctor will be dark and brooding, a man with a more sinister look at the universe, or if he’ll be a complete reversal. Will he be a combination of nine’s rough, determined personality, with a bit of ten’s quirkiness? Will he be something else entirely? Will he be the same?

There are so many personality traits for the Doctor that they could bring in, it puts very few limits on what he could turn out like.

But there are a few traits we can guess he’ll have (but we can’t be 100% certain). He’ll likely have his funny moments, his serious moments, his sad moments. I like to picture the tenth, Tennant, as an iconic view of the fundamental character of the Doctor.

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First, it’s the need to have someone there with him. As Donna, one of this companions said, sometimes he needs someone there to stop him. But really, the Doctor just needs someone with him, a hand to hold. 900 years of life can be very lonely if you’re the last of your race.

The second is his devotion and fascination with the human species. He may not have been able to truly save his own people, but he feels an insatiable desire to protect and preserve humans.

Third, he lightens up even the darkest situations with humor.

Fourth, he is someone you do not want to make mad.

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In the end, Doctor Who is a show about change, about adapting to and living with the difficulties of life. It’s not about which actor plays what role. It’s not about how the Doctor will overcome some new obstacle or enemy. In it’s most fundamental aspect, Doctor Who is about resourcefulness, courage, determination, and what is right and wrong in the face of all adversity.

Neil Gaiman, the English author of such wonderful books as Stardust and Good Omens, once said, “Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science fiction . . . At best Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic about this wonderful man in this big blue box who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere where there is a problem.”

The Doctor, the man who stands up to all things against him for the sake of those unable to defend themselves.

The ninth Doctor, played by Eccleston, never wanted to die, never wanted to regenerate, but he willingly gave himself up to save Rose, one of his Companions.

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So, to those who are hesitant to embrace Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, just remember that he is Matt Smith, David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston, and all the others before him. He is just the Doctor. He will have his trials on and off the screen, he will face the Daleks and the critics, and he will be awesome.

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Categories: Misc. | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Change

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I was relaxing on my day off from work, text messaging my father, and started thinking about “change.” First, my thoughts jumped to Jim Butcher’s novel Changes in the Dresden Files series. After that, I managed to start thinking on change more seriously. Surprisingly, though, Jim Butcher’s book continued to hold in my thoughts. So I started picking it apart, dissecting its title and plot. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, Harry Dresden, undergoes several changes in mind, body, and soul. Granted, his experiences in this particular novel, and the entire series, go far beyond anything a normal person will know.

I then started to think about my own life and the changes that I’ve experienced in my small number of years. I’m young, in the grand scheme of life, but even I have had some changes. My older brother enlisting in the Army; graduating from high school and moving out of state for college; getting engaged; graduating with honors from college; getting married; the news of our soon-to-be-here daughter; new jobs; new responsibilities.

Have those changes been good, or bad? In hindsight, they’re good. At the time, though? Some of those times were rough, and not necessarily filled with hope and happiness. My brother joining the Army was something very hard for me. It meant that he would never be to any of my football games, or see me graduate from high school. It meant he would miss out on many things in my life. It made me sad and depressed that every time I made a great play, or somehow stood out from others, that he couldn’t be there to see it. As I grew up, I realized that was pretty selfish. He’s proud of me, even if he couldn’t be there in person to see those accomplishments. In turn, my sadness grew into overwhelming pride in my brother. That itself was a change.

My entire scholastic experience was filled with hundreds of changes, from handling stress to dealing with “questionable” situations on my own. I’m no longer the boy that I was my freshman year of high school, or even the man standing at the altar getting married. Life has an interesting way of directing and influencing your life.

The quote above by Heraclitus is a perfect example of change. Though his topic was on metaphysics and the perceivable world, it still applies. His concept was this: you cannot step in the same river twice because it is always moving, always changing. The water is not the same water that you had stepped in before; that water has flown downstream to be replaced by other water. Those same molecules are somewhere else. Holding to that principle, your right foot and left foot aren’t even in the same river. Life changes, moves, adapts. The water flows around you on its insistent journey downstream.

You are never the same person.

Yesterday, I made decisions and was formed by those choices. The day before, I also made decisions and was formed by those. Today, I’m faced with choices I must make. Tomorrow. And the next day and the next after that. Every single day of our existence, we are faced with choices. How we respond to those choices, to those situations, dictates who we are and who we eventually become. An ancient Greek philosopher (forgive me for not remembering his name or the exact quote; I believe it was Aristotle) said something to the effect that actions create habits and that these consistent actions, or habits, create who we are, so be careful with what you say and do for it will form your character. Every choice we make is an action, and therefore lends itself to the formation of who we are.

Change is simply the effects of those choices. If we choose to switch lanes on the highway, then get stuck behind a slow car while our previous lane zooms by, thus making us late for some appointment, we must live with it. We must adapt. We must change.

Darwin flushed out the idea of the Survival of the Fittest. It is, in a way, the essence of our daily lives. Not in some kind of physical confrontation, or even intellectual competition, but in our own capacity for handling whatever life throws at us. We are forced to adapt, to change, to grow, or risk being stuck in whatever station we find ourselves in.

This requires a certain amount of courage and hope.

My parents are moving up to Alaska this weekend. For the first twenty-something years of their marriage, they lived in California, then a few years ago moved up to Washington so my father could get a better job. That job turned out to not be that great, but they were better off in a new place. Now, they’re doing something takes much more courage than facing a bad job every day. They are leaving behind what they know and understand and are embracing a completely different life. My older brother will be there to help them, with his wife and son, but it is still a vastly different experience. It is a major change in their lives and it has not come easily.

Both are plagued with doubts and worries, particularly my father, about “abandoning” my wife and I (and our upcoming daughter). My father worries about the example he’s set for his sons, about the choices he hopes we do or do not make. I can’t blame him for his concerns. If anything, it proves to me just how great of a man he is. He’s sacrificed so much for his family, just so we could have food on the table and a roof over our heads.

The courage and strength he’s shown us is the best example he could ever have set.

Change is a part of life, it’s what makes it exciting, terrible, wonderful, sad, beautiful, terrifying, and amazing. Every twist and curve in the road of life is centered on change. Every choice, every decision, every opportunity shown to us requires courage and hope. One verse in the Bible that is my personal favorite and that I believe exemplifies the belief in courage and hope is John 1:5 – “A Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” Even a single candle can light up a room. One, small, solitary flicker of flame at the end of the tunnel can guide you through the whispering darkness.

Tread forward, dad, and embrace the change for what it is: another step on the road of life. Enjoy the ride. When you’re on a rollercoaster, you can’t change its speed or direction. All you can do is enjoy it. Throw your arms up in the air when you go plummeting down and let out a scream of excited terror, then take a deep breath and relax on the slow climb back to the top. Because, no matter what, there will be a top, a top that, when you get to it, let’s you see the whole world.

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Categories: Misc., Nature | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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