This morning I gave my friend Jane (see March 13) a book for her son Milo. Jane is British and her husband Max (see March 25) is Austrian/German, so Milo, like our son Theo is half-British. Like Jane, I have enjoyed sharing some British tv with my not-so-British offspring. One of the programs I’ve enjoyed watching with Theo is Dr. Who, a sci-fi tv series that began in 1963 and has as its main character an eccentric time traveler, or Time Lord, simply known as The Doctor. He travels in time using the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space), a sort of spaceship that looks like a British police phone box.
As a child, I watched the show with my family, eagerly wondering which space villain the Doctor would defeat next – the Cybermen perhaps, or better still, the Daleks? The Daleks weren’t really that scary, as they were basically brainless tin cans, but something about the way they chanted “Exterminate, exterminate!” seemed very menacing to me as a child. The show had a lot of comedy in it too, especially in the Doctor’s eccentricities and the relationship between the Doctor and his young, pretty female companion; the one I remembered was Sarah Jane Smith. They were always changing, and so was the Doctor. In fact, there have been 12 different incarnations of the Doctor, and each has had his own quirky character, as have his companions. Earlier this year, I enjoyed three different seasons of the newer series of Dr. Who with Theo. His favorite Doctor was #11, played by Matt Smith (2010-2013), but I think mine will always be Tom Baker (1974-1981). He was the longest incarnation of the Doctor and the one on the show when I was Theo’s age.
It’s truly remarkable that there is a tv show that has carried on for longer than I’ve been alive and one which I can watch with my own child in its second (or maybe even third) generation. I know that Jane had been watching it with Milo too, so this morning the book I gave her was a graphic novel version of a Dr. Who episode, a book that my sister Roshan (who also enjoys watching the series with her half-British daughter Kaia), passed along to me for Theo. Milo, is a grade below Theo and has many things in common with Theo other than his half-British ethnicity. He, of course, enjoys video games and tv shows like Dr. Who, but this cute, big-eyed 9 year old has a similar passionate personality to Theo’s that is delightful when he is happy and enjoying life, but crazy-making when he is tired, frustrated or, worse still, hungry! Both Theo and Milo are entertaining, quirky, and sometimes mysterious boys, who may not be travelers in time, but they straddle several cultures, like an increasing number of children today. Hopefully these boys, like the Doctor, will be able to move through their lives with imagination, skills, humor and good fortune, growing up into good, kind-hearted, creative men with families of their own, with whom they too can sit on the couch and enjoy a little nostalgic time traveling.