Television remote in hand, flicking through the channels, every so often an old episode of Doctor Who appears on my screen. Quite a lot of the time that episode seems to belong to either The Sea Devils or Inferno, and quite a lot of the time I end up watching it again, not because I’m a die-hard Whovian (which I’m not, although I fondly remember watching it when I was young) but because those episodes still work. There’s a building sense of menace that overcomes the dodgy sets, and there’s Jon Pertwee in his cloak, driving the action forward. He was a great Doctor for rushing around.
There’s also the fact that these episodes are comfortable. I know them, and I like them. The whole concept of Doctor Who has become a bit on the comfortable side, to the point where the Time Lord faces a challenge to make us believe any threat. The great strength of Doctor Who is that the character can regenerate – but it’s also a weakness. He can regenerate. What could possibly threaten him, particularly if new regenerations are simply going to be bestowed upon him when they are needed, and if he can overcome death itself?
See, everyone has an opinion about Doctor Who, and where it’s going, and why that’s a good or a bad thing. But imagine that you didn’t have that opinion. Imagine that you didn’t know about the story so far, or about Gallifrey, or Davros, or Adric. What a journey of discovery that would be, for a viewer. And what a uniquely honest opinion you could give.
Neil Perryman is a Whovian who married a woman who had absolutely no interest in Doctor Who, and he persuaded her to watch every episode in order, up to the Russell T Davies era. Then he recorded her reactions, and blogged about them. Eventually the blog became the book Adventures With The Wife In Space, and it became about so much more than Doctor Who. But that’s not to forget the importance of Doctor Who. Sue Perryman’s verdict on each episode is fascinating, although if that’s the area you’re really interested in then you might be better served by the blog.
Neil and Sue have the kind of warm, forebearing, and instantly recognisable relationship that many fans of any topic will appreciate, and the business of getting to know each other is particularly enjoyable. Sue already has a child, and Neil has hundreds of Doctor Who video cassettes. The child grows up, and the video cassettes make way for DVDs, and then Blu-rays. How much attention all of these things get is a matter for negotiation. But how is this different in any marriage, or friendship? Time, and how it is spent, is a key area in every relationship; it doesn’t take a Whovian to work that out.
So, this is a light read that touches on some deep issues, but it never gets too serious and Neil and Sue are very pleasant company. Depending on your preference, you’ll either want more relationship stuff or more Who stuff, but doesn’t that just suit the book perfectly? Maybe being a fan is never about getting enough of what you want, but the tension between what you can and can’t have. I will never ride in the TARDIS, and I’ll never meet Davros (not quite sure why I’ve always wanted to do that, to be fair). But I can sit through Inferno whenever I come across it. And that will make me happy enough.
If you have any thoughts about Adventures With The Wife In Space, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below, or via Facebook or Twitter. On Monday the 2nd of February, Kaci’s book choice will be John Dies At The End by David Wong.
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