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Monday, March 7, 2011

Doctor Who and My Hatred of Change

Luke 5:36-39
No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, "The old is better."

 (Christopher Eccleston: the only guy I can accept as Doctor Who, not because he was the best but simply because he was the first one I "met")

I recently experienced a traumatic event. I know what you're thinking. "What's one more? Haven't you toughened up enough by now to take it without whining and moaning?" One: no, I'm not that tough (yet). Two: I was being facetious about the trauma (kinda).

Let me set the scene for you. It's a quiet Saturday evening several weeks ago at my uncle's house. The fam got together (as we are wont to do) for dinner and quality time. After both sets of grandparents left, we broke out the Netflix so my cousin could continue showing me the awesome British scifi series "Doctor Who."

Everything was going great... until the season finale. So as not to ruin the surprise, nobody had warned me that the show's star, Doctor Who himself, one Christopher Eccleston, would soon be replaced. He literally changed from one person to another! Just like that! Sure, they wrote the story in such a way that kinda (in vague, scifi terms) explained the transition. So he's supposedly the same character "on the inside," even though he looks (read: IS) a completely different person, now played by David Tennant.

I later learned that Eccleston was actually the ninth actor to play Doctor Who. So he was no more or less original than Tennant. But that didn't make it any easier to see him leave. He was still the first one I ever knew... and the only one my mind would accept as the Doctor Who.

For you David Tennant fans out there (you know who you are), I have nothing against him as an actor or even as a Doctor Who. The problem is that I apparently bond too quickly/deeply to fictitious characters. This becomes problematic when said characters cease to be played by the same people, causing me to erupt in a fury of overly emotional grief and anger and disillusionment. Fun times...

This is the same reason I can't watch remakes of old movies. When Steve Carell (who is indisputably brilliant in "The Office") starred as Maxwell Smart in the movie version of the 1960s TV show, I was heartbroken. I refused to watch it. "You couldn't pay me enough to go see it," I said—and I meant it. Maxwell Smart is Don Adams and only Don Adams. As far as I'm concerned, anyone else is an imposter. This same thing has also happened with remakes of the A-Team, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which I saw but hated), and assorted other shows and movies.

Why does this happen? Why do I get so attached to one actor that it becomes impossible to imagine the role played by anyone else, even or especially if that new person is equally talented—or even better at the role? Amateur psychoanalysis aside, perhaps I'm too loyal. I've always (since I was a kid) said I hated change. Overall, that's still true. The original—the old—is always better to me than the new.

But c'mon, this is just a stupid TV show, right? Is it really worth getting upset over? "Yes," says my heart. "Yes, it is."

It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was actually close to tears when I had to say good-bye to my beloved "original" (at least to me) Doctor Who. If this were an isolated incident, that would be one thing. But it happens more than I care to admit.

So here's my question: Am I the only one who finds it really upsetting when I have to watch a character being played by someone new? Am I a ridiculous purist? Does anyone else have the same horrific aversion to change in fictional characters?


  1. David Tennant was the first Doctor Who I was introduced to.

    I haven't watched another episode since he left the series.

    Apparently, you aren't the only one who doesn't like change. :-)

  2. My friend Steve said he's still very attached to the Dr. Who he first knew (the fourth doctor). So I guess ridiculous attachment to actors in certain roles is not a unique malady of mine.

    This begs the question of how The Office will ever survive without Steve Carell... Sometimes it's better to make a clean break. If you can't have the same cast anymore, maybe the show isn't meant to live on, limping towards a slow death. I just hope they don't try to replace him. That would be worse than cancelling the show entirely. *sigh* Methinks all this would qualify as a first-world problem.

  3. I was the same way with the A&E Jeeves & Wooster series. So many of the characters switched actors in mid-stream. The worst was Gussie Fink-Nottle (the first Gussie was the best). It was also strange because a few actors came back later in the series portraying different characters than they did at first (for example, the second Gussie was originally Steggles).

    All that to say, I get attached too. :-)