Originally published February 12, 2013
I have always been partial to the Ninth Doctor, even though he only lasted one season, wasn’t very good looking, and had a terrible choice of assistant. The thing I liked about him was that he was always so cheerful and easily distracted, but he had this undercurrent of deep, unfathomable darkness. Also, he was ugly is the most charming sort of way. And he likes to hold hands with people.
For those of you who don’t know, I am referring to the title character from the BBC series Dr. Who. Said unnamed Doctor travels through time and space in a police telephone-box, accompanied by a female assistant. He re-incarnates and is played by a series of actors. (The Ninth Doctor by Christopher Eccleston, the Tenth by David Tennant and his glasses and hair, the Eleventh by Matt Smith.) It’s all a bit involved and a bit boring, but you get the idea. What’s important to know is, he’s a one-of-a-kind humanoid superstar. He sweeps in, saves the day by defeating monsters, and leaves in a flourish. Meanwhile, whatever civilization he’s rescued has to deal with the tougher questions, such as How do we bury our dead? and What does it mean for us that other, more intelligent life-forms are out there? How do we define ourselves as a species? and What now?
I think Dr. Who is kind of a fucked-up dude.
But the Ninth Doctor. I’d run away with him in a heartbeat. Or two.
From harsh lighting and overstuffed chairs,
we await the doctor’s prognosis
and his prescription for cowardice.
Invaders that creep
and invaders that zap
are never the problem—
that’s what lasers and thinking are for.
And running to computers
and running to wires, to easy solutions
in less than hour or two
(which can always be rewound and reworked anyways).
The leaving too is easy
with a flourish and fanfare coattails flying,
leaving with an unmistakable hum
as civilization works itself out.
He writes us a prescription for cowards—
it takes less than an hour or two.
He shows his ship at the credits,
safe, no crawlies, no extra eyes.
Just the doctor and his lovely assistant
lauded as heroes, part of the books.
But we know somehow the emptiness
is always bigger on the inside.