By Ashley Huggins
I was a Whovian long before my study abroad experience in London. For those who are unaware of what this title entails, by declaring myself a Whovian, I have essentially publicly and irrevocably professed my obsession with love for British sci-fi series Doctor Who. The show originally debuted during the 1960s, but was recently revived in 2005. It follows a time lord, vaguely known as “The Doctor,” who travels through time and space with a variety of human companions, saving the universe from supernatural threats. Although seasons are only about 12 episodes long, the producers of Doctor Who save a little treat for fans every year with its Christmas specials, airing a unique Christmas-centered feature on December 25th each year.
In 2010, that special was entitle “A Christmas Carol” and was inspired by Charles Dickens’s identically named novel. The premise of this episode involved a spaceship carrying thousands of passengers which gets caught in a cloud. The Doctor and his companions find a man, Kazran, able to get the spaceship out of its predicament, however, he is bitter and sullen and refuses to do so. In order to persuade the man to comply, the Doctor sets up a Dickens-esque scenario, visiting Kazran in his past where he is able to form new memories, primarily ones involving the building of a romance with a girl whom, for otherworldly reasons, he can only see once a year during the Doctor’s visits. In the end, the Doctor never ends up showing Kazran his future; however, he does bring Kazran’s younger self with him, and Kazran realizes that he has become very much like his father, who he feared throughout his childhood. This causes the man to change his mind and help, and, eventually, everything works out and the ship is saved.
Now, to admit, I have never actually read Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. However, the story is pretty inescapable, particularly during Christmas season. This Doctor Who incarnation is probably one of the loosest, most bizarre interpretations, but it still has the same effect in making people think about their pasts, presents, and futures. When I encounter one of the depictions of this tale while in a particularly pensive state, I am often led to think about my own life and how, though it is impossible to change the past, the future is malleable. I find Doctor Who’s version of A Christmas Carol to be particularly intriguing, because, it kind of flips this idea: the man’s past does change, and, ultimately, serves to convince Kazran to change his ways.
It may no longer be Christmastime, but the idea of changing for the better is something people should constantly be striving for. This episode of Doctor Who, by reversing the classic story, only further asserts that, as human beings without a convenient time-traveling friend, we do not have the luxury of changing our pasts, but, regardless, we can learn from them and improve our present selves for a better future.