How Chris Hardwick, Wil Wheaton, and Doctor Who changed my life

Written By: Johnny

I was a closet nerd for most of my life; I remember reading strange fan fiction on the internet and being mortified if anyone ever found out. It took a while for my nerd seed to blossom and I credit my favorite televison series for bringing it out. In this ‘blossoming’ analogy, I needed a few things; proper soil, sunlight, and water. The first two were quite abundant and circumstantial in creating space for water.

460x300_hardwick_cosplayI found the proper soil by playing in the podcast garden, so to speak. After I listened to all the podcasts in the Smodco Network, I jumped to Nerdist Industries.  Chris Hardwick’s show Nerdist quickly became one my favorite podcasts to listen to. I exhausted his back catalogue of episodes where he interviewed people I knew or wanted to know more about. Across multiple episodes Chris declared his love of Doctor Who countless times.  Chris’ enthusiasm, not just for DW, but everything he geeks out on was extraordinary; I’m a venerdist wayry empathic person and fed into his Nerdist ways. In the first Neil Gaiman episode, Chris and Neil discuss Mr. Gaiman’s experience writing for Doctor Who. They describe Karen Gillan, a gorgeous leggy redhead, whose inability to swim caused the nixing of an entire scene involving the TARDIS swimmingpool. I didn’t know exactly what they were talking about but they were talking with such passion and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm became the proper soil I needed for my Nerd Seed, full of nuitritous fuel necessary for fangirling.

wilwWil Wheaton was on Star Trek: the Next Generation, he played boy genius Wesley Crusher. He was also in Stand By Me as that kid. I am not the greatest Star Trek fan (RIP Mr. Nimoy), and my only childhood memory of Stand By Me was watching the train scene at my friend Timmy’s (not our cohost Tim) house while his toothless father smoked weed and laughed at the children in peril. Anyway, I first saw Wil Wheaton as he played himself on The Big Bang Theory. I went back and rewatched Stand By Me, I really liked it. Aside from being really good friends with Chris Hardwick, Wil Wheaton is a nerd culture icon. I’ve became quite a fan of Wheaton’s motivational talks on youtube, just read his blog here. But essentially his message is this, “Being a nerd is not about what you love; it’s about how you love it”.  My takeaway from that is simple: it isn’t your actions that make up what you are, but your reactions. You can ‘nerd-out’ about anything: cars, beer, Greek Myths, the colors that make you hungry, etc. The point being, as a nerd, I feel a certain way about the things I love and try not to let anything obstruct that. That quote became a mantra for me, a way of life. Its warmth became the necessary sunlight for my nerd seed.

The only ingredient missing from this blossom cocktail was Water,9th-Doctor-Rose-the-doctor-and-rose-16302984-277-278 and it came because of Hardwick’s love of Doctor Who; which we will get to later. The fall of 2012 was not a good time for me; after failing in Mathematics at Penn State the previous semester I came home and started classes at Community College.I was depressed and began to binge watch shows on Netflix. Eventually Netflix began to suggest Doctor Who to me, and because of my respect for Neil Gaiman and his work I bit the bullet. I began with the new series that started in 2005 with Chris Eccleston as the 9th Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, his companion.

I was all in after the second episode when the Doctor took Rose, a beautiful girl from modern day London into the future to watch the literal end of the world, the destruction of Earth as a result of the Sun exploding… I. Was. Hooked. I committed to travelling with the Doctor, to wherever he would take me. I was shocked to learn about the whole “regeneration” thing at the end of season 1, when Eccleston’s Doctor was injured and regenerated as the 10th Doctor played by David Tennant,  my Doctor. david-tennant

I fangirled so damned hard over Tennant’s Doctor– this era of the show brought out deep emotions in me. I loved what the Doctor loved, I hated the Doctor hated, and I cried when the Doctor cried. I cried a lot. Those tears provided the water, the final ingredient, needed for my Nerd Seed to finally blossom. I finished the Christmas special of Series 6 the Friday before Christmas 2012. I basically had a snowball-effect straight through the available episodes on Netflix. In this time I went through a nerd revolution, when my opinions on all things changed from “Fuck that” to “sure why not (swallows pill)”.

tennantMy close friends felt the ‘fandom’ vibe I was giving out. Tim, my cohost was the first friend to start watching Doctor Who, on my recommendation. He really fueled the fandom aspect for me; because of our discussions we would search memes and fan theories about the show and share via text messages.  Eventually my girlfriend got sucked in; lucky for her it was during the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, and in the months between the series 7 finale and the 50th Anniversary special, she had time to catch up.

In that year I would talk about DW to anyone who would listen, I felt like a door-to-door Jehovah Witness. ‘Do you have a chance to talk about out Timelord and saviour Doctor Who?’ I have so much admiration for the Doctor I REFUSE to watch any related Pornography. Seriously, I refuse to watch porn. I wish you could one day love a thing this much.

dwswag
just some of my Doctor Who collection

I started to feel more comfortable in my own nerd skin, and I began to open myself to the wide world of fandoms.I began to collect shirts and other Doctor Who swag. I went back in time to watch a lot of Classic Who. I became a card carrying member as a Whovian, the Doctor Who fandom.

Without Doctor Who, I would still be depressed and probably much worse off. I would have never had the courage to start this Blog and Podcast with Tim. Moreover, Tim and I probably wouldn’t be as close as we are now. The Doctor gave me something to believe in when I couldn’t believe in myself, he gave me hope. I continue to watch Doctor Who and hope to for at least the next 50 years.

Unfortunately I ran out of time to talk about Doctor Who any further. I wish I had a TARDIS.  no worries, I will revisit this topic. Special thanks to Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick for sending me down this path.

Don’t Panic! the podcast episode dedicated to Doctor Who is coming. we just want to make sure it gets proper treatment.  Until then, Who is your favorite Doctor?

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