By Sara Karlovitch

He’s a thousand years old. He’s a warrior but doesn’t carry a gun. He’s seen all of time and space, but history never notices that he’s there. He’s the lone survivor of the Last Great Time War but hates the fact he survived.

He’s the Doctor. Timelord, last son of Gallifrey and protector of time. And after almost 16 months following the end of season 9, he’s back — with a new companion by his side.

For those who don’t keep up-to-date with British entertainment, Doctor Who is about a time traveling alien called The Doctor. No one knows his real name. He bounces around the universe in a blue police telephone box, which is bigger on the inside. He’s from a planet called Gallifrey that perished in the war against the Daleks, the Doctor’s greatest enemy. As the only survivor, he spends his life defending the universe from anything that would want to hurt it.

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction show of all time. Making it’s debut in 1963, Doctor Who has been on for almost 54 years, and during that time, 13 different actors have played the Doctor. (The Doctor doesn’t die, he regenerates into someone else.)

The Doctor doesn’t travel alone. He invites someone to come and see the universe with him. Usually they’re young, attractive British women who are commonly referred to as companions. They keep the Doctor in check and challenge him. Over the past 54 years, the Doctor has had many companions. They either die or leave him, and the search for a new companion begins.

Season 10 ushered in a brand new companion. A spunky, curious university student named Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). In a Doctor Who first, she’s openly gay. Though Doctor Who featured same-sex relationships before, this is the first time a main character is gay.

Show runners do a nice job in ensuring that being gay isn’t Bill Potts’ main character feature. It’s played very naturally and isn’t made into a big deal.

“I’m playing one character,” Mackie said in an interview with BBC. “I’m not here to represent everyone of color, and I’m not here to represent everyone who’s gay. I’m just here to play the part as truthfully as possible.”

What makes Potts work is that she’s someone fans of Doctor Who can relate to. She’s quirky, a little awkward and a huge science fiction fan. Her reactions to the Doctor’s world are very much what you would expect any science fiction fan being told aliens and time travel were real would be. No matter what’s she shown, her mind always imagines something better.

After 54 years, you would think people would get tired of an alien bouncing around the universe in a police box. However, Doctor Who is just as popular now as ever. The reason Doctor Who remains so popular is not because of the aliens or epic space battles (though that is a large contributing factor). It’s because it reminds us that anything is possible. That even a quirky university student can do anything. Life can throw curveballs at even the most normal and average of people and make them extraordinary.

Doctor Who reminds us to never stop questioning. It compels us, when life is at it’s most mundane, to look up at the stars and to wonder.

Doctor Who airs every Saturday at 9 p.m. on BBC America.       

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of LokiLaufeysen’s Deviant Art page.

Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at skarlovi@terpmail.umd.edu.

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