As I look forward to the new season of Doctor Who (oh my goodness, that Christmas episode!), I’ve been looking back and thinking about how wonderful the past one was.  There was much to love, much to miss.  I will admit, a girl never forgets her first Doctor, nor does it seem that I’ll ever forget my second.  Tennant was truly brilliant in his goodbyes.  As I look back on all his seasons, it seems he was forever saying goodbye and that’s part of what I missed.

But what hellos we were treated to in this new season!  I was blown away.  Amy Pond is a completely different kind of companion than those I have seen, which I love.  Spunk without bitterness or stupidity, room to grow without being entirely at rock bottom, intelligence and humanity without awkwardness or the inability to stand up for herself.  And yet, she is not perfect.  She makes mistakes.  Like Moffat said, she’s the type of person everyone would want to be. 

Even the concept of Rory is new, because as many secondary companions as there have been, I’ve never seen one who was so useful.  I was so afraid he’d turn into a Mickey (ugh), but the minute he stepped into the TARDIS, Rory knew what was going on before it came out of the Doctor’s mouth.  He’ll never be on the level of Amy.  He likes the quiet life, Rory, but he’s not stupid.  Hooray!

Many of the resurrected monsters, as well as the new ones, feel different from seasons past.  The actions and reactions feel less cartoonish and darker.  In many ways, I appreciate that.  I always preferred Moffat’s monsters and I was pleased to note that I did not tire of them after a season’s worth.  In fact, I was extraordinarily pleased to note that I loved Doctor Who, though not necessarily the Doctor, even more.

Of course, the new Doctor.  I’m having trouble deciding how I feel about him in relation to Eccleston and Tennant, but I also know that I absolutely ADORE him.  He’s fantastic!  I’m sure I couldn’t have asked for more from the new Doctor, and so I cannot say whether I like him more or less than Doctors Nine and Ten, I am positive I like him bundles.

Possibly my favorite episode was “Vincent and the Doctor.”  Shows that deal with mental health have been and will always be near to my heart, and this one managed the feat of also being dear as well.  There were so many small and beautiful moments throughout the episode.  The episode highlighted the tragedy of Van Gogh’s illness as well as the small moments of happiness without making a mockery of his sadness.

My favorite moment, however, was after Amy ran into the museum, convinced that they had made enough of a difference in Van Gogh’s life for him to live much longer and learned that, in fact, they had not.  Disappointed, heartwrenchingly so, she very nearly gives up on herself and any good that she can do–after all the good she has done!–when the Doctor takes her face in his hands and explains that life is full of good bits and bad bits and they definitely added to the pile of good bits.

As simple and childish as the explanation sounds, it felt just right.  There have been many times when, childishly, I have listed off the good bits and bad bits so that I might not lose my perspective entirely.  It’s the simple things that help me process at the worst times, not the complicated ones.

Honorable mentions were the moments when the Doctor brought Van Gogh to the museum to see his paintings displayed as one of the greatest artists who ever lived, when the Doctor was freaking out living in “normal time,” and when Van Gogh helped Amy and the Doctor see the world as he did.

Now, BBC1 could have left the show as it was.  They could have let it speak for itself, because it could.  They did not have to make the episode into anything other than a beautiful piece of art that doubled as family entertainment.  But they made a choice that so very impressed me.  At the end of an unexpected episode from an unexpected season, the station put an unexpected announcement: they put the number for a mental health hotline.  I don’t know if it was concern for their viewers, for content, or for liability, but the station did it!  It was touching.  I was moved to tears. 

That sort of thing doesn’t really happen in America.  We have content advisories and little letters that warn for a multitude of sins.  We have suicide hotlines that only get exposure late at night (because mentally damaged people a) are the only ones up late at night and b) are only awake at night) and we almost never get acknowledgement in a positive light.  Crazy people will ever be crazy in the media.  There are no good bits and bad bits.

I’m sure there are similar issues in Britain.  This may be one shining instance in a sea of idiocy and prejudice similar to the US.  But someone noticed.  And if I noticed, maybe someone else did.  I can only hope.

Of course, all of this was made possible by writers who were willing to take a chance treating a subject, a person, who is not well-known for his better days.  I appreciate the writer who trusted that his audience was not so addicted to the happy ending that we couldn’t handle a subject that was guaranteed, in some ways, to end badly.  It’s not often I see that on TV.  Or anywhere in pop culture.  And, as much as I loved “Vincent and the Doctor,” the best part of all of this is that this phenomenon was carrying all over the season.  Best one yet!

Here’s looking forward to another unexpected season.  Can’t wait until Spring!

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