Confessions Of A TV Snob: Doctor Who

Television Snobbery (TVS) – When believing yourself to be a television expert or connoisseur causes condescending or disdainful behavior toward shows that appear to differ from your preferred tastes in style or content.

Do you or anyone you know suffer from TVS?

It’s a real condition affecting millions. It can shatter friendships, turn family against themselves, and destroy otherwise happy and healthy relationships. Worse still, TVS can prevent you from experiencing many worthwhile shows that you would love if you simply gave them the chance.

I know because it happens to me. I’m Justin Bolger, and these are my confessions. The confessions of a Television Snob.

Fortunately, this monthly column will present to you instances in which the better angels of my nature prevailed and I was able to overcome my TVS. In doing so, I ended up discovering shows I came to love. I share my struggles with you in hopes that you’ll learn from my mistakes and lead a better, more rewarding life filled with the rich experiences offered by great television.

This month, I confess how my TVS almost caused me to miss Doctor Who.

First Impression: “Why would I watch this silly sci-fi spoof about a “wacky” guy named Doctor Who, who lives in a phone booth and fights cheap looking aliens?”

Nearly missing Doctor Who is the perfect example of the dangers of my TVS. Years and years ago, I came across an old Tom Baker episode and thought it looked ridiculous. TVS kept me from even considering giving it a second look, and commercials I’d see for it in the years after only reinforced my perception. The same cheesy effects, madcap sense of forced wackiness (never amusing), and obvious lack of respect for the genre were all obviously still a part of a show I wanted no part of.

I’ve never been so wrong about a television show in my life.

My TARDIS trip began this year at Comic-Con, where my friend Joe told me how Doctor Who had saved his life. At first I thought this was just fan overenthusiasm (I’ve been guilty), but then he explained further.

Joe’s situation was one most of us can relate to, an oppressive office job ruled by politics where greedy people were getting ahead and good people were struggling to stay alive. One night after work, he started to watch Doctor Who on Netflix and fell in love with it. Soon, it was his preferred way to decompress after work.

As time went on, his workplace situation improved. He even lost a considerable amount of weight. He was happier, and he credited the show as a factor in achieving that happiness. While his enthusiasm was contagious, I wasn’t quite ready to hop on board yet.

That changed when one of my co-workers, Gerald, talked my ear off about Doctor Who a few weeks later. His enthusiasm matched Joe’s, and I figured a show that could encourage enthusiasm that intense from two very different people not acquainted with each other meant that something about this show was worth checking out. That weekend, I decided to watch the first episodes featuring the 9th Doctor.

Four months and many episodes later, I love Doctor Who as much (if not more so) as Joe and Gerald. It’s much more than I ever imagined, consistently balancing great sci-fi concepts, humor, and tremendous heart(s) with affecting emotions. The most prominent of which is hope.

It’s difficult to adequately convey Doctor Who‘s overwhelming sense of hope to someone who hasn’t seen it. Though I didn’t get it at the time, that’s what Joe was trying to communicate to me. The show is pervaded by the sense that people have the amazing potential to transcend the meaningless self absorption that preoccupies our daily existence to become so much more.

That’s what saved Joe’s life. Seeing that kind of optimism reinforced every evening (in an entertaining and well acted manner) after enduring a workplace that tried to steal it every day kept him sane. It kept him mindful of the best of humanity. It kept him hopeful.

Doctor Who is superb television, and without Joe or Gerald, my TVS would have caused me to miss it. I’m thankful to them for giving me the support and encouragement I needed to rise above my preconceptions and lead a fuller television life.

So if you’re showing signs of TVS, find a good support system. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and TV Equals is here to offer help as you seek to overcome this terrible condition.

What shows have you struggled with due to TVS? Lay your burdens down in the comments and help others put the shame of their prejudice behind them.

Follow me on Twitter @TheApexFan

  • Dale Cooper

    I did that with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show had been on for 4 years when my ex wife told me how much she loved the show. I was confounded at the idea that this educated woman who’s taste in art and literature I respected was watching such crap. How could she like this show about teenagers fighting monsters? It looked to me like every other teen drama on tv but with cheesy villains. I had seen a few bits here and there on occasion when flipping channels and it just looked idiotic. I questioned whether or not my views about her taste were wrong. Did I even know this woman really? Then one night I was looking for something to watch and nothing else was on so I decided to give it a shot. I enjoyed it enough to continue watching and then I borrow previous seasons on tape and watched them all including the Angel series up to that point over a long weekend. I was hooked and became a lifelong Joss Whedon fan after that. I also try not to judge shows on face value any more.