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Doctor Who - 50 years, 798 episodes & 2 hearts

Discussion in 'Off Topic Discussion' started by APZonerunner, Oct 5, 2013.

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  1. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    [​IMG]

    So I figured I'd make this thread. If you watch the show, we can use this place for discussion - and if you don't this is a good place to get to know it!

    What is Doctor Who?
    With 798 episodes in the bag, Doctor Who is the longest-running and arguably the most successful science fiction show in the world. It began in 1963, and turns 50 in late November of this year. The show ran uninterrupted from 1963 through to 1989, where it then took a break. It returned to screens briefly in 1996, and then made a full return to much fanfare in 2005 - and has ran consistently every year since then. There have been no reboots - the continuity of the show from 1963 through to now is one big line.

    It's essentially a family-friendly sci-fi show. Some like to say it's more science fantasy than science fiction, and I'd be inclined to agree with that definition. It's whimsical, sometimes cheesy, but it has a boundless energy that a lot of people find hard to ignore. Plus, it's British.

    What's it about?
    The show is about a 1000-year-old time-travelling alien who only goes by the name 'The Doctor' - nobody knows his real, original name. In the original series he was an exile from his planet, a runaway who decided to adventure time and space. He was drawn back to his planet to aid them in a war - a war that decimated them. He is now the last of his kind, and has essentially adopted Earth as his second home. He tends to pick up stray humans to take them on his adventures with him.

    Does this mean if I want to get into the show I have tons of catching up to do?
    No. The show is designed so people can jump on board pretty much anywhere. The recommendation is to jump on board with the modern era of the show, and even then there's several potential points where you can hop on.

    There's 26 retro series and 7 modern ones, as well as two spin-off shows. There's also a TV movie, books, audio books, audio plays, board games, video games, comics and all sorts of other things. If you get into it, there's seemingly endless content to consume.

    The modern series consists of 13 45-minute episodes a year, plus an hour-long Christmas special. Occasionally we get additional specials as well.

    I'm new. What are the basics of the show?
    The Doctor is an alien known as a Time Lord who is somewhere between 900 and 1000 years old (at the present point in the series) from the planet Gallifrey. He's interestingly different from most other TV heroes in that the Doctor doesn't carry weapons and doesn't kill; he'll always find another solution if he can.

    He has two hearts, and when fatally injured he can regenerate, renewing every single cell in his body. In a sense it's a form of rebirth - he remains the same man with the same memories, values and brilliant mind, but with every cell changing so changes his appearance and elements of his brain - the Doctor finds things like his morality and taste changes subtly with each regeneration. He's regenerated ten times, thus making for Eleven incarnations of the Doctor across 50 years of the show and hundreds of years in-show.

    The Doctor travels around in a stolen TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), an incredible spaceship that can travel anywhere and anywhen in an instant. The TARDIS had a thing called a chameleon circuit that would disguise it upon landing somewhere - so if he went to ancient Greece, it'd turn into a pillar of marble - but when he landed in 1963 way back in the first episode, it turned into a British Police Box (a real thing back then, folks) and then the circuit broke. He's never fixed it. It's bigger on the inside, the ship essentially infinite in size. The ship is also vaguely sentient.

    The Doctor's people, The Time Lords, were once a proud race, but are now long-dead, wiped out in the biggest and most devastating war in the history of the universe. He's the last of his kind, all alone. To offset that he tends to travel with a Companion from Earth, which he basically adopted as his second home. Sometimes it's one person, sometimes two or more. They provide a human angle to the fantastic things they see out in the universe.

    The antagonists of Doctor Who range massively, though there are several major recurring enemy elements such as the iconic pepperpot-shaped Daleks, the overly-logical Cybermen (think the Borg 20 years before the Borg existed) and the war-like Sontarans. It's a very long list.

    Ok. What's the recommended watching?
    There are two primary jumping-on points:
    • Point One: 2005 - Series One, Episode One, 'Rose'
      • This episode was designed to introduce a whole new generation to Doctor Who, as it hadn't been on TV regularly for over a decade. The issue is at this point in time the series was finding its feet. Series One (and to a lesser extent Two) struggle with where to draw the line between childish cheese and proper drama, and sometimes miss the mark. The show also had a miniscule budget and it shows in poor CGI that has aged even more in the 8 years since. This features an incredible take on The Doctor, though, and will gradually introduce you to everything you need to know. Some people struggle with the cheese and early quality, though.
    • Point Two: 2010 - Series Five, Episode One, 'The Eleventh Hour'
      • A clean break from the previous four series', this is the first episode of a new showrunner and the first episode with the Eleventh Doctor and his new companion. By this point the show had the popularity, the budget, and a well-defined formula that works. So it's much smoother going.
    Or, a truncated recommended episode list: (Only spoilered as this post is long)
    Series One:
    • Rose
    • Dalek
    • Father's Day
    • The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
    • Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways
    Series Two:
    • The Christmas Invasion
    • Tooth & Claw
    • School Reunion
    • The Girl in the Fireplace
    • Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel
    • The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
    • Army of Ghosts/Doomsday
    Series Three:
    • The Runaway Bride
    • Smith & Jones
    • Gridlock
    • The Lazarus Experiment
    • 42
    • Human Nature/Family of Blood
    • Blink
    • Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
    Series Four:
    • Voyage of the Damned
    • Partners in Crime
    • The Fires of Pompeii
    • The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky
    • Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
    • Midnight, Turn Left/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
    • The Waters of Mars
    • The End of Time
    Series Five:
    • The Eleventh Hour
    • The Beast Below
    • The Time of Angels/Flesh & Stone
    • Vampires in Venice
    • Amy's Choice
    • Vincent & The Doctor
    • The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
    Series Six:
    • A Christmas Carol
    • The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    • The Doctor's Wife
    • The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People
    • A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler
    • The Girl Who Waited
    • The God Complex
    • The Wedding of River Song
    Series Seven:
    • Asylum of the Daleks
    • A Town Called Mercy
    • The Angels Take Manhattan
    • The Snowmen
    • The Bells of Saint John
    • The Rings of Akhaten
    • Hide
    • Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
    • The Crimson Horror
    • Name of the Doctor
    Where can I watch it?
    You can find Doctor Who pretty much everywhere that matters. Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Video. DVDs are now easy to find, even in the US.

    Special thanks to the awesome NeoGAF Doctor Who thread where I'm stupidly active. I lifted a lot of this vast OP from there.

    So.. any other Whovians here?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
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  2. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    With an informative OP out of the way... who's excited for the 50th? :eek:
     
  3. Stealth

    Stealth Red Wings Commander

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    never heard of doctor who
     
  4. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    You've been living a shockingly sheltered life, son.

    Joking apart - the show was on PBS in the US in its original 63-89 run, and so had a cult US following at best. Since 2005 and 2010 in particular it's blown up in the US though, and it's now actually the highest-rating non-US show on US TV, I believe.

    The 50th anniversary episode is airing simultaneously in 75 different countries, which will be a new world record. Should give you an idea of what this show's following is like!
     
  5. Stealth

    Stealth Red Wings Commander

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    I dont watch so much TV lol but it sounds cool.
     
  6. Frei

    Frei Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    The recommended starting points in the OP... are just about the revived series? With an OP that talks so much about the original series, I sort of hoped there'd be some recommendations for old episodes there too :(

    I love Doctor Who, although I did not watch the last season because I got tired of Moffat and New Who in general. (edit: I lied, I watched the first half, before Clara became permanent.) I'll watch the big 50th thing though. Peter Davison is my favourite I think, but Chris Eccleston is maybe a second.

    (also I'm not a whovian, just a Doctor Who fan)
     
  7. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    I could recommend some classic episodes if you want! I personally find it quite hard to watch, but there's definitely say one serial of about five or six episodes each per classic Doctor that I'd say are must-watch anyway. Want some recs?

    It's probably worth catching up on the back half of series 7. Clara's a bit refreshing, and it has a few nice episodes... plus there's a big cliffhanger that leads into the 50th proper. I'll admit I feel similarly about Moffat but I know our opinions are mostly minority, really... though I look forward to him doing a different style of Doctor come next year.
     
  8. Tsukiyomi

    Tsukiyomi Red Wings Commander

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    omg omg omg a Doctor Who topic!!! Who else can't wait for the November special?

    EDIT: Oh man sorry for the fangirly repsonse. I don't have Netflix but i'd get a subscription just to watch the classic Dr. Who. I watched the Doctors revisted on BBC which had one ep for each doctor and that was a treat. I particulary like the 4th doctor, Tom Baker. I was having a little trouble paying attention to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd ones but if I had access to EVERY episode I would gladly dedicate 2 years of my life watching them all.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  9. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    I can't wait for the 50th; it's going to be great. There's a lot of stuff on that day, UK TV is being taken over by it. There's a ton of TV stuff spun off from and about Who airing that day, like Professor Brian Cox doing a documentary on the science behind the show and things. Very exciting.

    We're getting close to the point, @Tsukiyomi, where every episode that still exists of the old series is seeing release. Did you see they released a box set of every 4th Doctor episode last month? I think I'm gonna pick that up...!
     
  10. Tsukiyomi

    Tsukiyomi Red Wings Commander

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    That is an epic coincidence. I'm watching the Doctors Revisted, the 8th doctor. I forgot to check BBC to see when a new one is on. >.<
     
  11. Frei

    Frei Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    No thanks, I've seen 'em :) Would be nice to have them in the OP though. For the most part the original show is way higher quality than RTD or Moffat's stuff, with a few exceptions.

    My favourite serial is probably Caves of Androzani, which is not a great starting point for any newcomers since it's PD's final one. Same with Logopolis which is excellent but is the end of T.Baker.

    The only recent episode I'm interested in is the one Neil Gaiman wrote. Is Clara really anything more than another Rose or Martha or Amy? If she's in love with the Doctor and he's all "well I can't but maybe I can BUT I CAN'T" then I really can't bring myself to care about her or him, I'm sick of that. Donna is my favourite new-Who companion because she did not give a shit, she just wanted to hang around with this cool guy and do his adventures.

    I'll watch Peter Capaldi's first series at least because I love that man to pieces, but I hope they treat him better than they treated Smith. Or Tennant. Or even Ecclestone. All those guys are better than the ridiculous scripts they were given.
     
  12. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    The Gaiman one is actually surprisingly middling, sadly. It just doesn't come off brilliantly. You'd probably like the aspect I did of it, which is that in the background of this story, which introduces the new Cybermen, he quietly explains how the alternate universe New-Who Cybermen trundled on from being scattered all over in previous episodes, and then one day actually came into contact with the original old-Who Mondas Cybermen. The two basically inter-bred with their designs and stuff, allying, exchanging ideas, becoming one. That made them the most dangerous Cybermen ever, as well, the two sets of ideas. The episode is set after a massive human-Cyberman war where they were believed all destroyed, but of course there's a few straggling survivors... it's nice for that, but the rest is kind of middling.

    Clara is quite different, though. No love affair! No you are a magical man! She just seems to like travelling with him, which is nice. Mates, again, like with Donna. There's the mystery of her dying repeatedly, but that gets resolved through. I think she's a little bit flat right now (but to be fair she's only had six proper episodes) but she's certainly different and a bit refreshing.

    I really like that they've started to give Matt Smith's Doctor (all too late) an equivilant of Jack and Mickey and things as well, in Jenny, Vastra and Strax - the Silurian, her girlfriend and the Sontaran from series 6. If you've not even seen the Christmas special, those three are set up to be investigating strange goings on, Torchwood style, in Victorian Britain. They show up in the Christmas episode and in two episodes during the series, and I really like those three. They're going to show up in Capaldi's series, too, Moffat said, to help bridge the gap.
     
  13. Frei

    Frei Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    I saw the Snowmen episode - Jenny and Vastra come back again? Well I'm almost sold, those two are great.

    Does Moffat still have minor characters mention their same-sex partner in every single episode? Because boy that sure gets on my nerves, it happens in every Moff episode since Blink and in a significant amount of RTD episodes too. The show is generally very LGB-positive (not so much T) and that's pretty well summed up in actions, not in the constant mentions of "my girlfriend says..." from women and so on and so forth. It's cringeworthy at this point imo and so predictable.

    Sad about Gaiman's episode, because The Doctor's Wife was stellar. And I'm surprised about Clara. I think so was Smith when he read the scripts, judging by all the puppy-dog eyes his Doctor was doing to her during her first and second appearance. I'm honestly not a huge fan of the actress, which probably affected my decision to not watch the latest episodes. I'm not sure what yet another 2o-something pretty white lady can bring to the table. But I'll give it a chance, probably, when I find the time!
     
  14. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    I don't mind the girlfriend/boyfriend stuff with same-sex partners, because I think the show does have something of a duty, to be honest. We might view those lines as stand-outs, but I think that says more about us and our perceptions than anything. Hopefully the 10-year-old Who fans watching now won't think of a woman talking about her girlfriend as anything other than normal by the time they're our age, and it's things like those throwaway lines that can help to normalize things; it's socially progressive media. The same stuff happened with rights for women on TV and radio years ago - progressive shows helped to normalize things.

    I think that's the reason there's not much T out of LGBT in there as well. A lot of the public aren't ready for that yet. It's a step up the taboo ladder from being gay or bi, I'd say. It is in my mind.

    In fairness, Smith's Doctor flirts with Clara in the first appearance, but he doesn't even see her! And in the second, he's just excitable, really. I think it's fairly clear they were never gonna go down that path this time; they actually have a line (in the Gaiman episode!) where they deal with that. And that aside, y'know, it's a male trait, I guess. Of course he looks. What is it you don't like about Jenna Coleman? I think she's great, in fact I think she's a bit wasted on Clara thus far... I most certainly prefer her to Karen Gillan, anyway.
     
  15. Frei

    Frei Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    Duty or no, it's not normalised, it's a punchline. Someone mentions their same-sex partner and there's a reaction shot, it's like a comedy from the 1940s. And I don't buy the "people aren't ready for trans* people in media" thing. If the show has a duty to LGB people, it has a duty to trans* people too. There's no avoiding the fact that trans*folk are part of life imo. There's no excuse for the kind of "man in a dress lol" stuff that TV tends to revel in. I don't think Who has done that, to be fair.

    Not sure you can lump the Doctor in with male humans - until Rose he was always essentially asexual, and he's the alien that shrieks about how wonderful HYOOOOMANS are like he has no understanding of their behaviours and natures - but I'll concede the point. I saw Jenna Coleman in another show and didn't think she was a very good actress.
     
  16. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    My scales might be a bit tipped because I fancy her a bit, to be fair. I do genuinely think she's really very good, though. Plus, she's now become a bizarrely important character, as the Series 7 finale sees her interact with all Eleven Doctors (using old footage, colourising and HDifying it where necessary) throughout time... she's now, in a sense, one of the most important companions ever. She's no Donna, though.

    And, well, the Doctor is more of a romantic character now. It is what it is. He's useless at it, but he is. I think with past Doctors you can't say that so much, but I think with McGann and certainly with Tennant and Smith there is that human-like factor there. He looks at women. That's clear in my mind. I know that's at odds with a lot of the older representations of the character, though.

    I dunno, I don't think it always is played for a punchline. I think it is a bit with Moffat, and there's some stuff with Vastra and Jenny that repeatedly kind of goes on this tangent of, yes, they're in Victorian London and yes, they're both female, and ooooh isn't it progressive?! and it feels a bit silly and self-aware. I think for every one of those there's a passing moment where it isn't a punch line, though, especially with RTD - here comes the encyclopaedic memory! There's Skye in Midnight, talking about breaking up with her partner - a she - like it's the most natural thing in the world, or Donna talking about a lesbian couple she knows having IVF in The Doctor's Daughter, or the lovely married old couple in the car in Gridlock, where there is a joke, but it's sweet - the cat-dude jokingly won't acknowledge they're not sisters "Don't talk like that in front of me, I'm an old fashioned cat!"

    It's not always the whallop you over the head obvious. Is a bit more with Moffat, though, but that's how he is. He's all nudges and winks and "aren't I clever?" If you want to see some truly awful gay jokes from him, just look out for the Sherlock/Holmes ones in Sherlock.
     
  17. Wingly

    Wingly Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    I bring news! Loads of lost episodes are back! http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/106-doctor-who-episodes-uncovered-2343474

    Apart from that I agree with Frei. All progress is something people isn't going to care too much about, because it isn't like it's always been, and it's not going to be any progress before someone starts making progress. That won't happen with Moffat as showrunner, because he's awful. Sure, you've got the "LOOK, THE'YRE GAY! I'M PROGRESSIVE!"-stuff from time to time, but no.

    Also Moffat really can't write women, possibly because he hates them. His response to people wanting a female Doctor was utterly ridiculous. “I like that Helen Mirren has been saying the next Doctor should be a woman. I would like to go on record and say that the Queen should be played by a man."

    I feel like this post was a mess, but I'm mostly excited about Patrick Troughton.

    edit: I hope he makes Peter Capaldi into an awesome doctor, but seeing the direction the show's taken I'm very wary.
     
  18. Frei

    Frei Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    did he actually say this, oh my god
     
  19. APZonerunner

    APZonerunner Network Boss-man Staff Member Administrator Site Staff UFFSite Veteran

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    It was a joke, though. He wasn't serious.y It was just an extremely poorly timed, ill-judged joke.

    That said, I'm one of the people who believes the Doctor should always be a British male. Any ethnicity, but Male and British. It's easy to provide positive female characters and role models elsewhere.
     
  20. Frei

    Frei Yevonite UFFSite Veteran

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    Why?

    Is the Doctor's gender really a big part of the character's identity?

    It's all well and good to say "well other media can provide important female characters, Doctor Who doesn't have to do that" - but why? Is it just because the character has always been a male? It was established in Gaiman's episode The Doctor's Wife that Time Lords can change gender if they wish (the Corsair was in one regeneration female).

    Like, I'm not criticising your viewpoint, I respect it and think it's understandable. I'm just interested to know why this time-travelling alien from a distant planet could not, in your eyes, ever be female.

    edit: also I severely object to your assessment that "it's easy to provide positive females elsewhere". No, it isn't. It's difficult. There's a reason shows have problems having female main characters. The backlash against Lucy Liu as Watson, and the lack of women in the British Sherlock, beyond Irene who was panned as a "slut" and so on. The immediate lack of any positive women in Supernatural who aren't killed off immediately. The relegation of women in Doctor Who to subservient companions, with a few exceptions. The widespread hatred of the leading women in Breaking Bad. Just examples.
     
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