Lifestyle
April 1, 2013 • 12:01:34 p.m.

McHenry County Whovians form "Doctor Who" fan club in Lakemoor

By JAMI KUNZER - jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Molly Wright (left), 16, of McHenry, Desie Wright of McHenry, Evan Root, 12, of Lakemoor and Doug Shaw of Oakwood Hills attend a Dr. Who fan club meeting at the River East Pubic Library on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. The group meets monthly to chat about their favorite show, Dr. Who, and stay up-to-date on any news regarding it. (Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)

They'll gladly show off their "Doctor Who" memorabilia, tell you their favorite doctor and try to explain the almost cult-like attraction to their favorite television show.

Just don't make any comparisons to Star Trek.

"You'll get yelled at if you do that," joked Cherie Wright, the founder of the McHenry County Whovians, a fan club devoted to the British science fiction and time travel show. 

(Though one club member quietly admitted he's a Star Trek fan too.)

As director of the River East Public Library in Lakemoor, Wright began hosting monthly club meetings at the library this year. Drawn to the show during its 50th anniversary celebration this year, she said, "It kind of sucks you in."

You can either watch it purely for fun or try to read into the deeper meanings and intertwined storylines, she said.

"I like the science fiction part of it. I like the fact that they go back in history," she said. "You really do get attached to the characters and the fact that they can go anywhere. They throw cute guys in there, so that helps."

Once she was hooked, she found herself researching, catching up on past seasons and sharing the show with her daughters, 16-year-old Molly and 29-year-old Desie, also fan club members.

Why the club?

"Why not?" asked club member Tim Dempsey, a 35-year-old resident originally from Great Brittan, who says he was born and raised on "Doctor Who." With a thick British accent and a smile, he added "Why does everything else get a fan club and we don't? We have a fan club for Camaros." 

Dempsey has "Doctor Who" bedsheets, a license plate and a "My Other Car is a TARDIS" sign for his car, among other items. Appearing on the outside as a blue British police box, TARDIS is the time-traveling spaceship the Doctor uses to travel through the universe.

At a recent club meeting drawing about 10 people, Barbie, er Ken-like, "Doctor Who" characters sat on the table along with a miniature TARDIS.

Through a video provided by Dempsey, the group planned to view the very first "Doctor Who" ever made in 1963. The show aired until 1989 before being cancelled. It then returned in 2005, and has had six more series since. The most recent season returned to BBC America Saturday.

In all, 11 actors have headlined the series as the Doctor, who faces a variety of foes while working to save civilizations, help ordinary people and right wrongs. He's had a succession of companions.

Based on club chatter, not everyone's a fan of every doctor or every companion.

"I have a crush on David Tennant," said Wright's daughter, Molly, referring to the actor who played the Doctor from 2005-2009. According to Tennant's bio, it was his love of "Doctor Who" growing up that inspired him to try out for the part.

The show basically became a national institution in the United Kingdom, building a large following. Craig Ferguson of "The Late Late Show" on CBS performs frequent odes to the show and even keeps a miniature TARDIS on his desk. Director Peter Jackson keeps a large collection series memorabilia, and director Steven Spielberg even has been quoted as saying, "The world would be a poorer place without 'Doctor Who.' "

The show often provides underlying themes, such as nature vs. nurture, said fan club member Patrick Walley of Wonder Lake. And it's sometimes difficult to judge wether the Doctor is actually good or bad, he said

"Everybody's interpretation is different," Cherie Wright said. 

That's one of the reasons why the club started hosting two sessions, one geared more toward children, who might get bored with long discussions about the show, she said.

The children often do crafts, such as creating Adipose, a race of hand-sized, marshmallow-shaped beings composed entirely of fat and featured on the show.

"I kind of just caught onto it," said 12-year-old Evan, who attended the club meeting with his father, Tim Root, of Lakemoor.

"Because I made him watch it," added Tim Root with a laugh.

"I like the time travel, and how he's, like, an alien," Evan said. 

Other children apparently have been born into fandom as well.

"I watched a 'Doctor Who' episode when I was in labor," said fan club member Cheryl Storm of McHenry. "[My daughter] had no choice."

That daughter, now 22, refuses to let her mother talk about the show until she's caught up on the latest episode.

"If I spoil anything for her, she'll shoot me," Storm said with a laugh. 

In all seriousness, fans of the show say it's difficult to explain the draw.

"I don't think there are specific reasons why someone likes it," Tim Root said. "It's more you watch an episode and you're drawn in."

"It's not static," added Walley. "It's always going to change."


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