04 April 2012

Doctor Who: An Enthusiastic Attempt to Explain

I've loved a lot of television shows over the past several years, but mostly I wait until they are released online because I can't be bothered to keep up with the airing schedule to watch them on television. That is... except Doctor Who.

Many people I knew raved about Doctor Who for years, insisted it was amazing, claimed I'd love it. People made Doctor Who references. One guy showed up to a costume contest wearing a suit with a sprig of celery pinned to it. It seemed like the geekiest thing ever.*
*and this is coming from a girl who dressed up as Link with a group of friends dressed as Young Link, Princess Peach, Doctor Mario, etcetera and had a live-action-role-play Melee battle in the center of the contest. Which was awesome and definitely ranks in the Top Ten Most Awesome Things I've Ever Done. 

But I figured Doctor Who couldn't possibly be that good--it must be one of those cult classic things that people just get excited about for the sake of being in on the joke, like Rocky Horror. Then my young man sat me down and made me watch three or four episodes in a row.

You guys, I am so sorry for ever doubting the awesome that is Doctor Who.

If you aren't familiar with the show, the basic premise is that the Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey. These species of aliens are known as Time Lords. They look like humans, but they have two hearts, have mastered technology that can travel through time and space, they have a non-linear perception of time (hence one of the Doctor's catchphrases "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey"), and they're basically immortal in that they can regenerate which results in a change in both physical appearance and personality.**
**This is why you hear enthusiasts saying they like the "5th Doctor" or the "10th Doctor" best.

What else? Oh. Gallifrey was destroyed way back when, and the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords.*** Oh, and he's not a Doctor in the medical sense. His travel-in-time-and-space machine is a TARDIS that is stuck in the shape of an old blue British police box. He appears to have adopted Earth and often intercedes to protect the inhabitants from alien races. And he usually travels with a companion, usually but not always female, usually but not always human.
***Technically, but nobody can explain the technicalities well and it's not important. Just go with the assumption that he's the last.

The weird thing is that around the time the Doctor regenerates, there's usually pretty nearly an entire cast turnover, and this does not make the show totally suck. There's a weird continuity with the whole Doctor Who thing.

All of this information about the Doctor's background is sprinkled in throughout the story. (And I haven't even tried to explain the various sets of enemies. I'll let you meet them yourself.) It's all pretty modern, even in episodes where he goes back or forwards in time, because the Companion makes it relateable to the modern viewer.

There have been eleven Doctors so far. The series started in 1963 and ran through 1989. Then it was off the air and came back in 2005. Some people have seen the older episodes (from the '60s and '80s). I think all of those are on Netflix, if you really want to see it. But I've only seen the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors.

9th Doctor: Christopher Eccleston -  My first Doctor. He was gritty and intense.
10th Doctor: David Tennant -Wears a  striped suit. I might have cried a little when this incarnation died.
11th Doctor: Matt Smith - The youngest incarnation of the Doctor. Wears a bow tie.


So yeah, if you haven't checked this out: DO SO. All the new episodes are now on Netflix, so you can start with the new episodes with Christopher Eccleston. DO IT DO IT DO IT. Yes, I am trying to peer-pressure you all by myself. DO IT.

Now You!
If you haven't seen Doctor Who, why not? If you have, what are your tricks for getting non-initiated friends to watch it?