Column 7 You never forget your first Doctor 13th of May 2012
2012 is a special year for me when it comes to Doctor Who. January marked the fifth anniversary of when I first checked out The Five Doctor – Special Edition DVD out of the local public library and became a fan of the show. May marks an equally important fifth anniversary: it’s when I bought my first Doctor Who Book, Doctor Who: The Three Doctors.
Now I know what you’re asking: why in the world would have I bought the Target novelization of a story that I could just as easily have checked out of the library (which I had done several times by that point) or even gone out and bought the DVD? Well there are two answers to that. The first is that, while I had a job and therefore a paycheck, buying the book was much cheaper than buying the DVD. The second answer is that, being an avid reader and having only a limited idea of what the Target novelizations were at that point, I was curious to read it.
Living in North Alabama, it wasn’t like I could just go into the local used bookstore and buy it. In fact, in the five years that have passed, I’ve seen exactly two Doctor Who novels in the three local used bookstores. I can buy one of the new series novels pretty easily from any of the major bookstores but good luck getting anything older than those. No, I had to go online to Amazon.Com if I wanted it.
I won’t go into the whole buying and waiting for it arrive. I’m sure anyone who’s ever bought anything online will know exactly what that’s like. The point is, it arrived and it wasn’t long before I read through the thing in a single sitting on of my last days of high school. In retrospect, I must have looked odd reading a book meant for younger readers. At that moment, I didn’t care.
I had seen the TV story of course, but I was still enjoying the experience of reading the book. That is, when I wasn’t explaining to people what Doctor Who was (which I shouldn’t have to answer if you’re reading this) and why I was reading the book version of something I had already watched (because I can). I knew the TV story well, but it was those little things that Terrance Dicks changed that interested me. Little details, like Jo trying to make sense of all the Doctors or the cool scene where Omega shows why his world looks like a quarry and not something more appealing (something I’d spotted myself after a few viewings). There were little changes in dialogue, the things that made reading the book worth it.
And from The Three Doctors onwards, I’ve never looked back. I’d already bought the novelization of Inferno by that point and within a short period of time I would buy my first proper Doctor Who novel: the Virgin novel Who Killed Kennedy. But as a saying I heard for the first time at Chicago TARDIS back in November says “you never forget your first Doctor.” Well that’s true but I’d also like to think you never forget your first Doctor Who book either.