Confession #119: I Love Sharing Who With My Kids

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of binge-watching Doctor Who with two members of the Target Market™. My daughters, who became fans by watching Twelve and Bill and later fell in love with Seven and Ace, have been getting up-to-speed on the modern storyline. It's been a richly rewarding experience for me to watch them watch Who.

They liked Nine and Rose (especially Rose), and weren't so sure about this weird-looking replacement guy. Pretty soon, though, they were fully invested in Ten and Rose (especially Rose). When Doomsday rolled around, there was ugly crying—which, I have to admit, they come by naturally; that was pretty much me ten years ago, when I first saw it. RTD did his job well, ripping out their hearts. They just weren't quite ready for a new Companion.

But then they got to know Martha, and let's be honest—she's actually pretty damn awesome. Soon they were just as attached to her as they'd been to Rose (or very nearly). And when we got to Blink—well. Let's just say all of their reactions were exactly what I imagine the production team envisioned with wicked glee as they wrote (Moffat) and created (RTD) the episode.

As the Series Three finale approached, the girls got nervous. How would Martha's time with the Doctor end? They'd been burned before. One girl wanted me to tell her before we went any further; the other was in favor of a just-watch-and-see-how-it-plays-out approach (let no one ever tell you that identical twins are "the same"). I told the former in private just enough to satisfy her: after bad stuff happens, Martha chooses to stop traveling with the Doctor. Hers is the best departure (from the characters' POV) of the modern era.

Although they were loving everything they saw (I carefully kept my opinions to myself), RTD's emotional manipulation was starting to take its toll. "It's only been five days, and Martha's already gone!" my more demonstrative girl wailed. We got through the next Christmas special (Voyage of the Damned) and the introduction to Donna in Series Four (Partners in Crime—and OMG, the screaming at that cameo appearance at the end! They chased the dog from the room with the sheer volume!), before they opted to take a Nu-Who breather and watch something Classic.

Enter Terror of the Autons. We'd just been through the modern series' introduction to the Master ("If we went back and watched Bill's last story, would we recognize the Master?" "Yes." ~gasp!~), and I thought they might enjoy seeing the original incarnation. I personally adore Delgado's Master; he is the epitome of the character to me, despite my fondness for Missy. Unfortunately, I don't think the girls were as enamored of his gloriously smarmy craftiness.

To be fair, they were a bit distracted from the story by the presentation. They commented often on the picture quality and the effects—both aspects that had never really phased me, as it looked very much like what I grew up with. I reminded them that this serial was forty-five years old (more, actually—I realized later that it was broadcast the month before my birth, which was a bit humbling), and asked them to make allowances for that. I'm not sure they ever fully engaged, but they seemed to enjoy the story overall. Right up until the end.

Leave it to my clever kids to find the huge plot hole—a flaw in the Master's plan that even the Doctor never noticed. "If the plastic dissolves with carbon dioxide, how can it suffocate anyone? I mean, the Doctor just breathed on it and it melted away, so...?" I had to laugh. "Welcome to the world of Doctor Who, girls."

Their frustration allowed me to introduce the concept of headcanon—or, more accurately, to introduce a useful application of headcanon: closing plot holes. Sometimes things just don't make sense in Doctor Who, I explained, and you have to devise your own reasons that it happened the way it did in the show, just so it stops bugging you. They seemed dubious, but up for the challenge. I imagine it won't be long before they have to uncork their first attempt.

It's not just plot issues that get my kiddos up in arms, though; they want better representation, too. For instance, while watching Voyage of the Damned, after [spoilers] Astrid sacrifices herself to save everyone, one girl exclaimed, "Hey! How come there are only men left?" (Considering there'd only been two women with speaking roles in the whole episode, it wasn't a big surprise that it had turned out that way, but she has a point.) And they are fully convinced that the Fourteenth Doctor needs to be a woman of color.

They naturally see these things better than I do, even though I'm the one who's been actively talking with them about representation issues. It makes me simultaneously proud of them and a little ashamed of myself that I have to work so hard to break through my own conditioning. And yet, it's a hopeful thing to witness. They, along with their contemporaries, will be the ones to drive the future of fandom, and perhaps some day the future of the on-screen show.

I love that my kids get to have the kind of early-life experiences with Doctor Who that I didn't. My adult cynicism had long since settled over my media viewing experiences when I first watched, and even though I invested emotionally in the characters, I didn't get quite the same visceral reaction that my girls get. I get to live vicariously through them, though, and it is breathtaking. I will cherish this shared experience forever.

I hope they will, too.



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