I first encountered Dr. Who as reruns appeared on our local PBS affiliate 1. My father would turn it on and I would be lost in that wormhole with that fantastic theme playing in the background.
I didn’t know anything about the Doctor’s mythology when I was little. In fact, when I saw an episode where Tom Baker was not The Doctor I remember asking my father how all those people could think an obvious imposter was The Doctor. When he told me The Doctor could change his face, I was mesmerized.
When the show was revived I was an instant fan, and have loved all the modern portrayals of the character. Peter Capaldi’s serious edge, born from long-wrestling with his inner demons, spoke to me more than any – just check out The Zygon Inversion on YouTube to see why, but each has made their own connection with me. Christopher Eccleston was the grieving wanderer re-learning how to act. David Tenant was energetic fury. Matt Smith was old wisdom locked in a youthful mentality. And John Hurt’s War Doctor was man who gave up his promise to fight in a war, and found himself broken as a result.
And still the song mesmerizes me. Now, however, the feelings evoked from it mix the awe-struck child with the headier understanding of an adult. The Doctor is as complex a character I’ve ever come across. He is ashamed, angry, furious, peaceful, dangerous, safe, nasty, kind, arrogant, and humble. He is powerful without the need for weapons, and holds onto his conscience even though for a large part of the revived series that same conscience is eating away at his psyche. And most of all, he has the desperate need to hope and give hope to others. He is The Doctor, and that is a promise as much as it is a name. Our world needs people like this “mad man with a box 2.”
I enjoy orchestral versions of the theme, but nothing beats the original.