The final end.
—The Second Doctor, Doctor Who: The Evil of the Daleks (1967)
Yes, I know Peter Capaldi isn’t in this image, so please don’t bother to point it out
Tonight I watched the last ever Doctor Who episode of the show’s original 1963-1989 run; I started watching* the show from the beginning in 2011, and apart from breaks here and there to watch 24, Twin Peaks, The Twilight Zone, Game of Thrones and various anime series, as well as for holidays both abroad and in Worthing, I’ve kept up this institution of watching an episode over dinner (or, since mid-2013, after meetup events some evenings) on weeknights for a very long time.
(* Or “listening”, in the case of a number of missing 1960s episodes — I’m so grateful for those two Sixties geeks who recorded the show onto audio tape!)
The original series was divided into multi-episode stories (which are also how it’s been released on DVD), and generally I’ve watched one story every week; boy, I’ve been through some changes since I started watching the First Doctor in January 2011. Moving on to the Second Doctor in the autumn, I finished depressing 2011 with The Evil of the Daleks (which, as it was intended to be the last ever Dalek story, ended with the quote above), and by the time I moved to Finchley in February 2012, I’d reached The Web of Fear (before they found most of the missing episodes and released it on DVD). I finished the Second Doctor in the summer of 2012, and after a break, began the Third Doctor; symbolically, here was the last ever Doctor Who VHS I ever watched, The Mind of Evil (it hadn’t come out on DVD yet, being one of those stories that needed extra mojo from the Restoration Team).
I finished the Third Doctor just before my American holiday in 2013, and began the Fourth Doctor once I was back; this was a long prospect, because he lasted seven seasons! It was nice to start 2014 with the “Key to Time” season, but by the summer, and my holiday to Michigan, I’d finished with him as well; I split the Fifth Doctor stories (most of which I remembered from my childhood) around that period of waiting for an IT placement in August 2014, but brought his era to an end with The Twin Dilemma just after losing that horrible job in November (I wonder if I’ll always associate Resurrection of the Daleks with night shifts?). I waited until early 2015, and the prospect of working again, to begin watching the Sixth Doctor (did buying Attack of the Cybermen cause me to get a job?), and with barely a break went on to the Seventh Doctor, who I have now finished with Survival, just as my current work contract comes to an end.
So that’s it: no more need for me to plan my weekday evenings around multi-part serials — while I will certainly continue to watch TV shows on DVD/Blu-ray (beginning with season 4 of Game of Thrones… no, stop shouting spoilers at your computer screens!), I won’t need to do again what I’ve been doing since 2011. It’s a kind of freedom, not feeling compelled to watch a serial over the course of a week, and plan my evening activities around it. Just as I haven’t watched EastEnders religiously since 2012, and haven’t religiously watched Quantum Leap or some incarnation of Star Trek on broadcast TV for years, so I’m not watching the whole of Doctor Who in the evenings now.
But don’t worry: there’s still more Doctor Who for me to watch — the Eighth Doctor TV movie I’ll watch this week (perhaps on Friday after personal training?), and the single Ninth Doctor season (which I’ve never seen repeated on TV) at some point in the future, hopefully followed by the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth. However, since the post-2005 incarnation of the show is properly episodic (I know there’s some two- and three-parters, but they don’t matter), I won’t feel OCD-ish not watching an episode every night — it’ll be like watching any other show on DVD/Blu-ray.
I think when I started watching Doctor Who on a weeknight basis in 2011, it fitted well with my relatively constant evenings, where I never stayed out late; even when I started climbing in 2012, it didn’t make much of a difference (perhaps because I tended to do it one night a week, and thus had four evenings to watch a four-part story). However, since I began socialising in the evenings in 2013, it’s become more and more difficult to fit everything in, and it’s been almost an excuse to myself to come home early (well, that and needing to use the shower before the hot water ran out!).
Thus I feel a bit like I’ve grown up tonight, and that a new phase can begin in my life. I don’t regret watching all of Doctor Who religiously, but it’s time to move on.
(No, I won’t be getting rid of my DVD collection — I’ve not grown up that much!)
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P.S. Yes, you read that right above: my current job is coming to an end — on Tuesday, indeed — and so I’ll be back on the job market. Fortunately, my six months at a health data company in King’s Cross will stand me in good stead, and I already have a couple of prospects (including one via Meetup.com!). I’ll talk more about it next week, but to summarise, I’ve been happier there than I thought I would be, and they would have kept me on if they could — it’s a shame this era also has to end!