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TV, Movies and Games > Sell me on Dr. Who

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message 1: by Poly (new)

Poly (xenphilos) Okay, so, I've been listening to a bunch of podcasts and it seems every nerdy person on was a Dr. Who fan. I know Tom watches Dr. Who and one of the podcasts I listened to had Neil Gaiman, who is also a Dr.Who fan (okay, most of the podcasts I listened to were back episodes of the Nerdist Podcast).

My currently knowledge of the show would probably be described as "just enough to have an aversion to it." As many readers here would probably know, a lot of sci-fi and fantasy premises can sound silly if you're describing them in general. As silly as it's gonna sound, my aversion mostly comes from the iconic antagonist of the series, the Dalek, that I thought of as a very silly old-timey robot thing that was more fitting on a generic mid-twentieth century alien invasion novel cover. Nothing else of the basic premise grabbed my attention, so I kept away from it.

So, having listened to these podcasts and been indoctrinated persuaded to take another look, I'm asking the Dr. Who-loving Sword and Laser community for 1) what you like best about the series and 2) the best way for me to start watching the series in terms of episode lists, etc. I thank you for your responses in advance and hope I didn't open some sort of nerdy Pandora's Box, of which I recently experienced on a forum talking about the Star Wars Blu-Ray edition.

P.S. Oh, yeah, I live in California, so suggestions on a preferably legal way of watching would be cool, too.


message 2: by Colin (new)

Colin | 278 comments My favorite moments of Dr. Who are the times when the normally easy going, jovial, mostly zany Doc. shows his Destroyer of Worlds/I have been defeating bad guys like you since time immemorial/ dark side. I imagine it gets tired, defeating otherwise unstoppable alien threats by reputation alone, but it shows you that he is not just some crackpot in a stolen phonebooth, mucking around in time and relative dimension in space.

Daleks were rad, I don't know what you are talking about. But they haven't been in this season so far, and it sounds like the creators/writers have written them out of the Matt Smith series.

As for the best way to start watching, i can only speak to the more recent Doctors (Eccleston, Tennant and Smith), which have been largely enjoyable to watch. I'll leave insights into the past Doctors to the Who-Vets out there.

You haven't given us the type of shows you do like to watch to base our comments off of. From your anti-Daleks stance, it sounds like you are a stick in the mud when it comes to ye olde sci-fi ( :P). Because if you hate the Daleks, you'll probably hate the Cybermen as well, who also play a significant antagonistic role in the "new" series.


message 3: by Jason (last edited Sep 13, 2011 06:21AM) (new)

Jason Bergman (loonyboi) | 166 comments I'll quote Neil Gaiman, as he said it better than I ever could:

"There’s a big blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than the outside. It can go anywhere in space and time, sometimes where it is supposed to go. Something will go wrong, and there’s some bloke called The Doctor who’ll make it all right because he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up and watch Blink."

Blink is episode 10 of season 3 of the 2004 series. It's available on DVD or Netflix streaming, or can be purchased from iTunes/Amazon/etc. It requires no prior knowledge of the universe to watch, and is the perfect entry point.

If you like that (and if you don't, you're horribly broken, as it's probably the best hour of sci-fi television made in the past decade) I suggest starting with episode 1 of Season 5 and watching through that season, as it's easy to pick up, and then going back to season 1 and watching from then on (it sounds confusing, but it makes sense).


message 4: by Kev (new)

Kev (sporadicreviews) | 657 comments I recently jumped on the Who bandwagon (for much the same reason, every single podcast mentions it at least once). I've been watching it on Netflix, and recently caught up to the current episode by other means.

I started with the first episode of the 2005 series, the Chris Eccleston series and watched straight through in order.

That's the best way, imo, to watch.

If you're going to maybe just grab a handful of episodes. "Blink" is a good way to go, and "The Girl in the Fireplace." But the "bad guys" in that one might throw you off for similar reasons to the Daleks.

There are stand-alone episodes, arcs, humor, tears, and stand-up-and-shout-"HELLS-YEAH!"-moments.

Yeah... I drank the Doctor Who kool-aid.


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Bergman (loonyboi) | 166 comments I tend to tell people not to start with Eccleston because it starts pretty rough. Also his tone is very different from the doctors who followed.

The Matt Smith series effectively starts over from the beginning, and it's easy to get the tone from there. If they like it, it's definitely worth going back.

But starting with Eccleston may turn people off, so I avoid that.


message 6: by Kate (new)

Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 778 comments Jason wrote: "But starting with Eccleston may turn people off, so I avoid that. "

Eccleston is my favourite Doctor... but then I mostly liked the RTD run for it's deep sadness of tone, I gather this was not everyone's reason for tuning in.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments I tried an episode or two from 2005 but so much of it seemed to be self-referencing; I just felt lost.

*hands in her geek card*


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved Ecclestons run as the Doctor. Yeah, he's got a completely different tone from David Tennant or Matt Smith, but that's kind of the point though. The Doctor always stays the same, but always changes too.


message 9: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I actually used to watch Doctor Who back when John Pertwee played him back in the Seventies. Talk about cheesy! I absolutely loved it. I wanted to accompany the Doctor on his voyages in time and space. I was absolutely thrilled when BBC brought Doctor Who back. They made him so sexy. I've especially loved the episodes with Amy Pond. It seems like they can always bring something fresh to the show.


message 10: by Poly (new)

Poly (xenphilos) Alright, just watched Blink, and I agree with Jason that it's probably the best single sci-fi tv episode I've watched. I think I'm gonna start with Season 5 and the current one so I'm caught up and then go back to the beginning of the modern series.

So I guess my next question is, does the older Doctor Who series age well enough to revisit?


message 11: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Those stone angels are probably the scariest thing ever shown on TV.

xenphi wrote: "So I guess my next question is, does the older Doctor Who series age well enough to revisit?"

I was very young when I watched them, but I recall that the special effects were really, really bad. It was definitely a low-budget production, kind of like "Lost in Space" or "Land of the Lost". I don't know how well the stories would hold up, but it might be fun to watch them again.


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason Bergman (loonyboi) | 166 comments Yes! Blink makes another convert. It never fails.

I've only seen from Eccleston on, but I'm about to dip my toes in the waters of the older series.

I decided to start with Tom Baker, since everyone tells me he was great. I have a bunch lined up from Netflix. We'll see how that goes.

I have a pretty high tolerance for low-budget sci-fi, as long as the writing is good enough, so fingers crossed.


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim (kskryptonian) | 202 comments As an old school fan, I say start with pyramids of mars. Classic who story with my favorite line up of cast. Liz Sladin was sublime, and this is before Baker got tired of doing it. The post 2005 stuff really is meant to start with s1e1 Rose, as it explains without letting story get in the way, but if you were going to hop around and see just a few eps, then pick Dalek, Empty child and it's pRt two and then blink. He'll, pick any Steven moffat written episode in the first five episodes. Those would be the Hugo winners.

All the above episodes are on the Netflix now and are free for thirty days if you sign up using the www.Netflix.com/twit offer, which is awesome. <>


message 14: by Doug (new)

Doug (dougoftheabaci) I started with the reboot and went from there. I'm just about to start the most recent season.

I think the decision to just start with season 5 is and understandable one, as it basically starts you from scratch in a number of ways, but so far all the best episodes were in previous seasons. I can't speak for season 6 as I haven't watched it yet.

Personally, I didn't mind the bits of self-referencing. You got a bit of background information on who the Doctor was. By the end of the first season you understand all that you need to understand about the show and from there it's just new and interesting stuff.

Also, if you skip the older seasons of the reboot you'll miss David Tennant. He's by far my favorite of the three newer doctors. His personality was exactly the sort I'd expect from The Doctor. I have one of the specials from between 4 and 5 yet to watch (not one of the important ones) but I'm loath to watch it for the same reason I didn't watch BSG: The Plan for ages. Not because I didn't think I'd enjoy it but because one I'd watched it that would be the end.


message 15: by Josh (new)

Josh (firequake) | 30 comments I haven't went back to watch the old series, mainly due to the fact that its very hard to find the episodes in the correct order (watching random single episodes just doesn't cut it). I hear good things, so hopefully I'll pick them up eventually.

Also, David Tennant and Billie Piper- amazing combo. The others are good but just can't compare to those two.


message 16: by Mike (new)

Mike Rentas (mikerentas) | 65 comments To answer your original question, I enjoy the series because it's *fun* scifi. It's about interesting characters having interesting adventures in a spaceship/time machine. They don't spend energy coming up with Star Trek-style explanations for how everything works, it's just about the characters and the stories. The resolution to the plot is sometimes literally "timey-wimey stuff" - not in a stupid way, but in a "I'm not going to bother explaining this" way. The show also goes through a huge range of tones, from silly, to scary, to sad, to epic, often in a single episode.

As for the classics - I love the new series, but I've tried several times to get into the old, and it just feels too dated for me. Might be one of those things you had to grow up watching to really enjoy, or maybe I'm just being snooty, but I've found them very difficult to pay attention to for more than a few minutes.

Also, if you end up watching the entire series, be sure not to miss the Christmas and Easter specials. Aside from being some of the best episodes in the current run, they're often critical to the overall plot.

Oh, and don't listen to anyone telling you to skip Eccleston - he's a great Doctor, and he's got some of the best episodes from the new series. "The Empty Child" alone gives us Captain Jack, one of the best monsters, and a certain great theme that comes up repeatedly in the rest of the series (not being specific to avoid spoilers).


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments I watched the Blink episode last night and it was really great! Okay, so now I'm thinking maybe I need to give Dr. Who another try.


message 18: by Jason (new)

Jason Bergman (loonyboi) | 166 comments Glad to hear it!!

Blink is one of those hours of television that anyone, anywhere is guaranteed to like.


message 19: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Stenger | 16 comments xenphi wrote: "So I guess my next question is, does the older Doctor Who series age well enough to revisit?"

I started with the 2005 reboot and quickly fell in love with it. Once I got caught up I went back and started on the classic series with Robot, which is when Tom Baker took on the Doctor role. I enjoy a lot of the classic stuff, but it's very different when compared to the new episodes. The pacing is completely different, with a lot of slow buildup. There's also (at least in the early Baker years) very little continuity between episodes. Not necessarily a bad thing, as that means you can pick any story that looks interesting and give it a try.

For classic series recommendations, Pyramid of Mars (which was mentioned by another poster) or City of Death are good Baker stories. I've dug into some of the really old episodes as well, and The Aztecs and The Time Meddler (both with William Hartnell, the first Doctor) are excellent.


message 20: by Patrick (last edited Sep 24, 2011 02:56PM) (new)

Patrick | 93 comments What I would suggest is to not start with the current season of Doctor Who. It's definitely one of the weaker seasons. This season seems to be about deconstructing the Doctor and while it's an interesting direction it removes a lot of his mystery and majesty. Start the the Eccleston or Tennant doctor.


message 21: by Kev (new)

Kev (sporadicreviews) | 657 comments I think starting with Tenant means missing out on Rose's introduction to and building relationship with the Doctor. If you start with Tenant, you're starting mid-relationship and have missed a bunch of character growth and relationship development for the both of them.


message 22: by Colin (new)

Colin | 278 comments As a brief aside, fans of the Blink episode, as well as the delightful game, Minecraft should get a kick out of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj446L...

From the dynamic duo of minecraft, Simon and Lewis.
Some mildly strong language is also included.


message 23: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (adrew) | 426 comments I must admit that I've actually dropped off from watching Doctor Who of late. Its not that I don't like Matt Smith per-say (was sad Party Animals didn't get a longer run), I just find that when I do have some free time I'd rather be doing something else. Is it just me, or is the current season weaker as Patrick asserts, I'm unsure?

I think as many have echoed I'd start with Eccleston. In fact he’s actually my favourite of the newer Doctors, though my wife would vehemently argue Tennants case, who is by far the crowd favourite.

As to the best Doctor companion, I'm definitely more a Donna than Rose fan, but both were great and had interesting story arcs. It was sad about Elisabeth Sladen (character: Sarah Jane Smith) though. She really wasn't that old at 65.

As to the older stuff, I watched some as a kid, but I must admit I haven't felt compelled to go back. I can remember hearing on the BBC that they are even missing some of the old(er) episodes as the archives were not preserved, though supposedly some had be found through old personally recordings people still had.

I do need to catch back up, along with Torchwood which I've fallen behind in.

Anyway as many have said, start at the beginning of the reboot. As to what I like the best about Doctor Who, I find that hard to pinpoint. I think unlike a lot of scifi it is just fun, and perhaps a little more optimistic about things (the Doctor is continually amazed by humans). Yet overlaying it all there are some interesting themes and compelling characters.


message 24: by Mary (new)

Mary (valentinew) | 118 comments I'm so glad "Blink" has managed to hook a couple more viewers.

That being said, the viewing experience would be richer, in my opinion, if you started with Eccleston. He was a rougher-edged Doctor, but I did enjoy him. One of the reasons many people love David Tennant as the Doctor, aside from his dreamy looks (/blush), is that he was a true Whovian long before he got the job. This was literally his dream job. In the episode where Sarah Jane (Liz Slayden) first returns, you can see his glee ("Oh my God, that's Sarah Jane!!!").

I think the high point of the modern series was definitely the Donna Noble seasons. Perhaps the healthiest relationship the Doctor ever had. She was good for him. He needed a mate to kick him in the arse instead of moon over him.

I was lucky in that I had a true Whovian sitting next to me to explain little quirks that I would have otherwise missed. We did watch a couple of episodes with the First Doctor, and the pacing was SO SLOW. The story was good, the Doctor was a great curmudgeon, but I began to lose the impact of the story because it took so long to develop.

The earlier stories become important because it's my understanding that,in the original plan, the Matt Smith incarnation is the 13th, & therefore the last incarnation allowed to the Doctor. I haven't been able to watch the last season or two, but I would imagine that the current deconstruction is in part to set up possible further incarnations...just a thought.


message 25: by Don (new)

Don McDonald (dmmacs) | 114 comments David Tennant was just on the Nerdist podcast,
http://www.nerdist.com/2011/12/nerdis...


message 26: by AndrewP (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2550 comments Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has shown "Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150A.D." recently. Made back in 1966 with Peter Cushing as The Doctor.

Okay.. any mega nerds out there that have their own Dalek? I don't mean a toy, I mean a life sized one:)


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