Discussion: Doctor Whaaaaa?

dr_who_catsI’ve been aware of Doctor Who for most of my life, but I’ve never seen a single episode. I can’t recall how I heard of it, but that doesn’t really matter. I was a little kid who loved science fiction and somehow I learned that there were these British shows called Doctor Who and Red Dwarf (which I’ve also never seen any of… yet). All I knew were the titles, and they seemed so intriguing and mysterious. So like any crazed child>adolescent>adult, I kept this knowledge in the back of my brain… just in case.

And that time draws nigh!

With my newfound interest in TV shows, I figured it’d be a great time to dig into Doctor Who and see what (and who) all the fuss is about. And because I’m me, OF COURSE I’m starting at the beginning. Season One. 1963. William Hartnell. This puts me in the position of potentially losing thousands of hours to this damn show if I like it, and as much as I want to do just that, a more rational, “You have better things you could be doing” part of me hopes that I absolutely hate it. But deep down I think even that guy is overjoyed to embark on this journey in a couple of days.

dr_who_cats_2I have managed to remain relatively spoiler-free, too. Here’s what I’ve picked up here and there along the way to now:

  • Time travelis involved.
    • And apparently he time travels via a Police call box called aTARDIS?
      • So he’s kind of like the British Bill & Ted, right? 🙂
  • Aliens figure into the show somehow.
    • Daleks are one of these alien species… I think.
  • Doctor Who is a something called a Time Lord??? I thought this was Time Lord.
  • Sylvester McCoy (AKA Radagast the Brown in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films) is one of the later doctors.
  • Peter Cushing played the character in a couple of Amicus-produced ’60s movies.
  • Oh, and because I’m on the Internet looking up Doctor Who stuff, I just mistakenly spoiled something about how they handle the Doctor being played by different actors… Doh!

So that’s what I know. Not too much, I’d say, but who knows? Maybe that’s all there is to Doctor Who! (I doubt it… 20+ seasons and 800 individual episodes on just these shaky facts would be insane.) Anyway, after I watch the first season I might do a follow-up post if anyone’s interested (including me). We’ll see. [Update: I’ve finished the first season and I did feel compelled to write about it. Check it out here.]

And while we’re talking about my favorite band The Who Doctor Who, what are your experiences with the show/character/experience/cult of Doctor Who? Got a favorite Doctor? (Feel free to identify him by the corresponding cat above 🙂 ) Or perhaps some far-too-soon warnings like, “Episode 491 is just awful!!!!” Or are you fairly clueless like me? Anything, really.

9 comments to Discussion: Doctor Whaaaaa?

  • Stephen

    Count me in the mostly clueless category with you. I do have a couple friends that are huge fans, though, so I know as much of what the series is about as you, probably a bit more. It also means I have a ready source for borrowing the DVDs from someone who would be glad to have another Dr. Who fan around. Maybe I should join you on your new-found crusade.

    • As they say, the more the merrier! Having seen a few now, I’d be interested in how you’d like them. I haven’t watched a lot of British shows at all, so maybe it’s just a British thing, but it has a VERY different feel than US shows from the same era. It’s much more quaint and low-key (but also super ambitious), without that Hollywood sheen that was all over ’60s shows. In any case, I’m totally hooked.

      • Hmm, I’m not sure that I have much expectations for the era. About the only shows I’ve seen from anywhere close to that time period are the Adam West Batman, the original Star Trek, and maybe a few bits and pieces of Monty Python and Benny Hill.

        And I have yet to hear anything bad about this show from anyone. Now even you’re hooked! I suppose there must be something to this show.

        • Well just going off of the ’60s Batman and original Star Trek (which both started in 1966) you should be able to see how much different Doctor Who is in comparison to American TV. I wonder if Gene Roddenberry was a fan because there are slight similarities between the two shows that become clear as you get into the series. But they really aren’t all that alike. Doctor Who is much more like a old-timey adventure serial than a true sci-fi show, at least in this incarnation.

          And yes, I’m totally hooked but I should say that part of that is that I know it gets better from here. I truly enjoy these early episodes, but if I knew the whole 20-something seasons were like this, I’d have a harder time getting excited for them. Because of who I am, I enjoy making my way through all of it and seeing how the show progresses.

  • Welcome to a turning point in your life, my friend. BDW and ADW (before Doctor Who and …. well, you get the idea). Honestly, DW is one of the most entertaining shows on TV and if it only had more bewbs it might actually BE the best show on TV.

    I’ve watched the show since the mid 80’s (Tom Baker, Doctor #4, is MY Doctor – a phrase you’ll get to use the longer you go along) and have watched it through it’s ups and downs.

    Since you’re starting at the very beginning, I think you’ll probably spend the first few years of the show wondering what all the fuss is about; retroactive knowledge of the show can be disjointing, because it wasn’t until the Third Doctor came along that the show developed a mythology and backstory for the Doctor other than just being “an alien in a blue box traveling through time”.

    Personally, I think you’ll appreciate and enjoy the series a lot more than many others who are new to the franchise, mainly because the early shows (actually, now that I think of it, practially the entire show right through to it’s hiatus in 1989) are fairly crusty with budget and production value, but knowing your taste in cinema and your ability to find merit in that kind of thing, might actually ensure you enjoy it rather than sit there in a huff wondering if you’re wasting your time.

    To note: the Peter Cushing films were made during the height of Dalekmania, a fever which gripped the British public just after their introduction on the show (the Daleks are the show’s first “Monster of the week” concept, and have since become the Doctor’s ongoing arch nemesis, which isn’t as spoilery as you’d imagine), and follow two of the stories the television series broadcast anyway – the Cushing movies are considered non-canon and, IMO, are a curiosity only.

    Oh, how I wish I could “discover” the show all over again. I wish you well in your endeavor, my friend! Boy, are you in for a real treat!

    • Hahahaha, well I’m 7-8 episodes in and I’m totally hooked, so I guess my life is currently turning as we speak.

      I watched the unaired pilot first (thinking it was the first episode) and was very surprised at how mean the Doctor was. I thought, Jeez, this is the guy that spawns the longest running sci-fi show and a huge cult following? Then I watched the actual first episode version of that episode and it was such a huge difference. It’s a great example of just how much subtle character traits can influence a story. But regardless of that, I liked the show even in that early, unaired rough state. I think I was about 5 seconds into the theme song when I fell in love. 🙂 I eagerly await the mythology of the Doctor, as I love that kind of stuff.

      I definitely enjoy the show in its first-season form. I can totally understand why people wouldn’t, and it is a bit hard to see such a long-running franchise springing from these humble roots, but it’s hard to deny just how addicting and fun it is. As long as you’re able to suspend your disbelief and get into the story, the budget doesn’t matter and Doctor Who is an awesome example of that. I LOVE the cliffhangers, too. I might just have to write something about it when I’m done with the first season, specifically because most people would overlook it due to its budget/”crustiness.”

  • PS: Red Dwarf is the equivalent of letting Douglas Adams get hold of Star Wars. It is an awesome show (well, for the first five or so seasons…. it gets a little crappy after that) and deserves all the cult status it is given.

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