It’s been 24 hours since I experienced “The Day of the Doctor” in the theater and even longer since I watched it with countless Whovians around the globe on the 23rd. But last night’s theater experience surprised me in several ways that confirmed my belief that there’s something unique and special about the Who fandom.
My first surprise was the amount of people who showed up at my local theater. I saw the pictures of cosplaying Whovians at the theatrical simulcast on the 23rd, and I was more than a little jealous that I wouldn’t be able to experience that at my theater at the rebroadcast. I honestly thought that I would show up and only see a few diehards. In fact, I bought my ticket weeks ago only from sheer excitement rather than from a fear of it being sold out! When I showed up twenty minutes before the special, I thought I would have plenty of time to check my twitter feed and just wait (im)patiently for the big screen experience. Instead, I walked into an almost filled to capacity theater of Daleks, Tens, and Elevens. There were scarves. There were Sonics. The theater was humming with excitement! Had I underestimated my Texas town’s love for Timelords? Apparently!
I found a seat amongst a bunch of teenagers, which kind of filled me with some dread. After teaching for high school and middle school for fifteen years, one of my biggest fears is seeing a movie that I’ve been waiting for with loud, hormonal kids. But something magical and surprising happened the minute the Matt Smith appeared on screen. There was laughter, applause, and when the story began, complete silence. I can’t remember the last time I was at a movie where no one talked or texted during a movie, but everyone seemed so enthralled with what was happening on the screen, even if they had seen it before (from snippets of pre-movie conversations, it seemed like most had seen it on the 23rd). I later told a friend that it the Doctor commanded and received the utmost respect from all his fans.
Seeing the special with so many people was truly amazing. People cheered when David Tennant’s name appeared in the opening credits, gasped when it was revealed that is was Bad Wolf rather than Rose Tyler, screamed when Christopher Eccleston and Peter Capaldi were shown on screen, teared up when Ten repeated his famous last words, and truly freaked out when Tom Baker showed up as “the curator.” People stayed behind in the theater after to talk to one another. Doctors and Daleks posed together for photographs. Giggles and smiles seemed infectious. I felt like I was at SDCC again, where you make instant friends bonding over a panel or Hall H.
It was a lovely surprise to learn that there were so many Whovians in my hometown. I’ve heard from friends that the two other theaters showing the rebroadcast had similar turnouts.
I know every fan base has something special about it. However, there’s something unique about the love Whovians have for this mad man in a box. For fifty years, people have loved this character who never wields a gun and always offers a message of hope, even when it seems impossible. For me, the chance to share the Doctor’s 50th anniversary with some like-minded souls can best be summed up in the words of the Fifth Doctor: “For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about.”