The Doctor Is In: Whovians Unite

Peter Huynh | New University

We all know how great it feels to discover and fall in love with a TV show.

We also know how much sweeter the experience is when we find others who share the same love — now you’re free to gush and analyze and beat your chest in frustration in the company of those who get it.

For second-year Erika Pages, the want for this sense of community was what inspired her to establish Whovians at UCI, a new fan club dedicated to the BBC show “Doctor Who.”

To those who are unfamiliar with the show, “Doctor Who” is a long-running British program focused on a near immortal humanoid-alien known as The Doctor, who travels through time and space in a machine called the TARDIS often accompanied with a human companion.

“I was about to start my first year at UCI, and I had already developed a deeper love for the show,”  Pages said. “The sixth season was just ending. I began to wonder how I was going to watch new episodes while I was at school, and who I would watch them with.”

Pages reached out as soon as possible in search of fellow fans, and the response was immediate.

“I actually got to know Erika through her posting in the UCI Class of 2015 Facebook group looking for ‘Doctor Who’ fans.  I added her immediately,” Laura Raynes, a  second-year UCI student and vice president of the club, said.

Pages established a Whovians at UCI Facebook group in early May of 2011 to get a better idea of the fan base on campus.

“I was actively seeking fellow fans, and to my surprise there were people from my hall who watched the show. There were a little more than 10 of us, and I decided to hold an episode viewing to finally get us all together in one place,”  Pages said.

The sense of community and a former RA inspired Pages  to establish a campus-recognized club in order to open the group up to any “Doctor Who” fans who attended UCI. The idea of watching the show on a large projection screen was also a persuasive incentive.

The first official meeting of the Whovians was in early October of this year. Nearly all of the original members of the Facebook group have established themselves as members, and the club continues to steadily grow.

For Raynes and Pages, however, the most rewarding part is connecting with new people over something that is held dear in both their hearts.

“I’ve made friends with people I normally would have never gotten to know on my own time,”  Raynes said.

Both girls can trace their introduction to the show through the SyFy channel — Raynes caught her first episode of “Doctor Who” in sixth grade, when they were broadcasting the Ninth Doctor’s series for the first time in America. She’s been a follower ever since.

Pages recalls channel surfing in 2010, becoming intrigued with the program and becoming obsessed by the hour’s end.

“The first episode I had watched was the first part of ‘The Silence in the Library.’ It ended on a cliffhanger, and I just had to find out how it would end, and then go back to see how everything had led up to that episode,”  Pages said.

Pages and Raynes both agree that the show’s appeal goes beyond its special effects, fantasy and sci-fi themes.

“The show would be nothing without The Doctor, who is such a fascinating character,”  Raynes said. “The fact that he’s transformed every few seasons gives the show new life. You learn to appreciate the uniqueness each new actor brings to the show.”

In addition, the human realism of the show brings a relatable and emotional dimension to the fantastical setting.

“The Doctor’s companions are so easy to relate to, because who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to travel through space and time? They keep the show grounded somewhat in reality,” said Pages.

The girls’ passion for the show is evident, but they note that those who are not familiar with “Doctor Who” should not be scared to attend a Whovians at UCI meeting.

“It’s a low-commitment club that’s meant for fun, and you’ll meet lots of great people. Everyone’s happy to answer any questions you might have,”  Raynes said.

However, Pages and Raynes do have a shared suggestion:

“Watch [the episode] ‘Blink’ with a friend who is a fan. They’ll answer the millions of questions you’ll probably have afterwards,” Pages said.

So if you’d like to debate over companions, wonder about whether or not those pesky Daleks are ever going to die or simply become acquainted with a new TV show,

Whovians at UCI meets every Friday at Donald Bren Hall 1100 at 5:30 p.m. Allons-y!