He travels through space and time in a wooden box that’s larger on the inside than the outside. He can be as ruthless as a Mongol warrior or as gentle as a newborn fawn. His real name is a mystery; to friends and enemies alike, he’s simply known as the Doctor.
The Doctor, of course, is Doctor Who, an alien time traveler whose weekly television adventures have fascinated people all over the world. Known as Whovians, there’s even a small group who meet at the Dover Public Library to watch episodes of the long-running British science fiction series, and to discuss some of the finer points of each story.
The monthly meetings are part of the library’s expanding outreach programs, said library assistant Kerri Hollyday.
“We talked to people about what they’d like and how we can tie that in to the collections we have at the library,” she said. “We usually think of a library as a place to get books, but the library’s role is changing. We love reading and literacy, but we are working to bring different programs to the community.”
The Aug. 26 event was a family affair for Stacey Lane and three of her four children, all of who are steeped in Whovian lore.
“I really don’t know all that much about it,” Lane said. “All I know is that I’ve got four kids who are Doctor Who junkies.”
The session was a special one for the fans, as it marked the highly anticipated debut of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, the 13th actor to take on the part since the show’s 1963 debut.
Part of the series’ longevity can be chalked up to the Doctor’s ability to regenerate his body every time he’s mortally wounded. The change allows a new actor to step in and bring his own interpretation to the role.
Natalie Lane, 15, doesn’t have a particular favorite, however. A history buff, she enjoys stories where the Doctor meets famous people, such as William Shakespeare, in his travels.
“I like aspects of each of the Doctors that I’ve seen,” she said. “I like that he uses his mind, not a gun, to get out of different situations.”
Looking at humanity from the outside, the Doctor can be unforgiving when it comes to those who violate his own tenets of morality, and that’s something the series writers use to comment on humanity itself, said Katrina Andrews, of Smyrna. Andrews brought her two children, also Who fans, to the viewing.
“To us, he can be a good guy, but sometimes he could be a bad guy,” she said. “There’s a bit of a hero and a bit of the villain in all of the Doctors.”
To soften the Doctor’s hard edges, series writers have given him a number of human companions over the years, Andrews said.
“It’s the companions who keep him on the straight and narrow,” Andrews added. “There’s usually a moral to each story, and they help guide him in the right direction.”
That’s one of the things that attracted Hollyday to the series. She’s more a fan of the concept of the Doctor rather than those who portray him.
“The more I watch, the more I see just the Doctor, not the individual actors,” she said.