Let Them Have This: Accepting Newbs To The Doctor Who Fandom

GameStop, Inc.

by Victoria Irwin
Resident Whovian

While recently visiting a comic book store in Los Angeles, CA, I came upon an early twenty-something playing with an 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver. She was talking at a million-miles-a-minute speed and kept playing with the button on her chest displaying the new Doctor Who logo. For about two minutes, I found myself analyzing every detail about her. Clearly, she was new to the Fandom. Clearly, she had NO IDEA what she was talking about. Clearly…..and then I stopped myself. How dare I judge someone who had the same passion, albeit a newer version, when I too was once a young newbie.

Three years ago, I shattered my ankle playing roller derby (this sounds way cooler than you think). For months, I was completely immobile and had nothing to do but recoup, read, go to work and watch whatever I could find on Netflix. For about a year, people had been talking to me about watching Doctor Who. Raised on old Star Trek films and other forms of Science-Fiction, my father had somehow skipped over showing me the wonders of a certain British-accented traveler from the planet Gallifrey. I had seen the David Tennant Christmas Invasion episode and a smattering of the Eccleson episodes, but nothing more than casually watching over a friend’s shoulder while doing something else. With the episode Tooth and Claw, I found myself entirely immersed in the Doctor Who universe.

Dr Who 50This is the part where I admit, that I too, started with the 2005 reboot. There are more than enough people who will roll their eyes and tell you folks new to the Fandom that you’re not worth your salt unless you started with Tom Baker on PBS. Hate to tell you folks, fans in the UK will also tell you that you aren’t worth your salt unless you’ve watched starting with William Hartnell on BBC in 1963. There is a hierarchy of “nose-in-the-air” folks in every Fandom; you learn to ignore their trolling. The important part is not whether you first watched with Smith and Tennant or Baker and Pertwee; the important part is that you enjoy what you’re watching.

New fans will likely be more excited about something than you are, old school people. They will watch the trailer 15 times for a new episode or discuss which sonic screwdriver they want tattooed on their body. These things happen. It will calm down. Ask them what they love about it. Ask them why it means something to them. You might be surprised.

However, it isn’t just up to the old-school fans to adapt; newer fans, you have a role to play as well. I would highly encourage new fans of the reboot to watch the Classic series. This gives you a better understanding of reflections and references that you would otherwise have no idea about if you just stuck to the modern episodes. More than once has there been a reference to the “Australian” (Teagan from the 5th Doctor) or a quick glimpse of an umbrella with a question mark at the end (7th Doctor). Not all of the episodes are good; point of fact for both the Reboot and the Classic. This is just a fact of television in general. Different people are going to like different episodes. I love River Song. My colleague loathes her. I think Pertwee is completely badass. Some people think he is too much like James Bond in an older man’s body. Diversity is what makes the world go round. With 50 years under its belt, Doctor Who is like porn; there is literally something for everyone.

In the end, love what you love. If you want to dress up like a Dalek and go to a convention, by all means do it. I would encourage fans to be patient with those who have just joined our ranks. They are going to have questions. They are going to accidentally abbreviate things, or refer to characters by the wrong name.* It happens. It’s part of learning. When you first learned your birth language, I’m sure there were moments where you used grammar or spelling in correctly. Joining a Fandom is much like that.

There are going to be people who refuse this advice out of a sense of pop culture superiority. Have fun with that. The reason that so many of the Classic episodes are now available on DVD and BluRay, the fact that BBC is now looking for lost episodes that were formerly just taped over, these are signs that the popularity of the show means that BBC is now looking at it as something worth saving. The more people that join in means the more the Classic can be brought back into the hands of a new generation, without having to find an old VHS tape or pirate using a website.

Grab the hand of a new fan and be the Virgil to their Dante. Lead them through those first few episodes, and then sit back and let them take the journey. In the end, you will have more people in your community to talk to, as well as someone to complain to when a showrunner kills off a character you’re attached to.

*End Note – To all the haters in the audience, in the Classic Series, writing “Dr.” and calling The Doctor, “Doctor Who” were both considered to be acceptable. Nowadays, the single slip and you will be finding yourself amidst a flame war in a chat room. Look at the credits; I’m not making this up.

*Editor’s Note – Victoria Irwin is our resident Whovian. We are proud to have her on staff. Her convictions reflect the dedication of the FanboyNation Family and has our full support in sharing her views on this site. Not everyone shares the same fandom or level of intensity. Miss Irwin has the ability to acknowledge that truth and this is why she will always have a home at FanboyNation. – R.C. Samo, Editor-in-Chief.

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