Like the geeky boys of my youth, my own 14-year-old son loves “Doctor Who,” the British show that is kind of about a 900-year-old time lord who zooms from this year to that, saving people from evil in various forms.
My kid is a living, breathing Doctor Who expert. He’s watched all the old episodes online. He’s spent his own money on sonic screwdrivers, the Doctor’s weapon of choice. And he has acquired a fondness for custard, and Jaffa Cakes (a British treat available in the international aisle of Meijer).
It was all fine with me, right up until my kid tried to drag me in on the deal.
In the beginning, he’d talk about Doctor Who, trying to engage me in his “Doctor Who for Dummies” class.
Then, he upped his game: “C’mon, mom,” he’d plead. “Watch ‘Doctor Who’ with me.”
Sure I’d hate the show, I didn’t.
Then, my kid found an episode he thought I’d really, really like.
“Let’s watch Doctor Who,” he said. “It’s a Christmas episode.”
I was working at the computer at the time, struggling to find the right words for a project on which I was working.
“I’ve got so much to do,” I said. “Then, after I finish writing, I’ve got to make dinner. Can’t we do it some other time?”
But the clever boy anticipated my dodginess.
“How about we eat dinner in front of the TV and watch it,” he said. “I really want you to see Doctor Who. You’ll like it.”
Right, I thought, but then I heard the tick, tick, tick of the hands of time. Soon, this kid will want to be anywhere, and to do anything but watch “Doctor Who” (or anything else, for that matter) with his old mother.
The little voices in my head chided me: “Carpe diem. Seize the day. Relax with your kid. Don’t be a drag. Oh, for chrissakes, turn off the computer and spend some quality time with your kid!!!!!!!!”
And so I did.
I cooked a quick dinner and settled in front of the TV, just a little begrudgingly, sure this show would send me to sleep.
The episode, a Doctor-ed version of “The Christmas Carol,” had the Doctor (played by the charismatic Matt Smith) arriving down the chimney to persuade the man who controls the weather to open the skies to save a spaceship full of passengers hurtling toward the planet.
You can watch a trailer of it here:
Almost an hour later, when it was done, I was in tears, choking back sobs.
Doctor Who had reached deep into my soul and unleashed a torrent of emotions I didn’t know I had stored away.
My kid patted my hand.
“I knew you’d like it,” he said. “I didn’t know it would make you cry.”
But that’s the kind of show it is.
The plotlines are imaginative, the writing exquisite. It’s also lovely and heartfelt and sad. There’s a reason why this 50-year-old show, now in it’s second incarnation, is so very, very popular.
For all this show is, the one thing it is not, really, is about time travel. Don’t let anyone tell you it is, because it isn’t. It is, however, all about time, and the price we pay for not respecting and cherishing it; it’s about sacrifice and love and loss and discovery. It’s about the value of each and every person in the world.
And for me it’s about spending special time with my clever boy who is growing up way too fast.
Editor’s Note: This post originally ran Aug. 2, 2013.
Here’s a trailer from another favorite Doctor Who Christmas episode: