Doctor Hmm?

You all, I love a little pop culture. But I do not understand the Doctor Who phenomenon. I want to. I do. I even thought, yes! I will watch a few of the early episodes so that I can understand all the lingo! The TARDIS (does that even get caps?) will not be lost to me! I was excited about my plan until I realized that Doctor Who has aired longer than I’ve been alive and, indeed, I suspect not everyone has hied themselves back to ole episode one.

So where does one start? I’ll admit, despite wanting to keep my hard core cred, I don’t feel particularly called to Doctor Who. I’m probably content knowing that it’s a thing, lately it’s a thing more people have been more interested in, and it’s a thoughtful, popular thing spanning decades. Not shabby. But, it’s immensely hard to be all of those things on television and so I’d like a glimpse of the thing itself.

I’ll tell you, I’m pretty sure watching episode one is not going to tell me why my 21-yr-old niece is obsessed with her growing collection of t-shirts referencing the show. And it’s not going to explain why, when she wore one of the t-shirts to the amusement park, not one but THREE strangers complimented it. If you don’t start at the beginning of something, where in the middle DO you start?

So fans and students of the show, where do I peek in so that I can understand the overall plot, the inside jokes, and get a sense of the thing? One key episode?

This post brought to you by my wife going out of town for four nights. I’m already planning my free time. I’ve read some terrific books lately, among them Gap Creek, recommended by Andrea Badgley over at Butterfly Mind. She does the description better justice than I could and had an excellent list of like recommendations. I have a herb tome or two just itching to be picked through. I have a garden to tend but in the battle between me and mosquitos the little bastards are winning. Oh, there’s an idea, maybe I can get the mosquitos interested in Doctor Who and I can enjoy my yard in peace!



16 Responses

  1. As much as I’ve tried, I too have a very hard time wrapping my brain around the Dr. Who (?) craze!

  2. Start with the Russell T. Davies series reboot from 2005, with Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor and Billie Piper as the Companion (Rose). I’m not a hard core fan, meaning I’ve only seen a handful of the original (classic) episodes and I’ve not yet seen the latest season, but that was how I started and it worked for me. Russell T. Davies did a great job bringing the Whoniverse into today’s world and making it accessible to those of us who’d never watched an episode before. (We can talk about current lead producer Steven Moffat later…)

    • This. And if you can’t get into Eccleston’s Doctor, skip to Tennant (season 2) or Smith (season 5). I love all three, but some fans only really connect with one of them.

    • Absolutely this! I am in love with Doctor Who. I didn’t watch the classics. We started with the 9th doctor and companion Rose from season 1 of the current generation. Found on Netflix. The first few episodes are cheesy and I almost didn’t give it a chance. NOW .. we watch it every night to get caught up to current seasons. Oh Moffat!! LemonDrop, don’t scare her away! 😉 Anyway, I highly suggest watching at least until you get to David Tennant’s 10th doctor. He IS my doctor. ❤

      • Hey, Moffat did good work as a writer on the Davies team. Nothing there to scare her away if she starts with Eccleston. 🙂

        I’m caught up through the last Christmas special.

      • I’m caught up to right before 10th’s regeneration. I am so very much dreading that episode. We watch it tonight. 🙂

  3. Although, actually, you know what? I’m remembering now that we watched Torchwood first, fell in love with John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and then went back to find him in Dr Who. So that’s another approach you could try. Torchwood has the extra bonus of explicitly queer-positive characters.

    But if you want one episode of Who, try “Blink” (3.10 of the reboot, 2007 or so). I also know people who recommend “The Girl in the Fireplace” (2.4 in the reboot). I didn’t find it as compelling as “Blink” but I think it’s a little more traditional than the more stand-alone “Blink” (which is a little light on the standard Doctor/Companion model).

    • “The Girl in the Fireplace” kind of makes me insane. Largely because they apparently cut 20 seconds from the final version of the episode that would have made my head not want to explode. (Lem, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me know, and I’ll tell you at greater length than you probably want what I objected to about the episode. I just don’t want to spoil anything.) “Blink” is great, and I kind of think you could watch it without knowing a thing about the series, but I’m not sure it would exactly hook you on the Doctor, per se.

      To Meridith, I would say start with the beginning of the reboot, and if the first episode or two doesn’t intrigue you, skip to “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” (two part episode). Those remain some of my all-time favorite episodes, and you get the added bonus of meeting Captain Jack! (Which is a definite bonus in my opinion…) If those two don’t make you want to watch more, then, well, maybe it’s just not the series for you.

      I was first introduced to Doctor Who the summer my family spent in Australia when I was nine. Most of the reruns that I watched (and I watched every day that I could manage) had Tom Baker, and he retains a special place in my heart. But I think you could start with Mr. Davies’ reboot, and then go back and watch the older ones if you’re so inclined.

      All this being said, I should maybe confess that I’m a few seasons behind. (I don’t get a whole lot of time to watch any tv, and PB isn’t as big a sci fi fan as I am, so… yeah. I’m trying to catch up, though. Honest!)

      • I agree with this. I didn’t enjoy Fireplace as much as everyone else seemed to, but often see it recommended as a good one-shot deal. That and Silence in the Library, but I’m not sure how well that works as a stand-alone. Love The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (and Captain Jack!) but I really do think starting with the reboot is the way to go.

  4. I’m sure at some point I’ve watched it, but it never really clicked with me, so I remain Doctor Clueless.

  5. I’m planning to start where Lemon Drop suggested. It’s on Netflix, which is awfully convenient. But first I need to finish Star Trek: Voyager. Only three seasons left!

  6. I’m not really in to it either – and you don’t need to go back in order to understand it, it’s self explanatory. I accidentally watched quite a few of the Christopher Eccleston / Billie Piper ones and really enjoyed them.

    Or – you could just skip the Doctor and go straight to Billie Piper in ‘Secret Diary of a call girl’ … much more appropriate ‘while the wife’s away’ watching. Seriously.

  7. I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son. I had to get past the fact that it’s a novel about North Korea written by someone who’s never been to North Korea, but now I’m really enjoying it. I watched a lot of the old Dr. Who back in the day (on a tiny snowy black and white), so when I started the new Dr. Who, I just started where Netflix told me to start. I liked the first episode, but haven’t had time to watch more.

  8. Thanks for the shout out, Meredith 🙂 I wish I could help you with Dr. Who, but the show just never did it for me. Good luck!

  9. Excellent! Thank you everyone! I’m with catsandcradles – I don’t have ton of tv time and, I’ll admit, I’ve been watching Orange is the New Black. BUT, with just one episode of that left, I’m staring down the barrel of at least one or two hours of free time a night. You all, it’s like winning the lottery.

  10. OOO! Thank you for sending me here! Voraciously reading these comments. xoxoxxo

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