Our guest post today is from Nina Dionisio, a Psychology major from Ateneo de Manila University who loves Doctor Who, BBC's Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch and books more than life itself. When she's not incapacitated by Moffat-induced feels, she likes to over-analyse everything she sees and theorise about Doctor Who and Sherlock. Read her poignant essay on what the Eleventh Doctor means to her, and what it means to say farewell to the Doctor who changed her life.
It’s funny how the littlest things could make the most profound effects on our lives, and how the simplest decisions could take us on paths that make us stronger and better persons. For me, that little thing and that simple decision both involved a little show called Doctor Who. This is the story of my run with the Eleventh Doctor, and how he’d managed to give hope to another little girl, a girl who’d almost given up on it all.
I remember the first time I watched the show. It was probably around late May of this year, and since I didn't have school at the time, I was staying up late and looking for something to watch before I go to bed. As I was casually browsing through the files in my external hard drive, I chanced upon a folder entitled ‘Doctor Who’. I remembered that the files were given to me a few months ago by a dear friend, and that he said it was really good. Since I didn't want to start a whole new TV series just before the start of the semester, I decided to choose an episode to watch at random. It was about 11PM at the time, and because it was sort of in the middle of the whole series and could therefore be surmised as most likely representative of what I can expect from the show in its entirety, I chose to watch The Eleventh Hour.
That tiny, seemingly insignificant decision was one of the best I've made in my entire life. A few minutes into the show, I thought it was just another series that I could watch while doing homework. Halfway through, I realised that I was very wrong—this was more than just another TV series. It was action-packed, funny, touching, and just plain brilliant. I found myself utterly enthralled by what I was watching, and most especially by the man who calls himself “the Doctor”. I've never felt so utterly affected by anything until then. I wanted to know more about the impossible Doctor and his equally impossible blue box. An hour later, I was scrambling to start from the very beginning. I watched episode after episode; and before I knew it, it was already morning and I’d gone straight through series 1 and most of series 2. I only stopped when I’d realised that it was already afternoon and I've been up for more than 24 hours.
After that night, I religiously watched Doctor Who for the next few days, stopping only when I was too tired to keep my eyes open¬—not only because I loved the show, but also because I wanted to get to the Eleventh Doctor as soon as possible. (I am just thankful that I’d started during summer break and not in the middle of the school year.) And now, six months and seven series after I’d decided on that fateful night to watch this little show to pass the time, I cannot even begin to describe how much Doctor Who has helped me grow and develop as a person. If not for this one ostensibly inconsequential decision and for this equally ridiculous man, I would not be the person I am today. I owe who I am today to one man: to the Raggedy Man, to the Eleventh Doctor, to my Doctor.
I know that this might sound bonkers to most people (and I won’t even try to argue that it’s not because, frankly, I think it’s bonkers too—bonkers, but not wrong), but to me, Doctor Who is more than just a story, and the Doctor is more than just a character—he is a beacon of hope, a representation of all that is good in this universe and beyond, and all of the possibilities that we have with our lives. Personally, I've been dealt a bad hand in life. Because of all that has happened to me, I've come to the point wherein I've stopped seeing anything positive about everything and I’d even considered ending it all. But just when I was at my lowest, when I saw nothing good in life anymore, I discovered this little show. And I know this sounds cheesy, but Doctor Who somehow gave me hope at a time when I thought that there was no more hope left to have. Like for van Gogh in Vincent and the Doctor, the Doctor was “first doctor ever actually to make a difference to my life.” The Doctor has taught me so much—Nine taught me to take courage and fight; Ten taught me to love even though it hurts; and Eleven, my dear Doctor, taught me to hope in spite of everything. And the wonderful thing about Eleven and all the other Doctors is that while they acknowledge the bad things, they also never forget the good things. Hope—this is what the Doctor teaches us, and what he is for me.
Like my Doctor, I hate endings, and consequently, goodbyes. I know that change is the only constant thing in life, and that everything is bound to end at one point or another, but that doesn't mean that I like it. How ironic then that I had started my run with the Doctor at the very end—I had started watching the show around the time when Matt Smith announced that he was leaving the show. At the time, I thought that it was a shame since he was a brilliant Doctor, but I knew that it was bound to happen. I also knew that it would be very sad, as all goodbyes are, but I never would have imagined that it would be this heartbreaking, this painful. But even though it hurts, I know that I have to face facts. As the Doctor himself says in A Christmas Carol, “Everything has got to end sometime; otherwise nothing would ever get started.” And now that I think about it, the fact that this affects me so profoundly is a good thing, since it means that what I feel is real. The fact that it truly pains me to say goodbye to my Doctor means that I truly love him. Otherwise, it wouldn't hurt this much.
So here I am, at the last page of my journey with the Eleventh Doctor. The time has come to say goodbye to the man who has made such a huge impact on my life, and to say hello to another new face. I know that it’ll still be the same Doctor, but at the same time I know in my heart that it won’t ever be the same. I admit that this endeavour and the whole business of saying goodbye to my Doctor is not any easy task. When I was asked to write about what I would miss about the Eleventh Doctor, I could only think of what I love and will always love about him. I love my Doctor and everything about him. I love the bowties and the fezzes, the Tweed and the purple frock coat, his sonic, and the distinctive green light that it emits. I love that impossible chin, that floppy hair, those big bunny ears (especially when he wears a fez), and those grey-green eyes that seem to hold both infinite joy and infinite sadness in them. I love the fish fingers and custard, Jammy Dodgers, Stetsons, and Amy’s glasses (which Matt Smith actually wears). I love his awkwardness, the way he has the balance and coordination of a newborn baby giraffe, and the fact that he views the world with such child-like wonder. I love that he loves ridiculous things like the word “Geronimo”. I love that he gives such impassioned speeches that move me to tears every time. I love the life lessons that he gives out of the blue. And above all, I love that he had given me hope when nothing and no one else could, that he made me see that there is so much more to life, and that he made me realise that I should never give up because he never did in spite of all that he’d been through.
While these are certainly the things that I would yearn for once the Twelfth Doctor comes along, I refuse to say that I will miss these things and that I’ll miss my Doctor, because to miss something is to accept that it’s gone, and I refuse to do that. I refuse to say goodbye. Eleven’s hour may be over now, but his story and his legacy live on. This may not be the case for many of the other fans of the show, but it is certainly the case for me. Eleven will always be my Doctor and I will never forget him. As he says to little Amelia Pond in The Big Bang, “We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? ‘Cause it was, you know. It was the best.” And it certainly was. The Eleventh Doctor’s story was and is brilliant one—one that I will never forget, one that will never leave me, and one that I will keep in my heart forever.
Although this may be the last page, it surely isn't the end.
Geronimo, Raggedy Man.
Geronimo, my Doctor.
Thank you for giving me hope.
Thank you for that wonderful run.
Geronimo, and thank you.