Why You Should Watch Doctor Who

Most of the time when I write a new entry for my Why You Should Watch series, it concerns a lesser known show or movie that I think deserves more attention. Doctor Who probably doesn’t need the endorsement, but I’ve developed a love for the show with an intensity that I haven’t experienced since childhood. What is it about this long running show, with seemingly silly roots, that struck such a cord with me? Well, if you’ve never seen it, allow me the chance to explain.

Doctor Who: The Beginning (An Unearthly Child / The Daleks / The Edge of Destruction) (Stories 1 - 3)
Doctor Who: The Beginning (An Unearthly Child / The Daleks / The Edge of Destruction) (Stories 1 - 3)

After the relaunch, the original series is now referred to as "Classic Doctor Who"

 

Allons-y!

Doctor Who is a science fiction adventure show that first started in the 1960s. It began as a family/children’s show about a mysterious doctor and his daughter who could travel through time. His ship, called the TARDIS, allows anyone inside to move to the past, future, or virtually anywhere in the known universe. Because of this, numerous stories focus on distant worlds and alien plots to destroy the innocent. It then falls to the Doctor to thwart them, time and again, with only the help of his wits, his companions and his trusty sonic screwdriver. As the show progresses, more about the Doctor’s past is revealed and the central cast is changed out for a new one. Because the Doctor is a timelord (alien) he can regenerate before dying, which was the studio’s clever way of keeping the show alive despite fatigued actors. To date, thirteen men have portrayed the Doctor, with countless companions accompanying him for the ride. But, if you’re not a fan of science fiction, you might be wondering why Doctor Who is different from Star Trek or any other genre fiction show from the past fifty years. The answer is also my favorite thing about the Doctor.

He doesn’t solve problems with violence.

Fans of the show will know that, every once and a while, the Doctor can waiver in his convictions. This usually happens when he travels without a companion, since they serve as his continuing moral compass after over 1000 years of life. But, for the most part, the Doctor solves problems by outsmarting his enemy. He’s clever and he uses his unparalleled knowledge to find the flaw in his enemy’s plan, which he then exploits to save whatever world or space ship he’s landed on. While there have been a number of clever heroes over the years, few rely on it so consistently. The Doctor is not a warrior; he’s not a muscular barbarian who wins because he can punch harder than the next guy. He’s a gentleman with a taste for trouble (he’s also a bit crazy). I’ve always identified with this aspect of the show because it’s very much how I see myself. I’m not muscular, courageous or heroic. But, if given a puzzle, I believe I can reason out a solution with the power of my mind. And, in a world where violence is often glorified to the detriment of our children, it’s refreshing to see a man (or timelord) using wits to win the day.

Not pictured: John Hurt and Peter Capaldi
Not pictured: John Hurt and Peter Capaldi

Limitless Reinvention

As I mentioned above, the Doctor has the ability to ‘regenerate’ when he’s about to die. While it was conceived as a way to keep the show alive, it had a fortunate byproduct that opened up new opportunities. Each incarnation of the Doctor gets his own unique outfit, sonic screwdriver, and acting style. Few other shows can shake up such a core part of their appeal and survive. In fact, the show was almost lost after the Doctor’s eighth incarnation when ratings were low. It wasn’t until almost two decades later that it was resurrected as a modern continuation. It’s true that, with each version, there is the risk of losing fans. But it’s that same mechanic that has the potential to bring them back, or even expand the viewership. The first three Doctors, after the reboot, each increased the fanbase with their own unique take on the character. It’s a wonderful way to keep the material fresh and, with all of space and time for a backdrop, you need a hero who can constantly reinvent himself.

It can do what no other series can.

When I was a teenager I feared ridicule, as most teenagers do. So, if something was perceived as cheesy, silly or over-the-top, I generally avoided it to keep myself distanced from such negative associations. Kind of like how we proclaim the stuff we liked as children is ‘stupid’ to show how mature we are. Yet, as adults, it’s the teenage years we shake our heads about. But anyway, it was this reluctance that kept me from watching most genre shows. I didn’t watch Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Hercules, Xena and a host of other science fiction and fantasy media for fear that I would be seen as ‘uncool’. In retrospect I was being stupid, but it’s a moot point because I was able to watch all of them after my head cleared. Doctor Who was one of the last series for me to take a peek at and it solidified a realization in me. A show that attempts a storyline, but does it cheesily, is superior to a show that never attempts it at all. This is why I’ve taken a liking to direct-to-dvd superhero cartoons because they present storylines that Hollywood would never touch. Who else is sick of the same old origin story or the predicable cop drama? I want to see the impossible; the kind of things that sensible writers would never dare to touch. Time travel? Too many plot holes. Space travel? Too ‘out there’ for moderate audiences. Old main character? The young people won’t be able to connect. To those dangerous pitfalls Doctor Who has responded with ‘Geronimo!’ It is fearless in its mission and skilled in its execution. The fact that the writers can juggle all these concepts (and Doctor Who’s lengthy history) while still producing something that is entertaining is nothing short of miraculous.

Fantastic!

I will acknowledge that Doctor Who is not for everyone. Obviously, if you’re not a fan of genre fiction, then it isn’t very likely that you’ll take to this show. But I thought it was important to highlight why it is different and why it is exceptional. The series has persisted for over fifty years now and, even though there have been some speed bumps, there is every reason to believe it could survive for another fifty. If you’ve never watched an episode, I recommend you take the plunge. You might just discover something great.

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Comments 16 comments

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

I use to watch Doctor Who all of the time and I still would be if I had not cut back some of my TV stations. I do not know how many episodes I had seen before I found out that it was Sci-Fi. To me, it was not Sci-Fi.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

The Examiner-1 - I also cut cable a while ago. To watch Doctor Who I use a weird combination of netflix, dvds and amazon prime downloads. I think I've caught all of the new series, but classic who is sparse. Also, I think Neil Gaiman described Doctor Who as a fairy tale, not science fiction, so you're not alone. Thanks for the comment!


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 2 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I grew up with Doctor Who. My first Doctor was the original old grouch William Hartnell. I was disappointed when he left the show and it took me some time to get used to the second Doctor. To add insult to injury the second Doctor played the recorder. This is a musical instrument I loathe to this day. Even so episodes such as War Games puts this second Doctor up there with the early best. The third Doctor was the 007 in fancy clothes Doctor but Baker as the fourth Doctor was the radical Doctor my whole family took to. I admit the more attractive passengers/assistants that traveled with the Doctor traveled with the forth incarnation. The spin off series from Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures I found delightful and I don't give a damn if it is considered to be a children's show. A pity the show couldn't continue. I miss Elizabeth Sladen as a lot of stalwart Doctor Who fans no doubt still do. She was a real trooper. Yes. Doctor Who fan here looking forward to the Christmas special.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

Rod Marsden,

My favorite Doctor was Tom Baker. I was talking mostly about him in the Hub which I wrote.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Rod Marsden - I love how each doctor has a unique theme to bring to the show. Some don't hit as well as others, but it's wonderful that a show can test such waters and still come out strong. Thanks for the comment!

The Examiner-1 - I definitely need to figure out how to get my hands on more Tom Baker episodes. Netflix and Hulu only have a scattering of classic who episodes. Thanks for the comment!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

M. T. Dremer,

I do not know if this is very helpful but YouTube had some Tom Baker videos. Try Googling for others. Even these links might be some help:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Who

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Baker

Kevin


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago

My friend was such a huge fan of it, I'd watch it occasionally. Now my hubby & daughter watch it, though I'm not that much of a TV wtatcher this is just one I could never get into on my own. But I agree, it's a great show. When I do watch, I never fail to enjoy it.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 2 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I thought the Doctor Who Christmas special this year was pretty good.


Karl 2 years ago

Hi I have had a chance to read your work and wanted to provide you with some feedback if that is ok?


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

Hi Karl. Yes, that is okay.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

The Examiner-1 - Thanks for the links; I will check them out. :)

WiccanSage - It's a great show to watch with family and, in general, share with others. Thank you for the comment!

Rod Marsden - I also enjoyed 2013's Christmas special. I think it was a good send off for Matt Smith. It's just going to be hard to wait over the long break for a new season. Thanks for the comment!

Karl - You're more than welcome to leave feedback on my articles. I enjoy all the comments. :)


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

M. T. Dremer,

I apologize for responding to Karl. I read it in my mail the other day because I did not realize that it was your Hub. I will be more careful next time.

Kevin


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

The Examiner-1 - No worries. You said the same thing I would have. :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Great hub to explain Dr Who to people unfamiliar with the show MT. I didn't get into it until Tom Baker's portrayal of the Doctor, but now I am a Dr Who addict. Each incantation of the Dr brings something different and eccentric to the show. It will never become old and outdated because of this. Some of the plots are very over the top, but it is part of the appeal and what makes it different. Matt Smith and David Tennant were great Doctors and brought a lot of new fans, now we have to see what new directions the newest Doctor takes the show. Voted up. ( I have dvd's of the last three series and a sonic screwdriver..lol)


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Jodah - My wife and I are eagerly awaiting Peter Capaldi's turn as the doctor. After a series of young guys, it's nice to see a veteran actor take up the torch. It should make for some great episodes! Thanks for the comment and my key chain is a tardis. ;-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Yes MT, Capaldi's should be an interesting take on The Doctor. He has been a true fan since childhood. I also have a tardis mug and sugar bowl..lol.

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    M. T. Dremer profile image

    M. T. Dremer671 Followers
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    M. T. Dremer has been a couch potato his entire life. An avid fan of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure, in both television and movies.



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