“Ha! You think this is Hell.”
–Doctor Who, “The God Complex”
If the Doctor showed up in your living room and offered you a lift in the TARDIS, would you go with her (or him, depending on which regeneration you encountered)? Leave everything behind for a chance to explore the past, the future, the distant galaxies of the universe?
I will go ahead and assume that at this point many of you are screaming “yes.” That certainly was my reaction to that question when I was introduced to the show (with Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, I’m afraid; being quite American, I wasn’t exposed to the classic show until later). A chance to find out all the secrets of the universe, with bonus adventuring? Sign me right up! But that same month that I first began watching Doctor Who, I read about another Doctor: Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (this is one of the perils of an English degree). And looking back on them both, I can’t help but notice some alarming similarities between what the Doctors offer their companions and what Faustus bargains for from the devil, and between the surprising difficulties both Faustus and those companions encounter in actually getting what they’re promised. And that all makes me wonder if maybe what the Doctor has on offer is quite so attractive after all…