Fanatical Utahns show love to 'Doctor Who' TV show

Nov 17 2013 - 9:19pm

Images

The TARDIS, built by the Angelbuer family of Bountiful, is surrounded by "Doctor Who" fans at Salt Lake Comic Con. (Courtesy of the Angelbuer family)
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Connor Smith, 14, is dressed as Doctor Who No. 11. Maryn Smith, 16, is dressed up as a Weeping Angel. Zach Stubbs, 12, is dressed up as Doctor Who No. 11. Lacy Parrish, 15, is dressed up as The TARDIS. (Photos by DYLAN BROWN/Standard-Examiner)
"Doctor Who" fans Aaron and Angela Andersen, of Farmington, posed for wedding photos in a replica of the TV show's time machine. Photographer Jon Woodbury merged the image with a photo of the LDS temple where they were married. (Courtesy of Aaron Andersen)
Chris Ekstrom, of North Ogden, poses in a "Doctor Who"-inspired scarf he crocheted himself. Ekstrom maintains the Doctor Who Community of Utah Facebook page.
A cameraman films Matt Smith, who plays the Eleventh Doctor, during an episode filmed in Utah in 2010. The photo was taken by Chris Bajanower, of West Haven, who was invited onto the set.
Rebecca Ahlquist bought a boxy blue truck that reminded her of the TARDIS in "Doctor Who" and ordered license plates that read "Allonsy," meaning "Let's go," a favorite phrase of the Doctor. (Courtesy of Rebecca Ahlquist)
Meatloaf shaped like a Dalek from the show "Doctor Who," made for Rebecca Ahlquist, of Layton, by her daughter. (Courtesy of Rebecca Ahlquist)
The TARDIS, built by the Angelbuer family of Bountiful, is surrounded by "Doctor Who" fans at Salt Lake Comic Con. (Courtesy of the Angelbuer family)
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Connor Smith, 14, is dressed as Doctor Who No. 11. Maryn Smith, 16, is dressed up as a Weeping Angel. Zach Stubbs, 12, is dressed up as Doctor Who No. 11. Lacy Parrish, 15, is dressed up as The TARDIS. (Photos by DYLAN BROWN/Standard-Examiner)
"Doctor Who" fans Aaron and Angela Andersen, of Farmington, posed for wedding photos in a replica of the TV show's time machine. Photographer Jon Woodbury merged the image with a photo of the LDS temple where they were married. (Courtesy of Aaron Andersen)
Chris Ekstrom, of North Ogden, poses in a "Doctor Who"-inspired scarf he crocheted himself. Ekstrom maintains the Doctor Who Community of Utah Facebook page.
A cameraman films Matt Smith, who plays the Eleventh Doctor, during an episode filmed in Utah in 2010. The photo was taken by Chris Bajanower, of West Haven, who was invited onto the set.
Rebecca Ahlquist bought a boxy blue truck that reminded her of the TARDIS in "Doctor Who" and ordered license plates that read "Allonsy," meaning "Let's go," a favorite phrase of the Doctor. (Courtesy of Rebecca Ahlquist)
Meatloaf shaped like a Dalek from the show "Doctor Who," made for Rebecca Ahlquist, of Layton, by her daughter. (Courtesy of Rebecca Ahlquist)

The Doctor saved the life of Chris Ekstrom.

"I had a lot of personal family drama going on," Eckstrom said, thinking back to 2007. "My parents were getting divorced, we'd lost our house, and both of my grandfathers died within a week of each other. I just had a really terrible time of it, and had a serious case of 'nobody cares about me.' I didn't care about myself, and got to a dark place."

Then he started watching "Doctor Who."

"In a way, it became my life support system, to keep me going," he said. "When my world was falling apart, because of everything that was going on, I had something there to distract me from my own personal problems, and had me looking forward to the next week's episode. It kept me going ... and helped inspire me to go get help for my depression, to manage things and get my life back in order."

He began going to fan meetings and conventions where "Doctor Who" was a topic of discussion, eventually leading panels. He made new friends, thanks to The Doctor -- including a special companion he is planning to marry.

"I was doing a weekly movie night with friends at my house, where we'd watch the new episode of 'Doctor Who' and a movie, and have something to eat and hang out," he said. "I ended up inviting her to my weekly movie night."

Ekstrom listens to monthly audio dramas based on "Doctor Who,' and has magazines and comics related to the series, as well as DVDs and a couple of "Doctor Who" toys. He's also crocheted a scarf like one worn by the Doctor, and has blueprints to build a TARDIS. He shares his love of the Doctor by maintaining the "Doctor Who Community of Utah" Facebook page.

"We've had three or four different events where we've met up and had different activities," he said. "Last year we ran a highly successful panel at Anime Banzai. ... The room had a capacity of 85, and we pushed it to 100 and still had another 125 people in line."

He lobbied for the local theatrical screening of the "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary special, and is trying to convince the makers of the "Doctor Who" audio dramas to attend a future Salt Lake City Comic Con -- and bring one of the stars.

"Some people have said, 'Doctor Who is my religion,' and in a way I can see why they'd say that," he said, noting that the series gives fans a lot to think about, in terms of beliefs and values. "You end up thinking to yourself, 'What would the Doctor do?' Or wonder, are you the kind of person the Doctor would pick as a companion?"

Companions

Aaron Andersen watched "Doctor Who" as a child, and loved the rebooted version of the show.

"It's about how people are not special because they do great things -- they're special because they're brave in hard circumstances, and even the weakest of people can make a difference," said the Farmington man. "I think that's something that really appeals to people on a basic level."

His love faded when his favorite Doctor regenerated like a phoenix.

"I couldn't do it the last time they switched actors," he said. "They say you never forget your first Doctor, and to me it was kind of hard to move on."

Andersen might find it in his heart to forgive, in light of the Doctor's role in helping him find his eternal companion, Angela.

"When we met, I was dressed up as the 10th Doctor, and she was dressed up as Kaylee from 'Firefly,' " he said. "She was one of the few who got my costume."

And he was the only one who recognized her sci-fi series outfit.

"She said she would kiss anybody that knew," he said.

After the kiss, they became friends.

"We started watching 'Doctor Who' together," he said. "It kind of gave us time to get to know each other."

The couple's engagement photos included a tip of the hat to the shows that brought them together.

"I wore a 'Doctor Who' scarf, and she had a parasol like Kaylee had in 'Firefly,' " Andersen said.

After the marriage ceremony on July 12, in the Bountiful Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they went outside to take new pictures.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a patch of blue over through the trees," Andersen said. "I kind of craned my head, and saw the top of a TARDIS."

The couple got permission to take wedding pictures in the time machine replica that stood across the street from the temple. The photographer merged one image with a picture of the temple, and added the words "Through Time and All Eternity."

"It was unbelievable when it turned out there was a TARDIS sitting right there," Andersen said. "He's (the Doctor is) a time traveler, and it seems like everywhere he goes he's destined to be in the right place at the right time. ... It's almost as if the TARDIS appeared there at the right time for us."

The Bountiful TARDIS was built by Mark Angelbuer and his father. They take on a new building project each summer, and the 2013 project was hatched when the family watched a "Doctor Who" episode together.

Word of the TARDIS spread, and dozens of people stopped to take pictures each day. But seeing one vehicle drive up and then speed off -- four times after 2 a.m. -- worried the family.

"After that night, we bought a GPS tracking system for it," Angelbuer said.

A musical group borrowed the TARDIS for a concert that included music from "Doctor Who." The family was also asked to take it to Salt Lake's Comic Con, where costumed attendees waited in long lines to take a photo with blue box.

The TARDIS was put in storage at the end of summer, but after hearing from disappointed Whovians, the Angelbuers decided to put it back in their yard until after the 50th anniversary.

Fan-tastic

Teegan Bojanower's father introduced her to "Doctor Who."

"My dad was like, 'You should know what you're named after,' and sat me down," said the West Haven teen. "I'm actually named after a classic Doctor's companion."

Her parents, Chris and Deanna Bojanower, were fans of "Doctor Who" as college students.

"We'd come home every day after school, and watch it on KUED," said Chris.

They decided to name their daughter after Tegan Jovanka, the fourth Doctor's companion, because Deanna really liked the name.

"My wife was passed out after the delivery, so they asked me how to spell the name," Chris said. "I spelled it with two 'e's, and when my wife woke up she said it was only one 'e.' "

He says his daughter wasn't thrilled with "Doctor Who" when he first shared it with her, but grew to love it when actor Matt Smith took on the starring role.

In 2010, Chris Bojanower got to meet Smith.

"They filmed in Utah three years ago," he said.

Bojanower's neighbor was asked to loan his classic car for filming, and invited Bojanower to come along when he heard he was a fan. Bojanower ended up working on the set.

"Matt was a great guy. He was funny, and even though they had a tight shooting schedule, he still found time to talk to people," he said. " Karen Gillan (companion Amy Pond) was really cool, too."

Travelers

Rebecca Ahlquist is a true Whovian. She once knitted a washcloth with the image of a "Doctor Who" character, and instead of swearing, she says, "Oh, sweet Gallifrey." She even bought a car that she used to hate, because one day she realized it was basically a blue box -- like a TARDIS.

"For the first time in my life, I got personalized plates that said, 'Allons-y,' which is perfect for a car," she said, explaining that the Doctor is known for using the French phrase, which means "Let's go."

Ahlquist became a "Doctor Who" fan as a youngster in Scotland, where her dad was stationed with the U.S. Navy.

"I remember hiding behind a chair and watching, because it creeped me out," she said, admitting she was afraid the Doctor's foes, the Daleks.

"I was terrified by the concept that you could take a person -- a loving human being -- and turn them into an unfeeling monster with, at the time, toilet plungers for weapons. ... It was so goofy and campy, but it left an impression on me as I grew up," she said.

Ahlquist says the show has plenty of action and magnificent monsters to appeal to boys, but there's also a love story for girls.

"It is a fantasy, a fairy tale, a commentary on the human condition," she said. "There's always a question, or something that makes you go 'hmm' -- that makes you think."

But the real reason she loves the Doctor may be because they have something in common.

"He just drops in and out of people's lives," she said. "That resonates with me. ... I touch people's lives, then disappear and never see them again."

As a military child, and later a military wife, Ahlquist has built a new life more often than the Doctor has regenerated.

"Do the math," she said. "I'm 45 years old, and I've had 27 addresses -- every two years I'm moving."

The Doctor makes a point of really connecting with the people he meets.

"In the military, if you don't hurry ... they could be gone, and you could miss the best person you ever could meet in life," she said.

Wearing a "Doctor Who" T-shirt, or driving her TARDIS-like car, gives Ahlquist a chance to make quick connections with strangers who recognize the references.

"Suddenly, you know who that person is because it takes a unique person to be a true Whovian," she said.

Contact reporter Becky Wright at 801-625-4274 or bwright@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @ReporterBWright.

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