“Doctor Who” for people who don't watch “Doctor Who”
I've been asked on many occasions what that British sci-fi show, with a madman in a blue box, is all about. This article is all about me telling you what it is about, why you should watch it and where (I think) you should start from.
For those who are totally clueless, here's a quick intro: “Doctor Who” is about a timelord from the planet Gallifrey who we know as “The Doctor”. He travels across planets and universes in his TARDIS (the blue police box so ubiquitous with the show), a space time vehicle that can move in space and time. Also, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside. Usually, he brings along companions (usually humans from Earth) with him in his travels.
Question: Why does the Doctor have so many Faces?
The Doctor can cheat death by regenerating into a new body. Hence the new face. Back in the 60s, William Hartnell, the first Doctor, had to leave the show due to deteriorating health and the producers came up with the unique idea of the doctor being able to regenerate himself into a new, fresh body. Thus, paving the way for a new actor to play the Doctor.
(If we think about it, a lot of these awesome concepts in our favourite shows came into being due to reasons like this. Teleportation exists in Star Trek for the sole reason that having space pods land on planets would've been too much on the budget. It's also for budgetary reasons that we have the TARDIS, as it eliminates the need to show a spaceship/time machine flying into or landing onto somewhere, thereby saving money.)
By now 12 actors have portrayed the Doctor, with Peter Capaldi being the current one.
Now why should you watch this?
“Doctor Who”, at the end of the day, is a children's show. It will follow a certain format and won't be like the “gritty”, “edgy” TV shows we are used to drooling over nowadays. Steven Moffat, the current show runner of Doctor Who, who has a certain affinity for throwing characters off buildings, once told reporters: “The guy who wrote 'The Wire' said, 'F*** the casual viewer.' And I understand that. The casual viewer cannot catch up with a show like that, or 'Breaking Bad.' 'He's a chemistry teacher? Huh?' But on a show like this, we want the casual viewer.”
What I mean to say is that there will be many episodes that would have cringeworthy elements (an episode named “Fear Her” particularly comes to mind) but the beauty of “Doctor Who” is it manages to be inventive, moving and all around brilliant (I know this sounds fangirlish) staying within that age appropriate children's show format.
Where should you start from?
Doctor Who started airing from 1963 and continued till 1989 for 26 seasons before being cancelled. There was a TV movie in 1996, but apart from that “Doctor Who” remained off air till 2005 when BBC resurrected it (with the ninth Doctor, in leather!). Post-2005 “Doctor Who” is known as modern Who and we've had about 8 seasons of that, as of now. So that's a total of 34 seasons and a TV movie (not counting the innumerable specials). We can realise how one can easily feel lost when attempting to go into it.
What I did was I started watching from the very first season of classic “Doctor Who”, but then I ditched it and started modern Who, finished watching that, then went back to classic Who from the start. Don't do that.
I'd advise you start from Season 5 of Modern Who, that's when the 11th Doctor (played by Matt Smith) starts his tenure. Or, if you want to begin with some Classic Who, start with Season 12.
Rafee Shaams is an amalgam personality, an accretion of various sub-personas, identities that are individual facets of a great jewel mind whose various facets exist beyond normal three-dimensional space and can only be perceived by children and the insane. He can be reached at email@example.com.