A few weeks ago, I was attempting to describe Doctor Who to a non-Whovian friend. Now, mind you, I'm still a little green in the Whoniverse, as I've only been a fan for under a year, but I can safely say the show has wormholed its way into my heart(s). Anyway, I sort of explained to her how the Doctor is almost like a father to humanity-- he's wise, tries to nudge them in the right direction, but ultimately lets them decide their fate.
But for some reason, that analogy just wasn't working for me. He's not fatherly by any other means, and while 12 may look the part of a wise elder, he's certainly the farthest from a Daddy type. This got me thinking-- the Doctor is older and wiser than we are, but he's much sillier. He's much more adventurous and much more savvy and street-wise.
When I was a kid, I had a physicist uncle who taught us science by lighting things on fire and smashing stuff. He'd take us to his lab, where we'd stick hot-dogs or carnations in liquid nitrogen and then watch them fly into a million pieces when we banged them on the counter-tops. When he babysat, he'd show us that our potpourri aerosol made a fantastic ad hoc flamethrower.
I feel that the Doctor is very much like your cool uncle. Everyone has at least one-- that guy that, when he babysits, can't do anything practical like make you dinner, (cough-fish-fingers-and-custard-cough) but he'll keep you up all night laughing, drinking sugary beverages, and showing you things you've never dreamed of, like rated PG-13 comedies or the aforementioned flame thrower.
The Doctor doesn't stay with humanity, and much like your bachelor uncle, never remains long enough. He's off to discover, to meet new people, and to get in a whole lot of trouble that your parents are likely to grumble quietly about. But you look forward to his magical, fleeting visits, and smile secretly to yourself when he tells you a grownup joke.
I think this is part of why I love this series so much-- it's almost like a guilty indulgence. I get to take an hour of my time and just have a whimsical private laugh with a kooky character who manages to make me think deeply as well as smile broadly.
Thanks, Uncle Doctor.