"Nobody important? Blimey, that's amazing. Did you know in nine hundred years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important before?" -- the 11th Doctor, A Christmas Carol (as seen on Vimeo)
On Fanboy Radio last Sunday, the subject of DOCTOR WHO came up and I mentioned that I actually love DOCTOR WHO more than STAR WARS or STAR TREK. It's one of those things that you say and you realize it's true after you say it. Of course, I just started watching the BBC series a few months ago. I came late to the party. But yes, I can honesty say that I care more about it than the other two sci-fi/fantasy franchises that loom so large in geek culture.
I'm not trying to sway you from your own personal favorite. It's all very subjective. I mean, with the promise of new STAR WARS films and the reboot of STAR TREK, there's a lot for fans to get excited about. All three of these franchises do a good job of mixing the genres--adventure, fantasy, comedy, romance, and social commentary. At their best, they offer a complete dramatic experience.
I grew up on STAR WARS. I've always enjoyed it, a wonderfully imaginative melodrama. But I'll admit with the prequels and the animated series, STAR WARS lost a lot of its luster. Wildly fun when I was younger, I always had a hard time appreciating the deeper themes: "Be good?" "A hero sacrifices himself/herself for the greater good?" "Power corrupts?" Yawn. Not to knock the Star Wars fans, but I felt like George Lucas was pandering to simple minds. Lucas never seemed to trust his audience. Then at other times, I completely lost what Lucas was trying to say. Blame the trade federations, midichlorians, and too much philosophizing prior to a light saber duel on a lava planet ("Only a Sith deals in absolutes." Really? I have about six feature films that show evidence to the contrary.). Let's hope for a little redemption with these new films.
I've never been a huge STAR TREK fan, but I've seen all the movies and I've watched enough of the original series, Next Generation, and a smattering of the other shows. I like STAR TREK, but I never connected with the characters. Sorry. I think it does a better job than STAR WARS in exploring fundamental ethical and social issues. "What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be part of a noble society?" There's more to ponder on the Enterprise's bridge than in George Lucas' world.
DOCTOR WHO. It's sillier at times, funnier, scarier, definitely stranger than STAR WARS or STAR TREK. And while these other two have a vast cast of characters to work from, a DOCTOR WHO episode keeps things small and intimate. The Doctor is playful, reckless, and yet always in control (sort of). The more bizarre and backwards it gets, the more I love it. I just watched "A Christmas Carol," the in-between 5th and 6th season special. There's an eerie moment when a beautiful ice princess sings to a sleeping shark as a young boy and the Doctor approach through the fog, among a frosted grave yard of suspended-animation metal caskets. It's weird, but haunting and memorable... and fun. A good DOCTOR WHO episode will hurt my brain, and I usually have to pause at least once to keep up with what the Doctor is saying. Most of all, I appreciate the series because of its unyielding humanity. Every life is precious, every life is fleeting. You save one, you can save the world. These ideas come back again and again. That's not to say DOCTOR WHO doesn't have its flaws, but I don't care. That may be how it is with you and STAR TREK or STAR WARS. And for the first time in a long time, I'm truly excited about attending a convention as a fan and not just as a comic book creator, next year's WhoFest. Expect me to completely geek out.
Want to defend your franchise? Post in the comments.