I hope you marked your calendars for a special holiday for us Science Fiction fans! It has been ten years since the day ‘Doctor Who’ came back to us!
It’s hard to believe there was ever a time that we thought ‘Doctor Who’ would never back, not with it dominating conventions, with cosplayers proudly showing off their Tenth Doctor converses and their cardboard-constructed Daleks. But there was a time when Whovians had to accept that the last thing we would ever hear was the Seventh Doctor saying “Come on, Ace. We’ve got work to do.”
It was a bittersweet ending, as it told us that the Doctor would continue to have adventures, but we would no longer be a part of them. It becomes even more bittersweet once you learned that the 27th season, which was under production when the series was cancelled, would have had Ace leave the Doctor for the Time Lord Academy on Gallifrey (how awesome would that be?) and we would be treated to a morally grey cat burglar as the next companion.
Frankly, it’s enough to pull at your hair and cry out “whyyyyyy?!”
But, ‘Doctor Who’ was not over. Indeed it was not. And although most fans would wish that the Eighth Doctor’s appearance would never happen (these are the fools who need to listen to Big Finish), Whovians were treated to a new hope in 1996 with the ‘Doctor Who’ television movie, which was supposed to act as a backdoor pilot into a new series on American television. Sadly, its ratings spelled its demise as quickly as it aired, and Whovians were forced to accept that the show would never come back, with the exception of a rumor in 2000 that suggested ‘Queer as Folk’s Russell T Davies would resurrect it. The rumor fizzled out, and while Big Finish Productions continued the story lines in audio drama form, it was becoming more and more accepted that there would never be new regenerations.
It was an emotional ride for fans, so let’s not relieve it much more and fast forward to the fateful day that ‘Doctor Who’s return was announced.
It’s hard to express what a relief that was for a science fiction fans at the time. We had been surviving on old episodes with increasingly awful production values as we became spoiled by the special effects of the current time and Big Finish dramas that were questionably not canon. Science fiction was on the out as the few remaining shows on the air crashed and burned (I’m looking at you, ‘Enterprise’). There seemed like there was no hope.
But then, ‘Doctor Who’, with its new hour-long episodes, with well thought-out arcs, and quirky protagonists saved science fiction. It brought to an old generation a show that we had been robbed of too soon and roped in a whole new generation to enjoy it with us. It came up with new and complex story lines that the classic ‘Doctor Who’ would have only dreamed to pull off once every few years, and it gave us new old enemies new ways to terrify us. What was there not to love of the new generation of ‘Doctor Who’?
So, it’s time, my friends, to raise a glass to the 10th anniversary of the New Universe Who, and, even if we get annoyed at how easy it is for people to put on a bowtie and fez to cosplay as the Eleventh Doctor, let’s celebrate the new generation of science fiction fans that it helped created.
Happy Ten Years, ‘Doctor Who’!