I remember the first time I met the Doctor. It was Hurricane Irene, I was holed up in my room, and I stumbled upon BBC America. I caught the very beginning of “A Good Man Goes to War,” which was, in retrospect, the worst episode that I could have possibly seen. The number of spoilers was enormous. But, regardless, I was hooked. I was enthralled with this man, with the lengths that he would go to for the people that he loved, with how much rage he had hidden under his goofy, boyish shell. “Good men don’t need rules,” he said, half his face in shadow. “Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”
That was the first time that I would have an adventure with the Doctor, but certainly not the last. Over the past few years, Doctor Who has become a kind of addiction. I grew to love the awful special effects and the cheesiness of the first seasons of “New Who,” and I absorbed every bit of trivia that I could. All the while, I was waiting for the return of the Eleventh Doctor, the Time Lord who started it all for me. When his predecessor regenerated with a bang, I felt as though an old friend had come home. Here was my Doctor again.
The time of the Eleventh Doctor is coming to a close now, and I’m feeling sad in the way you can only feel for a fictional character. I know I’ll be able to revisit the Eleventh and his companions whenever I want – in that way, I’m even more of a time traveler than the he is, though unlike the Doctor, I don’t mind repeats. But I will know that it is in the past, and I will know what comes next, and the second time is never quite the same.
The Doctor, the Eleventh in particular, means a lot more to me than do most other fictional characters. Sure, there are plenty of stories of lone heroes trying to save the world in the face of extraordinary odds. But the Doctor’s demons are far more haunting, and thus his motivations are different. The Doctor is running from himself, all the while trying to do enough good to make up for his past. He is always clever, always working, always trying to keep everyone safe from the terrors of the universe. He is very rarely successful, and that destroys him sometimes, but the only thing he can do is keep going. His guilt is an immense weight, but one that he uses to become stronger. In a lot of ways, the Doctor is as human as they come.
In spite of everything, my Doctor was always hopeful, and it made me hopeful. I like to think that I can be like the Doctor, helping the people that I meet because I’m there, and I can. I like to think that all of us can be like the Doctor.
You never forget your first Doctor, they say. I know that I won’t.