Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Message From The Doctor

The following essay is NOT endorsed by the BBC. But I can dream, right?

Hello. It's been a while since we last met. I have many names, but you know me as the Doctor. As in, "Doctor Who?" Wasn't my idea. I had to campaign to get my name changed in the mid-Eighties. Anyway, I thought that we can have a talk.

I have been traveling through time for centuries now. I can tell you that I can name at least twenty years, past and future, worse than 2016. Recently? Not really, unless you count the time my arch-nemesis -- the Master -- took over the planet for a full year. I wound up hitting the proverbial reset button, so you don't recall that. If only I could do the same right now. And I spent the bulk of that year in an aged condition, living in a doghouse. To this day, I break out into tics anytime I hear Scissor Sisters.

The celebrity deaths? That's to be expected. People die. Things die. You'll die, and I'm certain that I shall pass one day. I've been to concerts with Prince and David Bowie, but I never met either of them. It would feel like cheating if I took a trip in the TARDIS to see them now. And I didn't get around to seeing Muhammad Ali. Before you ask . . . no, I was not the person who stole Cassius Clay's bicycle, putting him on the path to boxing glory. And I'm not planning on doing that anytime soon. I was also hurt when I found out that Steve Dillon had died. He moved on beyond drawing my adventures way back when.

But there was so much to be angry about in the past year. General unrest, the mess in Flint, the disastrous "Brexit" vote. Have you seen the people behind that? They were not expecting to win! They just wanted to further their careers, and now Great Britain is leaving the European Union. As somebody who is about inclusion, that was painful to watch.

And then there was what happened in the United States a few years ago. Once again: I travel through time. It's my thing. And I did not see that coming at all. Yes, Hillary Clinton does come off as somebody who learned ambition directly through Lady MacBeth . .. . but to lose to that? And get more votes? Flabbergasted. I am simply flabbergasted. I keep thinking maybe things would have been different if I took his votes back in time to relive the Fifties, but that's not my style. I promised the Obamas one supervised trip after they leave the White House. Barack didn't get to fulfill many of his promises, but I feel he's earned the adventure.

Why am I talking about this now? Because I feel partially responsible for the failure that was 2016. Apparently, I picked the worst 365.25 days to step away from the spotlight. I don't have a voracious ego, but I feel that I serve as a beacon of hope. I can change minds . . . usually. Odds are that if you're reading this, you follow me closely. I can't see a Venn Diagram where my circle and those voters would overlap. That's why I'm not screaming "PUDDING BRAINS!" at the top of my lungs. You probably feel a lot sicker about events than I do.

For the past year, I've done some stress-free traveling. I am aware of the books, comics and the magazine, but I cannot vouch for how "canon" any of those are. The last time you saw me, I was having that long-overdue dinner with River Song. She didn't say how big a relief it was for her to not look like she was robbing the cradle, but I could tell.

Why did I leave? The past few years had been so hectic. I encountered my unholy trinity: Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master. Only now, he was a Time Lady calling himself "Missy," an evil Mary Poppins. I made some questionable calls . ..  like saving the life of a girl in a Viking village, only to watch her transform into an amoral immortal. And the worst part is that I have a huge gap in my memories. I'm certain I had a female companion. Yes, I know that's usually the case, but I can't remember her. I think she did to me what I did to Donna Noble to save her life. I can't recall her name. And I've developed a taste for eclairs. Weird, I know.

Looking back, I also felt that you needed a break from me. I am prone to self-pity, but I thought the vacation was justified. After I regenerated, I became crotchety and hug-averse. Sure, I looked more dashing, but I wasn't as cuddly as I used to be. I was cranky, which is common in incarnations that are multiples of three (to save headaches, I discount Beardy and Ten-Point-Five). My new catchphrase was "Shut up!" And then I came back, trading in the Sonic Screwdriver for Sonic Sunglasses, which many of you didn't like. There was also the guitar playing. Now, I like playing a lot. Apparently, I have the knack for playing that, and I don't see myself stopping. Remember when I first regenerated, and I had the recorder? Come on, shredding is so much better than blowing. Had Ben grabbed the device and shoved it up my nose, he would have been justified. But I must have looked like I was deep in the throes of a Time Lord midlife crisis.

Sadly, I cannot "correct" what has happened. The last time I played politics, I created a power vacuum where the Master became Prime Minister, and the American President was vaporized by the Toclafane. I couldn't undo that, to my regret. The most I have done was to make sure that outside forces didn't influence the election. It came out clean, in the sense that this mess was human-made. No aliens meddled with affairs. I thought that the "winners" might have been Sontaran infiltrators, given their warlike march. I remember when they were a fearsome race not summed up by Strax. And there hasn't been reports of passing gas, so I'm certain that the Slitheen are not involved. I would check for head-zippers.

Another concern that I have is that I cannot gauge the foreseeable future. This is unnerving to me. I cannot say whether the new status quo will be riches or ruin. For all I know, 2017 might prove to be more depressing that the previous year. As scary as this might sound, the future is in your hands.

You don't like what is going on? Change it. Get involved. Find a place that would be in dire straits come January, and give your time. If you're too busy, send money. But try to get out there. Leave your homes. I am convinced that if the Internet existed in the Fifties and Sixties, the pioneers of civil rights still would have marched. "I Have A Dream" is more powerful to see than to read. If there is a revolution, it cannot be online only. I know that it's hard to get out of bed these days. I know the temptation to listen to Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" in a loop. But you have to solve the problem yourselves. I can only do so much. I like the United States. I probably shouldn't, not after the business with the Daleks in Manhattan. And the Weeping Angels, where I lost Amy and Rory. And the time in the Wild West. And the first time in the Wild West. So many years have passed, I have changed my face many times, and I still can't get "Ballad Of The Last Chance Saloon" out of my head. Why couldn't I have that purged?

As for me? I will be back. There will be a special on Christmas, and then I will have new adventures. Naturally, there will be a companion. After 2017, I'm not sure I'll be around anymore. Well . ..  not with this face. Given the attitudes of those in power, I might try to become a Time Lady just to torque them off. I have never tried to shape a regeneration, but I am tempted to make the transition to blow tiny minds. Or maybe I won't be as pasty. I'm sure you'd be fine with it.

As for the new bosses in London, Washington and elsewhere? Mind your manners. Listen to the people. And remember . . . I have been described as a madman. You don't want this Doctor to make a house call. In the meantime, I feel the guitar calling to me. I just learned how to play Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." Something tells me I'll have that in my brain for a long time.

The Doctor