After being first introduced to Doctor Who a few short weeks ago, I have now consumed a comic book, a television episode, a radio show and a video game. Yup, Doctor Who overload.
I’ve really enjoyed most of it, but I found the comic book least entertaining. I caught my eyes sneaking glances at the scroll bar every 30 seconds to see how many more pages I had to go.
The medium itself was the reason I didn’t particularly like it. The story was just as interesting as the others, but I just couldn’t jump into the details like I could in the others. I got confused on which panels I was supposed to look at, which might have something to do with my unfamiliarity with comic books. All the other mediums wrapped me up in the narrative: the television episode I was scared, the radio show I was entranced, and the video game I was having fun. The comic book, however, left me feeling anxious for something else.
The radio show particularly appealed to me because I could imagine the characters in the setting they created with the different sound effects. Although the audience had to do more work to understand this medium, the mysterious elements of Doctor Who nicely complimented this medium. I imagined the set up of the office inside a robot instead of some other form creating it for me. Some people may argue it was hard to keep track of the different characters because the voices were so similar but I found that it didn’t really matter, I could use context clues most of the times to figure out who they were. I am used to listening to books on tape during road trips so this medium was more comfortable for me.
Fighting against the evil robot people in the video game was fun and interactive. Its strengths lied in the ability to captivate an audience. I did get a little lost at the times because I was too concerned with moving on to the next level, rather than analyzing the story. The audience was required to not only guide their Doctor through the icy cave and around the cybermen’s office, but they had to follow the directions and know which keys did what, who to talk to and what other various things meant. Being in a class setting was different from the typical personal video game experience but gave the game more of a group dynamic because I could look around and see where other people were in the game.
The television episode Blink is my favorite and the one I remember the most. I was terrified, looking through my fingers at the screen, shielding my face from the ominous weeping angels statues. During this episode, I was not looking at what my classmates were doing at all, but instead was utterly transfixed on the narrative in front of me. The plot was complex with so many windows of “wibbly woobly time”, but the show did a good job of explaining each piece fully and wrapping up all the elements at the end. This required the audience to pay attention to clues, like the writing on the wall in the abandoned house and keep tabs on the different bits of time the characters came across.
I feel all the medium conveyed their respective stories effectively. They all followed basically the same structure: the doctor answers a distress call with his partner and they work to solve the mystery and help whoever is in need. They all had a similar mood of mystery and suspense. Doctor Who’s character transcends all the mediums: he is an eccentric Sherlock Holmes-like character who always seems to figure out the mystery with some amazing revelation.
All four platforms were also able to hook in old and new fans by creating stories which did not require much prior knowledge. Those fans have the opportunity to look up any information they may have missed out on. Matt Hill’s article, Absent Epic, Implied Story Arcs, and Variation on a Narrative Theme discussed how some series expect audience members to visit accompanying websites to “allowing the narrative story arc to continue outside of the show”. Doctor Who has such guides which fans can visit if they want more information. These sites reminded me of Harry Potter and the online fan universe that created hundreds of sites dedicated to defining each term and looking up the etymology of every name. The fans of Doctor Who are just as devoted when it comes to their favorite time traveling doctor.
I now have a deeper appreciation for the show and will definitely consume more of the Doctor and the TARDIS, but probably just in television episode form.